Doctoral Programs in Biomedical Engineering

Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering

Doctor of Biomedical Engineering

Chair: Y. King Liu, Ph.D., L.Ac.

Biomedical Engineering

The past five decades have seen tremendous growth of technological activity in biology and medicine. Engineers are increasingly becoming involved in the life and health sciences. Accordingly, they have a great need to become more familiar with these fields in order for them to apply the tools of engineering and physics to biology and medicine. Conversely, students of biomedicine are required to become conversant with physics, mathematics, and engineering in addition to chemistry. Recognition of this need brought about the emergence of a new interdisciplinary engineering activity known as biomedical engineering that was designed to bridge the gap between the life sciences, medicine, and engineering.


The various branches of biomedical engineering are concerned with fields such as biomechanics, biomaterials, biomedical electronics, medical imaging, medical instrumentation, biochemical engineering, and tissue engineering. The University of Northern California’s doctorate in biomedical engineering prepares students for careers in medicine and medical instrumentation, diagnostic aids, tissue engineering, safety engineering, rehabilitation engineering, life support systems, human-machine systems, prosthetics, and orthotics. In addition to positions in higher education, graduates can find employment in the biomedical device industry and/or biotechnology. Graduates may also pursue careers in government, e.g., Veterans Administration, National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control.

Curriculum and Instruction

Students enjoy close working relationships with the faculty, promoted by small class sizes and joint research projects. The core curriculum provides students with the necessary foundation of knowledge in the interface disciplines of biology, medicine, and engineering. The core is followed by a series of required and elective classes that allow students to focus on a particular aspect of biomedical engineering that is of special interest to them.

Ph.D. Requirements

The doctoral program, including acceptable transfer unit hours, requires a minimum of 72 credit hours of graduate work beyond the bachelor’s degree. Of these 72 hours, at least 60 credit hours must be in formal course work taken after the baccalaureate degree is awarded, and at least 12 credit hours must be in dissertation research credit hours. For students entering with a master’s degree at least 30 credit hours of formal course work must be completed past the master’s degree level, and at least 12 credit hours must be dissertation research credit hours. Based on research progress, examination results, or other measures, the student’s graduate committee may require additional formal course work in order to strengthen areas of perceived weakness.

Admission to the Ph.D. program requires a 3.00 minimum grade point average (GPA) and is conditional until students successfully complete a qualifying examination, that is administered by the biomedical engineering faculty. If the student’s performance on this examination is adequate, he/she is admitted to the Ph.D. program. A 3.25 minimum grade point average must be maintained throughout Ph.D. studies. Upon completion of the course work specified in the plan of study, with the grade point average stipulated above, and upon the adviser’s recommendation, students are admitted to the comprehensive examination to be administered by their committee. Having satisfactorily completed these examinations, students must complete and defend their dissertation before their committee and their peers. Requirements for the Ph.D. generally can be completed in about two or three years beyond the master’s degree.

B.S. and M.S. degrees in Engineering, Physical Sciences or Mathematics, or Biomedical Sciences.