This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2020-21 VCU Bulletin. This edition includes all programs and courses approved by the publication deadline; however we may receive notification of additional program approvals after the launch. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

Program goals

  1. In teaching, the purpose is to provide high quality education in chemistry and/or physics in preparation for professional careers in nanoscience and nanotechnology.
  2. In research, the goals are to advance nanoscience research, to keep faculty on the forefront of the field and to maintain an educational program consistent with the latest technology and development of the discipline.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Develop effective oral and written communication skills 
  2. Demonstrate expertise (breadth and depth) in nanoscience 
  3. Demonstrate appropriate ability to design and conduct experimental research 
  4. Demonstrate ability to analyze data critically and to design experiments independently
  5. Develop competency in the responsible conduct of research

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.


Apply online at

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
Ph.D. Fall Apr 15 GRE
Spring Oct 15

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School and the College of Humanities and Sciences, students are expected to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with 30 credit hours in chemistry, physics or engineering.

Admission on a provisional basis is possible for a student temporarily lacking the expected background. Acceptance is based upon undergraduate performance, satisfactory scores on the GRE and letters of recommendation.

Graduate students in the nanoscience and nanotechnology Ph.D. program may receive financial support via teaching or research assistantships or fellowships available from the home department.

Degree requirements

In addition to the VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students preparing for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in nanoscience and nanotechnology must earn a minimum of 72 credit hours consisting of core courses (12 credit hours), elective courses (six credit hours), seminar (eight credit hours) and research (46 credit hours). The minimum GPA is the same as the one mandated by VCU’s Graduate School. However, students may receive no more than one grade of C and below. Similarly, no more than one grade of U for directed research is admissible (consecutive or nonconsecutive). Note: A student who receives more than one grade of C or below or two U grades will be automatically dismissed from the program.

Before admission to candidacy for the Ph.D., students must have:

  1. Completed at least 12 credit hours of their required course work
  2. Successfully completed a candidacy examination
  3. Successfully completed an oral candidacy examination based on a research proposal

Students will be required to complete a written candidacy examination in the area of nanoscience and nanotechnology, which will normally occur at the end of the student’s first year in residence. After passing the written candidacy examination, an oral candidacy examination is then required to become a Ph.D. candidate. The oral examination, which is administered by the student’s graduate dissertation committee, is based upon a written proposal describing the proposed dissertation research project. The proposal is intended to evaluate the adequacy of the proposed project, the student’s level of understanding of the project and the likelihood that the dissertation can be completed successfully. Students must conduct a substantial original investigation under the supervision of their advisers and must submit to the graduate dissertation committee a written dissertation reporting the results of the research and analyzing its significance in relation to existing scientific knowledge. The oral dissertation defense, conducted under the direction of the dissertation committee, will examine the candidate’s research, dissertation documentation and underlying fundamental knowledge encompassed by the candidate’s research. Upon successful completion of the defense and the dissertation, the student may apply for graduation with the Ph.D. in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Full-time students should complete the degree requirements in four to five years.

Curriculum requirements

Course Title Hours
Core courses
NANO 570Nanoscale Physics3
NANO 571Nanoscale Chemistry3
NANO 630Experimental Techniques in Nanoscience3
PHYS 560Fundamentals of Semiconductor Nanostructures3
NANO 690Research Seminar in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (one credit hour taken six times)6
NANO 692Nanoscience Seminar Presentation (one credit hour taken twice)2
Directed Research
Directed Research
Elective courses
Select a minimum of six credit hours from the following list. Other courses may be chosen, but only upon written approval from the program director.6
Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics
Advanced Inorganic Chemistry I
Solid State and Materials Chemistry
Electrochemistry Applications
Optics and Laser Physics
Solid State Physics
High Bandwidth Nanoscale Control, Positioning and Dynamics
Total Hours72

The minimum total of graduate credit hours required for this degree is 72.

Students will attend NANO 690 throughout their degree programs, receiving an S (satisfactory) or U (unsatisfactory) grade based on attendance and participation. Students will also give two seminar presentations, one on a literature topic and one on their dissertation research, which will be graded on the A/B/C/D/F scale.

Massimo F. Bertino, Ph.D.
Professor and graduate program director
(804) 828-6383

Additional contact
Joseph E. Reiner, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Department of Physics
(804) 828-7079

Program website: