Doctoral students in the Chemistry Department must take a cumulative exam starting at the beginning of the third semester in the program, although they may begin earlier if desired. Students choose one of the subdisciplines for their exam: analytical, organic, inorganic or physical (though they may elect, in consultation with their adviser, to take exams in more than one of the four subdisciplines). Each subdiscipline has its own testing guidelines.
Examination points are assigned according to three categories:
- Pass — two points
- Low pass — one point
- Fail — zero
The student must accumulate a total of 10 points in seven examinations or 12 points in 10 examinations in order to satisfy the requirement. Students are disqualified from the PhD program if they accumulate less than 12 points after 10 exams.