Excel in intellectual leadership, scientific independence

The Ph.D. degree is the most advanced degree we offer. Students come to this multidisciplinary biomedical research and engineering program from a wide array of backgrounds, and graduates of the program demonstrate high achievement in bioengineering while excelling in intellectual leadership and independence as a scientific researcher.

We invite you to invent the future of medicine with us. Learn more about applying to the UW Bioengineering Ph.D. program.

About the Program

A student progressing well and on schedule can expect to follow this timeline:

  1. First Year – Complete lab rotations and select a thesis advisor.
  2. Second Year – Conduct research and pass the Qualifying Exam before the end of Spring Quarter.
  3. Third Year – Form a Supervisory Committee, submit an academic plan and pass the General Exam.
  4. Fourth/Fifth Year – Defend the dissertation and graduate based on feedback from Supervisory Committee.
Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Exam, taken by the end of the second year, is designed to evaluate a student’s scientific knowledge, research potential, oral and written skills, creativity and time management. The exam requires a written and oral presentation based on the student’s research progress and a NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award (R21) proposal. The exam, overseen by a faculty committee, determines whether the student should continue in the doctoral program.

General Examination

The General Examination is used to determine the soundness, significance and originality of the student’s research project, as well as test the clarity and thoroughness of the student’s understanding. The examination provides an opportunity for the student to justify his/her research vision, describe the initial experimental plan, and present preliminary data demonstrating feasibility of the project. Passing the examination advances the student to Ph.D. or doctoral candidacy status.

The General Exam should be completed as early as possible, preferably about one year after passing the Qualifying Examination. The Supervisory Committee will expect sufficient preliminary research to assess the likelihood of successful completion of the Ph.D.

Final Examination

The final examination occurs when the Supervisory Committee agrees that the student’s research is complete. The examination is the oral defense of the student’s doctoral dissertation. The dissertation provides evidence that the student can innovate an original investigation, recognize an important problem, acquire the data to answer the questions posted within that problem and extend the results of the answered questions to other problems of significance.

First-Year Advising

First-year students are assigned a preliminary faculty advisor from the appropriate research theme and then prepare a preliminary plan of study. To ensure that adequate progress is made, first-year students are expected to meet with the preliminary faculty advisor as needed.

Research Advisor

Once a student identifies a specific laboratory to work in, the faculty member of that lab will become the primary research advisor. The advisor assumes primary responsibility for guiding the student toward academic and professional goals and provides dissertation direction.

Supervisory Committee

The student, in consultation with the research advisor, assembles a Supervisory Committee, which the research advisor will chair. The committee reviews academic performance and oversees progress according to guidelines established by the Department and the Graduate School. The committee should meet at least yearly to monitor progress. The committee also administers and assesses the general and final examinations.

Core Curriculum (5 credits)

  • BIOEN 530: Literature Analysis (2 credits, CR/NC)
  • BIOEN 531: Grant Writing (2 credits)
  • BIOEN 532: Professional Development (1 credit, CR/NC)

Statistics (3 credits)

  • BIOSTAT 517, 524; STAT 502, 504, 512, BIOEN 599* (Bioengineering statistics), or UCONJ 510 (2 cr, approved by petition when submitting the student plan)
    *Note: BIOEN 599 is no longer offered; however, if you have taken it, it will fulfill the Statistics requirement.

Electives (25 credits):

  • 25 credits of 400 or 500-level, bioengineering-related, PI-approved electives
  • 9 credits must have a BIOEN prefix and be graded
  • 3 credits may be CR/NC

All UW Graduate School policies for PhD degree must be met, including:

  • 18 credits must be at the 500-level
  • 18 graded credits must be at the 400/500-level
  • 90 total credits (to include 27 dissertation – BIOEN 800 – credits)

Additional BioE requirements:

  • 1-2 laboratory rotations during the first year.  If needed, a third rotation must be approved by petition to the Graduate Student Affairs Committee.
  • 1-quarter teaching experience – either a TAship or grader with student contract position. This requirement can be completed at any point during the PhD degree but is encouraged to be undertaken after the second year.