Jul 21, 2024  
University Catalog 2024-2025 
University Catalog 2024-2025

Molecular Sciences and Nanotechnology (PhD)

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CIP Code = 300101

Program Administration

The PhD in Molecular Sciences and Nanotechnology is a collaborative interdisciplinary degree offered by the College of Applied and Natural Sciences (ANS) and the College of Engineering and Science (ES). The coordinators and the steering committee, with the approval of the Dean of Graduate School, will establish the policies and procedures applicable to this program, evaluate applications, administer examinations, and oversee all aspects of the student’s work.

Gergana G. Nestorova, Program Chair, Molecular Sciences and Nanotechnology
William J. Campbell, Director, School of Biological Sciences

Steering Committee Members

Engineering and Science:
Yuri Lvov, Professor of Physics and Chemistry
Teresa Murray, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Scott Poh, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Collin Wick, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies

Applied and Natural Sciences:
David K. Mills, Professor of Biological Sciences
Rebecca Giorno, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Jamie Newman, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies


More information about the Molecular Sciences and Nanotechnology program can be obtained by writing to one of the coordinators:

c/o Dean of Graduate School
Louisiana Tech University
P.O. Box 7923
Ruston LA 71272
(318) 257-2924

and visiting the web site: http://coes.latech.edu/grad-programs


The objectives of this interdisciplinary program are

  1. To train graduate students in experimental, theoretical, and computational aspects of research in molecular biology, chemistry, and physics, particularly where these disciplines intersect.
  2. To enhance interdisciplinary applied research at Louisiana Tech University in micro and nanotechnology, including molecular biology.
  3. To prepare graduate students for the next generation of careers in science and technology by offering a unique, flexible, and highly interdisciplinary graduate degree.

Admission Requirements

Students with undergraduate backgrounds in biological sciences should choose degree codes that start with “ANS” on the application. Students with physical sciences or engineering backgrounds should choose degree codes that start with “ES.”

  1. A Master’s degree in biological sciences, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, electrical engineering, physics, or a closely related area is the expected qualification.
  2. Students with Bachelor’s degrees may be admitted directly to the PhD program on the basis of outstanding academic achievements (as evidenced by GPA, GRE, and scholarly achievement).
  3. Official GRE scores are required. It is expected that most applicants will have a minimum total score of 304 in the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections with a minimum of 146 in the Verbal Reasoning section. At the discretion of the PhD Steering Committee, the GRE requirement may be waived in the case of exceptional students, especially for those with national fellowships, scholarships, or professional achievement.

Core Requirements, Courses, and Dissertation

The curriculum consists of 66 credit hours. All students are required to complete a common set of core courses (10 credit hours) that exposes students to nanotechnology and molecular biology. The curriculum also requires a minimum of 23 credit hours of electives, to be selected by the student in consultation with the doctoral advisory committee and 12 credit hours of special topics and directed study designed to provide considerable depth in the dissertation area. A minimum of 18 credit hours of research and dissertation hours are required along with 3 credit hours of Doctoral Seminar credit.

Doctoral Committee

The Program Coordinator serves as the academic advisor to each student upon admission and provides guidance on the requested or recommended courses in the first term of enrollment. During the first term, students are required to select (by mutual consent) a research advisor (Major Advisor) who will also assume the role of the academic advisor from that point. The student and the Major Advisor will constitute a Doctoral Advisory Committee consisting of at least five members, chaired by the Major Advisor. The majority of the committee will be drawn from the college of the dissertation advisor. It is expected that one committee member shall be an external expert who does not hold a faculty appointment at Louisiana Tech University. The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies can waive these requirements in the absence of external experts able to serve. Should the Major Advisor change, the student is required to form a new dissertation commitee in coordination with the new advisor and submit an updated Ph.D. proposal. 

Examination Structure, Candidacy, and Time Limitation

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination will consist of a written examination that covers The core courses MSNT 521, MSNT 505, and MSNT 506.  It is strongly recommended that students register for the qualifying examination by the end of the eighth quarter of enrollment.

Comprehensive Examination

Within one year of passing the qualifying exam, a student is normally expected to pass a comprehensive examination in his/her area of specialization. The comprehensive exam will include a presentation of preliminary research achievements, a defense of proposed PhD research, and a demonstration of an understanding of the principles and methods involved in the area of research, followed by a question and answer period for the public, and a closed door session with the Committee.  A written proposal uploaded in a student’s plan of study and approved by their committee is required before a student may enroll in MSNT 686.  


After the student has successfully passed the comprehensive examination, the student will be admitted to candidacy.

Dissertation Defense Examination

The student’s Doctoral Committee administers the dissertation defense exam. It will, in most cases, consist of an open public defense of the results of the dissertation. This final exam must be successfully completed in accordance with the deadlines published by the Graduate School. Those serving on the doctoral committee must recommend, with at most one dissent, that the student has satisfactorily passed the dissertation defense exam. The Ph.D. candidate is required to publish at least one peer review article before the dissertation defense examination. 


  • Matriculation – Doctoral Advisory Committee must be appointed and an initial plan of study submitted by the end of a student’s first quarter of study.
  • Dissertation Research Proposal - A proposal outlining the research to be undertaken for the dissertation must be submitted by the end of the fourth quarter of enrollment, not including summers.
  • Qualifying Exam – To be taken in the Winter Quarter following completion of the core courses.
  • Comprehensive Exam – To be completed within 1 year of passing the qualifying exam.
  • Admitted to Candidacy - Upon passing the comprehensive exam, the student is admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree.
  • Time Limitation – Doctoral students who have earned master’s degrees in the area of their doctoral studies will be expected to complete the requirements for the degree in 7 years from initial enrollment; all others will have 8 years.

General Core Courses (9 hours)

Qualifying Examinations (0 hours)

Doctoral Seminar (3 hours)

Special Topics and Directed Study (12 hours)

Electives (24 hours)

The remaining courses for the degree (24 SCH) should be taken in consultation with the research advisor and the doctoral committee.  It is highly recommended that 18 credit hours of coursework be earned in courses that are readily identifiable as belonging to a particular discipline.  Teaching at the college level typically requires that the graduate transcripts show at least 18 hours in the subject area.

Research and Dissertation

18 hours of research and dissertation.

Complete 9 SCH of MSNT 651   prior to MSNT 686  .  After successful completion of MSNT 686  , the student will become a PhD Candidate and will complete at least 9 SCH of MSNT 751  .  For MSNT 651  or MSNT 751 , registration in any quarter is for 1 to 3 semester hours or multiples thereof, up to a maximum of 9 semester hours per quarter.


45 SCH of coursework + 3 SCH of doctoral seminar courses + 9 SCH of Pre-candidacy Doctoral Research + 9 SCH of Post-candidacy Dissertation Research = 66 SCH

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