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The BME doctoral program at Boise State is a research-intensive program that uses a flexible and transdisciplinary curriculum to train the next generation of biomedical engineering researchers. This program was developed as a collaboration between Boise State’s College of Health Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, and Graduate College.

An overview of the doctoral degree requirements is provided below. More detailed information is available in the Graduate Student Handbook for the BME doctoral program.

Learning Objectives

The degree requirements have been designed to ensure that graduates of the BME doctoral program will: master knowledge in their research area, design and conduct independent research using scientific methods, effectively communicate scientific findings, contribute to the scientific literature, work effectively in transdisciplinary teams, and will demonstrate proficiency to devise, analyze, and evaluate new methods for solving problems of healthcare importance.

Credit Requirements

The BME doctoral program requires the completion of 63 credits. The curriculum allows students to specialize in tracks related to their research area. Please view the curriculum and tracks of study for more information.

Comprehensive Examination

The objective of the comprehensive examination is to judge depth and breadth of knowledge in the biomedical engineering field, and to prepare students for writing grant proposals. Students are eligible to take the comprehensive exam when the core and track course requirements are either completed or in-progress (see curriculum).

The comprehensive exam includes a written and oral component. The written component requires the student to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding and synthesis of peer-reviewed literature in their emphasis area, and design a research study to fill this gap. The written requirement will follow the formatting requirements of a grant application relevant to the student’s field of interest. In the oral component, the student must present their grant proposal to their Supervisory Committee and competently address questions from the committee.


The dissertation proposal should be presented within one year of satisfactory completion of the comprehensive exam. The student must submit a written dissertation proposal to the supervisory committee prior to the oral proposal defense. The written proposal should describe in sufficient detail the study motivation, proposed methods and scope of work, anticipated scientific impact, timeline, and a plan for obtaining and utilizing the resources necessary to complete the research. The oral proposal consists of the student presenting his or her proposed doctoral research and answering questions about the proposal.


The final phase of the PhD is the defense and final reading approval of the student’s dissertation. The dissertation must be the result of independent and original research by the student and must constitute a significant contribution to the current knowledge in the biomedical field. The dissertation is expected to include three or more original research articles that the candidate has written as sole 1st author and that have been published in peer-reviewed journals (one of these papers can still be in-review), as well as introductory and concluding chapters.


A public defense of the dissertation is scheduled jointly by the student and the defense committee (supervisory committee + external examiner + graduate faculty representative). The student must submit a complete version of the written dissertation prior to the defense. On the day of the defense, the student will give a 30-45 minute presentation about their research. After the general audience asks questions to the student, the general audience is dismissed and the student then receives questions from the committee.

Final Reading Approval:

If the defense is passed, the student will complete any modifications to the written dissertation that were requested by the defense committee. When these modifications have been met to the satisfaction of the supervisory committee, the student can submit their dissertation to the Graduate College for review by a professional editor prior to finalizing the document.