University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering
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PhD minor requirements


The Department has worked with the Graduate School and effective January 2013 allows BME students to be exempted from the Minor requirement based on the following principles. The central aim of biomedical engineers is to unravel gaps in biological knowledge through the use of engineering principles.  Thus, the doctoral program in Biomedical Engineering is inherently interdisciplinary. We understand and appreciate the aim of the Graduate School to guarantee that interdisciplinary education is being provided if the Minor Requirement is removed.  Interdisciplinary education and training in BME is provided in this manner. Students must choose to show how their training has been interdisciplinary or they may complete the PhD Minor.



Interdisciplinary training option

Interdisciplinary training for graduate students on NIH T-32 Programs: our students who are supported by T-32 programs such as the Biotechnology Training Program (BTP), Clinical Neuroengineering (CNTP), Computational Informatics in Biology and Medicine (CIBM) would meet the level of our current Minor requirement. These programs develop interdisciplinary educational programs, in which our faculty assist in teaching, to partially meet the training goals of the program.


Bioscience Requirement:  All students are required to take a bioscience course outside of BME and outside of courses offered by the College of Engineering.   


Area of Specialization: All BME students are required to show how 15 hours of their coursework combines to fill an area of specialization.   The areas of specialization are documented in a half page description provided by the student, approved by their adviser, and approved by the BME Graduate Committee. This requires an additional 1-2 course(s) outside of Biomedical Engineering.


Interdisciplinary Training:  BME students traditionally go further than required to meet university requirements to have representation in their thesis committee outside the student’s department.  For an example, a student working in a tissue engineering laboratory that develops cartilage will work with specialists in biomechanics and biomedical imaging to validate the advances of their work in tissue engineering.   A student developing non-invasive diagnostic imaging methods to quantify blood flow will work side by side with scientists/engineers who specialize in fluid dynamics and physicians requesting the blood flow characterization in specific regions of the body.  Journal papers authored by BME graduate students often are co-authored with individuals from this team.


Documenting the Education and Training to replaces the Minor Requirement:  Prior to obtaining a the Preliminary Exam Warrant, each student will prepare a summary of his or her effort in interdisciplinary coursework and training.  The purpose of the summary will be to document the effort to meet the spirit of the Minor Requirement.  The summary will need to be approved by the student’s thesis committee and be submitted to the Student Services office at 3182 Mechanical Engineering Building.


Minor option

The requirement for the Minor policy is provided here for those wishing to obtain a Minor:
Students must complete a cohesive body of work outside the BME major in order to add breadth to their Ph.D. work. This work is termed the Minor and consists of two options. Option A, from a single department or Option B, distributed in one or more departments or programs including BME. The minor is designed to represent a coherent body of work taken as a graduate student, and should not be simply an after-the-fact ratification of a number of courses taken outside the major. To ensure coherence, the minor program must be approved both by the student's advisor and the BME Associate Chair for Graduate Advising no later than halfway through the minor course sequence.


Option A includes a minimum of nine credits of coursework in a single department and requires approval by that department. One course which is cross-listed with BME may be used for the minor if the course is not applied to any other Ph.D. requirement in the BME degree program.


Option B includes a minimum of nine credits of coursework in two or more departments and may include BME courses that are not part of the student’s major area.


The minimum requirements for a minor in BME are nine credits of courses numbered 400 or above and passed with a grade of B or better. Independent study (e.g., BME 999, but not research and thesis e.g., BME 790) may be acceptable within the 9 credits, at the discretion of the Associate Chair, up to a maximum of three credits.


Minor approval forms for either of the minor options can be obtained in the Student Services office at 3182 Mechanical Engineering Building. The form must be completed and returned to the Student Services office prior to requesting the Preliminary Exam Warrant.