Jul 21, 2024  
2016-2017 Academic Catalog (Jan 2017) 
2016-2017 Academic Catalog (Jan 2017) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biomedical Engineering, PhD

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 Program Description

The UTHSC College of Graduate Health Sciences together with the Department of Biomedical Engineering at The University of Memphis offers a joint graduate program leading to the PhD in Biomedical Engineering (BME). As a special field, BME applies engineering, physical sciences, and mathematical methods to problems involving health care; it demands close integration of many areas and forms of knowledge including the areas listed above, the life and health sciences, and current practice in clinical care.  Usually in BME the student is admitted as a thesis-based MS degree student which is followed by a Ph.D.  The minimum graduate school requirement for the Joint Program is 57 credits (plus 6 credits for the MS thesis and 24 credits for the Ph.D. dissertation).  Students and their faculty committee agree on the actual number of credits; few take the exact number shown.  Some courses can be chosen from lists; others are chosen with the consent of the faculty advisor and committee. The term “engineering choice” is understood to include applicable course work.

The program’s primary faculty are divided between the two campuses and offer academic and research activities in four major sub-disciplines: (1) Biomechanics, Movement Science and Rehabilitation (2) Biomaterials and regenerative technology; (3) Biosensors and electrophysiology and, (4) Cellular biomechanical responses. These sub-disciplines are bolstered by collaborations with secondary and adjunct faculty at the two universities and other affiliated institutions

Admission and Selection

Admission as a full-time student requires a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent with an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 from an accredited college or university and a combined score totaling at least 300 for the verbal and quantitative sections of the revised Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Individuals with a professional or graduate degree in science from an accredited US/Canadian institution, or with scores from other commonly recognized standardized graduate admissions exams, may petition for an exception. Three letters of recommendation from previous instructors or persons capable of judging the applicant’s qualifications for graduate study are also required. Any applicant to the graduate program whose first language is not English and who has earned neither a bachelor’s nor a master’s degree from a college or university in an English-speaking country must have achieved a TOEFL score of at least 213/79 on the computer-based/Internet-based exam or an IELTS score of 6.5 (earned within 2 years prior to application). Any applicant to the CGHS whose first language is not English but who has earned a baccalaureate or master’s degree from a college or university in an English-speaking country where instruction was in English may be exempted from the requirement for the TOEFL or IELTS examination.

Technical Standards and Accommodations

The minimum abilities for eligibility to participate successfully in educational programs and activities by students enrolled in the College of Graduate Health Sciences are listed below. All persons who wish to enter one of the programs in the College should be aware of the minimum abilities required for success. Admission decisions for the College programs do not take disabilities into consideration; students may disclose their disabilities after admission.

Minimum abilities are as follows:

  1. To make proper assessments and ethical judgments regarding research and professional decisions.
  2. To communicate effectively with colleagues and professional staff.
  3. To acquire necessary information developed through classroom instruction, laboratory experience, independent learning, and consultation.
  4. To search and evaluate articles in the scientific literature.
  5. To obtain, interpret, and accurately document research data.
  6. To complete computer-based assignments and use computers.
  7. To understand and carry out safety rules and precautions in the laboratory.
  8. To handle emergencies in the laboratory, including fire, exposure to dangerous agents, and explosions.

These abilities may be accomplished through direct student response, use of prosthetic devices, or personal assistance (e.g., readers, signers, and note takers). Upon admission, students are invited to disclose any disabilities (with certification) to the Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion (SASSI) https://www.uthsc.edu/sassi/. The college will provide reasonable accommodations, as required by the student’s documented disabilities with SASSI, and at the student’s written request to the Dean, College of Graduate Health Sciences. Purchase of prosthetic devices to aid the student in meeting these requirements is the responsibility of the student. On a case-by-case basis and upon written request of the student, the College may assist in providing attending services.

Curriculum Summary

The following are the general requirements for PhD assuming that the student already holds a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering. It is important to realize that because of the nature of the PhD program, setting specific requirements for graduation is nearly impossible. The PhD committee is the body that ultimately decides what courses are needed for each individual based on his/her background and dissertation.


Academic Credits  
Subject Credits
Life sciences 6
Math and its applications 6
Biomedical measurements (or control systems) 3
Biomedical or related engineering (course choices are guided by the faculty committee) 18
Research (usually split as thesis for MS degree and dissertation for PhD) 24 - 30
Required Participatory Credit  
Seminar and professional development 1
Ethics 1


The table below illustrates typical semester patterns of courses, exams and research for a thesis-based MS degree that is followed by a Ph.D. The minimum graduate school requirement for the Joint Program is 57 credits (plus 6 credits for the MS thesis and 24 credits for the PhD dissertation). Students and their faculty committee agree on the actual number of credits; few take the exact number shown. Some courses can be chosen from lists; others are chosen with the consent of the faculty advisor and committee. The term “engineering choice” is understood to include applicable course work.

Total: 10 credit hours

Spring 1

Total: 10 credit hours

Fall 2

Total: 12 credit hours

Spring 2

Total: 12 credit hours

Fall 3

Total: 12 credit hours

Spring 3

Total: 12 credit hours

Fall 4

Total: 9 credit hours

Spring 4

Total: 9 credit hours

Total: 6 credit hours

Total for the Degree: 92 credit hours*

*Additional credit hours may be required to maintain full-time status. Continuous registration for dissertation research is required until the degree requirements are met.

Graduation Requirements

Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average or greater throughout the program.

Examination Requirement

Prior to admission to candidacy, students pursuing the project option must pass a comprehensive written examination (Level A exam). This examination is given at the end of the second semester of the student’s curriculum and has four sections covering the topics of life sciences, mathematics, instrumentation, and biomedical engineering. A student must pass all of the four sections of the exam. In addition, student are given an oral examination in which they present their current or proposed research project and answer questions about the project and their written examination. Students are allowed two attempts to pass the examination. A Level B examination consisting of a written research grant proposal that is submitted to the students committee and is orally defended by the student shall be taken 18 to 24 months after the student has entered the program.

Admission to Candidacy

The student must apply for degree candidacy no later than two terms prior to the term in which the dissertation is presented. A comprehensive examination (oral and written) covering the fields indicated by the program must be passed prior to admission to candidacy. In the event of failure, the candidate may not appear for reexamination until permission is granted by the program. The result of the second examination is final.

Admission to candidacy for this degree depends upon the student’s (1) passing the required comprehensive examination, (2) demonstration of research potential and accomplishment at least equivalent to that for completion of a master’s thesis, (3) certification by the student’s Faculty Committee and the Program Chair, and (4) approval by the Dean. Upon admission to candidacy, all graduate students, including those who have been enrolled part-time, must be enrolled full-time for the remainder of their program, unless an exception is approved by the Dean.

Research, Electronic Dissertation, and Oral Defense

Research accomplishment is a principal requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, and the dissertation must show substantial evidence of independently achieved and original results. This research and preparation of the dissertation must in each case be conducted in accordance with general College policies and under the immediate direction of the student’s Research Advisor and Faculty Committee. The dissertation is written after completion of experiments or other graduate studies designed to answer the questions posed by the statement of the problem. The scientific content and style of the dissertation are the responsibility of the student and student’s Faculty Committee. The dissertation must be formatted and delivered according to the electronic thesis and dissertation policies outlined in these bylaws under “ET/D Program Policies”.

The final oral defense of the research shall be publicized to the University community and shall be conducted by the student’s Faculty Committee. When the defense is successfully completed, a Report of Final Examination is signed by all Faculty Committee members and forwarded to the Dean of the CGHS.

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