Washington University, St. LouisEngineering
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Graduate Degree Programs

The department offers programs leading to the master of science (MS), doctor of philosophy (PhD) in biomedical engineering and combined MS/MBA and MD/PhD degrees. The latter two degrees are given jointly with the John M. Olin School of Business and the School of Medicine, respectively. 

Our Training Philosophy
Lasting impact will arise from successfully integrating the analytical, modeling, and systems approaches of engineering to the complex, multi-scale problems of biology and medicine. Those trained to do this will be uniquely positioned to address new and exciting opportunities. We are committed to educating and training the next generation of biomedical engineers with this vision in mind. Consequently, we leverage our existing strengths around the five research themes representing some of the most exciting frontiers of biomedical engineering.

Our core faculty, together with affiliated faculty, comprises a network of mentors, similar to graduate groups at other universities, dedicated and committed to training. The commitment and diverse talent of these faculty members provide a vast array of choices for students. Students can elect to perform their research with any member of the network. Upon completion of training, our graduates are well-equipped to work in multidisciplinary teams tackling cutting-edge and high-impact problems of modern biomedical engineering.

Degree Requirements
The specifics about degree requirements are detailed in the Policies and Regulations booklet for each class entering entering in:


MS Degree
The M.S. degree requires a total of 30 credits which can consist of all coursework or a combination of six thesis and 24 course credits. Either option requires completion of a core curriculum of five courses with the balance consisting of elective courses.  

PhD Degree

The Ph.D. degree requires completion of 72 credits, of which a minimum of 36 must be graduate courses, including a core curriculum. The balance of the courses consists of electives which must also satisfy a distribution requirement. 

      Research Rotations
Students complete two research rotations during their first year in the program while they are also typically taking three courses. Rotations generally consist of semester-long projects in a faculty's laboratory. These rotations offer both students and potential mentors an opportunity to explore and confirm compatibility prior to deciding upon a thesis mentor.

Prior to the beginning of the second year, students are required to pass both written and oral qualifying examinations. The written examination consists of the rotation report of the laboratory in which the thesis research will be done. The oral examination conducted by a faculty committee covers topics pertinent to the proposed research. After successfully passing both examinations, students advance to candidacy. 

Successful completion of a substantial research thesis is the major hallmark of this degree. After beginning thesis research students must prepare a written and oral thesis proposal for their committee. Yearly progress reports are expected to be presented to this committee. A final thesis defense and a completed written thesis complete the degree. Our expectation is that students will have published one first-author paper and have a second submitted by the time of the thesis defense. Our hope is that students complete all requirements for this degree in about five years from the time of initial matriculation.

Combined Degrees
Students pursuing the combined degrees must complete the degree requirements for both schools. For the three-year MS/MBA, time is saved by allowing selected courses to count as electives for the other school's degree requirement.

MD/PhD students typically complete the first two years of the medical school pre-clinical curriculum while also performing one or more research rotations, then the remaining requirements for the PhD degree, and finally the clinical training for the medical degree. The department generally gives graduate course credits for some of the medical school courses as fulfillment of some course requirements for the PhD degree. This is arranged on an individual basis between the student, his/her academic advisor and the department chair.

External Professional Activity for Full-Time PhD Students in SEAS
If approved by their dissertation mentor in writing, doctoral students may engage in limited external professional activity.  Any professional activity associated with a faculty member's personal company or affiliated companies must follow the guidelines and be approved by the University's Disclosure Review Committees (DRC).  It is expected that external professional activity will be conducted in a way that will not interfere with normal laboratory duties nor impede in any manner progress toward completion of the doctoral degree.  The number of hours per week must be approved by the mentor, but may not be more than 10 hours per week total for all activities, and the number of hours worked must not violate any other rule, policy or law.  International students will also have to receive approval from the University's Office for International Students and Scholars.  The thesis committee must be informed and routinely updated on all external professional activities.  Departments may have additional oversight, guidelines and restrictions for their own doctoral students' involvement in external professional activity.
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Washington University in St. Louis School of Engineering & Applied Science, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Whitaker Hall, Campus Box 1097, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63130
Phone: (314) 935-7208, Fax: (314) 935-7448

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