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Graduate School Regulations

This page provides a summary of the key general regulations of the Graduate School relevant to this degree. The regulations are also outlined on pages 14-17 of the Chemistry Ph.D. Handbook.

For additional details on Graduate School regulations, consult the Policy Guide available on the Graduate School's website at TGS.

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During your time in the Ph.D. program, your first point of contact for graduate program questions or problems (examples: course work, advisor placement, or lab environment) is the graduate program assistants in the chemistry graduate program office (Tech K145). If a resolution or answer cannot be provided through the main office, the students will be directed to the Director of Graduate Studies for further assistance. All conversations with (program assistants/DGS) will be kept private to the fullest extent possible.


Although most doctoral candidates are normally expected to fulfill all of the foregoing requirements, the faculty recognizes that deviations are not only warranted but even desirable in certain individual cases.  Students are encouraged to submit petitions requesting a variation in the requirements whenever they believe that they can adequately justify their request.  All such petitions should be directed to the Chair of Graduate Studies.  The graduate program assistant should be copied on all communication with Graduate Affairs.


Continuation of financial support is conditional upon satisfactory progress toward the degree.  Payment of excess tuition beyond the cost of registration for post-Candidacy Research will not continue past nine quarters of full-term registration.

A student receiving financial support through the Department may not undertake outside jobs or consulting without the prior approval of the Chair of the Department, the Graduate Studies Committee, and the Research Adviser.  A student cannot enter into patent agreements without the University’s prior written approval.

It is Department policy to continue the support of all graduate students making satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. degree for up to 20 quarters (five calendar years).  In cases for which additional time for completion of the thesis research is necessitated by the nature of the research project, the student may petition by no later than August 31 of the 5th year to the Chair of the Graduate Affairs Committee for continued support for a period of time not exceeding one year.  Such requests will normally be granted if endorsed by the thesis adviser. Additional requests for support beyond the period initially requested will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

In all cases in which months, quarters, or years are used in stating above deadlines, a summer quarter preceding entry into the regular graduate program in September will not be counted.  Thus, a new student who joins the Department in June will be considered to have entered in September.


The Graduate School defines a leave of absence as a temporary separation from the University for a minimum of one quarter and a maximum of one year. Students who need to interrupt their progress towards degree may petition for a leave of absence. Reasons for a leave are varied and may include medical, family, parental accommodation, and general leaves of absence. For further information on the processes involved in a leave of absence please see the guidelines listed on The Graduate School’s website (

To the extent that you are comfortable, we recommend you communicate with your advisor and the Graduate Program Office to coordinate your leave and plan your return to the program.

Consideration of medical leave: If, at any point during your PhD you suffer from a medical illness (physical or mental) that is hindering your ability to maintain sufficient progress towards the degree, we recommend you consider taking a medical leave of absence (MLOA) to address your needs. The decision to apply for MLOA is completely the student’s, and the granting of medical leave is determined by the dean of students. Your advisor has no say in the decision and does not need to sign off on any paperwork. Information regarding the application process can be found here.

Prior to the granting of leave: While you are under no obligation to discuss the reasons for your leave with your advisor, we highly recommend that you inform your advisor that you are planning to apply for a medical leave.

Once granted leave: When you are granted a MLOA, your advisor will not be notified by TGS. Neither the start date or the potential length of the leave will be communicated. To avoid confusion and to allow your advisor to plan for your absence, we recommend that you share the start date of your leave and potential date of return. We recommend informing your advisor that the return date is dependent upon obtaining clearance to return from the dean of students.

Preparing to return: While on a MLOA, you are under no obligation to conduct any work related to your PhD. In fact, you should not since your focus should be on addressing your medical needs. When the time comes for you to begin planning your return, we highly recommend you communicate with your advisor as early as possible to better enable planning; four weeks prior to planned date of return is a suggested reasonable timeframe.

Upon return: Once you have rejoined the program, you are expected to maintain sufficient research progress towards your PhD. You should work with your advisor to establish mutually agreed upon expectations. If for some reason your medical condition continues to make this challenging you will need to address this situation appropriately. In such cases, we recommend working with the chemistry graduate program office to discuss options.


Chemistry students, as members of the Northwestern community, are expected to conduct themselves maturely and exemplify behavior consistent with Northwestern’s community standards ( As a Northwestern student, you are expected to not only excel in the classroom and laboratory, but to engage in socially responsible behavior and to model exceptional conduct, character, and citizenship on campus, online, and beyond. All Chemistry students are subject to University-enacted policies and standards, which are found in the Northwestern University Student Handbook and Office of Student Conduct website. Any violation of these policies, or assisting or encouraging others in the violation of these community standards may lead to student conduct action.

Prohibited and restricted conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • Discrimination or harassment by any member of the Northwestern community against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship, veteran status, genetic information or any other classification protected by law
  • Endangering self or others, including but not limited to the physical, psychological/emotional well-being of any person
  • Interfering with the learning of others, including but not limited to in-person behavior, online behavior, or use of University resources or systems to interfere with the work of another student, a faculty member, or a University official, or that otherwise interferes with the normal operation of University systems or processes
  • Unauthorized entry or unauthorized use of University facilities, services, equipment, account numbers, or files, including using a NetID or account assigned to another user or providing another user with access to your NetID or account
  • Misuse of University documents or knowingly furnishing false information to the University
  • Theft of, or damage to, University property

See Northwestern University Student Handbook for a full description of community standards, as well as prohibited and restricted conduct. A student who violates University community standards may be subject to sanctions, including, but not limited to a period of notice, suspension and dismissal.


All graduate students are expected to adhere to Northwestern University’s Academic Integrity guidelines, as well as individual school policies (e.g., WCAS and TGS etc.), as found here:

Specifically regarding the use of generative artificial intelligence technology, the following sections of the Academic Integrity: A Basic Guide are reiterated below, and should be considered for all aspects of degree requirements (i.e., course work, qualifying exam and original research proposal documents, and final written thesis).

Cheating: using unauthorized notes, study aids, or information on an examination; altering a graded work after it has been returned, then submitting the work for regrading; allowing another person or resource (including, but not limited to, generative artificial intelligence) to do one's work and submitting that work under one's own name without proper attribution; submitting identical or similar papers for credit in more than one course without prior permission from the course instructors.

Plagiarism: submitting material that in part or whole is not entirely one's work without attributing those same portions to their correct source. Plagiarism includes but is not limited to, the unauthorized use of generative artificial intelligence to create content that is submitted as one’s own.

In addition, the Department of Chemistry expects all graduate students to follow additional guidance for the use of generative artificial technology as stipulated by The American Chemical Society in their Author Guidelines. As stated, “Artificial intelligence (AI) tools do not qualify for authorship. The use of AI tools for text or image generation should be disclosed in the manuscript within the Acknowledgment section with a description of when and how the tools were used.” As this relates to degree requirements, the use of generative artificial intelligence technology for writing or image creation is allowed, but the use of these tools should be disclosed to advisors and their use clearly attributed within any documents with appropriate citation. For some helpful best practices on the use of artificial intelligence tools for scientific writing see, Buriak et al ACS Nano 2023, 17, 4091–4093.

Students are responsible for a complete understanding of these guidelines. If you have any questions, please contact either the Graduate Program Assistant or the Director of Graduate Studies.

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Please return the signed and dated form to the Graduate Program Assistant by September 26, 2024.