Department of Chemistry


The Ph.D. in Chemistry program is designed to prepare students to become independent, creative practitioners in Chemistry. The program provides an intensive training approach both in theory and experimentation that will enable students to be better equipped in their preparation for their different career paths in academia, research and development, science-based start-ups, and the industry. The Ph.D. in Chemistry program focuses on priority areas for Kazakhstan, serving as a foundation for future high-tech industries and a knowledge-based economy.

Students in the Ph.D. in Chemistry program are required to complete 240 ECTS credits, within a normal timeline of 4 years, which is in line with the Regulatory Framework for Graduate Programs and Courses of Nazarbayev University (2019).

The program consists of comprehensive coursework and research activity. The courses are designed to enable students to acquire highly advanced and cutting-edge knowledge in Chemistry. Additional, flexible learning time allocated into their research program would enable them to attend specialized equipment training courses and gain practical skills in working with Nazarbayev University core facilities, essential for their research projects. After passing a comprehensive exam and Ph.D. proposal defense, students are required to develop and practice novel research within the area of Chemistry, or an interdisciplinary field related to Chemistry. Research components of the program and dissertation defense will be passed by each student to complete the program and graduate.


The Ph.D. in Chemistry program will typically be conducted full time over a period of 48 months. Each student will develop their personal and professional skills and their Ph.D. program as part of the core curriculum courses. The program includes the possibility of taught courses (during the first year) to support the development of postgraduate research students, to extend and test their knowledge in their research discipline.

Each student will be required to formally pass a comprehensive exam at the end of the second semester of Year 1 as a prerequisite for defending their Ph.D. proposal at the end of the second semester of Year 1. The program will then progress into a period dedicated to their research topic, from which a demonstrable original contribution to the knowledge pool will be assessed. Extension into a 5th year is possible upon approval and may come with specific requisites and stipulations. The program includes the possibility of a mobility period of 6-12 months in a host university abroad, agreed with the supervisory team and their collaborators, to provide the students with international experience.

The Ph.D. in Chemistry program, a four-year 240 ECTS credits, is a research-intensive third-cycle program designed according to the Bologna requirements. The curriculum of the program consists of three (3) different types of courses, namely:

  1. Core courses (30 ECTS)
    • Mechanistic Principles of Organic Reactions
    • Polymer Chemistry
    • Spectrochemical Methods of Analysis
    • Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics
    • Inorganic Materials and Catalysis
    • Hot Topics in Chemistry
    • Research Methods & Ethics
  2. Elective courses (32 ECTS)
    • Advanced Environmental Chemistry
    • Design of Functional Materials
    • Surfactant & Colloid Chemistry
    • Chemical Biology
    • Materials Chemistry
    • Organometallic Chemistry
  3. Research courses (178 ECTS)

Please click HERE to apply.

Deadline for International Applicants: February 28, 2022

Deadline for Local Applicants: April 18, 2022.

A sample schedule of the Ph.D. in Chemistry program can be downloaded using this link.

You can download more information about the program in various languages here - English - Russian - Kazakh.

For more inquires regarding the Ph.D. in Chemistry Program, please contact Prof. Vesselin Paunov, the department chair.

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