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Ph.D. in Polymer Science


The general requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees as well as course descriptions in Polymer Science are described in the current University Graduate Bulletin (see index for Polymer Science - course prefix 9871). These requirements are set by the Graduate School. The specific departmental requirements listed in the bulletin are set by the Department of Polymer Science. The combined requirements of the Graduate School and Department of Polymer Science represent the minimal standards for the attainment of a particular degree. As such, they do not adequately describe the concern of the DPS faculty that graduate programs also be tailored to each student's background and research interests. Consequently there are additional requirements and procedures that both the department and the research advisor impose beyond those described in the Bulletin.

84 Total Credits = (38 course credits & 46 minimum research credits); formal seminar; research presentation; pass 6 cumulative exams; doctoral dissertation defense and final written dissertation; 1 year residency requirement; computer proficiency.

The doctoral degree is not awarded merely on the basis of the completion of a prescribed program of course requirements. The Ph.D. In Polymer Science is considered to be recognition that the recipient has carried out independent and original research at the prevailing advanced level of polymer science understanding.

In practice this original research is done under the guidance of a faculty member of the Polymer Science Department (see "Graduate Research Requirements", Section II). The student is assumed to have an advanced level of understanding of the principles of polymer science necessary to do research after the successful completion of course studies and cumulative or other examinations. After the public discussion of the research work both in a departmental "formal seminar" and then in a public "research presentation", the written dissertation is examined by the dissertation committee and an "oral doctoral dissertation defense" examination must be passed. A good measure of the scholarship inherit in the research can be determined by the faculty using the described procedures.

  • A public discussion referred to as a departmental "formal seminar" and "research presentation required which reviews the literature pertinent to the research problem.
  • Pass 6 Cumulative Exams - exams are given on a monthly basis (except June, July, August, and December)
  • Oral doctoral dissertation defense and final written dissertation
  • Foreign Language Requirement - Satisfy the foreign language requirement for the doctoral degree by meeting the requirements of Plan C. This is satisfied with computer proficiency, which is met by completing 9871:613 Polymer Science Laboratory which is part of the core curriculum.
  • Attendance and participation is required in seminar-type discussions scheduled by the department.

Course Requirements for the Ph.D. Program

(See course descriptions in the Graduate Bulletin.)

The doctoral course program in Polymer Science consists of 38 credit hours based on a combination of:
Core Course Program - 20 credit hours
Elective Courses - at least 18 credit hours of elective courses appropriate to each student's area of interest.

Core Courses

20 credits - required for all students

  • 9871:601 Polymer Chemistry (4 cr.)
  • 9871:607 Seminar in Polymer Science (1 cr.)
  • 9871:613 Polymer Science Laboratory (3 cr.)
  • 9871:631 Polymer Physics I (4 cr.)
  • 9871:632 Polymer Physics II (4 cr.)
  • 9871:674 Polymer Characterization (2 cr.)
  • 9871:685 Intro to Biomacromolecules (2 cr.)

Research Requirements

46 research credits required for all students

Satisfy the foreign language requirement for the doctoral degree by meeting the requirements of Plan C. This is satisfied with computer proficiency, which is met by completing 9871:613 Polymer Science Laboratory which is part of the core curriculum.

All students in the M.S. and Ph.D. programs in DPS are required to have taken a minimum of one undergraduate or graduate level course in computer science, like the University of Akron course 3460:201, with a passing grade. Graduate students lacking such a course may demonstrate computer proficiency by taking (a) 3650:605, Computer Physics I, 3 credits, or another applicable course at UA.

Elective Courses

The student and the student's research advisor determine the elective courses that will be taken by the student to fulfill the student's course program. The courses may be in the departments of polymer science, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computing, polymer engineering or other engineering departments. Below is a list of a typical first semester and second semester course program.


Undergraduate Background

Students with an undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, engineering or polymer science and a grade point average of 3.0 or better may apply.

Students holding a degree in biology or natural sciences will be expected to have taken additional courses on the undergraduate level:

  1. Calculus III and/or Differential Equations
  2. Organic Chemistry I & II
  3. Thermodynamics
  4. Physics I & II

For highly-qualified students lacking no more than 1 of the required courses, a special provisional admission may be given for one semester, followed by a full admission upon a student's successful completion of the undergraduate course.


Requirements for admission into the Polymer Science program are as follows:

  1. A cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of:
    • 3.00 or higher overall on a 4.00 scale; or,
    • 3.00 or higher on a 4.00 scale for work completed in the last two years; or,
    • 75 or higher overall on a 100 point scale.
      • Students coming from foreign universities not offering letter grades must receive a "First Class" grade or equivalent.
      • Students accepted for admission into M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Polymer Science on average have GPA's well above 3.50 on a 4.00 scale.

  2. Official transcripts must be submitted to the Graduate School from each college or university attended (except The University of Akron). Official transcripts must be sent to The University of Akron Graduate School, Leigh Hall, Room 515, Akron, Ohio, 44325-2101.

  3. Reporting of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores are mandatory and no application will be processed without GRE scores. The school code for The University of Akron is 1829. NOTE: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, GRE scores for the Fall 2021 admissions term will be waived by the School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering.

  4. Three letters of professional recommendation are required. The letters must reference that the applicant has a strong potential to excel in course work and carry out independent scientific research. Reference letters should preferably be uploaded via the Apply Online system. Letters by the referees should be on their official institution/company letterhead. Letters of recommendation that are not on official letterhead or which are without signatures will be disregarded and may delay the application being reviewed. Letters of recommendation should be e-mailed to or faxed to 330-972-6475 or mailed in hard copy directly to the Graduate School at the address indicated below.

  5. A Statement of Purpose (personal essay) should also be emailed to or faxed to 330-972-6475 or mailed in hard copy directly to the Graduate School at the address indicated below.

  6. All first year doctoral students are required to serve as teaching assistants. For international students, the Polymer Science program requires the TOEFL. You must achieve a 23 or higher on the speaking portion of the TOEFL and an overall test score of 79 or higher. While the University may accept IELTS scores solely for admission purposes, please note that at the department level admission with funding requires the TOEFL with the minimums previously mentioned.

  7. We do not fund master’s students, either domestic or international.

How to Apply

Please note that application fees for the Ph.D. and M.S. programs have been waived for 2021.

You may apply online by clicking here, or on the button below. If you have corrections to your information (particularly your e-mail address) after you have submitted your application, please contact the Graduate School at Note: All communication regarding the status of your application will be sent via e-mail. Thus, it is important that we have your most up-to-date email address.

Apply Online

Please note that ALL application materials, forms, reference letters, and scores must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions rather than to the Polymer Science program. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Applications that are complete by Dec. 15 will receive consideration for early admission. The application deadline is Feb. 15. Exceptional candidates may be considered after the Feb. 15 deadline. The Polymer Science program admits for Fall semester only.


Questions regarding admission or the application process may be directed to:

Office of Graduate Admissions
Leigh Hall, Room 515
The University of Akron
Akron, OH 44325-2101
Phone: 330-972-7663
Fax: 330-972-6475

Sarah Thorley
Coordinator of Academic Programs
413 Polymer Engineering Academic Center
The University of Akron
Akron, OH 44325-0301
Phone: 330-972-8845