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Materials Chemistry

Gain the knowledge you need to excel as an active researcher, problem solver and leader. This training lays the foundation for expertise in energy, catalysis, health fields and more.

Why Earn a Ph.D. in Materials Chemistry?

The Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Chemistry at USD is big enough to offer exciting research in the field of materials chemistry and small enough to gain personal attention to ensure your success. Here you'll learn how to think like a chemist, whether you're studying topical areas of Materials Chemistry or conducting independent, original research. With each new finding comes another opportunity to communicate your results and contribute to the knowledge base in your discipline.

Begin your program at the start of either the fall or spring semester. This program is designed so you can complete both master’s and doctoral requirements within five years. To help you get there, our internationally recognized faculty members have funding from many national granting agencies and are invested in your intellectual growth and advancement through active research, professional development and career training. Whichever path you take, you'll help investigate new materials with advanced instrumentation and receive professional mentorship on an individualized level. Become an active, effective researcher and leader as a materials chemistry student at USD.

Degrees & Offerings

Materials Chemistry (Ph.D.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

A Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Chemistry addresses critical needs in energy, catalysis, security, health and environmental remediation. There is a substantial research component to the program culminating in oral defense of a thesis whose basis is an original contribution to the discipline.

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Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

An Affordable Education

Gain valuable real-world, professional experience while enjoying paid employment and discounted tuition rates as a graduate student at USD. The affordability you gain through graduate assistantships and fellowships will equip you with valuable, professional-level skills that will set you apart after graduation. 

Teaching and research assistantships are awarded by individual departments. If you do not receive an assistantship within your department, you are eligible for an assistantship outside of your academic program or within support offices (non-academic units) at USD. Further inquiries should be directed to the graduate director of the department.

Learn More

You'll find the mentorship and opportunities you need to study topics that spark your curiosity. Some of our recent graduates in the chemistry program have crafted their degree plans around the following grant-funded research programs:

  • Nanomaterials for catalysis and chemical sensing
  • Security inks for anti-counterfeiting 
  • Drug development and targeted therapy for cancer treatment
  • Chemical reactivity in confined spaces
  • Organofluorine compounds for energy conversion
  • Systems with multiple metal centers and non-innocent ligands
  • Supramolecular container molecules
  • Fluorescence bioimaging and nanotheranostics

At USD, you can actively pursue unique research, present at local and national conferences and explore innovative areas that interest you. Learn more about resources and research opportunities for USD graduate students.

Graduate Student Resources

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including several that are housed in the Department of Chemistry. You may be interested in making chemistry exciting for kids or organizing events to make friends, develop new skills and explore your interests.

Chemistry Club

The Chemistry Club’s goal is to make chemistry more exciting and intriguing for a wide variety of students. The group sponsors multiple activities off- and on-campus, such as an elementary outreach program and a Christmas/Welcome Back party with the department's faculty.

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Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community.

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Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in chemistry.
Chemist Student Examining a Piece of Material


USD Chemistry is a tight-knit community of scholars. Undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, and faculty work together in the classroom and the laboratory to solve some of today's biggest challenges in health, energy and the environment.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty & staff in the Department of Chemistry. Our faculty are internationally recognized scholars and continually update and improve their knowledge and skills as chemists. We aim to develop relevant skills so that our graduates are highly marketable in the job force.
Bio Image for Faculty Member James Hoefelmeyer

James Hoefelmeyer

Bio Image for Faculty Member David Hawkinson

David Hawkinson

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Chaoyang Jiang

Chaoyang Jiang

Coordinator-Graduate Programs, Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kadal Mariappan

Kadal Mariappan

Senior Lecturer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Pere Miro Ramirez

Pere Miro Ramirez

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Haoran Sun

Haoran Sun

Bio Image for Faculty Member Andrew Sykes

Andrew Sykes

Bio Image for Faculty Member Joseph Vitt

Joseph Vitt

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Bess Vlaisavljevich

Bess Vlaisavljevich

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Rick Wang

Rick Wang

Bio Image for Faculty Member Steven Wu

Steven Wu

Assistant Professor
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Cutting-Edge Equipment and Facilities

Access equipment to advance your research and become an expert. Department instrumentation includes a single crystal X-ray diffractometer, transmission electron microscope, scanning electron microscope, 400 MHz NMR and scanning confocal Raman microscope. 

Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 

Graduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities. Visit the Graduate Tuition & Costs Detailed page for program specific costs and fees.

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.

Graduate Assistantships

USD offers opportunities for grad students to earn a reduced tuition rate in exchange for their teaching, research and service efforts to the university.


hear from a usd alum

Success story Stephanie Jensen smiling.
My chemistry and math degrees (as well as my Ph.D.) prepared me well for the future. I was taught to think critically and creatively, and not be afraid to try new things. My undergraduate research taught myself what to expect in graduate school and how to handle situations when things unexpectedly go awry.

Stephanie (Reed) Jensen

Ph.D. Materials Chemistry '16
B.S. Mathematics, Chemistry '11
Elk Point, SD

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