Bioengineering - Program Requirements

Doctor of Philosophy Degree, Ph.D. in Bioengineering
No formal course requirements are prescribed for attainment of the doctoral degree. The degree is awarded based upon completion of a doctoral dissertation and the sequence of candidacy, comprehensive and final oral examinations, as detailed in the Graduate School Bulletin. Each student is expected to pursue a level of study that builds a strong foundation in a traditional engineering discipline, and demonstrates accomplishment in an additional area of technical specialization, mathematics and the life sciences. To this end, the student is expected to demonstrate a level of academic achievement that includes material covered by courses required for the M.S. degree, and to take a minimum of five courses in bioengineering, five graduate level courses in engineering, mathematics and physics, and at least two advanced graduate level life science courses. Each doctoral student is expected to register at least twice as a participant in the Bioengineering Colloquium.

Candidacy examination
Covering general course material and consisting of a written test of factual knowledge. The examination is given at the end of the spring semester of the first year, after the student has completed the required basic courses.

Test of competency in English
Demonstrating a high level of English proficiency prior to the admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Graduates of English-speaking colleges or universities will be expected to have such skill prior to admission. International students whose native language is not English will demonstrate competence by achieving a score of at least 550 in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or its equivalent.

Comprehensive examination
Consisting of a written proposal on a research problem and an oral defense at the beginning of the third year.

Ph.D. thesis defense

Admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. occurs upon successful completion of the candidacy exam and demonstration of research potential and maintenance of no less than a 3.0 GPA in academic courses. The written exam is given to students at the end of their first year of study. The Comprehensive Examination must be taken prior to completion of the fifth semester. You will prepare a research proposal for which you will be evaluated. The Thesis Defense is your final required examination. Each Ph.D. candidate must present his or her thesis work in a public seminar. You are expected to answer questions raised by the committee or by visitors.

The thesis work of a student must be described in a single integrated document. The format of the thesis must conform to the regulations set out in the Thesis Guide published by the thesis office of the graduate school. Submission of an approved Thesis in accordance with all of the requirements of the departmental doctoral committee and the Graduate school is usually the final step prior to graduation.


Master of Science Degree, MS in Bioengineering
A course of study for each student is tailored to build upon their undergraduate strengths in traditional engineering disciplines and their area of research specialization. Courses are selected from the life sciences, engineering, and bioengineering. Required courses include BIOE 401, 402 and 403 plus two 500 level courses in bioengineering, six credits in the life sciences (usually including upper division or graduate level physiology) and six credits in technically oriented courses outside bioengineering. For students entering the program without a background in engineering or the physical sciences, such as biology or other life science disciplines, up to 24 credits of additional undergraduate engineering courses may be required. A thesis is required for the M.S. degree and the student must register for at least six credits of directed thesis research. Each student is required to register at least once, as a participant in the Bioengineering Colloquium (BIOE 590) and give a presentation on their research. Requirements for the M.S. degree may be completed within one to two years, depending on the individual.


MD-Ph.D. Program
In collaboration with the College of Medicine at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, the Bioengineering Program offers the opportunity for medical students to pursue a program of study leading to the Ph.D. in Bioengineering. Students in the program take the medical school core curriculum during the first two years of study. Years 3 to 5 are devoted to completing graduate school requirements and thesis research leading to the Ph.D. in Bioengineering, and years 6 and 7 focus on clinical rotations. Application to the MD-Ph.D. program is made by expressing an interest in the dual degree program when applying for admission to the College of Medicine. Further information may be obtained from the Office of Student Affairs, P.O. Box 850, Hershey, PA 17033 or from the Bioengineering Program.