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GUIDELINES FOR THE GRADUATE PROGRAMS

School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems

Last Updated: October 17, 2012


Please note: Although this document describes best the existing policies regarding graduate studies in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, students are advised to constantly review the document for possible changes and consult the graduate advisor if uncertainties exist.

The School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems (BMES&HS or The School), offers master's of science (MS) and Ph.D. degrees in Biomedical Engineering and in Biomedical Science. Admission into either degree program depends on the student's application and his / her qualifications. To qualify for admission into the biomedical engineering programs, the student must have a degree in Biomedical Engineering or in one of the traditional engineering disciplines. Students with a bachelor's degree in one of the physical or biological sciences, or mathematics can pursue a graduate degree in Biomedical Science without satisfying additional prerequisites. Students with bachelor's degree in those sciences, who want to pursue graduate studies in Biomedical Engineering, may be permitted to do so after satisfying a number of course requirements that are tailored to that individual's skills and background. Such students are considered to be in a "Cross Over" program until the engineering prerequisites are satisfied via taking undergraduate courses. Undergraduate courses, however, cannot be used to satisfy the credit requirements for a graduate degree.

Master's Degree Requirements

The School offers both a traditional master's degree requiring thesis research and a Non-Thesis master's degree that requires additional course work. Students are required to declare their intention to seek either the Thesis or Non-Thesis master's degree during the compilation of their plan of study. Plan of study should be submitted no later than the end of the second term in school.

Any student who has received a Research Assistantship (RA) from a professor or from The School must complete a thesis to graduate. This condition can only be relaxed by a committee including the Graduate Advisor, the student's Thesis Advisor and a third faculty member. In every such deliberation, no override will be issued without the consent of the funding professor. Every student, regardless of degree program, is required to file a plan of study within the first or second quarter in school. Under no circumstances will a student be allowed to proceed into a second year, without a plan of study that has been signed by the student's thesis advisor and the school graduate advisor.

MS Thesis Option

Credit Requirements
Every master's student who elects to participate in the MS degree involving a thesis (Thesis Option) must accumulate at least 45 credits. Of the 45 credits, at least 36 must be course credits and up to 6 can be thesis or research credits. Students may have to continue to register for research credits beyond the 45 required credits while they complete their thesis research. The 6 thesis / research credits that may be counted towards the required 45 credits are in no way representative of the amount of work that the student needs to spend on the thesis. The student must complete research culminating in a written thesis.

Biomedical Engineering There are five required Core Courses: Medical Science I, II, & III (or equivalent Graduate-level life science courses) and Biosimulations I & II. The total number of credits of these courses is 15. Twenty-four additional course credits are required, of which 18 must be in BMES electives. Non-BMES course credits are permitted in addition to the required courses and the BMES courses (not instead). Exceptions to this requirement, i.e., permission to use non-BMES courses to count towards the 18 BMES electives required, must be approved by the research advisor together with the graduate advisor.

Biomedical Science
There are 24 credits of required Core Courses: Mathematics for Biomedical Science I, II, & III, Biomedical Statistics, Computer Applications in Biomedical Research, Principles of Systems Analysis I & II, and Physics of Living Systems I. Fifteen additional course credits are required, of which 9 must be in BMES electives. Non-BMES course credits are permitted in addition to the required courses and the BMES courses (not instead). Exceptions to this requirement, i.e., permission to use non-BMES courses to count towards the 9 BMES elective required, must be approved by the research advisor together with the graduate advisor.

Thesis Requirement
The thesis requirement is fulfilled by the preparation of a written thesis, a public presentation of the research, and an oral defense before the thesis committee. The thesis committee must have at least three members, two of which must be Biomed Core Faculty. The chair of the committee must be a Biomed Core Faculty member who is not also the thesis advisor. The thesis committee appointment form must be submitted three weeks prior to the defense and is subject to approval by the graduate advisor. The thesis must be submitted, with the approval of the thesis advisor, to the committee three weeks in advance of the defense. A title and abstract of the thesis must be provided to the Biomed office three weeks before the defense so that the public presentation can be adequately publicized. The thesis committee makes the final decision on the acceptability of the thesis.

Non-Thesis Option

This option is available to master's students only. Students wishing to extend their undergraduate education to better prepare themselves for careers in industry may elect to take a Non-Thesis master's degree. Students electing a Non-Thesis option must take six additional corse credits to satisfy the degree requirements. In a Non-Thesis option, research credits can only be earned through a special arrangement with a faculty member to conduct a specific research task in the lab. In such an event, the minimum effort spent by the student should be equivalent to the work spent in a course of the same number of credits. Grades will be submitted by the professor offering such experience to the student.

Master's Degree Involving Graduate Co-op Program (GCP)
The inclusion of an internship in the master's degree plan was introduced at Drexel University recently. Students who apply for admission into the master's degree program and who do not intend to pursue further studies are strongly advised to consider the Non-Thesis option with GCP internship. Although the GCP and the Non-Thesis elections are independent of each other, this combination is most sensible and recommended. Further clarifications about Graduate Co-op Program can be obtained from Mr. Ken Bohrer (kcb36@drexel.edu)

Ph.D. Requirements

Students applying for admission into the Ph.D. program are either post-baccalaureate or post-master's. Those who are post-master's are required to take a minimum of 45 credits toward their Ph.D. degree. Post-baccalaureate Ph.D. students are required to take a minimum of 90 credits.

Students who were accepted as post-baccalaureate in either Biomedical Engineering or Biomedical Science must satisfy the course requirements described above for the respective master's degree. Once all the master's course requirements have been satisfied, the additional 45 credit requirement can be satisfied via a combination of Thesis/Research credits and/or course credits as determined and approved by their thesis advisor and endorsed by the graduate advisor.

Every student is required to file a plan of study within the first or second quarter in school. Under no circumstances will a student be allowed to proceed into a second year, without a plan of study that has been signed by the student's thesis advisor and the school graduate advisor.

Every full time Ph.D. student should identify a thesis advisor no later than the second term in school. Post-master's students are expected to identify an advisor as soon as possible after joining the program or even before they are formally in the program. The expectation is that post-master's students are academically mature and have already focused on a research area and contacted potential advisors prior to their arrival.

In addition to the course requirements, Ph.D. students must progress through a series of steps leading to the Ph.D. Dissertation:
  • The Doctoral Candidacy Exam consists of two parts. The first part is a written exam that must be taken at the end of the first academic year (around mid-June) of graduate study. It is intended to test core competency in engineering mathematics applied to novel problems in life sciences. The second part of the Doctoral Candidacy Exam consists of a preliminary proposal prepared by the student outlining their dissertation research plan with an oral defense before the dissertation committee. The committee shall conform to established University and School rules for Dissertation/Candidacy committee membership. A student who has passed the math portion of the exam may schedule the preliminary proposal portion whenever she/he and her/his advisor decide they're ready but no later than the end of the Fall term of second year of study (or within six months of passing the math exam). A student must successfully pass both portions of the exam to be considered to have passed the Candidacy Exam (see Office of Graduate studies form D-2/D-2a). Note that to be considered a Doctoral Candidate by the University, a student must have BOTH passed the Candidacy Exam (both portions) and completed 45 credits of coursework post-baccalaureate or 15 credits post-MS. The Dissertation Proposal consists of a written proposal of the dissertation research and a presentation to the dissertation committee. The student must be prepared to defend the dissertation hypothesis and methodology. This intended to ensure the feasibility and appropriateness of the proposed studies and to assess the student's ability to out the work as demonstrated by the student's depth of knowledge in the selected field and the completion of preliminary studies. The student will give a public presentation of the proposal followed by an oral examination by the committee. The proposal defense should take place no later than the end of the second year in the program.

  • The written Dissertation and public defense completes the degree process.

These descriptions supplement the University policies, which, in any case, must be followed. The University Policies can be found at the following web site: http://www.drexel.edu/provost/graduatestudies/forms/index.html

Guidelines for Proposal and Dissertation are given below:

The Dissertation Proposal
The Dissertation Proposal consists of a written proposal of the dissertation research, a public presentation, and oral defense before the Dissertation Committee. The purpose of the research proposal is to determine if the Ph.D. student is able to initiate, organize, write and defend a scientific idea, which will lead to a Ph.D. dissertation. Within 6 months of successful completion of the Candidacy Examination the Dissertation Advisory Committee, selected by the students and the research advisor, has to be appointed (form D-3). Within one year after successful completion of the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination, the student will present to the Committee his or her research proposal (form D-3a). The presentation will be based on the formal written proposal submitted to the Advisory Committee at least three weeks before the presentation. The written form will follow the guidelines modeled after the NIH grant proposal. The committee's function will be to guide the research and to determine the student's general knowledge of the area, as well as the student's breadth and depth of the specific topic. The committee will also consider the scientific feasibility of the proposed research.

The Advisory Committee will conform to all of the rules for the Ph.D. Candidacy Committee, which have been established by the University. The committee must have at least 5 members, three of which must be tenure-track faculty at Drexel. At least one member must be from outside the School. In addition, at least three members must be Biomed Core Faculty. The Chair of the committee must be a Biomed Core Faculty member who is not also the research advisor of the student. In general, once the Advisory Committee is established, it will continue on throughout the student's progress toward the Ph.D. degree. To ensure that students are progressing towards completion of the Ph.D. in a timely fashion, the proposal defense must take place no later than the end of the second year of study. A formal request for an extension of this deadline must be approved following a review of the student's progress. Once the student has reached Ph.D. candidate status, his progress will be reviewed annually (form D-3b).

Defense of the Dissertation
The written dissertation will be submitted with the research advisor's approval to the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee is appointed four weeks prior the oral defense (form D-4), and title and abstract of the dissertation must also be provided to the Biomed office at least 3 weeks prior to the defense to allow the time and place of the defense to be publicized. The defense consists of a public presentation of the dissertation research followed by an examination by the committee (form D-5).

Important Deadlines and Milestones

  1. Plan of Study submitted by the end of the second term of the first year of study.
  2. Doctoral Candidacy Exam, Part 1, must be taken at the end of the first academic year (usually the week following Spring Graduation). Students must register to take the exam and must have completed a plan of study.
  3. The Doctoral Candidacy Exam, Part 2 must be completed by the end of the Fall term of second year of study (or within six months of Part 1). Three weeks before the exam, the committee appointment form must be submitted for approval by the graduate advisor and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.
  4. The Dissertation Advisory Committee must be appointed within 6 months after the completion of the candidacy exam.
  5. The Dissertation Proposal must be completed by the end of the second year of study. The written proposal must be submitted to the committee three weeks prior to the oral exam. A title and abstract must be provided to the Biomed office at least three weeks before the oral exam to publicize the presentation.
  6. Defense of the Dissertation: The written dissertation will be submitted with the research advisor's approval to the dissertation committee at least three weeks prior to the Defense. The defense consists of a public presentation of the dissertation research followed by an examination by the committee. A title and abstract must be provided to the Biomed office at least three weeks before the Defense to publicize the presentation.

Guidelines for Writing Pre-proposals

Guidelines for Writing PhD Research Proposals

Phone 215.895.2215 | Fax 215.895.4983 | Email biomed@drexel.edu
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