Biomedical Engineering PhD Programs

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program in biomedical engineering prepares students for careers researching and developing new technologies for medical treatments and therapies. Get career info for biomedical engineers, explore coursework, and find out the prerequisites for enrolling in a biomedical engineering doctoral program. Schools offering Biomedical Engineering Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Prerequisites for a Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Engineering?

Doctoral programs in biomedical engineering usually require a bachelor's degree. Some programs allow interdisciplinary majors, though some could require you to complete an undergraduate program in engineering, physics, chemistry or a related science. You'll usually need to pass a qualifying exam before being admitted into a doctoral program, though some schools could accept a research thesis from a master's degree program in lieu of the test. Undergraduate academic performance is usually a consideration, and most programs require prerequisite coursework in chemistry, biology and mathematics. Doctoral programs are not generally available online.

PrerequisitesBachelor's degree in a related field, qualifying exam, minimum GPA requirements, and specific coursework
Online AvailabilityUsually offered only on-campus
Common CoursesRadiology, pharmacology, cellular biology, medical instrumentation, diagnostic equipment; lab and clinical practice may be required
Job Outlook (2014-2024)*23% growth in employment opportunities for all biomedical engineers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Could I Learn?

In a Ph.D. program, you'll learn how to develop biomedical equipment and conduct research on applying engineering principles to medical conditions and procedures. You can also choose to focus your studies on medical imaging equipment, molecular physiology, biophysics, nanotechnology or biomechanics. Foundational coursework covers applied mathematics and the life sciences, including biology and chemistry. You'll learn how to view biomedical therapies and treatments from the perspective of physicians and patients. Core courses expose you to ethical issues in biomedical research, which cover different aspects of regulatory compliance and how to report data.

You'll be expected to complete foundational requirements before applying biomedical knowledge in laboratory and clinical settings. Programs that offer a simultaneous Ph.D. and medical degrees include rotations that allow you observe and be mentored by one or more practicing physicians. Some possible elective coursework or research concentrations might include:

  • Radiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular biology
  • Medical instrumentation
  • Diagnostic equipment
  • Nuclear medicine

What Kind of Jobs Would I Qualify For?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biomedical engineering was one of the fastest-growing occupations, with a projected 23% increase in jobs between 2014 to 2024 ( Innovative technologies and the need for improved medical equipment was expected to drive demand in the field, especially in pharmaceutical companies. The BLS further stated that your job opportunities would increase with a doctoral degree, qualifying you for many development, research and academic positions.

As a graduate of a Ph.D. program, you can design new medical equipment for manufacturing companies or develop new medications or prosthetics. You could apply engineering principles specific to the medical needs of elderly, disabled or chronic patients. With a Ph.D., you could also teach and conduct independent research at the university level.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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