Doctoral Program

The Department of Biomedical Engineering offers a variety of graduate programs: the Master’s of Science degree (M.S.), the Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.), and the Doctor of Engineering Science degree (Eng.Sc.D). Applicants who have an M.S. or equivalent are welcome to apply directly to a doctoral degree program. Additionally, the department offers an M.S.-leading-to-Ph.D. track for applicants who have not yet completed their master’s degree, and a combined MD/Ph.D. program in conjunction with Columbia University School of Physicians and Surgeons.

All applicants are expected to have earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering or other science, and are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE – general test only). Students who earned their bachelor’s degree in a country where English is not the dominant language will be required to take the TOFEL. 

Doctoral Candidate Requirements

Doctoral candidates are expected to complete 30 credits beyond the master's degree, pass an oral and written qualifying examination, and successfully defend their doctoral dissertations, which are based on individual research. In addition, all doctoral students must demonstrate teaching competence as part of their training.

The core course requirements (9 credits) for the doctoral program include the course in computational modeling of physiological systems (BMEN E6003), plus at least two graduate mathematics courses. If BMEN E6003 or a graduate level mathematics course has already been taken for the master’s degree, a technical elective can be used to complete the core course requirements. Students must register for BMEN E9700: Biomedical engineering seminar and for research credits during the first two semesters of doctoral study. Remaining courses should be selected in consultation with the student’s faculty adviser to prepare for the doctoral qualifying examination and to develop expertise in a clearly identified area of biomedical engineering. Up to 21 credits of research may be applied toward doctoral degree course requirements.

All graduate students admitted to the doctoral degree program must satisfy the equivalent of two semesters’ experience in teaching (one semester for M.D./Ph.D. students). This may include supervising and assisting undergraduate students in laboratory experiments, grading, and preparing lecture materials to support the teaching mission of the department. The Department of Biomedical Engineering is the only engineering department that offers Ph.D. training to M.D./Ph.D. students. These candidates are expected to complete their Ph.D. program within 3.5 years, with otherwise the same requirements as those outlined for the Doctoral Degree program. 

  • 30 credits beyond M.S. degreee
  • 2 advanced math courses required
  • Up to 21 credits can be research with consultation from adviser
  • Other courses can be selected in consultation with adviser

For information on specific courses see and .


Doctoral Qualifying Exam

Doctoral candidates are required to pass a qualifying examination. This examination is given once a year, and it should be taken after the student has completed 30 points of graduate study. The qualifying examination consists of an oral exam during which the student presents an analysis of assigned scientific papers, as well as answers to questions in topics covering applied mathematics, quantitative biology and physiology, and track-specific material. A written analysis of the assigned scientific papers must be submitted prior to the oral exam. A minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.2 is required to register for this examination.

Students must declare a track (biomedical imaging, biomechanics, or cellular and tissue engineering) at the time of registration for the qualifying examination. The qualifying examination consists of a written examination, and at a later date an oral exam. The written examination covers three areas: applied mathematics, quantitative biology and physiology, and a track-specific examination. The oral examination consists of the analysis and presentation of assigned scientific papers in the student’s thesis research area.

A minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.2 is required to register for this examination. A candidate who fails the examination may be permitted to repeat it once at the time of the next examination.

• Student needs at least 30 credits (3 semesters)
• Must take qualifying examination when 45 credits are completed
• Minimum GPA of 3.2
• Given in January of each year

Examples of examinations from previous years can be found here.

Doctoral Committee and Thesis

Students who pass the qualifying examination choose a faculty member to serve as their research adviser. Each student is expected to submit a research proposal and present it to a thesis committee that consists of at least four faculty members.

The committee considers the scope of the proposed research, its suitability for doctoral research and the appropriateness of the research plan. The committee may approve the proposal without reservation or may recommend modifications.

In general, the student is expected to submit his/her research proposal after five semesters of doctoral studies. In accord with regulations of the School, each student is expected to submit a thesis and defend it before a committee of five faculty, at least one of whom hold primary appointments in another department.

Every doctoral candidate is expected to have had accepted at least one full-length paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal prior to recommendation for award of the degree.

Proposal Defense

• Expected after four semesters of doctoral studies (2 years after qualifying exam)
• Committee of at least four faculty members

Thesis Defense

• Committee of at least five faculty members, at least one of whom hold primary appointments outside BME


Chair of the Graduate Affairs Committee
Professor Elisa Konafagou (

Student Affairs Manager
James Ihn (

Graduate Student Council 
Andrew Kang (

Individual Professors/Advisors

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