PHD Exams

A bioengineering Ph.D. student is required to pass three examinations. The first is a Departmental Qualifying Examination that must be taken immediately following the candidate's first academic year of enrollment and is usually scheduled in the month of July. The exam is designed to ensure that all successful candidates possess a strong command of the engineering and life science subjects that form the foundations of bioengineering research at a level appropriate for the doctorate. It is administered by a committee designated by the department, consisting of departmental faculty members and, in some cases, one other faculty member from a related academic department (e.g., MAE, ECE, Medicine).

The Senate Qualifying Examination is the second examination required of bioengineering Ph.D. students. In preparation for this examination, students must have completed the Departmental Qualifying Examination, the departmental teaching requirement, all required coursework, obtained a faculty research advisor, and identified a topic for their dissertation research and made initial progress. At the time of application for advancement to candidacy, the Graduate Council appoints a Doctoral Committee responsible for the remainder of the student’s graduate program. The committee conducts the Senate Qualifying Examination, during which students must demonstrate the ability to engage in thesis research. This involves the presentation of a plan for the thesis research project. The committee may ask questions directly or indirectly related to the project and general questions that it determines to be relevant. Upon successful completion of this examination, students are advanced to candidacy and are awarded the Candidate in Philosophy degree.

The Dissertation Defense is the final Ph.D. examination. Upon completion of the dissertation research project, the student writes a dissertation that must be successfully defended in a public presentation and oral examination conducted by the Doctoral Committee. A complete copy of the student’s dissertation must be submitted to each member of the Doctoral Committee approximately four weeks before the defense. It is understood that this copy of the dissertation given to committee members will not be the final copy, and that the committee members may suggest changes in the text at the time of the defense. This examination must be conducted after at least three quarters of the date of advancement to doctoral candidacy. Acceptance of the dissertation by the Office of Graduate Studies and Research and the university librarian represents the final step in completion of all requirements for the Ph.D. There is no formal foreign language requirement for doctoral candidates. Students are expected to master whatever language is needed for the pursuit of their own research.