PhD in Biomedical Engineering
The PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toledo is a joint program between The College of Engineering and The College of Medicine. The program is open to qualified students with either degrees in engineering or in science fields such as biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, or computer science. Since prospective students have a variety of backgrounds, the requirements for admission vary.
To be competitive for admission to this program, students must have a grade point
average of at least a 3.0/4.0 in previous undergraduate coursework and/or a 3.3/4.0
in previous graduate coursework. All non-MD applicants are required to submit the
results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Students who are candidates for
the MD program at College of Medicine may submit MCAT scores. These scores will be
reviewed on a case-by case basis. In addition, international students must submit
the results of the TOEFL exam with a required minimum score of 550 on the paper based
exam; 213 on the computer based exam; or 80 on the internet exam. Students with non-engineering
undergraduate degrees desiring entry into this PhD program must have completed 1 year
of engineering physics, 1 year of biology, 2 years of calculus through differential
equations, and at least 12 semester credit hours of undergraduate engineering/science
course work (appropriate to the area of research interest of the candidate) to be
considered for admission. Credit received for undergraduate coursework required for
admission will not be applied toward the graduate degree.
The curriculum for the PhD in Biomedical Engineering centers on several core course requirements in mathematics, engineering, and the life sciences. Additional technical courses are taken as needed to support the research area. In addition to the technical content, the PhD curriculum also contains a very unique entrepreneurship component. Students take two courses from the College of Business on intellectual property planning, and develop a business plan to commercialize their dissertation research. The overall curricular requirements are given in Table 1, followed by an example course schedule in Table 2.
Table 1: Curriculum for the Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering
Table 2: Sample schedule for PhD students in Biomedical Engineering
A minimum of 90 semester hours are required, including a minimum of 45 hours of dissertation research and a minimum of 45 hours of coursework.
The Qualifying Examination is an oral exam used to assess a student's critical thinking skills and understanding of the foundational material essential for success in the doctoral program. For students accepted into the Ph.D. program, the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam will occur after the completion of the required first year coursework.
The students rotate through 3 different examination topics which are mediated by 2-3 faculty members. Each testing topic lasts no more than 25 minutes; each student is asked questions of increasing difficulty until the perimeter of the student's knowledge is determined. Students then have 5 minutes to move on to their next testing topic. All students are tested on the common areas of mathematics and physiology. Each student selects the third test segment from the three broad specialization areas of biomechanics, bioprocessing/molecular & cellular biology, and bioelectrical systems.
To ensure that all students are tested fairly, a single day is scheduled for simultaneous testing of all students. The timing of the exam is during the week following Spring semester final exams (early May). For any students who fail the exam, the qualifier may be retaken one time. The timing for the retesting is at the end of July. However, under extenuating circumstances, the testing committee may recommend remedial coursework and/or extend the time for retesting to up to one year from the original qualifying examination.
After each student is orally questioned, the faculty exam team determines whether the student's foundational knowledge in the area is acceptable (pass), marginal, or unacceptable (fail). Following testing of all students, the exam teams assemble to consolidate and finalize the overall examination outcome for each student. The criterion for passing and retesting is shown below:
|Topic scores||Exam outcome|
|2 or more passes, no fails||Pass|
|2 or more marginals, no fails||Retesting options determined by exam committee|
|1 fail||Retest failed section|
|2 or more fails||Retest entire exam|
Decisions for passing and retesting are decided by a consensus decision of the testing faculty with the student's faculty advisor abstaining from the discussion, if present. In addition to deciding the examination outcome, the examination committee may recommend additional coursework for students as appropriate.
Following the finalization of the examination outcomes, the Program Director immediately notifies the students tested in writing of the testing outcome. If retesting is required, the student is also informed of the date of testing and the topic(s) to be retested. Students who do not receive an outright pass on the first examination have one opportunity to retest with a passing score or are dismissed from the program.
Ph.D. Dissertation Committee
Following the successful completion of the Qualifying Examination, students are expected to form their dissertation committees with the advice and consent of their research advisors. Each committee must consist of at least five UT Graduate Faculty. Affliated Faculty must constitute the majority on each committee. Each committee must include at least one Affiliated Faculty member from COE, one from COM, and one external faculty member usually from COBA.
Doctoral Candidacy and GRAD Form
All doctoral students must meet the following requirements before being admitted to doctoral candidacy:
- Pass the Biomedical Engineering Qualifying Examination
- Select a dissertation committee
- Obtain at least a 3.0/4.0 for all graduate level coursework
The Ph.D. candidacy form must be completed and submitted to the College of Engineering Office of Graduate Studies.
Prior to initiating dissertation research, each student must complete and file a GRAD Form with the College of Graduate Studies. Students must complete this form and receive the required approvals prior to beginning any research for a thesis involving humans, animals, radiation, or biohazardous substances. Federal regulations do not allow retroactive approval. Completion of the GRAD form indicates that a student's committee has approved both a topic and an approach for the research, and is aware of federal requirements for institutional review of research methods. This form must be signed by the student, research advisor, and thesis committee members.
Dissertation Research Proposal Examination
The dissertation research proposal is a document written by the student describing the research to be undertaken for the dissertation. The oral examination consists of the presentation of the written proposal by the student to the dissertation committee in a closed forum. The dissertation research proposal must be written and presented within one calendar year of passing the Qualifying Examination. A student may request an extension of up to one additional calendar year with the approval of the faculty advisor.
The dissertation research proposal should describe the background, goals, hypotheses, and general methods of the proposed research. The proposal itself should be a clear demonstration of the student's ability to write and formulate an original research problem. The proposal should be structured in a manner similar to an NIH grant application and must contain the following components:
- Table of Contents
- Research Plan
- Specific Aims
- Background and Significance
- Preliminary Studies
- Research Design and Methods
- Literature Cited
The entire proposal should be double spaced using a 12-point font with one inch page margins. The abstract is limited to one page, single-spaced. The research plan (items A-D) should not exceed 25 pages in length. The written research proposal must first be submitted to the faculty advisor for critical review. The Ph.D. proposal should be of high quality such that the faculty advisor could submit the final proposal to a funding agency in the same or modified form.
After the advisor's approval, copies of the proposal must be given to all members of the dissertation committee at least two weeks before the oral presentation. The dissertation proposal must then be formally presented to the dissertation committee and defended to their satisfaction. The presentation should be no more than 30 minutes, followed by questions to address specific issues related to the proposed research. The dissertation committee will evaluate the dissertation research proposal based on the appropriateness of the proposed research and the student's ability to complete it successfully. A vote of approval on the research proposal, possibly subject to requested modifications by the committee, indicates that the committee endorses the suitability of the proposed research and the student's ability to complete it successfully. An electronic copy of the final, approved proposal should be given to the faculty advisor. The student must submit a hard copy of the final version of the proposal, with the signed PhD Dissertation Proposal Approval form to the COE Graduate Studies secretary to be retained in the student's file.
A student who fails the dissertation research proposal examination may petition the BME Program Advisory Committee to retake the exam during the following semester. However, approval of the petition for an opportunity to retake the exam is not guaranteed.
The PhD in Biomedical Engineering includes an entrepreneurial component which is nurtured through close interaction with the College of Business Administration. COBA houses the UT Center for Technological Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The purpose of this Center is to assist entrepreneurs in commercializing their discoveries and establishing and growing a business. Each student in this degree program completes the course EFSB 6590 New Venture Creation as part of the approved elective coursework. Students may also elect to complete the additional graduate level COBA course EFSB 6690 Technology Commercialization.
Each student then integrates his COBA coursework with his research discoveries and submits a formal business plan to commercialize his dissertation research. This plan must be presented and approved by the dissertation committee prior to the final approval of the dissertation. The committee, which includes one faculty member from the COBA, may seek the advice of others in evaluating the submitted plan.
In recognition of the fact that some students will focus on more fundamental scientific research which may have limited commercial value, a student may request from the dissertation committee a substitution of the business plan by a research equivalent of this requirement. An example of such an equivalent requirement would be evidence of submission and/or publication of two peer-reviewed journal articles.
Doctoral Program Proposal Form
All Ph.D. students must file a UT Doctoral Program Proposal form with the College of Graduate Studies following successful completion of the Dissertation Research Proposal Examination. The College of Engineering has an electronic version specific to engineering students posted on the College of Engineering web site; this is not the same as the general form posted at the College of Graduate Studies.
A student's Doctoral Program Proposal form should be completed in consultation with the faculty advisor and/or the Program Director. The Doctoral Program Proposal must be TYPED and include ONLY those courses that count toward the 90 hrs (60 hrs if an M.S. degree was previously completed) required for the degree, even if additional coursework hours are completed. Students are responsible for selecting approved courses that satisfy the curriculum requirements as outlined in Table 1. Any questions regarding whether courses will satisfy the degree requirements should be addressed to the Program Director. Future courses should be entered with the expected term to be taken and no grade entered. Doctoral Program Proposal forms should be saved electronically in case modifications are required. Completed proposals should be submitted to the College of Engineering Office of Graduate Studies for approval. Modifications to an approved Doctoral Program Proposal must be submitted on a revised proposal form.
Dissertation Committee Meetings
After the student completes the PhD Dissertation Research Proposal exam, yearly committee meetings with the dissertation committee are strongly encouraged. These meetings serve several functions, primarily to: (1) keep the committee up-to-date on the student's research progress, (2) serve as a mechanism to keep the research focused, (3) provide feedback to the student as to the rate and quality of progress toward the degree, and (4) provide a forum for the student to solicit advise and guidance in areas of difficulty. For each committee meeting, the student should plan a formal presentation that restates the goals of the dissertation research, explains the steps undertaken to meet these goals, summarizes the research findings since the last committee meeting, and presents the research plan for the coming year. In addition, any manuscripts or publications completed since the last committee meeting should be distributed to the committee.
When the dissertation research is nearly completed, a final committee meeting, or Data Meeting, may be scheduled. The purpose of the Data Meeting is for the student to summarize for the committee the accomplishments of the dissertation research, including the most recent results and the final experiments to be conducted. If all committee members are satisfied with the quality and quantity of the research presented at this Data Meeting, the student is given final recommendations and is given approval to begin writing the dissertation.
Ph.D. Dissertation and Defense
Dissertation research is to be conducted in residence. The research must be completed, and the dissertation written and successfully defended before the Ph.D. degree is conferred. The primary requirement of the dissertation is that it shows evidence of high scholarly attainment through original and independent research work. The acceptability of a dissertation research depends on its quality, as is evidenced by the potential of the developed business plan and/or publication(s) in peer-reviewed journals, rather than the time and credit hours spent on the research work. Publication of research findings in high quality journals is the metric by with our Ph.D. program is measured and is highly recommended for completion of the Ph.D. degree.
When the dissertation research is completed to the satisfaction of the faculty advisor, the student prepares a complete draft of the Ph.D. dissertation. This draft is submitted to the faculty advisor for critical review, evaluation, and revision before scheduling the final defense of the dissertation. The student should give the advisor sufficient time to review the draft. After the advisor approves the document, the student prepares the final draft of the dissertation and submits a copy to each committee member for his or her critical evaluation and review at least two (2) weeks prior to the defense. The dissertation document itself can be a compilation of publications combined with appropriate introductory and concluding chapters. Information concerning the required dissertation format, reproduction, and other regulations for preparing the dissertation is available from the UT College of Graduate Studies.
The defense is scheduled after the candidate has fulfilled all of the other requirements of the doctoral program. The student must coordinate with all of the dissertation committee members in scheduling a date and time for the dissertation defense. The minimum number and affiliation of the dissertation committee members that must be present at the defense is as defined in the Ph.D. Dissertation Committee section above. Scheduling and reserving a room (i.e. a department conference room) is also the responsibility of the student.
The dissertation defense is an open and announced public presentation by the student. Announcement of the dissertation defense is a formal procedure and is a requirement for the defense. A BME Announcement of Ph.D. Dissertation form should be completed and submitted to the College of Engineering Graduate Studies office at least two (2) weeks before the scheduled defense. In a situation where intellectual property disclosure is an issue, the dissertation defense can be closed to the public by request of the faculty advisor. The Announcement of Dissertation form is still filed, but with the notation that the defense is closed to the public.
The student's dissertation committee and all those attending the meeting administer the examination. The examination is restricted to the content of the dissertation and closely related subject matter. The student must bring the completed Ph.D. Dissertation Defense Approval form to the defense to be signed by the committee members following a successful defense. The dissertation defense itself consists of a 45 minute formal oral presentation by the student, followed by open and closed question sessions. In the open question session, all guests attending the defense are invited to ask questions. Following the open question period, all guests will be asked to leave and the committee and student will remain for a private question period. After all of the committee members have questioned the student in private, the student will be asked to leave the room while the committee discusses the student's dissertation in private. The dissertation committee then votes, and a majority of the committee must concur on the final decision. If the student does not pass the dissertation defense, then the dissertation committee, in consultation with the Program Director, will decide a course of future action.
A student who successfully passes the dissertation defense may be required to change or modify the dissertation as requested by members of the dissertation committee and the advisor. These corrections must be made by the student and approved by the faculty advisor before the student is certified as having completed the requirements for the dissertation. In this case, the committee members may sign the Ph.D. Dissertation Defense Approval form on the contingency that the faculty advisor certifies the final dissertation before signing the approval. Anunbound original and a copy of the final dissertation must be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies. The student must check with the College of Graduate Studies to ensure that the corrected dissertation is received by the graduation deadline for the semester of the defense. In addition, two copies of the dissertation must be permanently bound and given to the COE Graduate Studies office (one for the advisor and one for the College library). Students are responsible for the costs associated with the copying and binding of the dissertation.
Doctoral candidacy automatically terminates five (5) years after admission to candidacy. All requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed with seven (7) years of admission to the Ph.D. program (registration for first doctoral level class). To continue beyond the time limit, a written request for extension to the research advisor and the Dean of the College of Engineering must be submitted and approved.
Ph.D. Forms Check Sheet
Over the course of the Ph.D. dissertation, several milestones must be achieved. These milestones are typically documented with a specific University or Program form. The specific milestones, forms, and the times for submission of these forms are summarized in Table 3 below.
Table 3: Ph.D. Forms Check Sheet. The forms listed below must be completed and filed by the appropriate due dates as part of the Ph.D. degree requirements. All forms are available in electronic form on the Department, College and/or Graduate Studies websites.
|Form||Due date||Return to|
|BME Advisor Selection||End of 1st semester of enrollment||BME Program Director|
|UT Doctoral Program Proposal Form||Begin upon completion of Qualifying Examination; submit following completion of Dissertation Proposal Examination||CoE Graduate Office|
|UT PhD Candidacy Form||Upon completion of Qualifying Exam and selection of Dissertation Committee||CoE Graduate Office|
|GRAD Form||After advisor selection, prior to initiation of research involving humans, animals, radiation, or biohazardous materials||CoE Graduate Office|
|Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal Approval||Within 1 year from Ph.D. Qualifying Exam||CoE Graduate Office|
|UT Application for Graduation||Beginning of final semester; check theRegistrar's website for specific dates||College of Graduate Studies|
|Announcement of Thesis/Dissertation||At least two weeks prior to thesis defense||CoE Graduate Office|
|Business Plan Submission and Evaluation form||Following completion of COBA elective courses, prior to completion of the dissertation||CoE Graduate Office|
|College of Engineering PhD Dissertation Cover Page||Attach to front of completed dissertation|
|Ph.D. Dissertation Defense Approval||Bring to the dissertation defense||CoE Graduate Office|
|BME Graduate Exit Interview Form||Upon completion of dissertation degree requirements||CoE Graduate Office|
Students must apply for graduation using the UT Application for Graduation form. This form must be filed with the Student Records Office at or before the beginning of the semester during which the degree requirements are expected to complete.
To receive the Ph.D. degree, a student must:
- Satisfy the coursework requirements summarized in Table 1.
- Maintain a 3.0/4.0 GPA in all coursework (see Grade Requirements for Graduation).
- Pass the Qualifying Examination.
- Pass the Dissertation Research Proposal Examination.
- Complete and receive approval of the business plan for commercialization of the dissertation research and/or provide evidence of publication of two or more peer-reviewed journal publications.
- Submit all appropriate degree forms according to Table 3.
- Write and successfully defend the doctoral dissertation and make any corrections as required.
- Submit the unbound original and one copy of the Ph.D. dissertation to the College of Graduate Studies by the graduation deadline for the semester of the defense. Each copy of the dissertation must include an original signed College of Engineering Ph.D. dissertation cover page.
- Have all PR and IN grades removed from the transcript. The College of Engineering Graduate Office must see a copy of the final dissertation before grade change forms will be processed. A copy of the College of Graduate Studies cover page, COE cover page and abstract will be made for the College files to verify that the dissertation has been completed.
- Submit an electronic copy of the dissertation the faculty advisor.
- Submit two permanently bound copies of the Ph.D. dissertation to the COE Graduate Studies office: one for the College library and one for the research advisor.
Additional Graduation Requirements
Individual faculty advisors may have additional coursework, conference presentation, or publication requirements that must be satisfied before the degree is granted. These requirements should be discussed and agreed upon with the faculty advisor at the beginning of the Ph.D. program of study. Written documentation of any additional graduation requirements must be signed by both student and advisor and filed in the student's file in the College of Engineering.