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Program Requirements (30 credits)

There are three mandatory courses that all GSBSE Ph.D. students are required to complete.

  • The first course is the Introduction to Biomedical Science and Engineering Course (BMS 625).  This course is comprised of a series of four modules that provide a framework for an introduction to research in the field of Biomedical Science and Engineering:   Signal Transduction, Development, Stress and Genomics.
  • The second course must pertain to biocomputing or biostatistics (e.g. BMS 543 Computational Genomics).
  • The last course must pertain to bioethics and scientific conduct (e.g. INT 601 Responsible Conduct of Research).

Additional course requirements will be unique for each GSBSE student and will be tailored depending on their degree (Ph.D. in Biomedical Science, or Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering). Coursework will be determined by their dissertation mentor and committee.

At least twenty total credits of coursework must be performed, and a total of thirty credits completed overall (including thesis credits).

The Dissertation Committee

Choosing the Dissertation Committee
A dissertation committee consists of a student’s primary advisor and 4 other faculty members. At least one of the faculty members must be from a GSBSE partner institution that is different from the primary advisor’s institution. The choice of a dissertation committee is critical, because the committee members will be the student’s direct advisors and evaluators throughout the program. Once the committee is established and a student’s dissertation project has been proposed, a committee meeting should take place. The goals of this committee meeting include 1) identifying remaining course requirements, 2) approving the dissertation proposal, and 3) establishing a time-frame and topic for the candidacy examinations. In preparation for this meeting, the student should prepare and distribute the Proposed Plan of Study (pdf), which includes graduate course work taken or anticipated, grades earned, and a description of the proposed dissertation topic. All committee members will sign off on the Proposed Plan of Study, if it is deemed acceptable. The Plan of Study must be submitted to the GSBSE office for approval by the Director, and subsequent filing with the Graduate School.  Once a committee is established, any proposed changes in the research direction or plan of study must be discussed by the student at a convened committee meeting. The committee will then collectively grant approval of the new plan of study. The revised Plan of Study must be submitted to the GSBSE office for approval by the Director, and subsequent filing with the Graduate School.  The committee will meet at least once a year (with an extra meeting for the comprehensive examination), or more frequently, as determined by mutual agreement of the student and his/her committee. After each committee meeting the advisor will be asked to submit an evaluation/update of the student’s progress. This progress report should be shared with the student, and if needed, corrective action should be taken.

Committee Meetings
The purpose of the dissertation committee is to advise the student throughout the course of their research work, and to evaluate the student’s progress and strategy. It is, therefore, important for the student to have regular committee meetings that will serve the purpose of reporting progress to each member of the committee. A committee must meet at least once every year, but may meet more frequently at the discretion of the committee members. It is the student’s responsibility to prepare for the meeting by giving each committee member written materials at least one week before the meeting, and preparing a progress report that will be presented orally at the beginning of the meeting. The student should assemble an agenda for the meeting that includes the progress report, goals for the following year, and specific details and data pertaining to his/her work. The student should also plan to follow up on the meeting in a timely manner by providing additional materials, updating timelines, goals, etc., as requested by the committee.

The student’s mentor will be responsible for reporting the progress of the student through a Dissertation Committee Summary (pdf) form after each committee meeting. The form is available here link. The Committee Summary should be signed by every member of the committee (an email confirmation to the GSBSE office will suffice) and the evaluation should be shared with the GSBSE student. At that time, concerns or problems should be discussed with the student and a plan to address these problems or concerns should be stated in the form.

What is GSBSE?


Visit the program website for a full list of faculty teaching in this program.

General Overview of the Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering

Advising and Planning for the First Year

Orientation for new graduate students will be scheduled the week before the start of the Fall semester. New students should plan to attend.

Once accepted into either the Ph.D. in Biomedical Science, or the Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering program, and prior to the identification of a dissertation mentor, students will be advised by the First Year Advisory Committee (FYA). There is a FYA committee member at each partner institution, a listing of the committee composition may be found here link. Issues and questions relating to laboratory rotations and coursework should be discussed with a FYA committee member. This FYA faculty member will maintain a role as an informal advisor and graduate student advocate, and will offer guidance throughout the student’s program, as necessary.

Questions or issues regarding registration for classes should be directed to the GSBSE office.

By the time the student has completed three rotations she/he will have chosen a home laboratory and assembled a dissertation committee. The role of advising in the academic programs will then fall to the mentor.


GSBSE Ph.D. students will be supported with a $23,000 stipend, tuition, fees and half of the cost of health insurance for the first 2 years of the program (during the rotations and first full year in the mentor’s laboratory). At the beginning of the student’s third academic year (usually September), the mentor will then be responsible for providing the student’s complete stipend, tuition, fees, and half of the cost of health insurance. The level of stipend funding after the initial 2 years will be at the discretion of the institution/program. It should be noted that the student will only have to register for one thesis credit per semester after successfully completing the comprehensive examination.

Program of Study – Years 1 and 2

Laboratory Rotations
Students desiring to perform dissertation work through GSBSE are required to complete three laboratory rotations, each lasting one academic semester or summer. A rotation abstract booklet will be available for rotating students three months before the start of their first semester in the program. GSBSE requires that at least two Institutions be represented in a student’s rotation experience. These rotations are chosen by the student with the goals of providing experiences in diverse research areas and environments, and in the identification of a dissertation mentor.

The typical rotation schedule for the academic calendar is:

  • First rotation: Fall
  • Second rotation: Spring
  • Third rotation: Summer

At the end of each laboratory rotation, the student will provide a summary of her/his research achievements in the laboratory and an evaluation of the experience. The Principal Investigator (PI) will evaluate the performance of the rotation student, and discuss this evaluation in detail with the student. Strengths and deficiencies will be noted, and the PI may suggest coursework or study to correct any deficiencies that are identified. Both evaluations will be forwarded to the GSBSE office. This rotation evaluation will become a permanent part of the student’s file.

Visit the official GSBSE (Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering) program website here.

Choosing a Dissertation Mentor(s)

During the summer of the first year, the student is expected to identify a mentor from the three or four completed rotations, exceptions may be made with the Director’s approval. The student will begin in the chosen laboratory in the Summer or Fall semester of the second year. During the first half year in the mentor’s laboratory a specific and focused dissertation topic should be identified and a thesis committee established.

Other requirements for GSBSE students

Students are expected to publish their work in high quality, peer-reviewed journals, in addition to submitting a written dissertation. Publication of at least one first-author paper in a peer-reviewed journal is required for graduation.  A copy of a given students first, first-author peer-reviewed paper should be submitted the GSBSE office upon publication.

Presentation of Research
During the course of the program, students will be expected to submit abstracts for presentation at scientific meetings.

Please note: The GSBSE program must be acknowledged in all publications and presentations as the student’s affiliation.

Attendance at the GSBSE Annual Meeting
GSBSE graduate students are required to attend the GSBSE Annual Meeting each year. The meeting is held the second Friday and Saturday of September each year. 

Comprehensive examinations

Dissertation requirements and defense