Current Graduate Students

Academic Advising

For academic advising, please see our Academic Advising page to find the contact information for the graduate academic advisors. 

Career Advising

Information on career advising resources and professional and career development opportunities can be found on our Career Advising page.

Financial Support

Information on Ph.D. financial support and masters students obtaining funding for their graduate education can be found on our Financial Support page.

Programs and Curriculum

Find all the information on courses and requirements for each graduate program on our Degree Programs page. 

Teaching Resources

For information about Graduate Instructional Assistant (GIAs) or Teaching Assistant (TA) positions in the department, including responsibilities, please see our Teaching Resources page. 

Bioengineering Graduate Society (BEGS)

Engage with other students in the department through social and professional events organized by BEGS. More information can be found on their website at begs.ucsd.edu


Graduate Student Handbook

Below please find helpful information to assist students during their graduate studies in Bioengineering.

RESOURCES

Campus Offices and the Library 

 

  • The Academic Integrity Office “promotes and supports a culture of academic integrity in order to reinforce quality teaching and learning” at UCSD. Information on how to “Excel with Integrity” and ways to report potential academic integrity violations can be found on their website.
  • The Campus Card Office provides ID card services. Every registered graduate student is eligible for an official UCSD ID card. You can find more information on their website about how to obtain a physical ID card and replace a lost/ damaged/ stolen ID card. 
  • The Career Service Center offers a range of programs and services to support student career and professional development. Please see our Career Advising page for more information and to find additional information and links for the Career Services Center. 
  • The Graduate Division provides support and services related to graduate education on campus and GradLife supports graduate student life through a number of resources, programs, and events. 
  • The Financial Aid Office can assist students with questions related to FAFSA, loans, and scholarships.
  • Housing Information:
  • The International Students & Program Office (ISPO) provides expert level knowledge in immigration services and advising for international students. Questions about visas should be directed to ISPO. Please visit their website for information on advising services and the latest updates on visa regulations. 
  • Library Services are available online and in-person at the main Geisel Library Building and the Biomedical Library Building. More information about their service can be found on their website, and a list of Subject Librarians can be found there as well.
  • The Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination (OPHD) “educates the UCSD community about issues of bias, harrassment, and discrimination, and assists with the prevention and resolution of these issues.”  
  • The Office of the Ombuds “provides a confidential, safe space for UCSD community members to talk about concerns and problem-solve issues arising from interpersonal and group conflict.”
  • Transportation Services handles all transportation and related services, including:
    • Campus Shuttles that service different areas on and off campus 
    • Mobility Services to help campus community members with a disability travel between ADA compliant locations 
    • Parking Permits for the campus community
    • The U-PASS (a student bus pass) that provides rides on local public transportation 

 

Mental & Physical Health and Wellbeing

 

Below please find a list of campus offices and services related to student mental and physical health and wellbeing. 

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers students free and confidential counseling and psychological services, as well as groups, workshops, and open forums. For more information about CAPS, their services, and how to schedule an appointment with their office, please visit their website.
  • The Center for Mindfulness provides mindfulness and compassion practice and support, including programmatic offers, free live practice sessions, and resources. 
  • Student Health and Well-Being provides support services in Student Health, CAPS, and Health Promotion. 
  • UCSD Recreation “engages the campus community to pursue lifelong wellbeing, growth, and success.” They offer a number of different opportunities, including classes, workshops, sports, outdoor adventuring, and wellness services. 
  • The Zone promotes a healthy Triton community through programming centered around healthy living and well-being resources for students

 

Student Support Services and Resource Centers

 

Below please find a list of support services for students as well as information about the various resource centers on campus.

 

Student Organizations and Life

 

Below please find information about student organizations and additional student life-related opportunities. 

  • Student organizations: With over 600 student orgs on campus, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. For a comprehensive list of student orgs, please visit the website for the Center for Student Involvement (CSI). A few student orgs of note:
  • ArtPower provides performing and media arts at UCSD, including music, dance, and special events. More information about their upcoming events and how to purchase tickets or season passes can be found on their website.
  • The Craft Center serves as “a space dedicated to the exploration and celebration of creative processes.” The Center offers crafting workshops, classes, and other events. 
  • The Center for Ethics and Spirituality is a “self-supporting campus resource assisting members of the UC San Diego community in their personal pursuits of spiritual well-being.”

 

GENERAL TOPICS

Advice for Students

 

The Department encourages students to seek advice on their graduate studies, graduate student life, and research from a variety of sources, including faculty, staff, and fellow students. Below you will find some helpful advice from current students and alumni who are or were once in your shoes! We thank BEGS for their assistance in gathering this advice! Note: some entries have been edited for clarity and length. Opinions expressed in quotes are those of the author of the advice and should be viewed as advice only (not policy).

On Coursework and Classes:

  • “Form study groups”
  • “You are not competing with your classmates, so make an effort to get to know your classmates and help each other out regardless of program (MS, PhD, etc). Everyone here is brilliant and approaches problems differently. You can all succeed together!”

On Graduate Student Life:

  • “Follow graduate school and PhD pages and accounts on social media. The difficulties of graduate school portrayed by cartoons or memes are oddly specific and widespread across the world.”
  • “It is completely acceptable to take a mental health day and/or a leave of absence. Your degree is important, but your mental health and well being are essential to your success.”
  • “Talk to a few focused people at every level of the department (undergrads, grads, administration, and professors that resonate with your project or personality.) As a graduate student, your success is deeply integrated into the success of your lab and the department and vice versa. Actively communicating to different types of people is key for the success of all stakeholders.”

On Research:

  • “When figuring out how to solve a problem, or how to take care of yourself, forge the path that works for you. You are ultimately the primary author of your work and life, so if you're not ok, your work will not be ok. Communicate difficulties, but with a plan integrating reality with an understanding of how you tick.”
  • For PhD Students: “Your PhD is a group project. At the end of your PhD, you realize you were paired up with yourself from 4-5+ years ago, and you are picking up the pieces, learning from and fixing the mistakes from when you started your PhD. Your 'partner' made a lot of mistakes. Look back and appreciate your growth.”

On Advisors and Committees:

  • “Find a research mentor - it can be in your lab or another lab, preferably someone in the lab 80%+ of their time. Faculty advisors may not be in the lab as frequently as your research mentor, and there is going to be a disconnect. You will have an inherently different research experience/journey from your faculty advisor, so manage expectations.”
  • “This takes time and experience, but learn to say 'no' [in a professional way]  to your advisor. Some experiments or analyses can be a waste of time, and sometimes you have too much on your plate. Saying 'no' is a sign of growth, understanding the science, and understanding what you can handle.”
  • “Involve your committee members early and often, they really help with project management, understanding expectations, and having a professor that is not your PI to give you academic and mental health advice.”
  • “Talk with your advisor about classes (both taking and serving as a teaching assistant) that will be most relevant to your research and interests.”

 

Animal Use

 

The use of experimental animals is an essential component in the research of many Bioengineering graduate students. UCSD has excellent animal care facilities and professional veterinary staff. The facilities and animal care programs are regularly inspected by the USDA, and all the facilities are fully accredited by the American Association for the Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care.

All research and teaching at UCSD involving live vertebrate animals must be conducted under an Animal Care and Use Protocol approved by the UCSD Animal Subjects Committee, which consists of veterinarians, scientists and lay people. The committee and the review process follow guidelines published by the National Institutes of Health.

Students and personnel who participate in any capacity in animal research at UCSD must first be approved by the Animal Subjects Committee. The personnel form that must be completed by each participant is now online. Note that one such form must be submitted for every protocol and each species that you will be involved with.

All investigators named on a protocol (including students) must be properly trained for all the procedures they will conduct. You should also have a current copy of the protocol and a copy of the NIH Guide to the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, which will be given to you by the principal investigator of the protocol. Any changes to the procedures described in the protocol have to be approved in advance by the Animal Subjects Committee.

You will also see that students involved in animal research are required to enroll in the Occupational Health Program at UCSD. If you have any health, training or ethical concerns regarding the use of animals in your research do not hesitate to discuss them with a faculty member.

 

Conflict Resolution

 

General Information 

This is the official Department of Bioengineering Conflict Resolution Policy and is meant as a resource guide for Bioengineering students and faculty when navigating potential conflicts. Conflict may look different in each lab and/or in each specific situation, so please keep this in mind when reviewing this policy and applying it to your specific situation. 

Students should feel that they can go to the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office to discuss any concern. The Student Affairs staff receive specific training on dealing with student concerns and must follow the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which includes keeping conversations confidential to the extent possible without promising confidentiality when discussions intersect with other laws. It is important to note that the Department cannot guarantee confidentiality in certain circumstances, such conflict related to harassment or discrimination, as staff and faculty are considered mandated reporters by law, including CANRA, Title IX, and the Clery Act. Therefore, we provide confidentiality when able and work with students when we are not in order to get the information reported to the appropriate offices. 

If you or your faculty advisor have any questions about this policy, please contact the Bioengineering Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) Chair and the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office, either the Coordinator of Graduate Affairs or the MS/MEng Coordinator.

Common Sources of Conflict and Tips to Avoid Conflict

Research Performance or Progress 

  • In general, your PI has goals for both your development as well as projects that need to be finished within specific timeframes or deadlines that may be perceived as not possible by the student. 
  • We recommend you be open and honest with your understanding of those goals and communicate with your PI what you need in order to accomplish these goals. 
  • Experiments can fail often and for a variety of reasons. A common source of conflict in these scenarios is differing approaches between you and the PI on how these experimental problems are resolved. 
    • Use your research rotation or trial period to learn about your PI’s preferences for how students think through and present problems. Speak with others in the lab for different communication techniques that have worked for them.
  • For instances in which a faculty member assigns an “unsatisfactory” grade for research credit (BENG 299) and the reasoning for this grade is not clear to the student, we recommend speaking with the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office, GSC Chair, Department Vice Chair, and/or Department Chair to mediate concerns about research progress
    • To help avoid this issue, we recommend having a consistent record of your research progress, and presenting this regularly to your PI either via email or in one-on-one meetings. After meetings, send an email with a summary of the discussion

Thesis Project Time Management

  • More often than not, you will not be spending all of your time working solely on your thesis project. You may be working on a few projects and/or assisting with grant writing. 
    • We recommend you work with your PI to understand the work requirements for graduate students in the lab and find a balance that works for you. Your research rotation or trial period in a lab would be a good opportunity to gain this understanding.

Vacation and Personal Time

  • Make sure to ask your PI about their vacation policy during your research rotation or trial period as this can vary by PI. Biological experiments may require that you are present during holidays, weekends, etc. Do not assume you will always have federal, state, or other holidays off if specific projects require you to come into the lab to attend to them. 
  • In regard to work versus personal time, some PIs may expect a typical “9-5” work day, while others may not. Additionally, some PIs may expect you to respond to emails in the evenings, while others may not. 
    • We recommend clarifying during your research rotation or trial period work schedule expectations. 
    • In general, it is a good idea to provide at least several weeks notice when taking time off. Unexpected absences, especially at critical time(s) in your training, may become a source of friction with your PI. 
  • In general, if you are assisting in grant or manuscript writing, then it is critical to figure out how to best work on your PIs timeline as they may operate on different schedules and may need you to conform to their schedule to get the submission done.

Communication Strategies

When communicating concerns about conflict, keep in mind some of these communication strategies during the discussion. These strategies work for meetings and written communication. 

  • Consider the priorities and scheduling/time constraints of the other person 
  • Make sure to define the purpose of the meeting or email, and think about “Where is the relationship now and where do you want it to be at the end of the conversation?”
  • Use "I Statements" to help guide your conversation. 
  • Be cautious using objective statements that may invalidate another’s point of view and discourage the other person from sharing their view.
  • Use Active Listening Skills to focus on what the other person is saying, avoid interruptions, and pause before responding.
  • Stop the conversation if it has escalated to the point where neither party is listening and recommend resuming the conversation at another time. An example of this would be: “I need to think about what you said. Can we resume this conversation another time?”

Conflict Among Lab Members

If conflict arises between you and another lab member:

  • Take a step back and consider the personality differences between you and whomever you have the conflict with
  • Think about a communication medium that you are most comfortable with for discussing this conflict. The goal would be to find a method where both parties can listen, think, and respond clearly and respectfully. 
    • For example, you may be an introverted person while the other lab member is an extroverted person. A direct face-to-face discussion may not be desirable if you need more time or space to discuss the conflict. An email or another medium that allows slower but uninterrupted and thoughtful exchange may be better. 
    • Follow the general communication strategies above.

If communication breaks down, let your PI know about the conflict. When discussing the conflict with your PI, clearly define what relationship you want to have with the other person and ask if your PI can help you. Avoid an accusatory tone and follow the general communication strategies above. It is normal to not get along with everyone in the lab, but you need to have at least a working relationship with people who you depend on. 

If the conflict continues even after speaking to your PI, ask for outside help. We recommend speaking with the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office, GSC Chair, Department Vice Chair, and/ or Department Chair to help mediate these conflicts. 

Conflict Between Student and PI

Your progress in the program is highly dependent on a strong positive relationship with your PI as you need their support to finish your M.S. thesis or Ph.D. dissertation. Keep in mind PIs do not receive formal training on managing people in communication or conflict resolution, so using the previously recommended communication strategies can help avoid most conflicts.

Sometimes difficult conversations with your PI need to happen multiple times. We recommend keeping a record of your interactions as a way to observe patterns, note changes, and recall specifics from each interaction. 

​If you are concerned about raising sensitive issues, such as negative results or concerns about your PI’s behavior, directly with your PI due to concerns about anger and/or retaliation, we highly recommend addressing the situation as soon as possible through a third party. We suggest first talking through specific negative interactions that have led to this feeling with the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office, GSC Chair, Department Vice Chair, and/or Department Chair or any other PI who you have a close relationship with.

In situations where you have been yelled at, degraded, harassed, or discriminated by your PI, we highly recommend you speak with the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office, GSC Chair, Department Vice Chair, and/ or Department Chair. The Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination (OPHD) or Office of the Ombuds can also be a resource for situations of this nature. 

Changing Labs

For Ph.D. students, a Ph.D. degree is a long process and you should feel like the time you invest into that process is worth it. For masters students, due to time constraints, you want to keep in mind what will serve you best in your limited time in the program. If you feel like the lab you have chosen will not be able to assist you in obtaining your degree or to train you for a career that you would like to have after you graduate, you have a good reason to look into changing labs.

A limited number of students change labs every year for a variety of reasons, so PIs should understand that there is the possibility of students looking to change labs. If you are considering changing labs after your research rotation or trial period, you should know that many people have successfully done this before you. For Ph.D. students it is important to recognize that these changes must occur before the Senate Exam; lab changes after the Senate Exam are not possible.

We highly recommend discussing lab changes with the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office, GSC Chair, Department Vice Chair, and/or Department Chair. Speaking to department personnel does not commit you to leaving your lab but can be a good first step in deciding whether or not to change labs. Conversations are often very productive and can result in differences being resolved. There are three main choices that you will be given when you discuss the issue with the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office, GSC Chair, Department Vice Chair, and/ or Department Chair:

  1. Stay in your current lab and work out the conflict with assistance from the Department
  2. Stay in the program, but work on leaving the your current lab and finding a new lab
  3. Leave the program and work toward an MS Plan I- Thesis (using existing data from your research) or MS Plan II- Comprehensive Exam instead of the previous Ph.D. Note, for Ph.D. students who have already passed the Senate Exam, changing labs is no longer possible and you should plan to work toward the MS Plan II.

We recommend talking through each scenario with the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office, GSC Chair, Department Vice Chair, and/or Department Chair and thinking about your options carefully. This can be a difficult discussion to have when you are confused about the next step and looking for validation. Understand that they will not tell you what you should do, but will provide realistic options for where you are at in your program. 

Once you have decided that the best move for your training, career and wellbeing is to change labs, you will need to discuss changing labs with your PI. This discussion can occur one-on-one but is often more comfortable for both student and PI when third parties are present, e.g., Bioengineering Student Affairs Office, GSC Chair, Department Vice Chair, and/or Department Chair. Below you will find some tips on what to do before telling your PI you are leaving the lab.

Before you officially leave the lab but you have decided to leave, consider what you will need to get done:

  1. Prepare a plan and a timeline for how to expected to wrap up projects and transition off of other projects or tasks
  2. Reach out to other faculty to discuss research rotations. Be prepared to talk about why you are leaving the lab.
  3. For Ph.D. students, speak with your current PI, the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office, GSC Chair, Department Vice Chair, and/or Department Chair about funding options during this transition period.
    • If the department is assisting with support, you may have to TA courses even if you have completed your TA requirement. 

When trying to identify a new lab in which to complete your research, consider:

  • Researching your research interests
  • Reading through recent publications from the lab(s) you are interested in
  • Newer and affiliate faculty who may have a higher likelihood of openings in their labs
  • Contacting the PI with an introduction to who you are, why you are interested in their lab, and ask if they are open to taking a transitioning student
  • Speaking with the PI about funding 

Prepare the conversation with your PI. We highly recommend talking it through with the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office, GSC Chair, Department Vice Chair, and/ or Department Chair. In the past, the GSC Chair and Department Vice Chair have assisted in writing the email to your PI to signal your intention to leave the lab. This is an opportunity to make sure nothing is misunderstood and that you are supported by the department. Be clear and be confident in your decision during your discussion

Additional Resources
Below please find a list of additional conflict resolution resources:

Acknowledgment
This policy was developed in collaboration with department faculty leadership, the Graduate Studies Committee, BE Diversity Council, Bioengineering Student Affairs, and BEGS. The finalized text was adapted from documents developed and written by BEGS, the BE Diversity Council, Bioengineering Student Affairs, the Jacobs School of Engineering, and the Graduate Division.

Computing

 

Every Engineering student enrolled at UCSD is assigned an SSO and AD passwords. These will allow you access to academic, course, financial and computing resources. This includes access to any computer in the campus computer labs, classroom labs or open computers in the libraries. In addition, the campus has obtained certain licenses for specific engineering oriented software. Information about software licenses can be found on Blink. Please note that not all popular titles are available. 

The Bioengineering Department also has a joint use instructional classroom/open lab (PFBH room 161) consisting of 28 computers that run both Windows and Linux. This facility is primarily used for instruction of Bioengineering computer intensive courses and to provide access to specialized software required for certain Bioengineering courses. It is only available for use during normal open hours for Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall.

 

Health and Safety

 

Laboratory research can involve significant exposure to significant hazards to your personal health and safety. It is important to receive thorough safety training before you begin working in a laboratory. State and Federal regulations as well as University policy require that your safety training be documented and that evidence of your training be available for inspection. The safety officer for the Bioengineering Department is Douglas Gurevitch, Research & Development Engineer.

Every laboratory has a safety contact person, a copy of the UCSD Laboratory Safety Guide, a First Aid kit and a fire extinguisher. Each lab or Principal Investigator also maintains lab-specific safety information including a laboratory "Chemical Hygiene Plan", a laboratory "Biological Use Authorization, a laboratory "Radiological Use Authorization", and a file that records the training of all students and personnel.

Extensive safety and injury prevention material is available from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) on campus (534-3660). Much of this information is also available on-line via the Blink safety webpage.

EH&S offers regular classes on general safety through its Injury and Illness Prevention Program. These classes are very useful and cover basic topics including safety orientation, hazard communication, safe computer use, earthquake preparedness, fire, and preventing back injuries.

Additional specialized training will be needed by many students on topics such as:

  • Radiation safety — all students using radioisotopes must be registered with EH&S and trained
  • Biosafety — all students intending to work on tissue culture at Biosafety Level 2 or above must be trained
  • Chemical carcinogens — your principal investigator is responsible for notifying you if you may be exposed to known carcinogens
  • Protective equipment — must be worn when handling dangerous materials or using hazardous equipment

Consult your lab safety contact person, EH&S or the department safety officer for more information.

 

Research Ethics

 

As scientists are exposed to closer public scrutiny and demands for greater accountability, the importance of formal training in the many complex ethical issues that surround scientific research is growing. In particular, Ph.D. students in the Bioengineering Department should be aware that the National Institutes of Health requires some training and discussion in ethical issues as a condition of financial support.

At present ethical topics are discussed in the department in several ways, including:

  • In the required Ph.D. course BENG 292: Scientific Ethics
  • Seminars during our regular Departmental Seminar series by scientists, officials and others experienced in scientific ethics
  • Group discussions, frequently during regular lab meetings
  • As a component of regularly scheduled courses.

Other departments at UC San Diego also have regular offerings of workshops and seminars on ethical issues, including topics such as scientific misconduct, government regulation, use of genetic information, whistle blowing, animal and human subject trials, and other subjects related to authorship and plagiarism.

Additional Resources:

  • The Research Ethics Program at UCSD’s Ethics Office offers a number of resources, workshops, and information about ethical research conduct
  • The Institute for Practical Ethics offers working group for different research areas to discuss ethical research conduct  
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offer a book on responsible conduct in research called On Being a Scientist: A Guide to Responsible Conduct in Research: Third Edition. The hypothetical case studies it contains are an excellent starting point for discussion of important and frequently complex topics such as assigning credit and priorities, determining authorship, the integrity of scientific data, recognizing and responding to ethical violations, ethics and grant writing.

 

Research Projects

 

Research is an integral component of graduate studies in the Ph.D. and M.S. Plan I- Thesis degree programs. Thesis students are not expected to have identified a research project and research advisor at the start of their graduate studies. The department therefore assigns an initial academic advisor to each graduate student. The department tries to match the interests of the student with those of the assigned faculty advisor, and hence it is common that the academic advisor becomes the research advisor and thesis committee chair. However, there is no obligation.

Choosing a Research Project

Research students are encouraged to consider their research project early and carefully. To help with this decision, there are several things new students can do:

  • Attend weekly departmental seminars. They include presentations by Bioengineering and affiliated faculty, and reflect the diverse bioengineering research activities and interests here. 
  • Meet with faculty members to discuss your research interests and find out more about their research activities, and inquire about attending research group meetings. Most of the faculty extend an open invitation to new students to join in on these regular meetings. We recommend starting this process during Fall quarter.
  • Plan on enrolling in Graduate Research (BENG 299) for at least two quarters during your first academic year with explicit permission from the faculty member. 
    • Laboratory rotations (BENG 298L) help Ph.D. students to familiarize themselves with the research area, environment, and personnel involved. They also provide the prospective research advisor(s) with an opportunity to evaluate the potential and suitability of the student for doctoral research in general and for participation in his or her laboratory. 
    • Faculty advisors will be happy to discuss the student's research interests in detail to assist the student to identify the research lab and environment best suited to the student's interests, background and academic objectives.

 

Research Facilities

 

 

Survival Skills

 

Increasing attention has been paid to identifying the core skills needed in order to be a successful graduate student and scientist in the highly competitive environment that today’s research students and junior scientists face. Some important skills that have been identified include:

  • Study, work, and teaching skills
  • General technical writing and presentation skills
  • How to write a scientific paper and respond to reviews
  • Writing grant applications and getting financial support
  • Making posters and slide presentations
  • Answering questions and communication with public
  • Identifying an advisor and a research project
  • Searching for literature and using the library effectively
  • Accurate data recording
  • The appropriate use of statistical analysis
  • Obtaining permission to use animal and human subjects
  • Social responsibility of research
  • Management of time and stress
  • Relationships with faculty, students, and staff, including handling problems in the workplace
  • Preparing for life after graduate school, including preparing a CV, career management, and negotiations

 

This list is not exhaustive but it gives you an idea of the many new skills that you will need to develop as a successful graduate student. It is also easy to see that many of these matters include considerations of scientific and professional ethics which are discussed in other sections of this handbook.

While most of these skills are acquired informally in the process of obtaining a graduate degree, there are many advocates, especially students themselves, of some optional formal training in these areas. At present UCSD does not have a program or course that covers all these areas, but some courses cover some of them. Several departments offer courses in “Science Communication,” “Research Survival Skills,” and other such topics. Please reference the UC San Diego General Catalog and the Schedule of Classes to find more information about these course offerings.

 

MASTERS TOPICS

How to Constitute and Reconstitute an M.S. Thesis Committee

 

Outlined below is the process to constitute, or set up, an MS Plan I Thesis Committee and how to request a reconstitution if changes need to be made to a previously constituted committee.

Initial Committee Constitution

1) Meet with your research advisor to discuss who should be appointed to your committee

  • A masters committee has three members, with the option to add an additional “fourth member” as appropriate.   
    • The Department requires that at least two members of your committee are Bioengineering faculty. 
    • If your faculty advisor is outside of Bioengineering, the Department requires you to have a Bioengineering faculty member serve as a co-chair on the committee. 
  • The Graduate Division has a Master's & Doctoral Committee Membership Table that provides guidance on who can serve on a committee.

2) Once you have discussed your committee with your research advisor, email your finalized list to the MS/ MEng Coordinator. 

  • In the email please include the following information for EACH committee member:
    • First and last name
    • Academic rank (e.g. “Associate Professor”)
    • Home department 
  • Committee status (e.g. Chair, Co-Chair, or regular committee member)
  • Please provide this list at least four weeks before your MS Thesis Defense to allow time for it to get processed.

3) The MS/MEng Coordinator will electronically route your committee request to the Department Chair and to the Dean of the Graduate Division for review. 

  • You cannot defend your MS Thesis until the Graduate Dean approves your committee. If you have not received an email from the Dean approving your committee by one week before your defense, please contact the MS/MEng Coordinator.

4) You will get an email notice from the Dean when your committee is approved. Congratulations, your committee has been constituted!

Reconstituting an Established Committee

If you need to make changes to a committee that has already been constituted, you will need to make a request to reconstitute the committee. Typically a reconstitution is needed to add or remove faculty on the committee, make changes to committee member status (i.e. chair/ co-chair versus regular member), to be in compliance with Conflict of Interest (COI) concerns, and update faculty titles.  

1) Meet with your research advisor to discuss what changes need to be made to your committee.

2) Once you have discussed the changes to be made to your committee with your research advisor, email your updated list to the MS/ MEng Coordinator. 

  • In the email please include the following information for EACH committee member:
    • First and last name
    • Academic rank (e.g. “Associate Professor”)
    • Home department 
    • Committee status (e.g. Chair, Co-Chair, or regular committee member)
  • In the email you must also provide a justification or explanation for EACH change being made to the committee. This is required in order to submit the reconstitution request.

3) The MS/MEng Coordinator will electronically route your committee request to your Committee Chair, the Department Chair, and to the Dean of the Graduate Division for review. 

  • You cannot defend your MS Thesis until the Graduate Dean approves the committee reconstitution request. 

4) You will get an email notice from the Dean when your committee reconstitution request is approved. Congratulations, your committee has been reconstituted!  

 

M.S. to Ph.D. Petition Process 

 

Outlined below is information related to the M.S. to Ph.D. petition process. As noted on the Degree Programs page, this process is open only to students in the M.S. Plan I- Thesis degree program. 

Petition Requirements

1) Must be a Bioengineering M.S. Plan I- Thesis student
2) Have completed or have in-progress all 6 core courses:

  • Engineering Physics: BENG 226, BENG 227, third engineering physic core elective
  • Life Sciences: BENG 230A, BENG 230B, third life science core elective

3) Have an overall GPA of 3.40 or higher 
4) Have a faculty advisor willing to take you on as a Ph.D. student

  • They can be a Bioengineering faculty member or a non-Bioengineering faculty member. If non-Bioengineering, you must also secure a Bioengineering faculty member to serve as a co-advisor.

5) Have a funding commitment from the faculty advisor to fund you for the duration of your program

  • The Bioengineering Ph.D. program is considered a “fully-funded” program with a guarantee of funding so long as the student maintains their eligibility. This means the faculty advisor must commit to:
    • Funding coming from the faculty advisor and/ or external student award (e.g. NSF, F31, AHA, etc.) at the appropriate support level.
    • No funding coming from TAships as Ph.D. students in Bioengineering complete TAships “for credit” only.
    • Continuing to fund the student as long as the student maintains eligibility. See our Financial Support page for more information about eligibility requirements. 
  • The Department reserves the right to contact the faculty advisor’s fund manager to ensure there is funding readily available to cover the funding commitment. 

Petition Process and Timeline

1) At the start of each petition period, the Bioengineering Coordinator of Graduate Affairs will email all M.S. Plan I- Thesis students to announce the petition period and provide information on how to request a petition packet. Petition periods are listed below. 

Quarter

Packet Available

Packet Due

Qualifying Exam

Official Transition Quarter

Spring of the First Year

April

May

Summer between First and Second Year

Fall of the Second Year

Fall of the Second Year

October

November

December

Winter of the Second Year

Winter of the Second Year

January

February

March

Spring of the Second Year

Spring of the Second Year

April

May

Summer between Second and Third Year

Fall of the Third Year

2) M.S. Plan I- Thesis students who wish to pursue a doctorate must request a petition packet from the Bioengineering Coordinator of Graduate Affairs after the petition period is announced. 

  • The petition packet includes two pages of instructions and a blank Funding Statement that will need to be completed by the faculty advisor and co-advisor, if applicable.  

3) M.S. to Ph.D. petitioners must submit their petition packet for a change in status to the Bioengineering Coordinator of Graduate Affairs by the deadline for review by the Graduate Studies Committee during the petition period. 

  • A complete petition packet includes: 
    • A Statement of Purpose from the student
    • A copy of the student’s transcripts
    • The completed and signed Funding Statement
    • A Letter of Recommendation from the faculty advisor who is taking on the student
    • If the student will have a co-advisor, a Letter of Recommendation is required from that faculty member as well

4) The Graduate Studies Committee will review all complete petition packets submitted each petition period. 

  • If “approved,” the committee recommends that the student be given the opportunity to take the Ph.D. Departmental Qualifying Examination. 
  • If “denied,” the student is welcome to finish out the M.S. Plan I- Thesis degree 

5) If approved to sit for the Qualifying Exam, the student will be given the information for the Exam for that quarter.

  • At the time of that exam, an assessment will be made on admission to the Ph.D. program. 

6) If the student passes the Qualifying Exam, a change of status from the M.S. Plan I to the Ph.D. program will be processed for the Official Transition Quarter.

 

Ph.D. TOPICS

Obtaining an MS along the way to the Ph.D.

 

Outlined below is the process to obtain an MS Plan II degree along the way to the PhD.

Policies and Guidelines

  • In order to obtain an MS Plan II you must complete 12 four-unit courses (6 core courses and 6 electives) for a letter grade. Note: four-unit courses taken in SP20, WI21, and SP21 for S/U grading may count toward the degree per grading policy released at the time in response to the pandemic.
  • For elective courses taken outside of Bioengineering, you must submit a completed Elective Approval Form signed by your faculty advisor.
  • We will use your Departmental Qualifying Examination to satisfy the “Comprehensive Examination” requirement for the MS Plan II degree. 
  • We can file for an "MS along the way to the PhD" in Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters.
  • An MS degree cannot be awarded in the same quarter you take the Senate Exam and advance to candidacy, nor in the same quarter you are awarded the PhD degree. Please plan accordingly when requesting what quarter to have the MS awarded. 

Process

1) Reach out to the Bioengineering Coordinator of Graduate Affairs to notify them of your intention to obtain an MS along the way to the PhD.

  • This should be done in the quarter in which you finish the last of the course requirements or after you have completed the required courses.
  • You must reach out BEFORE the end of Week 2 of the quarter in which you would like the MS to be awarded. 
    • For example, if you would like the MS to be awarded in Spring, you must reach out before the end of Week 2 of Spring to request the MS. In this example you are also welcome to reach out at the end of Winter quarter to give the Coordinator additional time to process your request. 
    • Failure to notify the Coordinator BEFORE the end of Week 2 will result in a delay of the award of the MS to the following quarter.

2) The Bioengineering Coordinator of Graduate Affairs will submit, via DocuSign, a “Master’s Application to Candidacy” Form to the Graduate Division before the end of Week 2. 

  • The Graduate Division typically takes 3-5 weeks to process this form, and once processed, will notify the Coordinator.

3) After the “Master’s Application to Candidacy” Form has been processed, the Coordinator will submit, via DocuSign, a “Master’s Final Report” Form for the MS Plan II degree before the end of the quarter. 

4) After the end of the quarter, the Graduate Division will process the Final Report Form. 

  • After they have processed the form, they will forward it to the Registrars’ Office for additional processing. 
  • This processing can take 1-3 months after the quarter has ended.  

5) You receive your MS degree! 

  • The degree conferral date listed will be the last day of the quarter. 
  • The degree usually takes 1-3 months to process, as noted above, and post to your Academic History and official transcript. 
  • After the degree has been processed, your diploma is mailed to you to the permanent address listed on your TritonLink account 
    • You should expect the diploma to arrive in the mail 3-6 months after the quarter has ended 

 

 
How to Constitute and Reconstitute a Doctoral Committee

 

Outlined below is the process to constitute, or set up, a Doctoral Committee and how to request a reconstitution if changes need to be made to a previously constituted committee.

Initial Committee Constitution

1) You should meet with your research advisor to discuss who should be appointed to your committee.

  • A doctoral committee has four members, with the option to add an additional “fifth member” as appropriate.   
    • The Department requires that at least two members of your committee are Bioengineering faculty. 
    • The University requires that at least one member be outside of the Department of Bioengineering and be at a level of Associate Professor or above (tenured). 
    • University policy also limits committees of four to one adjunct professor (any rank). 
    • The Graduate Division has a Master's & Doctoral Committee Membership Table that provides guidance on who can serve on a doctoral committee

2) Once you have discussed your committee with your research advisor, email your finalized list to the Bioengineering Coordinator of Graduate Affairs. 

  • In the email please include the following information for EACH committee member:
    • First and last name
    • Academic rank (e.g. “Associate Professor”)
    • Home department 
    • Committee status (e.g. Chair, Co-Chair, or regular committee member)
    • Academic/ Research Specialty (e.g. “mechanobiology,” “system biology,” “cardiac mechanics,” “computational neuroscience,” etc.)
  • You will also need to indicate your own proposed academic/ research specialty. It can be short and simple like the ones for faculty.
  • Please provide this list at least three weeks before your Senate Exam to allow time for it to get processed.

3) The Bioengineering Student Affairs Office will electronically route your committee request to the Department Chair and to the Dean of the Graduate Division for review. 

  • You cannot take the Senate Exam until the Graduate Dean approves your committee. If you have not received an email from the Dean approving your committee by one week before your exam, please contact the Bioengineering Coordinator of Graduate Affairs. 

4) You will get an email notice from the Dean when your committee is approved. Congratulations, your committee has been constituted!    

Reconstituting an Established Committee

If you need to make changes to a committee that has already been constituted, you will need to make a request to reconstitute the committee. Typically a reconstitution is needed to add or remove faculty on the committee, make changes to committee member status (i.e. chair/ co-chair versus regular member), to be in compliance with Conflict of Interest (COI) concerns, and update faculty titles.

1) Meet with your research advisor to discuss what changes need to be made to your committee.

2) Once you have discussed the changes to be made to your committee with your research advisor, email your updated list to the Bioengineering Coordinator of Graduate Affairs. 

  • In the email please include the following information for EACH committee member:
    • First and last name
    • Academic rank (e.g. “Associate Professor”)
    • Home department 
    • Committee status (e.g. Chair, Co-Chair, or regular committee member)
    • Academic/ Research Specialty (e.g. “mechanobiology,” “system biology,” “cardiac mechanics,” “computational neuroscience,” etc.)
  • In the email you must also provide a justification or explanation for EACH change being made to the committee. This is required in order to submit the reconstitution request.

3) The Bioengineering Student Affairs Office will electronically route your committee request to your Committee Chair, the Department Chair, and to the Dean of the Graduate Division for review. 

4) You will get an email notice from the Dean when your committee reconstitution request is approved. Congratulations, your committee has been reconstituted!  

 

 
The Senate Exam Process

 

1) Discuss your Senate Exam with your faculty advisor so you know what is expected of you, including what written materials you will need to prepare.

2) Notify the Bioengineering Coordinator of Graduate Affairs via email about your intent to take the Senate Exam.

  • To allow adequate time, you should do this at least four weeks before the time you expect to take the Senate Exam. 

3) Constitute, or set up, your Doctoral Committee. See the separate section “How to Constitute and Reconstitute a Doctoral Committee” in this handbook for more information.

4) Once you have submitted your committee to the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office and as you await your committee approval, you can start scheduling your Senate Exam. 

  • You can reserve PFBH conferences 291, 391 or the Zweifach Library (489) by emailing be-reservations@eng.ucsd.edu. NOTE: while campus is operating remotely, Senate Exams may be conducted via Zoom.
  • As soon as you have set the date, time, and location of your Senate Exam, you should notify the Coordinator of Graduate Affairs at least two weeks in advance of your Senate Exam. This allows time for the office to get your academic file ready for the exam. 
  • Make sure you have notified all of your committee members of the date, time, and location of your Senate Exam.

5) Your committee is approved, you have set the date/ time/ location of your Senate Exam – you are ready to take the Senate! The Bioengineering Student Affairs Office will prepare the Application to Candidacy (Report) Form for your Senate Exam via DocuSign, and route it to you and your committee on the day of your Senate Exam. 

  • You and your committee members will receive an email notification describing the DocuSign process on the day of your Senate Exam. 
  • Your committee will sign the Report Form via DocuSign after you successfully pass the Senate. 
  • DocuSign will then route the Report Form to our Department Chair for signature before routing to the Graduate Division and the Registrar’s Office for processing. 

6) Before the Report Form is fully processed, you will be responsible for paying a $50 Candidacy Fee. 

  • This fee will be charged to your student account, so monitor your student account activity regularly so you can pay the fee as soon as it is charged.

7) You will receive an official notice from the Dean of the Graduate Division of your successful advancement. Congratulations you are now in-candidacy!