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New York University Tandon School of Engineering    
  Aug 21, 2017
2016-2018 Undergraduate and Graduate Bulletin (with addenda)

Biomedical Engineering, Ph.D.

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The primary goal of the PhD in Biomedical Engineering [BME] is to provide students with an in-depth, advanced education that will give them the tools needed to perform fundamental and applied research in biomedical engineering. Alternatively, students will gain the requisite technical knowledge that they may wish to apply to management, marketing, sales, and other entrepreneurial activities related to biomedical engineering.

Specific Objectives include:
• To provide students that have either a BS or an advanced degree in any engineering; mathematics; or natural science discipline with a tailored program of study that will ensure their competency and competitiveness in BME.
• To provide students with a cutting edge program that integrates engineering, biological and medical sciences such that students will acquire the requisite skills to participate in technological innovations that provide people with longer, healthier and more productive lives.
• To better accomplish the above, to merge the leadership and talents found at NYU Tandon in chemistry, engineering and computer science with the expertise in medical sciences at the Health Sciences Center at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
• To give students an opportunity to focus on topics that include: 1) Biomaterials and Polymer Therapeutics; 2) Bio-imaging and Neuro-engineering.
• To give students the option of doing research in the laboratories at NYU Tandon or SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Students may also substitute research units with course electives.


The PhD degree in Biomedical Engineering is awarded to a student upon successful completion of 75 credits and the defense of a comprehensive thesis research project. The credits are broken down as 39 course credits and 36 doctoral thesis research credits. A maximum of 30 course credits may be transferred from previous graduate course work. Thesis credits can only be taken upon passing the qualifying exam.

The program has three separate, entry-level pathways to accommodate students entering with a bachelor’s degree in any of the following disciplines: (1) chemical engineering; (2) mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science engineering or physics; and (3) chemistry, biology or premedical studies. By accommodating these students with varying academic backgrounds, we intend to further encourage communication, in keeping with the interdisciplinary nature of biomedical engineering. Students will be required to take at least one, but not more than two, of NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s management of technology courses. Students will be obliged to participate in 

 , a course on responsible conduct in research, as required by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for training grant funding joint institutionally; to participate in Journal Clubs; and to attend the jointly sponsored SUNY/NYU Tandon Biomedical Engineering Seminar Series. The required PhD thesis research may be conducted under the supervision of a faculty member from either institution. We expect that these students will need four to six years to complete the doctoral program, depending upon their admission status.

Candidates whose thesis research advisors are NYU Tandon faculty will be required to register at NYU Tandon and will accumulate a minimum total of 75 credits; whereas those candidates whose thesis research advisers are SUNY Downstate [SGS] faculty will be required to register at Downstate and will accumulate the requisite number of credits specified by SGS’s degree requirement. The same joint PhD degree will be conferred regardless of the campus at which the student registers; the research requirements for all graduate students in the program are identical.

Each student will be required to register for all of the courses through the standard registration process at student’s home institution, irrespective of where the courses are actually held. The Registrars at each institution will keep accounts of the numbers of credits taken by their BME PhD students at the alternate institution. Those credits will be tallied at the close of every two academic years, or every other June.

Passing a doctoral qualifying examination, scheduled within the first two years, is required to advance to candidacy for the PhD degree. Students are directed to read the information within the Qualifying Examination Guidelines, below. In the case of failure, the right to a second examination is at the discretion of the examination committee in consultation with the BME program directors at NYU Tandon and SUNY Downstate, and the graduate dean or associate dean from the campus at which the BME student is enrolled. The results of each student’s examination will be delivered to the Registrar of the NYU Tandon and SGS, in writing, no later than one week following the exam.


An admission committee composed of faculty from both SGS and NYU Tandon will review BME PhD applications. Requirements for acceptance to the program will include (1) academic excellence, (2) interests congruent with those of program faculty, and (3) positive recommendations from former research advisors. Admissions committee member and faculty members whose research interests match those of the candidate, either in person or by a conference call, will interview all viable candidates.
Bachelor’s level students accepted into the BME PhD program will be expected to register at the campus where the faculty research best matches their own interests. While this early commitment to a research area is dissimilar to other doctoral programs at SGS, it is essential given the early tuition and stipend obligations at NYU Tandon . A faculty thesis advisor must accept students with an MS who wish to enter the BME PhD before they will be allowed to enroll.


Thesis Research: Procedures for academic advising, and for supervision and evaluation of students’ progress through degree completion.

Members of the student’s thesis/advisory committee, with the participation of the BME program director, will monitor the individual student’s progression through the BME PhD program, as in the other doctoral programs at SGS and NYU Tandon. To accommodate the changing needs of each student based upon his or her research project, the composition of the committee is designed for flexibility. At each stage of a student’s career it is important to determine if they are progressing at a rate sufficient for success as a doctoral candidate. This includes the successful and timely completion of course work and examinations. The following schedule is suggested:

Year 1: Both BS or MS level students are expected to register for course work to prepare for their doctoral qualifying examination.

Year 2: The qualifying examination committee will be formed and consist of three members; one must hold a PhD in an engineering discipline. Student will take the doctoral qualifying examination. Those that pass are allowed to continue to year 3 as doctoral candidates and will be allowed to register for 


Year 3: The thesis/advisory committee will be formed. This committee will consist of six members, selection of which will be primarily based on the area of the student’s research. All attempts should be made to include a least two members from the student’s qualifying exam committee, one member should have expertise within the track focus chosen by the student; one member should have a PhD in engineering; two members should be from a department other than the one in which the thesis advisor is affiliated. The sixth member, an outside examiner, should be selected and be present at the thesis pre-defense, and may also become involved in the proposal defense, at the student and advisor’s invitation.

Year 4: The thesis/advisory committee, including the external member, will monitor student progress during the thesis pre-defense. Internal members of the thesis research advisory committee monitor the thesis defense; attendance by the external member at the thesis defense is optional.

Below is a chronological description of the process by which a student will progress from thesis proposal to thesis defense.

Student submits written version of thesis proposal to the committee two weeks in advance of the Oral Proposal defense.

  1. Oral Proposal Defense. This is a formal presentation by the student before the program’s students and faculty.
  2. Chair of committee writes a letter to the student containing the committee’s determination of the proposal defense (Acceptable, Acceptable with Modifications or Unacceptable). The letter should describe what experiments are required for completion of the thesis work. This is a contract with the student.
  3. Student submits written thesis to committee, including to the outside examiner, two weeks in advance of the Pre-defense of the thesis.
  4. Pre-defense. Student must defend a written document and respond to questions regarding research. (The format is oral. A formal presentation on the part of the student is discouraged; a brief informal presentation may occur if desired by the chairman.)
  5. Chair of committee writes a letter to student containing the committee’s determination of what changes are required for the final document.
  6. Student submits final document to committee members two weeks prior to the defense, or one week if agreed upon by all committee members.
  7. Defense. First there is a formal, public presentation by the student, with questions from the audience. Following the public presentation, the student meets privately with the committee members for questions. The committee makes a decision that is then transmitted, in writing, to the Registrar.


A two-part qualifying examination, scheduled for no later than the fall semester of the second year, is required to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Students must submit a formal application to take the exam during registration for the spring semester of that year. The application should include the names of three or more faculty who are willing to serve on the qualifying examination committee; these must be approved by the Program Director of the student’s home campus. The committee must have at least one faculty member from the campus not directly sponsoring the student, and a member or designee of the executive committee.

The purpose of the qualifying examination is to test general knowledge of Bioengineering, and in particular knowledge that is pertinent to the track in which the student is enrolled, and is intended to discern the student’s ability to communicate ideas and concepts. While the exam is a test of general knowledge, students are expected to be especially knowledgeable in the scientific area related to their proposed research.

The format of the examination is in two parts. In part one the student will receive one essay question from each of the examiners that they will have one week to answer. The thesis examining committee will either pass or fail the student on this written part. If this part of the examination is passed, the student will be allowed to take the oral part of the examination.

During the oral part of the examination, questions from the committee will not necessarily be limited to the student’s essay questions, but may cover other aspects of the student’s academic training up to that point. The intent is to focus the committee’s attention, and to make the members aware of the areas of interest in which the student might be expected to have particular knowledge.

The examination will be graded as pass or fail by majority vote. In the case of failure, the right to a second examination is at the discretion of the executive committee and the Graduate Dean or Associate Dean for Biomedical Engineering of the campus at which the student is enrolled. An unsatisfactory performance in the qualifying examination may result in cancellation of the student’s registration in the sponsoring program. The decision of whether to cancel registration in the program or to offer an opportunity for reexamination is made by the Executive Committee of the Program on the basis of the student’s overall academic performance. This decision is not subject to formal appeal.

The result of each student’s examination will be delivered to the Graduate School, in writing, no later than one week following the exam.

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