Chemistry: Chemistry Education (Ph.D.)

Chemistry: Chemistry Education (Ph.D.)

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Why pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry education at UNH?

Our purpose is to prepare professionals who will change the field of teaching and learning in chemistry.This requires developing a deep knowledge of chemistry, fluency with the literature and methods of education,and skill with research tools from the cognitive and social sciences. You will be prepared for careers involving college-level chemistry teaching, STEM curriculum design, student assessment and STEM professional development. You will conduct original research leading to submission of a dissertation, and develop strong written and oral communication skills necessary for advanced work in education, research and academia.

Program highlights

UNH has one of the early national Ph.D. programs in chemistry education. You will engage with the program like all other chemistry graduate students—taking a small set of core advanced chemistry courses and participating in master’s-level chemistry research. Some students may enter the program with a master’s degree, courses, and research experience already in hand. Within the first year, you will begin to participate in chemistry education group meetings and to plan your pathway for study of human cognition, qualitative research methods, and quantitative statistical methods. Your research could involve interviews to understand how a few students conceive of molecules or solve chemistry problems. Or you might design and test a new learning approach within a chemistry course of hundreds. There is a variety of interesting research questions in this relatively new field of study. Financial support is typically available through teaching assistantships.

Potential career areas

  • Chemistry professor
  • College laboratory coordinator
  • Curriculum designer
  • Educational program assessment coordinator
  • Teaching and learning center professional development provider


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Curriculum & Requirements

The Ph.D. Option in Chemistry Education is designed for students who plan a career at the interface of Science and Education (e.g. discipline-based education research, educational program assessment, STEM curricular design, chemistry teaching, etc.). The rigorous program involves coursework in Chemistry, Psychology and Education and original research in Chemistry Education, leading to the submission of a dissertation. Students with a research-based MS (or equivalent) will be admitted directly to the program. Students with a BS (or equivalent) will first obtain an MS degree, carrying out original laboratory-based research with a faculty mentor, and submitting a thesis. The program has a focus on developing strong writing and oral communication skills. Financial support is typically available through a teaching assistantship.

Ph.D. Option in Chemistry Education

  • Demonstration of a broad understanding of undergraduate chemistry by passing a series of basic examinations or satisfactory performance in approved courses.
  • Demonstration of chemistry laboratory research proficiency by completing a thesis-based M.S. (or equivalent) either at UNH or another university.
  • Satisfactory performance in a series of courses in science education, cognition, and qualitative/quantitative research methods.
  • Attendance at Department seminars.
  • Attendance at Graduate Research Update (GRU) sessions and presentation once annually from year 2 onward.
  • Satisfactory presentation of a Thesis Research Proposal (TRP) in the second year of residence,
  • Preparation and oral defense of an Original Research Proposal (ORP) in the third year of residence. Successful completion of the Original Research Proposal (ORP) enables the student to advance to candidacy.
  • One oral presentation at a regional or technical conference, and one oral or poster presentation at the UNH Graduate Research Symposium.
  • Preparation, public presentation, and oral defense of a written dissertation.
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher required to graduate.
  • Please contact the department for additional information on this option.

Faculty Research Advisor and Dissertation Committee

Students select a research advisor during the first semester in the program after interviewing at least three faculty members. During each semester thereafter, students conduct independent research under the supervision of the Faculty Research Advisor. In the second year of residence and before the Thesis Research Proposal, a dissertation committee is selected. This committee evaluates the student's Thesis Research Proposal and the Original Research Proposal. Once the Original Research Proposal has been passed and the student advances to candidacy, a fifth committee member is selected and added to the Dissertation Committee to evaluate the Dissertation Defense.

Required department courses
CHEM 800Introduction to Chemistry Teaching and Research Practices1
CHEM 801Modern Tools for Researchers in the Chemical Sciences1
CHEM 802Critical Thinking for Chemists1
CHEM 803Creative Thinking for Chemists1
Chemistry Courses
CHEM 995Colloquium (CHEM 995F Colloquium: Chemistry Education)1-4
CHEM 997Seminar1
CHEM 999Doctoral Research0
3 Chemistry CORE courses in a sub-discipline recommended by research advisor or MS degree
Quantitative Statistics
Choose 2 courses (see examples below)
PSYC 705Tests and Measurement4
PSYC 805Research Methodology and Statistics I4
PSYC 806Research Methodology and Statistics II4
PSYC 907Research Methods and Statistics III4
EDUC 978Applied Regression Analysis in Educational Research4
EDUC 979Applied Multilevel Modeling4
EDUC 981Quantitative Inquiry: Methods and Techniques of Educational Research4
MATH 835Statistical Methods for Research3
MATH 836Advanced Statistical Modeling3
MATH 839Applied Regression Analysis3
Qualitative Methods
Choose 1 course (example below)
EDUC 904Qualitative Inquiry in Research4
EDUC 982Qualitative Fieldwork & Data Analysis4
SOC 904Sociological Methods IV: Qualitative and Historical Research Methods4
Choose 1 course (examples below)
PSYC 783Cognitive Development4
PSYC 710Visual Perception4
PSYC 712Psychology of Language4
PSYC 716Cognitive Neuroscience4
PSYC 731Brain and Behavior4
PSYC 914Advanced Seminar in Cognition4

All Chemistry graduate students will be able to:

Display a comprehensive knowledge of chemistry, with greater depth demonstrated in at least one subdiscipline.

  • Chemistry students in the Ph.D. and the M.S. program should have a basic knowledge of the field, with that knowledge being at least the level of the material taught in first-year chemistry and the initial courses in undergraduate sub-disciplinary classes (analytical, inorganic, organic, physical chemistry, and biochemistry).

Ph.D. students should demonstrate focused and deep expertise in their area of scholarly exploration, including an understanding of the current status of the topic. M.S. students should also demonstrate clear focus in scholarly pursuits.

  • In the area of specialization, a Ph.D. student’s knowledge of the field should, at a minimum, be comparable to special topics classes at the graduate level.
  • Students should demonstrate capabilities of searching the literature to become familiar with the current state of the field.

Apply critical thinking skills in the evaluation of scientific work, by analyzing, organizing, and evaluating scientific data and knowledge.

  • Careful attention to and critical evaluation of material encountered in the literature, in seminars, and research activity is evidence of scientific maturation.

Generate hypotheses, design strategies, perform studies, and interpret results that lead to new knowledge in the field, including the

  • Application of central methods and techniques, including laboratory skills, statistical and computational methods, data gathering, and record-keeping to deliver detailed information and reproducible results.
  • Demonstration of an understanding of the scientific method through the Original Research Proposal and through laboratory research (dissertation).
  • Conduct of consequential scientific inquiry that advances a scientific field as required for a dissertation and peer-reviewed publications.

Communicate scientific information with effectiveness to both experts and novices in oral and written form, including methods, results, and conclusions.

  • Demonstration of the ability to engage in communication appropriate for the audience.
  • Present scientific material with clarity, accuracy, and precision.

Perform research in a professional, ethical, and safe manner.

  • Students must participate in and apply knowledge from required training in laboratory safety and the responsible conduct of research; additional specialized training in these areas is encouraged.
  • Students should develop skills in applicable professional areas, such as pedagogy, teamwork and team building, and leadership, through mentoring, instructional activity, and workshops.
  • Safety and ethical behavior should be demonstrated in all activities, including both instructional and research activity.


Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: Feb. 15 (for funding); April 1 (final)
  • Spring: Dec. 1
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: No

Accelerated Masters Eligible: No

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH or Granite State College (GSC) after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester, UNH Non-Degree work and GSC. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must upload a copy (PDF) of your transcript in the application form. International transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you must then request an official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions must be submitted and applicants must disclose any previous academic or disciplinary sanctions that resulted in their temporary or permanent separation from a previous post-secondary institution. If it is found that previous academic or disciplinary separations were not disclosed, applicants may face denial and admitted students may face dismissal from their academic program.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Personal Statement

Prepare a brief but carefully crafted statement that includes: 1) Research experience. State the goals of your previous research and accomplishments to date. Including a list of publications, presentations, and awards within the Experience and Background section of the application is encouraged; however, please do not send actual publications or presentations. 2) Clear reasons why you wish to perform graduate work in chemistry education research. Include your immediate and long-range objectives. 3) Those UNH Chemistry faculty whose research interests you and why. If you do no yet hold a research-based M.S. degree, be sure to include those faculty whose laboratory-based research interests you. 4) Additional information that will enhance the selection committee’s understanding of your personal background and life experiences, including educational (e.g. teaching and leadership experience), cultural, familial, or other opportunities or challenges.

Statements must be included with your submitted application.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program-specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

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