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Doctor of Philosophy in Bioengineering

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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Requirements for the Ph.D. include course work, a doctoral qualifying examination, research skills and residence requirement, a comprehensive examination, a dissertation, and a final oral examination. In addition to general rules and regulations, the student must meet the program’s Ph.D. requirements.

In the first semester, the student selects a track of study, an adviser, and an advisory committee. The advisory committee guides the student’s development through the Plan of Study in the chosen track, participates in the comprehensive and final examination, and helps the student select a topic for research leading to the dissertation. Should the student’s interests change, the advisory committee membership may be changed accordingly, with the approval of the program’s graduate studies committee.

The student’s advisory committee consists of a minimum of 5 graduate faculty members and is chaired by the student’s adviser. A more detailed description is available on the program's website.

Course Requirements

The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the B.S. to meet degree requirements.

  • Core Courses (6 hours).
  • Track Courses (30-36 hours). Students must complete the number of hours, including the depth, breadth, and elective courses, required in the chosen track (see the program's website for track requirements).
  • Research (minimum of 18 hours, maximum of 24 hours).

Plan of Study

Students are expected to complete a Plan of Study before beginning the second semester of graduate study. To complete a Plan of Study, a student should have identified a research adviser and dissertation committee. Students should work with their research advisers to identify an appropriate list of courses that fulfill degree requirements and support the student’s educational and research objectives. A Plan of Study can be completed online. The adviser, committee members, and graduate studies director are asked to approve the Plan of Study. The Plan of Study can be modified later, if needed, with approval of the adviser, committee members, and graduate studies director.

Qualifying Examination

Each doctoral student must pass the doctoral qualifying examination, normally taken at the end of the first year of graduate study. The written and oral examination measures the student’s ability to comprehend and communicate technical literature in the chosen track of study. The qualifying examination may be retaken once. A more detailed description of the examination, including examples, is available on the program's website.

Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship

In addition to passing the qualifying examination, the doctoral student is required to demonstrate proficiency in research skills and responsible scholarship. The research skill requirement is fulfilled through successful completion of BIOE 800 Bioengineering Colloquium. The responsible scholarship requirement is fulfilled through successful completion of BIOE 801 Responsible Conduct of Research in Engineering.

Note: Contact your department or program for more information about research skills and responsible scholarship, and the current requirements for doctoral students. Current Lawrence and Edwards Campus policies on Doctoral Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship are listed in the KU Policy Library.

Residence Requirement

Doctoral students must spend a minimum of 2 semesters, which may include the summer session, involved in full-time academic or professional pursuits beyond the baccalaureate degree in graduate study at KU. This may include an appointment for teaching or research and requires that the student be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours a semester. More information can be found in the general doctoral degree requirements of the graduate catalog.

Comprehensive Examination

Doctoral students must take the comprehensive examination after passing the qualifying examination, completing the research skills requirement, residency requirement, responsible scholarship requirement, and at least ¾ of the course work required in the Plan of Study. The examining committee for the comprehensive examination is generally the student’s doctoral advisory committee. Before the examination, the student must submit in writing to the committee a detailed NIH-R01-style research proposal for a possible Ph.D. dissertation project. The comprehensive examination evaluates the student’s ability to write an original research proposal, design experiments, and interpret results in a sound and critical manner. A more detailed description of the examination is available on the program's website. Passing the examination advances the student to doctoral candidacy.

Dissertation and Final Examination

The doctoral candidate is expected to conduct original research, prepare a written dissertation detailing the results, and defend the dissertation in a final oral examination. The research is expected to be of sufficient quality to permit publication in reputable scientific journals. The final oral examination is scheduled when the advisory committee agrees that the research is complete.

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