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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. The student must enroll in BME 691 Doctoral Comprehensive Examination for the semester during which they plan to take the comprehensive exam. Students are eligible to take the comprehensive exam after completing all core course requirements and track course requirements (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 Supervisory Committee will determine if the student passes or fails. The student needs to pass both the written and oral components. If a student fails the written component, the student is allowed to revise the written examination one time. If a student fails the oral component, the Supervisory Committee has the option of allowing a student to repeat the oral exam one time. This must be done within the time period specified by the Supervisory Committee. Failure of the comprehensive examination will result in dismissal from the Ph.D. program.


The objective of the dissertation requirements is to assess the suitability of a Ph.D. student to conduct research in the biomedical field in a manner that meets rigorous peer-reviewed standards. The dissertation requirements have three components: the proposal, the dissertation, and the oral defense.


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. A majority approval of the Supervisory Committee is required to pass the proposal defense. If a student fails the oral defense, he or she may be allowed to reinitiate the dissertation proposal once with the approval of the Supervisory Committee. Students who fail a second time or do not receive approval to resubmit the proposal will be administratively withdrawn from the program. After the student passes both the written and oral portions of the dissertation proposal, the student becomes a Ph.D. candidate.


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 typically includes three or more peer reviewed publications written by the candidate that have been published in peer-reviewed journals, or are currently under review, as well as introductory and concluding chapters. The style and format of the dissertation must conform to the standards of the Graduate College.


A public defense of the dissertation is scheduled jointly by the student and the Supervisory Committee. The student must submit a nearly final version of the written dissertation prior to the defense. The first part of the defense will be a public oral presentation of the dissertation. The second part will be an oral exam administered by the Supervisory Committee who will decide whether the student passes or fails the defense. A student who fails the defense may be permitted to try again but failure a second time will result in dismissal from the Ph.D. program.

Final Approval:

If the defense is completed with a result of pass, the Supervisory Committee prepares a statement describing final requirements such as additions or modifications to the dissertation. When these requirements have been met to the satisfaction of the Supervisory Committee, the approval page of the dissertation is signed by the members of the committee.