PhD Degree Requirements

The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biomedical Engineering are completion of a minimum of 40 units of approved graded coursework, including four core courses (below), quarterly seminar in Biomedical Engineering, a course in Scientific Communication, a course in Scientific Integrity, at least one quarter teaching experience, and a dissertation approved by a three to five-member faculty committee. The MS degree is not a prerequisite for the PhD program. Courses must be taken for a letter grade; the minimum acceptable grade is B- and the minimum overall GPA is 3.50. S/U-graded courses (e.g., research 290C and 299 and seminar 290 courses) do not count toward the 40-unit graded course requirement. Each student’s program of study must be approved by their major professor and signed by their graduate adviser. Students are asked to file a preliminary program-of-study plan with the biomedical engineering graduate office within the first two weeks of the first quarter of enrollment. The plan is to be updated annually.

See PhD Degree Requirements for PDF.


The following are checklists to aid in preparing for specific graduate tracks with BME. They are in PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing.

Biomedical Imaging
Cellular and Molecular Systems
Musculoskeletal Biomechanics


BIM 202 Cell and Molecular Biology for Engineers F 4 Biol
Preparation for research and critical review in the field of cell and molecular biology for biomedical or applied science engineers. Emphasis on biophysical and engineering concepts intrinsic to specific topics including protein traffic, the cytoskeleton, cell motility, cell division, and cell adhesion. Modern topics in mechano-biology of cancer cells and stem cells.
BIM 204 Physiology for Bioengineers F 5 Biol
Basic human physiology of the nervous, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, lymphatic, renal and gastrointestinal systems and their interactions. Emphasis is placed on the physical and engineering principles governing these systems, including control and transport processes, fluid dynamics, and electrochemistry.
BIM 281 Acquisition and Analysis of Biomedical Signals S 4 Engr
This lecture/laboratory course introduces basic concepts associated with digital signal recording and analysis. Lectures introduce concepts of sampling; standard probability distributions; statistical error analysis related to experimental design; Fourier, and spectral analysis applied to signal and image processing. Labs are designed to provide hands-on experience with digital oscilloscopes, waveform generators, optical microscopy, Matlab- and Labview-based software applications.
BIM 284 Mathematical Methods for Biomedical Engineers W 4 Engr
Theoretical and numerical analyses of linear and nonlinear systems, ordinary and partial differential equations that describe biological systems and instruments that measure them. Students will be introduced to numerical solution techniques.
BIM 289C Experimental Design for Biomedical Engineers S 4 Engr


At least 12 units of the 40 unit total of graded coursework are required in courses emphasizing biological sciences. BIM 202 and BIM 204 core courses satisfy 9 of the 12 units required. At least 20 units of the 40 unit total graded coursework must be graduate-level engineering courses (those numbered 200 – 289). The remaining 8 units must be either advanced undergraduate (courses numbered 100 – 189) or graduate courses (200 – 289).  Students must enroll in BIM 290 seminar course (1 unit) during each quarter it is offered.  Students must also complete  BIM 298 Scientific Communication, BIM 209 Scientific Integrity, and 1 quarter of teaching experience (BIM 396).  Students select courses in consultation with their major professor and graduate adviser for the track of study. For an up to date listing of classes, please see the courses page.


The Biomedical Engineering Graduate Group offers the Ph.D. degree under Plan C and requires three examinations:

Examination 1 is a preliminary examination taken after one quarter of study.  It is a comprehensive test of the material covered in fundamental concepts based on the content of prerequisite coursework. The purpose of this exam is to test the student’s ability to integrate information and to solve analytical problems. The examination is graded by appropriate faculty in the BME Graduate Group. Possible grades are pass, retake (once only), and fail. The retake exam will be given within 6 months of the preliminary examination. THIS REQUIREMENT IS CURRENTLY WAIVED.

Examination 2 is an oral Qualifying Examination required for advancement to candidacy and must be completed before year 3.  The purpose of the qualifying examination is to assess a student’s potential for completing dissertation research that will be of sufficient quality to merit publication in a peer-reviewed journal. A 13-page written research plan is prepared by the student in consultation with the major professor and distributed to the committee at least two weeks prior to the examination date. The plan and the student’s command of the field is defended before a 5-member committee with representation both from engineering and biology/medicine.  The oral presentation should be approximately 30 minutes, excluding questions; the total exam will last 2-3 hours in length. The committee will ensure that the student has both breadth and depth of knowledge of the field and provide guidance to the student regarding their research plan. Food and/or drinks should not be brought to the examination.  Additional information is provided in the BMEGG Qualifying Exam Guidelines.  At least one month prior to the Qualifying Exam, students need to complete the Application for qualifying examination to establish their committee.  Following successful competition of the Qualifying Exam, students are eligible to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. and must complete the Candidacy for degree of Doctor of Philosophy Plan C form.

Examination 3 is a final oral examination taken after preparation of a written Ph.D. dissertation. Each student will prepare and present a seminar defending the scientific importance of his/her dissertation before a 3 or more member Dissertation Committee and interested faculty and graduate students in the program. Following the open presentation, the audience will be excused and the committee will continue to examine the student regarding their presentation and dissertation work. This examination is usually restricted to the members of the committee, but may be open to faculty members and guests, with the consent of the student and all the members of the dissertation committee. The Chair of the Examining Committee completes the Plan C Defense Form and submits it to the Office of Graduate Studies by the final examination date listed on the academic calendar.

Ph.D. Committees: By the end of the third quarter of enrollment, each Ph.D. student must select a major professor. In preparation for the second examination, students, in consultation with their major professors and subject to acceptance by the graduate adviser, must select an examination committee composed of five faculty members. The major professor can be a member of the committee but may not chair it. At least three committee members must be BME Graduate Group members, and,one member must be from outside the BME Graduate Group.  A BME Graduate Group Member must be selected as chair. This committee administers Examination 2. At least three members from this committee guide the students research and approve the dissertation. The dissertation committee includes the major professor, who normally serves as chair, and administers Examination 3. The student must electronically file the approved dissertation with the Office of Graduate Studies.

For deadlines and calendars see:

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