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Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

Program Description

Admission Requirements
Applicants to the BME doctoral option are required to have a degree at the level of Bachelor or Master's in engineering or basic/applied/health sciences with a strong emphasis on mathematics (Calculus I and II), chemistry (Organic Chemistry), and the physical sciences (Physics I, and Physics II), with some exposure to the life sciences (physiology, cell biology, or molecular biology). Students who do not meet all requirements may be admitted into the program pending the successful completion of requisite courses.
Applicants must submit official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate records. Three letters of recommendation written by individuals qualified to judge the ability of the applicant to conduct graduate work and research are required. GRE and TOEFL (if applicable) are required.
Financial Support
Doctoral students will be supported from a variety of sources. It is expected that the bulk of the funding will be from externally funded research grants. As is current practice in the College of Engineering, these will be combined Teaching Assistant/Research Assistant positions for the first two years. In general, continued support after the first two years will be as a Research Assistant. It is anticipated that a number of doctoral students will be supported by fellowships or traineeships in the future.
Course Requirements
As with other options in the Ph.D. in Engineering, the Biomedical Engineering doctoral option will require the satisfactory completion of a total of 63 credit hours, with a minimum of 30 course credits and 21 research credits. The remaining 12 credits can be a mix of research and course credits. Students will have to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.25 to graduate.
1. Biomedical Core Courses (15 credits) - To fulfill this requirement, all students must complete the following four courses: Bioinstrumentation (3), Fundamentals of Biomaterials (3), Biomechanics (3), and Quantitative Physiology (3). In addition, an Advanced Mathematics (3) course will be required. This math core course will be chosen in conjunction with the dissertation research advisor. All students must demonstrate proficiency by passing with a minimum CGPA of 3.25 in the core courses.
2. Track Courses (12 credits) - The purpose of the track courses is to provide depth of knowledge in a specific area of Biomedical Engineering and to pose a solid foundation for students to excel in their specific research topic. It is recommended that students first identify a field of interest in collaboration with their research advisor, and then select track courses that align with the research topic of choice. Initial tracks for the program will mimic the tracks in the undergrad BME program (Medical Devices, Biomechanics, or Cellular & Tissue Engineering). Additional track courses can be chosen in collaboration with the research advisor.
3. Elective Courses (3 credits minimum) - The remaining three required course credits can be selected in conjunction with the research advisor to add breadth to the program. This course can be an appropriate engineering, math, or science course.
4. Graduate Seminar Course (0 credit) - A key component of the Ph.D. option will be to provide comprehensive professional skills training from start to finish. This training will be accomplished through courses as well as other requirements of the program. Importantly, the program will be designed to ensure that student progress is actively monitored such that students will move through the program in a timely manner (3 to 5 years). This rate of progress will be accomplished by including a Graduate Seminar Course (0 credit) in each year of their program. One of the requirements of this seminar will be a work-in-progress presentation of their research to date. As the student progresses through the program, this presentation may include a review of the literature, methods development for their proposal, and preliminary findings of their research.
5. Dissertation Research (21 credits) - A minimum of 21 credit hours of Dissertation Research will be required.
6. Additional Credits (12 credits) - An additional 12 credits that can be a mix of research and course credits to bring the total for the degree up to 63 credits.
Qualifying Exam
The Dissertation Research Proposal will also serve as the qualifying exam. Each Ph.D. student is required to present their research proposal to their Graduate Committee and to describe initial results obtained to date together with plans to complete the research. A full-time student will have to write and orally defend their Dissertation Research Proposal by the end of their second year. Core knowledge and ability to think critically and in an interdisciplinary fashion will be evaluated during the defense of the Dissertation Research Proposal. Students who fail to pass this examination on the first attempt will be given one opportunity to re-take the exam. Students who fail the exam a second time will be recommended to complete an appropriate master's degree and exit the doctoral program.
Optional Industrial Internship
As an optional component to the program, select students will have the opportunity to apply for an Industrial Internship with an industrial partner after passing their Dissertation Research Proposal. These internships will expose students to non-academic environments and will also help foster the development of new University-Corporate collaborations.
Dissertation Defense
A thesis for the doctoral degree must represent distinct scholarship and must be an original contribution to knowledge. It must show familiarity with the state-of-the-art of the field and must demonstrate the ability to plan and carry out the proposed research, to organize results, and to defend the approach and conclusions in a scholarly manner.
BME Graduate Committee
The proposed doctoral option will be overseen by a standing BME Graduate Committee comprised of faculty members from the Biomedical Engineering Department. This committee will be chaired by the Associate Chair for Biomedical Engineering. The committee will:
1. evaluate program curriculum and policies,
2. monitor the dissertation research proposal exam,
3. approve thesis defense committees, and
4. assist in mediating issues that may arise between students and faculty.