Information for Current Students

Culminating Experience Requirements

All students must complete a minimum of 30 credits to earn a degree. The degree culminates in one of three options: Comprehensive Exam (all-course option), the Master’s Project, or the Master’s Thesis. By default, all entering students are advised by the Graduate Program Director and are in the Comprehensive Exam (all course) option. If a student wishes to pursue an MS with Thesis or Project, they must have agreement with the faculty member who is willing to be their advisor. When this is the case, approval must be obtained from the Graduate Director. Only students who are in the Project or Thesis options can take BE 597 Engineering Project or BE 599 Master’s Research. Students may change their track from Thesis to Project, and any Thesis credits taken can count as Project credits. Students cannot cahnge their track from Project to Thesis. Students who wish to pursue the Project or Thesis option are welcome to talk with the faculty to determine their research interests and availability to supervise students.

Thesis Information

Students pursuing the Thesis option will complete three (3) to six (6) credits of BE 599 Master’s Research. The course is taken under the direction of their permanent advisor, and allows them to earn credit for the time spent conducting their research and preparing their thesis. MS Thesis students must complete at least four (4) Biomedical Engineering (BE) lecture courses, including required courses: BE 501 Human Biology for Biomedical Engineers (3 credit hours) and BE 502 Quantitative Analysis in Biomedical Engineering (3 credit hours). 

The MS thesis must be successfully defended before the student’s MS thesis committee. The Thesis Committee should be selected by the start of the second semester of study, using the Thesis Committee Selection form located on the department website. The MS thesis committee is chaired by the student’s permanent advisor and includes at least one additional graduate faculty member. The student’s advisor will help to form the committee. Faculty from other departments also may participate on a student’s committee but the permanent advisor must be from the Biomedical Engineering Department.

Prior to the MS thesis defense, the student in consultation with his/her advisor will prepare a first draft of the thesis. Upon completion of a "reader's copy," the student’s committee members will have two weeks to review the document and decide whether revisions are required or if the defense can be scheduled. If revisions are necessary, then additional time will be needed for further review. The thesis must include a cover page listing the student’s advisor and committee members, along with spaces for their signatures. Once the thesis is ready for defense, the student is required to send the department their defense information (Title, Abstract, Committee Members, date, time, and location) – the defense will be announced one week prior to the defense. The defense should consist of an oral presentation open to the public of about 30-45 minutes long, with an additional 10 to 15 minutes for general questions. Immediately after the open session the defense will continue with the student's thesis committee only. After the defense, the committee will determine whether the student has successfully defended the thesis or whether additional work is required. After successfully completing a thesis defense, the candidate must submit to the Graduate School an electronic copy of the thesis. In addition, one bound copy must be submitted to the Department, as well as the M-form. It also is customary for students to provide bound copies to their committee members.

Master’s Project Information

Students pursuing the Project option will complete three (3) to six (6) credits of BE 597 Engineering Project. The course is taken under the direction of their permanent advisor, and allows them to earn credit for the time spent conducting their research and preparing their project. MS Project students must complete at least four (4) Biomedical Engineering (BE) lecture courses, including required courses: BE 501 Human Biology for Biomedical Engineers (3 credit hours) and BE 502 Quantitative Analysis in Biomedical Engineering (3 credit hours).  

The Master’s Project is generally more applied than that for a thesis, with the student often defining a problem and developing a solution for it. The project may be a scholarly undertaking that results in a tangible outcome - a device prototype, a start-up business plan, a technical report, a computer program, - that does not fit neatly within the framework of a traditional scholarly thesis paper. However, the final project should be accompanied by a paper written by the student that introduces, analyzes, and contextualizes the project, and demonstrates the student's familiarity with the relevant literature of the field. The Project must be approved by the student’s permanent advisor, and one additional core Biomedical Engineering faculty member who will serve as the “Signing Advisor.” The Signing Advisor is selected by the student’s permanent advisor. A copy of the final paper must be submitted to the department after it is approved by both advisors, along with the M-form and Project Approval form.

The scope of the project and the format of the work to be done will be decided, in discussion with the student, by the student’s permanent advisor. Students are not required by the department to have a committee to oversee their Master’s Project, and the department does not require a defense of the project, however it is at the discretion of individual faculty members to require either or both of these components for the student with whom they are working.

Comprehensive Exam Information (All-Course)

Students pursuing the Comprehensive Exam option may receive a Master’s degree by completing 30 credits of coursework; they are not responsible for conducting any significant research.  When a student submits their Application to Candidacy, they will register to take their Comprehensive Exam near the end of the term in which they will graduate. The Comprehensive Exam is only offered once per Fall term and once per Spring term. The exam will be prepared by the core faculties in the Biomedical Engineering department and will draw from all graduate courses offered in the department in the 12 months prior to the exam.  Students completing the Comprehensive Exam (All-Course) option must complete at least six (6) Biomedical Engineering (BE) courses, including required course: BE 501 Human Biology for Biomedical Engineers (3 credit hours). Students are not required to take every graduate course offered by the department, but they should be aware that material in the Comprehensive Exam may cover aspects from any of those courses.   The student will not be responsible for material from informal courses, Special Topics courses, and courses not offered within the 12 months prior to the exam.  Students may take related courses in other SEAS or SMBS departments based on their interests and career goals, but the Comprehensive Exam will be based on the coursework within the department.   If a student is unsure whether a course outside of the department is related to the degree in Biomedical Engineering, the student should discuss the course with the Graduate Director prior to enrolling. A student may, upon approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, take additional courses- outside of the required six BE courses – that are not BE courses and apply them toward their degree requirements.  Any courses to be taken outside of the Biomedical Engineering department must be requested in writing using the Outside BME Course Approval Form. 

The Comprehensive Exam will be a pass/fail exam. If a student does not pass the exam the first time, the student will be allowed to retake the exam once at the immediate subsequent offering. A student who fails both offerings of the exam will not be allowed to continue in the Graduate Program and will not earn their MS degree in Biomedical Engineering. A passing grade will be awarded for a student who achieves total average score of 70% or better and a score of at least 50% on each question answered.   All students can request to review their graded exam(s) for up to one year after it is taken; the examination may only be viewed in the Biomedical Engineering offices, and the student may neither make nor keep a copy of their examination.  A student who registers for and does not show up for the Comprehensive Exam will be receive a failing grade; exceptions may be made for extraordinary circumstances at the discretion of the Graduate Director.

In the semester that a student finishes the 30 credits of coursework, they are eligible to register for the Comprehensive Exam. Students must register with the department during the first week of classes in the semester. If a student does not register during the first week of class, they will not be eligible to take the exam in that semester. The exam will be given within five (5) days of the last day of final exams for the semester. The exact date and time will be set a minimum of 6 weeks in advance. During the Spring offering, the exam may occur after the University commencement ceremony- students who are eligible will still be allowed to participate in the ceremonies.

Students may choose to take the exam in the semester in which they finish their 30 credits of coursework or in the immediate subsequent semester.  While delaying the examination will allow the student additional time to prepare for the exam, delaying will result in additional tuition fees for any credit hours registered in each semester as students are required to be registered for at least 1 credit in every semester until graduation.

Faculty Advisor

Students who are interested in completing a Thesis or Project should secure a faculty advisor by the start of the second semester of study. During the first semester of study, students are encouraged to meet with Graduate faculty members to discuss possible research interests. A student may choose a permanent faculty advisor as soon as the student and prospective advisor agree. To secure the advisor assignment, students must complete the “Faculty Advisor Agreement” form and obtain their advisors’ signature. This form should be submitted to the department by the start of the second semester of study. Once the department has been informed of the advisor/student agreement, the student is required to consult with their permanent advisor to plan their coursework and/or research for each remaining semester, along with the preparation of the Application to Candidacy and for other forms that must be submitted. The permanent advisor provides guidance and helps direct the student’s thesis or project. For students completing a thesis, the thesis committee is chaired by the student's permanent advisor. For students completing a project, the project requirements and approval are set by the student’s permanent advisor. Students completing their degree requirements by taking the Comprehensive Exam (all-course option) will be advised, as necessary, by the Graduate Director, and do not need to submit a Faculty Advisor Agreement form. 

Application to Candidacy

The primary purpose of the Application to Candidacy (ATC) is to serve as a useful planning document for the student and the student’s committee, as well as to indicate to the Graduate School the student’s intended degree date. This is usually submitted when only one or two semesters remain in your study plan. The Application to Candidacy includes a summary of courses that are yet to be applied toward the degree.  The following additional points should be noted with regard to the Application to Candidacy:

  • The Application to Candidacy must be accompanied with a preliminary abstract of the dissertation, project, or thesis, a transcript of all coursework listed on the application, official transcripts to document any transfer credits, and informal course descriptions (for independent study or special topics courses).
  • Changes (e.g., adding and/or deleting one or two courses, changing thesis titles, changing committee members other than the major advisor, etc.) may be made using the Petition to Amend ATC Form.
  • For graduation expected at the end of a Fall term, the ATC must be submitted to the department no later than October 1st of that Fall, for the end of a Spring term it must be submitted no later than February 15 of that Spring, and for the end of a summer term it must be submitted no later than June 15 of that Summer. It is encouraged to submit the forms immediately after the completion of the Qualifying Examination.
  • An approved Application to Candidacy must be on file before a student may submit a Certification of Full- Time Status Form.

Important Milestones

Informal Courses

Informal courses usually include Independent Study and Individual Problems, which are  taught  on  an informal basis and do not have formal catalog descriptions. Graduate Internships are also considered Informal coursework. These courses require a complete narrative description which includes the signatures of the student, instructor/supervisor, and the Director of Graduate Studies/Coordinating Instructor. For Ph.D. students, a copy of the Individual Problems form or Graduate Internship Proposal form must be included with the student's Application to Candidacy for each such informal course taken for credit.

A maximum of 6 credit hours of informal course work may be applied toward the minimum 30 credit hour requirement for the Master's degree.

Excluding those credits applied towards the Master's degree, a maximum of 6 additional credit hours of informal course work may be applied towards the minimum 72 credit hour requirements for the Ph.D. degree. No more than 12 credit hours of Informal coursework can be applied toward the 72 credit hour requirement for the Ph.D. degree.

Scholastic Standing

a) A Master's student admitted on a provisional basis must demonstrate his or her ability to perform satisfactorily at the graduate level before being admitted to degree program as a matriculated student. The Department will specify the conditions in the letter of admission offering provisional status. A grade point average of 3.0 is required in all remedial courses.

b) A graduate student is officially considered to be a student for the Ph.D. degree only upon successful completion of the departmental Ph.D. qualifying examination.

c) A graduate student must earn an average of at least 3.0 for all courses taken for graduate credit which could be applied toward the degree. Accordingly, graduate course work in excess of that applied toward the credit requirement for the degree will be included in the computation of the student's GPA.

d) Satisfactory progress requires a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. A student is placed on probation if his or her GPA falls below 3.0 at the end of any grading period.

e) The following will constitute grounds for dismissal if:

  • a grade of "F" is earned in any course that could be applied towards the degree;
  • more than two grades are obtained from among “C,” “D,” and “U” in courses which could be applied to the degree;
  • the conditions of provisional admission have not been satisfied within one semester after admission;
  • probationary status has not been removed after one semester;
  •  the cumulative grade point average for courses which could be applied to the degree falls to below 2.5 at the end of any grading period; or,
  • the student is found guilty of academic dishonesty according to existing regulations.

A student who has been officially dismissed and who seeks reinstatement must submit a formal request for reinstatement, along with a supporting statement of explanation, to the Chair of the Department. The request shall be reviewed according to the Policies and Procedures of the UB Graduate School.  

Residency Requirement

  • A 24 credit-hour residency is required for the completion of your degree
  • Students must maintain continuous registration until all degree requirement have been fulfilled. If such registration should be impossible, they must secure a leave of absence

Transfer of Credits Taken at Other Universities

  • A maximum of 6 transfer credits of graduate course work may be applied toward the 30 credit hour requirement for a Master's degree
  • Only courses applicable to the engineering degree are acceptable as transfer credit, and the Department must approve all transfer credits
  • Only those graduate courses completed with grades of "B" or better are eligible for consideration as transfer credit.  However, the grade of the transferred course will not be counted towards the student’s grade point average at UB
  • Students requesting approval of transfer credits must submit the Transfer Credits Petition during their first year of study in Biomedical Engineering at UB.

Time Limits for Degree

Four years from the first registration date in the graduate program, excluding approved leaves of absence.

A petition for an extension of time limit requires departmental and SEAS approval through the Director of Graduate Studies. The student must be currently making active progress towards the degree. The petition will be presented to the SEAS divisional committee for approval before being submitted to the Graduate School. The petition must clearly delineate reasons for the extension, present a schedule for progress and set a deadline for completion of the program. The extension of time limit is normally granted for a maximum period of one year.

Leaves of Absence

  • A petition for leave of absence should be filed prior to the start of the semester in which the leave is to begin.
  • Leaves of absence will normally be granted for only one year at a time. 
  • Leaves of more than one semester require valid justification and documentation from the student and the student's advisor.   Documented cases of financial hardship, illness, or compulsory military service constitute valid justification.
  • A student who leaves the program after completion of some graduate work but has not been given an approved leave of absence must reapply and be readmitted as a new student, according to University guidelines.
  • Continued leaves of absence beyond two years will not be granted.

Graduation Information

General information regarding graduation is available on the Graduate School's website. This includes information regarding deadlines, required forms, and a checklist of requirements.

Additionally, all graduating students must complete the Departing Laboratory Student Checklist and submit this form with their signed M-form.

Part-Time Study

Domestic students wishing to study part-time may do so but only as an MS student completing the Comprehensive Exam option. Students completing a Master’s Thesis, Master’s Project, or enrolled in the PhD program are required to register as Full-Time students as long as work on their project/thesis/dissertation remains. International Students on a Student Visa are required to maintain Full-Time status for the duration of their studies or their Visa will be invalidated.

Please note most courses are scheduled during standard business hours, in many semesters there may be no opportunity to complete courses in the evenings.

Other Policies & Procedures