Biomedical engineering PhD degree programs combine advanced engineering principles with the study of biology and medicine. Students explore the life sciences and make use of theories and computation practices from disciplines that include core biological sciences, engineering, computer science and advanced mathematics. Often referred to as a BME PhD, a Biomedical Engineering PhD program offers in-depth training; students conduct original research that culminates in a doctoral dissertation. Biomedical engineering advances knowledge and develops new devices at the crossing points of engineering, biology, and medicine.
Admission to a Biomedical Engineering PhD program may vary. Typically a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in biology, mathematics or computer science is required. Ideal candidates for BME PhD programs are individuals interested in specialized research in topics such as tissue regeneration, biomaterials or medical optics. Students are trained to become leaders in research and development in industrial and university settings.
FUN FACT: Biomedical engineering has existed for centuries, perhaps even thousands of years. In 2000, German archaeologists uncovered a 3,000-year-old mummy from Thebes with a wooden prosthetic tied to its foot to serve as a big toe. Researchers said the wear on the bottom surface suggests that it could be the oldest known limb prosthesis.[i]
The term Biomedical Engineering refers to the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes. As an academic field it encompasses bioinformatics, biomechanics, biomaterial, biomedical optics, tissue engineering, genetic engineering, neural engineering, pharmaceutical engineering, medical devices, clinical engineering, and rehabilitation
Since one of the potential career outcomes from earning a PhD in Biomedical Engineering is academia, some Biomedical Engineering PhD programs require doctoral students to demonstrate teaching competence as part of their training. In this event, attending courses on-campus may work in your favor, as graduate students often gain hands-on experience as teaching assistants. You can locate Biomedical Engineering graduate schools on GradSchools.com; use the city, state or country tabs to browse listings, such as Biomedical Engineering PhD or PhD in Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering.
Since doctoral degrees in Biomedical Engineering are research-intensive, you might also choose an online BME PhD, especially if you are currently working, or live too far from the school you wish to attend. Some online programs, such as PhD in Biochemical Engineering may require some time spent on campus, so always request information from the graduate school to see what their format entails.
During the initial stage of a Biomedical Engineering PhD program, students participate in fundamental life science curricula. Often, because of the advanced nature of the course material, these classes can sometimes be taken from a medical school's curriculum. Most universities prefer students who have a strong interdisciplinary background or can demonstrate experience in interdisciplinary research.
Biomedical Engineering PhD programs are often interdisciplinary and will prepare students to work with teams of other specialists to create and evaluate systems that solve complex medical problems.
As a result, coursework in a biomedical engineering PhD program can vary greatly, and may depend on a student's chosen area of specialty, recommendations of advisors or advisement committees, research projects and school. Students in the biomedical engineering doctoral program study equal portions of engineering, life sciences, and mathematics.
Common course topics might include:
Biomedical Engineering PhD graduates are prepared for a variety of potential career paths that might include:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Biomedical Engineers are part of a very fast-growing industry; employment is projected to increase by 23% between 2014 and 2024. The median annual wage for biomedical engineers was $86,950 in May 2014.[ii]
Biomedical engineers apply their knowledge of engineering, biology, and biomechanical principles to the design, development, and evaluation of biological and health systems and products. If you are interested in innovations, such as artificial organs, prostheses, instrumentation, medical information systems, and health management and care delivery systems, a Biomedical Engineering PhD program will prepare you for a variety of potentially exciting career opportunities!
Sources: [i] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomedical_engineering | [ii] bls.gov/OOH/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm | onetonline.org/link/summary/17-2031.00