The Doctor of Philosophy Program in the Department of
Bioengineering emphasizes our excellence in bioengineering research and
Students pursuing the PhD degree are required to pass a
preliminary examination based on their Bioengineering coursework at the end of
their first year of graduate study. Students pursuing the PhD are also required
to complete two, one-credit teaching practicums, and present a PhD proposal,
ideally within 18 months or so of taking the preliminary exam. Each PhD
candidate makes a final, public PhD thesis defense to fulfill the requirements
for the PhD degree.
•Grant Writing in Bioengineering - 1 credit •Graduate Engineering
Mathematics - 3 credits •Statistics for Bioengineers - 3 credits
•Societal, Political and Ethical Issues in Bioengineering - 3 credits
•Track Courses - 9 credits (from menu of courses for specific track)
•Graduate Electives - 6 credits •Life Sciences - 6 credits
•Teaching Practicum - 2 credits •Seminar - 6 credits total, 4 credits
must be Bioengineering Seminar
•Doctoral Dissertation Research- 33
Total number of credit hours: 72 credits (plus the credits
associated with the remedial courses, as applicable).
The PhD Preliminary Exam is given once a
year, typically in early June, and is to be taken by students pursuing the PhD
degree after their first two semesters of full time course work. A student is
allowed no more than two opportunities to take the preliminary examination.
The purpose of the preliminary examination is to
evaluate the student's ability to use fundamental principles of biomedical
science and engineering approaches to investigate solutions to bioengineering
problems. The basis of the examination is a specific research question
(problem), chosen by the student to write a proposal on. The student may seek
assistance from his/her advisor or any other faculty member for choosing the
question. The examination will consist of an oral presentation and accompanying
written proposal in NIH RO3 format (see below for details.) The written
document and oral presentation should demonstrate the student's ability to
think, present, and defend in an academic environment, as well as a sufficient
background in the biomedical science and engineering aspects of the chosen
The examinations will be coordinated within the current graduate
tracks. They will typically take place at the end of the first year of graduate
studies. The scheduling of the examinations will be handled by the track
coordinators, who will also determine the suitability of the research question
(problem) (having both engineering and biomedical science components). The
student may get help from anyone in preparing the oral presentation, but must
observe the usual strict standards on plagiarism in preparing the written
document. Students are encouraged to focus on one to two experiments and note
both alternatives and potential problems in each experiment. Proper referencing
of sources is required for both the oral and written components. One important
paper in the field must be identified in the references and made available to
the reviewers, who may ask for an explanation or critique of any aspect of the
paper. The research proposal may be supported by preliminary data, but this is
not a requirement. In addition, students must provide a written statement,
signed by their advisor, to state what the student's contribution to their
research was in the proposal document.
Rather, the examination committee
is expected to probe the student with challenging questions to establish the
depth of his/her creative and analytical thinking, as well as knowledge in
appropriate background areas.
The final result of the preliminary
examination will be based on the combined evaluation of the written and oral
components, with three possible outcomes: unconditional pass, conditional pass,
BioE Preliminary Exam Instructions
2018 BioE Preliminary Exam Pertinent Dates
Examples of Actual NIH Grant Applications
Committees for PhD students should consist of the student's advisor
(who will act as Chair of this committee,) at least two additional faculty
members from within the Department of Bioengineering and at least one faculty
member from outside the Department of Bioengineering. For MS students, the
committee will need to consist of three faculty members total and at least two
need to be member of the Bioengineering faculty. However, all three can be
Bioengineering faculty as there is no requirement to have one member from
outside of Bioengineering. Students are required to receive approval from the
faculty Graduate Coordinator of the committee, ideally 1-2 months prior to the
proposal defense. After this takes place, the student will need to obtain a
"blue form" (admission to PhD candidacy form) from the Graduate Administrator,
and obtain the necessary signatures at the student's proposal. After this
occurs, the form will need to be returned to the Graduate Administrator for
submission to the school for approval.
Formal admission to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree (typically
in the 3rd year) constitutes a promotion of the student to the most advanced
stage of graduate study and provides formal approval to devote essentially
exclusive attention to the research and the writing of the dissertation. Note that it is a departmental requirement that students complete their proposal by the end of their third full year in the program. To
qualify for admission to candidacy, students must have obtained full graduate
status and have satisfied the requirement of the preliminary examination. Note
that a student does not necessarily need to have all coursework completed before
completing their proposal. The student should submit the written proposal in NIH RO1 format to the committee at least two weeks in advance of the oral defense to the approved committee. The approval of the
proposal and defense of it constitutes passing the proposal and Comprehensive
Examination. The committee will meet at least once a year during the remainder
of his or her PhD program culminating in the Dissertation Defense.
Once a student has completed the proposal and comprehensive exam, they may
then register for 3999 credits, or "post-proposal" research credits. After the
student completes 12 credits of 3999, which can easily be completed in one
semester, they can then register for FTDH, or Full Time Dissertation Hours, up
to and including the semester in which they graduate. Please note that no
courses can be taken once a student registers for FTDH. It is important to note
that students may switch into 3999 credits if the propose before the end of the
add/drop period of the semester in which they complete their proposal.
Proposal Guidelines for Students
Writing a Grant Proposal 101
Students are expected to
be prepared to announce their dissertation defense date at least two weeks
before their defense by emailing the information including the dissertation
date, time, and location, the name and full title of their advisor, along with
an abstract of no more than 400 words, to the Graduate Administrator, after
which a notice will be sent out to the school. At the defense, the student is to
prepare the ETD approval forms, the abstract, a copy of all publications
(including journal articles, presentations, and proceedings,) and a copy of the
PhD rubric form for each member of their dissertation committee.
Information on Electronic Theses and DissertationsGrad
M.D./Ph.D. Program supports
well-integrated basic and clinical sciences pre-doctoral training program.
The training program links 17 PhD programs in six graduate schools within the
University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. It is important to
keep in mind that MD/PhD students are working toward TWO degrees, not just
"two for the price of one". However, it is recognized that some
relaxation of the requirements is appropriate for these students. For
example, students in the MD/PhD program exceed the basic life science
requirements for the Bioengineering PhD program. However, MD/PhD students
can not use their MD courses to opt out of the advanced engineering/math
course requirements for the PhD. The course requirements for the MD/PhD in
Bioengineering include the following:
Total number of credit hours: 72 credits (plus the credits
associated with the remedial courses, as applicable). Typically,
completion of the PhD portion of the program requires four years, the MD/PhD program typically requires seven years, total.
our Professional Master of Science in Bioengineering information sheet.
The Department of Bioengineering offers a special Professional MS in Bioengineering with an emphasis on Medical Product Engineering in conjunction with Center for Medical Innovation.
The degree program emphasizes preparation for a career in the medical device industry through hands-on, practical experience in medical product design and development, development of advanced engineering skills, and instruction in professional affairs
and practices in medical engineering. In essence, the program focuses on the application of engineering innovation to the identification of and solution to challenges in health care delivery in the medical industry.
The Professional MS in Bioengineering is designed to assure mastery of specific knowledge and skills, rather than random accumulation of a specified number of courses. A thorough grounding in the principles of medical device innovation and development
compliant with regulatory requirements is provided through a three-semester sequence that starts with immersion in the medical/hospital environment and ends with a first-generation prototype. The curriculum also provides a strong foundation in ethics,
analysis, design principles, and principles of entrepreneurship as applied to medical device innovation.
Full-time program students are required to have internship (or co-op) experience starting with their second semester until completing the program.
While the typical three-semester sequence focuses heavily on medical product design and development, the student has an opportunity to develop depth in an area of interest through proper choice of the four Advanced Graduate Engineering Courses. The Optional
Business/Law Courses are directed toward gaining an appreciation for the special entrepreneurial and law challenges associated with the typical small businesses that are on the forefront of medical product engineering and will qualify the student
to earn the Graduate
Certificate in Medical Product Innovation as well as the Professional MS.
Admission to the Professional MS in Bioengineering program is by application only. Class size is limited. Accepted students will have a curricular advisor and a project advisor to guide the student's individualized educational experience. Students must
maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to remain in good standing in the program. The Professional MS in Bioengineering is not intended for students pursuing the PhD and admission to the program does not guarantee continuation on to the PhD program. Students
interested in pursuing the PhD must complete the PhD application process.
Download our Professional MS in Bioengineering - focus on Neural Engineering information sheet.
Program Coordinator: Prof. Neeraj Gandhi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
STUDY NEURAL ENGINEERING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH?
Pitt is a recognized leader in the emerging discipline of Neural Engineering. Our core faculty and clinical collaborators offer courses that prepare students to work in this exciting and dynamic field. Neural Engineering, which encompasses neural prosthetics,
brain-computer interface systems, epilepsy monitoring, deep brain stimulation, engineering approaches to psychiatric disorders, and brain-inspired computation and device design, is a fast-growing field that provides clinical and technological benefits.
The program is offered by Pitt’s nationally ranked Department of Bioengineering (#18 U.S. News and World Report). Instruction will be in-person and online. The 30-credit program can be completed in one year of full-time study. Students will garner a deep
knowledge of the biology of the nervous system, and how, from an engineering perspective, to treat disorders, build clinical devices, and build computational models. The non-thesis program is designed to provide excellent training for industry in
Neural Engineering or related fields such as Medical Devices or Data Science.
Neural engineering students will pursue didactic coursework that builds core competency in at least two of the following areas:
The concentrations for core competency will be selected in consultation with the program director and will take into consideration the student’s previous training and career aspirations.
PROFESSIONAL MS (30 CREDITS, TYPICALLY 10 COURSES)
Course –many options
available each semester; too many to list
The Research MS program requires a total of 31 credits, which includes:
Total - 31 credits
Other required courses may be tailored to the student's background and interests. Typically, completion of the Research MS program requires two years. Within the first year of enrollment (preferably within the first semester), the MS candidate is expected to finalize the general area in which he/she will write a thesis and an advisor who will guide the work. By the third semester of enrollment, the student is to prepare a Master's Thesis, following University requirements for Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs.) The student (under the guidance of his/her advisor) selects a thesis committee of three or more persons. For MS students, the committee will need to consist of three faculty members total and at least two need to be member of the Bioengineering faculty. However, all three can be Bioengineering faculty as there is no requirement to have one member from outside of Bioengineering. The committee should consist of the student's advisor (who will act as Chairman of this committee), at least one additional faculty member from within the Department of Bioengineering and at least one faculty member from outside the Department of Bioengineering. The committee meets at least once per year and oversees the Thesis Defense.
The MBA/Master of Science (MS) in Engineering Dual Degree
Program, offered jointly by the University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz
Graduate School of Business and School of Engineering, positions individuals
with an undergraduate degree in engineering or the hard sciences to take a
management role in a company that has a significant engineering and/or
technological focus. To apply visit The
Katz MBA/MS Engineering Dual Degree Program
The Department of
Bioengineering and the Katz Graduate School of Business offer a dual MBA/MS
program, with the following requirements. Please note that these are only the
requirements for the Professional MS half of the MS/MBA in Bioengineering and
does not include the requirements of the entire program:
Bioengineering Track Courses
* The requirement of track courses implies that students would
choose a specialty focus or "track" within Bioengineering, which currently
consists of Biomechanics, Biosignals and Imaging, Cellular and Organ
Engineering, Medical Product Engineering, Rehabilitation and Human Movement,
Neural Engineering, Biophysics and Physiology. With the adviser's approval,
students could take courses from multiple tracks that either logically fit
together or helped fulfill the student's educational objectives.
Patrick Sparto, PhD, PTCo-Director, DPT-PhD ProgramDepartment of Physical TherapyBridgeside Point 1, Suite 210Pittsburgh, PA 15219-3130Phone: 412-647-8069Fax: 412-648-5970E-mail:
Applications will need to be submitted through the PT Centralized Application Service (
PTCAS ) by December 1 for admission to the program the following June. The application is reviewed by faculty in both departments.
Students will need to meet the admission requirements of both programs. Applicants must have a minimum of a Bachelor's degree in a field of engineering or closely related (e.g. physics, or applied mathematics, kinesiology). Applicants must demonstrate evidence of exposure
to the field of PT through volunteer or work experience. Applicants must submit 4 letters of reference: one physical therapist with whom the student has volunteered or worked for, two academic advisors, and one work supervisor. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required but competitive applicants
typically have a 3.5 GPA or greater. Applicants must take the GRE exam; typically, admitted students have GRE scores greater than the 50th percentile.
Students will follow the typical plan of study for DPT students for the initial seven semesters (i.e. 2 1/3 years) of the program. Then students will follow the plan of study for PhD students. Clinical internships and research experiences will
be performed throughout the program. At a minimum, the program will take 6 years to complete. After completing the didactic and clinical requirements of the DPT program, the student will be allowed to take the licensing exam. Students are required to write and orally defend a dissertation to complete
their PhD degree.
Students are required to pass a written comprehensive examination before the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree can be awarded. The written comprehensive examination is a cumulative examination covering the core clinical sciences and
focusing on physical therapy practice.
The course requirements for the PhD in bioengineering for the combined program include the following:
Grant Writing in Bioengineering-1 credit
Total number of credit hours: 72 credits minimum (plus the credits associated with the remedial courses, as applicable.) Students typically take the PhD preliminary exam after their first year in the program, and PhD proposal (comprehensive
examination) is presented generally at the end of the second year. A final public PhD defense is made by each PhD candidate based on the student's research work.
Bioengineering in Psychiatry (BiP)Biomechanics
in Regenerative Medicine (BiRM)Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program
(CBTP)Cellular Approaches to Tissue Engineering
and Regeneration (CATER)