Ph.D. Program

Degree Requirements:
Students pursuing a BME Ph.D. degree must earn a minimum of 90 credit hours beyond the B. S. degree as shown in the table below.  An M.S. degree is not required for admission to the program.  Of these 90 hours, 40 - 55 equivalent credit hours may be taken for research and dissertation (BMES 7994).

Students are required to enroll in a one-credit BMES Seminar each semester of their academic career. Seminar credits must be recorded on the graduate program of study, but they will NOT be included in the calculation of credits required to earn the degree. In addition, all SBES graduate students are required to participate in ethics and integrity activities as part of their graduate studies, most of which are incorporated into the Seminar course.

Major Professor:
As early as possible, but no later than the end of the second semester of study, the student must select an SBES faculty member who will serve as the student's major professor, supervise the student's research, and chair the advisory committee.

Student Advisory Committee:
Prior to submitting a program of study and no later than the end of the third academic semester of study, each student must form an Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is composed of the major professor and a minimum of 4 other faculty members. At least two must be SBES faculty members (including the Chair), and at least three members must be in engineering. (Advisory committee members can be from either institution. It is highly encouraged for the student to have a non-engineering faculty member from the WFUSM and/or the VMRCVM on the committee.)

Program of Study:
A program of study should be completed as soon as the student selects his or her Advisory Committee and no later than the end of the third academic semester of study. The program of study must be approved by the student's Advisory Committee and the SBES Graduate Committee prior to submission to the graduate school. The program of study outlines the specific courses to be taken by the student in fulfillment of the degree following the requirements shown in the table below. A course may only be used once in the plan of study, towards the satisfaction of a single requirement. Note that in addition to the course requirements, the program requires a clinical rotation for all Ph.D. students, along with completion of a medical ethics program.

Qualifying Examination:
A qualifying examination is required and serves to evaluate the student's mastery of fundamental knowledge and to diagnose deficiencies. The examination must be taken by the end of the second year for students entering directly into the Ph.D. program or within one year of entering the program after completing the M.S. degree. It is up to the student and the student's advisor to obtain the latest information regarding the nature of this exam.

Preliminary Examination:
All Ph.D. students must take an oral preliminary examination administered by the student's advisory committee. The student will present his/her dissertation research proposal, and the examination will cover all course material and the proposed research plan, including the student's knowledge of the literature, and the feasibility and originality of the proposed work. The examination should be taken at or near the completion of the coursework and must be taken at least nine (9) months prior to completion of the final examination. At least 24 hours of course work and/or research must remain to be taken, including work for which the student is enrolled. A written copy of the research proposal must be provided to each of the advisory committee members at least one week prior to the examination. The student's advisory committee must approve the research topic and plan in order for the student to continue in his or her research studies.

Final Examination:
All Ph.D. students must pass an oral examination or defense of the dissertation upon completing all other degree requirements and at a minimum of nine (9) months after the preliminary examination. Prior to this examination, a copy of the dissertation approved by the student's major professor shall be provided to each of the committee members at least two weeks prior to the examination. To complete the program, students must pass the final examination, including approval of the dissertation in final form. A student is considered to have passed the examination and to have had the dissertation approved if he/she receives no more than one negative vote on the oral examination or on the dissertation.

Time to Completion:
It is expected that students will take from three to five years to complete the degree, depending on the student's background and research interests.

Course requirements for the BME Ph.D. Program

Course Category

Course #
(VT # / WFU #)

Course Title / Information

No. Credits Required

Biomedical Engineering
(15 credits)

BMES 5054 / 605

Quantitative Cell Physiology (required)


BMES 5074 / 606
Quantitative Organ Systems Physiology (required)
5000 or 6000 level (600/700 at WFU)

Min. 9 credit hours of engineering courses approved by committee


Life Sciences
(3 credits)

5000 - 6000 level
(600/700 at WFU)

Min. 3 credit hours approved by committee – (see approved list)


Math Requirement
(6 credits)

5000 - 6000 level
(600/700 at WFU)

Min. 6 hours approved by committee (only 3 credits can be Statistics)
(see approved list)


(9 – 24 credits)

5000 - 6000 level
(600/700 WFU)

Approved by advisory committee

Clinical Rotation

BMES 6064 / 706

Required of all Ph.D. students


 (0 credit)

Required by graduate schools

At VT: Included in Seminar course
At Wake Forest: Met by enrollment in required professional courses




Dissertation Research

BMES 7994
(798 WFU)

Research & Dissertation


Seminar Credits
BMES 5944/708
Enrollment Required Every Semester
# semesters enrolled