Graduate Program

Ph.D. BioE Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. bioengineering is evidence of ability to work as an engineer and researcher who demonstrates excellence in scientific research and continued intellectual leadership as an independent researcher. The holder of a Ph.D. degree will have completed a rigorous set of track courses and, courses outside of the track department, and pursue a focused research project. A dissertation is required.

The program is rigorous, and places high demands on the student. Students must demonstrate that they understand interdisciplinary concepts, are able to generate testable hypotheses, design experiments, and collect and analyze data, both independently and within team and interdisciplinary environments.

The Doctor of Philosophy bioengineering degree program provides knowledge breadth in engineering and the biological sciences, and knowledge depth in a particular research area. The degree will prepare students for careers in private and public firms, and a university setting.

The aspirant works with an advisor from his or her selected track area to develop a formal Plan of Study. The track areas encompass the major research and educational themes within the bioengineering degree program; each track has a director and affiliated faculty. The student selects from among track courses offered under the track areas to construct a comprehensive educational and research program that takes (a) advantage of the student’s background, (b) demonstrates academic and research skills, and (c) capitalizes on the strengths of the affiliated faculty.

Goals and Objectives

The general goals and objectives for the bioengineering Ph.D. degree are to:

  1. provide students with an in-depth understanding of mathematics, engineering principles, physics, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, computation, and modern biology;
  2. train students to apply basic sciences to medical and biological problems, using engineering principles;
  3. train students to recognize and provide engineering solutions to clinical problems;
  4. train students to research bioengineering problems;
  5. train students to apply bioengineering research to commercially viable problems; and,
  6. train students to teach bioengineering at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

The Plan of Study

The student’s Advisor will help the student develop his/her “Plan of Study”, which must be approved by the student’s Advisory Committee. The Plan of Study must consist of the following components: CORE, RESEARCH, DEPTH, BREADTH and ELECTIVES. Details regarding the list of approved courses are available on the Track Advising Sheets.

CORE (6 hours)

CPE 756 Introduction to Bioengineering (3)
BIOE 800 Bioengineering Colloquium (0.5 hrs/semester, 4 semesters required)
BIOE 801 Responsible Conduct in Engineering Research (1)

RESEARCH (18 min – 24 max)

The student’s research will lead to the PhD’s dissertation, which demonstrates that its author has completed an original and independent investigation of a significant problem. The dissertation provides evidence that the student can recognize an important problem, acquire the data to answer the questions posted within that problem, and extend the results of the answered questions to other problems of significance. Defense of the dissertation is scheduled when the Advisory Committee listed on the Plan of Study agrees that the research is complete.

DEPTH, BREADTH and ELECTIVES (30 -36 hours)

Students must complete the number of hours required in the respective track that they have chosen. The total number of hours for degree completion will vary by track; with a minimum is 60 hrs.


There are three examinations that are part of the Ph.D. curriculum. Successful completion of the qualifying and comprehensive exams will admit the student to Ph.D. candidacy. The defense is the final exam.

The Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is normally taken following completion of the majority of the track coursework (typically within the first year). The qualifying exam can serve as an entrance exam to the Ph.D. exam. This exam can be taken a maximum of two times.

The Comprehensive Examination

The major examination in a doctoral student's career is the comprehensive examination. It is intended to assure that the student has potential to become an independent investigator. The skills demonstrated in this examination include those necessary to obtain funding for research and development in academia, government, and industry; these skills are expected to be highly developed. The comprehensive examination is used to determine the soundness, significance, and originality of the student's research project, as well as test the clarity and thoroughness of the student's understanding. It provides an opportunity for the student to justify his or her research vision, describe the initial research plan, and present preliminary data demonstrating feasibility of the project. The comprehensive examination affords an opportunity to correct deficiencies in the student's overall educational program that become evident during the course of the exam. As an open examination, the comprehensive exam also reflects on the quality of research. Passing the examination advances the student to doctoral candidacy status.

The Dissertation Defense

The doctoral dissertation demonstrates that its author has completed an original and independent investigation of a significant problem. The dissertation provides evidence that the student can define an important problem, develop a viable research plan to investigate the problem and generalize the results to other problems of significance. Defense of the doctoral dissertation is scheduled when the Advisory Committee agrees that the research is complete.