The PhD in Biomedical Engineering requires completing at least 30 credits of coursework, preliminary written and oral examinations, 24 thesis credits, and a doctoral thesis with final defense.


Students joining the PhD program with a bachelor's degree typically graduate in five years. Those who’ve already completed a master's degree can finish the PhD in as little as three to four years.

Sample five-year plan.

Course credits

PhD students are required to complete at least 30 credits of coursework, as indicated below. All electives must be at the 5000 level or higher.

View courses that meet each requirement.




BMEn 8000-Level Core


Must be chosen from the BMEn 8000-Level Core Course list.



BMEn 8601 and/or BMEn 8602. Seminars are 1 credit per semester and may be repeated for credit.

Biology Electives


Courses with primarily biological content.

Technical Electives


Courses in engineering, physical sciences, and mathematics.

Free Science/ Technical Electives


Courses in any field of science or engineering; also may include coursework in other relevant areas, such as public policy, ethics, etc.



Included in the Core, Technical, and/or Free coursework. Must be at least six credits approved as math-/stat-intensive. These aren’t additional credits—they will overlap with other course requirements.




Preliminary examinations

Between the fourth and fifth semesters of study, full-time PhD students must complete the written and oral preliminary examinations. By this time, all required coursework should be completed.

The Written Preliminary Examination (WPE), also known as the dossier, is in the form of a thesis research proposal and will be evaluated by three faculty members.

Upon passing the WPE, students immediately continue to the Oral Preliminary Examination (OPE), which includes a presentation and discussion of the student's research proposal, as well as questions related to the student's graduate coursework.

Doctoral thesis and defense

After passing the OPE, students advance to doctoral candidacy and become eligible to register for thesis credits. The University of Minnesota requires completing at least 24 thesis credits (BMEn 8888) for the doctoral degree.

Upon completing the thesis and with the approval of the committee reviewers, the doctoral candidate must complete a thesis defense. The defense includes both a public seminar and a closed meeting between the candidate and the appointment examination committee. The final written thesis is electronically submitted to the University, after making all revisions required by the examination committee.


Graduate degrees are awarded on the last working day of the month in which the candidate completes all requirements. In the spring of each year, eligible students may elect to participate in the Arts, Sciences and Engineering Graduate Commencement Ceremony.