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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Bioengineering (BIOE)

Program Home Page

William Hancock, Professor and Chair of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Bioengineering
205 Hallowell Building
Phone: 814-865-1407
Fax: 814-863-0490

Degrees Conferred:

Ph.D., M.S.

 

The Graduate Faculty

 

The Program

This intercollege program provides graduate-level training in engineering and the life sciences, and their integration. Students graduating from this program will have acquired expertise in the application of engineering principles to fundamental problems in biology, clinical problems in medicine, or in the development of new biomedical instrumentation. They are also expected to produce scholarly work to be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national conferences. Graduate curricula and student assessment in bioengineering is under the direction of the program chair and a graduate curriculum committee that is composed of graduate faculty representing several departments in the Colleges of Engineering, Health and Human Development, Science, and Medicine.

Opportunities for specialized research are offered by graduate faculty working on electrical, mechanical, and biophysical properties of biological materials and the application of this knowledge to understanding molecular, cellular, tissue, and organ level processes involved in health and disease. Specific applications include: artificial organs, biomaterials, bioMEMs, nanotechnology, biophotonics, cellular and medical imaging, cardiovascular engineering, cell signaling and protein dynamics, mechanobiology, neural interfaces, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Extensive computer facilities and specialized equipment are available to support a combination of studies that employ experimental observations and their analysis through mathematical modeling and computer simulations.

Admission Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin. Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission.

Students with a degree in engineering, physics, or the life sciences are eligible for admission. All students must have a strong background in physics and mathematics. This background should include chemistry, calculus-based physics, and mathematics through calculus and differential equations. Students who lack this background may still be considered for provisional admission but will have to make up any deficiency early in their graduate program. These remedial courses will be required in addition to the stated graduate program course requirements. Students with a 3.0 junior/senior grade-point average and with appropriate course backgrounds will be considered for admission. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces available. Exceptions to the minimum average may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests, at the discretion of the program.

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are required for admission. However, at the discretion of the program a student may be admitted for graduate study in the Bioengineering program without these scores.

Master's Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

A minimum of 30 credits are required for a Master's Degree in Bioengineering, with at least 24 credits at the 500, 600, or 800 level. Students must take the following: at least 12 credits of lecture- or laboratory-based coursework at the 500-level, an additional 6 credits of lecture- or laboratory-based coursework at the 400- or 500-level, a 1-credit research ethics course (BIOE 591), a 1-credit graduate seminar for every semester in attendance, and a minimum of 6-credits of 600-level thesis research.

Courses: Upon entering the program, a student, along with his/her research adviser, will select an academic advisory committee consisting of three members of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program (IDGP) in Bioengineering Graduate Faculty (including the adviser). Working with this committee, students will select courses appropriate to their research and their professional goals. Students must select at least 18 credits of lecture- or laboratory-based courses that include at least 12 credits at the 500-level and the remaining credits at the 400- or 500-level. Coursework must include at least 6 credits each in bioengineering, life sciences, and technical/quantitative electives. In addition, students will register for the graduate program seminar series during each of the semesters in attendance and will complete a 1-credit research ethics course (BIOE 591). Students will select additional coursework and research credits from a list of approved electives maintained by the program office, as appropriate, to obtain the total minimum of 30 credits.

Graduate credits earned at other institutions but not used to earn a degree may be used to satisfy master’s degree requirements, subject to restrictions outlined in the Transfer Courses section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Thesis: A thesis is required for the M.S. degree. This thesis will be defended in front of the student’s academic advisory committee. The thesis must be accepted by the academic advisory committee members, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a thesis defense.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Courses: Upon entering the program, a student, along with his/her research adviser, will select an academic advisory committee consisting of three members of the IDGP in Bioengineering Graduate Faculty (including the adviser). Working with this committee, students will select courses appropriate to their research and their professional goals. Students must select courses totaling at least 6 credits each in bioengineering, life sciences, and technical/quantitative electives. At least 12 credits must be lecture- or laboratory-based (not independent study) and at the 500-level. Students must then complete at least 6 additional credits at the 500-level in courses relevant to their research. In addition to these minimum 24 course credits, students will register for the graduate program seminar series for every semester until passing the comprehensive exam and will complete a 1 credit graduate course in bioengineering ethics (BIOE 591). The total minimum number of course credits to be completed is 29, which includes 24 course credits (with at least 18 course credits at the 500-level and the remaining credits at the 400-level or above), 1 credit of bioengineering ethics, and at least 4 graduate seminar credits. 600-level research credits are assigned every semester in attendance. Graduate credits earned at other institutions, including those used toward a degree, may be used to satisfy some of the Ph.D. degree requirements at Penn State, but in these cases credits are not transferred. Regardless of previous courses taken, every doctoral student must take a minimum of 6 course credits at the 500-level at the University Park campus.

Supporting courses are available at University Park in anatomy, biochemistry, biology, biophysics, chemistry, laboratory animal medicine, materials science, mathematics, physics, physiology, and the engineering departments.

Exams: After completion of the first year, completion of at least 18 graduate credits and within three semesters (not including summer) of entry into the doctoral program, all students must complete and pass the candidacy exam, which consists of a written research proposal and oral defense of that proposal on a topic other than the subject of the student’s dissertation. This exam also tests for English competency, which is a Graduate Council requirement. A comprehensive examination consisting of a written research proposal and oral defense of that proposal on the student’s Ph.D. dissertation topic is administered by the student’s doctoral committee, typically at the end of second year of residency. A final oral examination based on a defense of the doctoral dissertation is required of all candidates. This exam occurs typically after the fourth or fifth year of residency and consists of a formal public seminar followed by a closed meeting of the doctoral committee and the candidate.

In preparation for the comprehensive exam, students, along with their adviser, will choose a doctoral committee in accordance with Graduate Council policy. The doctoral committee consists of a minimum of four members of the Graduate Faculty including the adviser who serves as the chair. The adviser must be a member of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program (IGDP) in Bioengineering. At least three committee members must be members of the IGDP in Bioengineering. The committee must also include an “Outside Field Member” who is not a member of the IGDP in Bioengineering. Finally, at least one member of the doctoral committee must have his/her primary appointment outside the administrative unit in which the adviser’s primary appointment is held. The Graduate School will appoint the committee and notify all persons.

To earn the Ph.D. degree, doctoral candidates must write a dissertation that is accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense).

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships and other forms of student aid are described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Bulletin. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set forth in the Graduate Bulletin.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

BIOENGINEERING (BIOE) course list

Last Revised by the Department: Spring Semester 2017

Blue Sheet Item #: 45-06

Review Date: 4/4/2017

Faculty linked: 5/27/14

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