PhD in Biomedical Engineering

Frequently Asked Questions - PhD Students

What is the typical educational background of a student admitted into the Biomedical Engineering program?

A typical student admitted into the BME PhD program has an undergraduate education in Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, or other STEM disciplines.

What can I do with a PhD in Biomedical Engineering?

Graduates typically pursue research & development opportunities in medical device, consulting, pharmaceutical, imaging sciences, regulatory and policy positions in the private sector, and seek further research opportunities in academia. Position titles include research associate, consulting associate, software engineer, clinical scientist and research scientist.

Why should I choose to study at Wash U?

WashU is a world leader in research and education. Our No. 14 ranked Biomedical Engineering program provides the opportunity for graduate students to work in one of seven interdisciplinary research programs that represent frontier areas of Biomedical Engineering. WashU BME faculty and trainees are nationally recognized experts in their fields including biomedical and biological imaging, cardiovascular engineering, cell and molecular bioengineering, neural engineering, orthopedic engineering, regenerative engineering in medicine and women's health technologies. A WashU BME student will have the opportunity to study alongside students, faculty and clinicians in neuroscience, biology, physics, radiology, obstetrics & gynecology, musculoskeletal sciences, cardiology and so much more.  Students also study in an environment rich with opportunity for entrepreneurship, leadership, community engagement, professional development and career preparation. At WashU, you will experience a supportive and collaborative environment with opportunities for growth both inside and outside of the lab.

How long does it take to earn a PhD?

While there is no fixed time to complete a PhD, most students finish in approximately five years.

How do I choose a lab/professor to work with?

On joining the BME program at WashU, students have to do two rotations during the Fall and the Spring semester of their 1st yr. These rotations can be done with any Graduate BME Program Faculty based on mutual interests. By the start of the second year of study, the student must identify a faculty member willing and able to support their dissertation research as the Ph.D. dissertation advisor.  

How do I find housing?

There are a number of resources offered by the Graduate School in regard to housing, transportation and support for both domestic and international students. All students have access to a free UPass which covers universal rail and bus transportation. The University assists graduate students with finding suitable off-campus housing through

Is St. Louis safe?

Overall, St. Louis is a safe and healthy city, with crime rates that are typical of medium-sized US metropolitan regions. St. Louis, like other major cities, faces social disparities and inequities, and some neighborhoods are safer than others. WashU is committed to promoting systemic change and keeping students safe. The BME program is centrally located on WashU’s Danforth Campus. Adjacent to campus you’ll discover a rich cultural life that supports your time outside of the classroom: the coffee shops and music venues of the Delmar Loop, as well as the museums and trails of nearby Forest Park, voted “Best City Park” by USA Today. The campus is served by several MetroLink light rail stations and bus lines, making the area easy to navigate. Go to for statistics and information recommended for safety precautions. Learn more about St. Louis

What is the amount of time required weekly for research?

Students are expected to commit 40 hours/week towards the program. This includes time for both academic coursework as well as research.

Will I have time to have a social life?

You will have as much time for a social life as you would in any other full-time job.

What does it mean to be "fully funded"?

We provide monetary support for living expenses and tuition. This stipend is adjusted each year for living expenses.

Will I be able to obtain outside scholarships?

Yes. Information on the various outside scholarships and how to apply for them is available at

Are there resources on campus that support PhD students?

Yes, Habif Health and Wellness offers medical and mental health services for graduate students. The Graduate center offers a variety of clubs, seminars and workshops specifically geared toward graduate students. AGES is the Association of Graduate Engineering students and all PhD students are members. The Association offers networking events and social events. In addition, McKelvey Graduate Student Services office offers support for  students for a variety of issues.

Can I contact a graduate student with questions?

Yes, you can connect with a Graduate student ambassador.