PhD Program Requirements

Overview of Requirements

The procedures for satisfying the requirements for the PhD degree in Biomedical Engineering include:

  • Successful completion of an approved program of graduate coursework
  • Passing the Preliminary Examination
  • Passing the PhD Qualifying Examination
  • Providing annual updates via the Annual Progress Report
  • Defense and approval of the PhD dissertation

PhD Required Coursework

Students completing the PhD program must complete at least four (4) Biomedical Engineering (BE) courses, including required course: BE 501 Human Biology for Biomedical Engineers (3 credit hours). View Course Descriptions for graduate courses offered within the Biomedical Engineering department.

PhD students must complete a minimum of twelve to thirty (12-30) credit hours of BE 699 Dissertation Research

Remaining credits can be obtained through other graduate courses offered by the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, or other relevant programs with department approval.

PhD Advisory Committee

Students pursuing the PhD are guided by a dissertation advisory committee. This committee is arranged to oversee all degree requirements for the student, and has the responsibility of evaluating and approving the student’s program of coursework as well as advising the PhD dissertation. The advisory committee is also responsible for administering the student’s preliminary and qualifying exam. The committee must be composed of a major professor from the Department who must be a member of the University Graduate Faculty, and at least two additional members who hold the rank of assistant professor or higher in the University Graduate Faculty. Note that Associate Members of the Graduate Faculty may not serve on doctoral committees as one of the three required core committee members, but may serve as additional committee members.

PhD Examination Stages

Each student desiring to be admitted to formal candidacy for the PhD degree will be required to take the qualifying examination conducted by the Department. The qualifying examination consists of two parts.

Part I. Preliminary Examination:  This exam is the first step along the path to the PhD. The intent of this exam is to evaluate if the student has the ability to formulate a research problem, to state hypotheses or outline design objectives, to propose a research plan using feasible design, experiment and analysis techniques to either test those hypotheses or achieve the design objectives, and to interpret data (if any). It is to be completed after the student’s second semester of PhD studies. 

Part II. Qualifying Examination: The Qualifying Exam (QE) is the second step along the path to the PhD. It is to be completed when the student and the student’s advisor believe the student is ready. Normally, this should be during the second or third year of PhD studies after passing the Preliminary Exam. The intent of the qualifying exam is to evaluate student’s overall progress and potential for graduate research as well as their ability to develop an organized research, to conduct research with proper planning and to demonstrate their potential to achieve the research goals.

For this exam, the student should give a presentation on their research followed by an oral exam. The presentation should be 30-45 minutes in length and cover, at a minimum, Background on the topic, Research completed so far, and Research to be completed. The student's faculty advisor and/or the PhD committee will determine if a written document is necessary, and the guidelines for the document. Following the presentation, the student will appear for an oral exam by the committee. 

Upon satisfactory completion of the qualifying examination, the PhD Dissertation Committee will assume responsibility for directing the dissertation work that will be carried out under the guidance of the candidate's major advisor. The dissertation must be original and must represent a significant contribution to the state of knowledge in the candidate's area of concentration.

Policies and Procedures

For Biomedical Engineering specific information see Information for Current Students.

For guidelines from The Graduate School please visit the Policies & Procedures section of their website.