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BMEBT Program Requirements

General Program Requirements

The program of courses includes a core requirement, a specialization requirement, and a capstone requirement. As students advance, they will have to meet requirements in addition to satisfactory completion of courses, including participation in seminars and symposiums, passing a qualifying examination, defending a dissertation proposal, completing a dissertation, and defending it. The PhD requires completion or transfer of at least 63 total credits (or a minimum of 44 credits for students with advanced standing due to an existing MS degree).
Students must meet the specific UMass Dartmouth requirements of for such matters as grade averages, documentation of completion of requirements, registration for program continuation, and submitting the final dissertation to the library:

  • No course receiving a grade below C can receive credit; C- grades cannot receive credit.
  • Grades earned below C are still calculated in the student’s grade point average.
  • Students are limited in the number of Directed or Independent Study course credits that they can apply toward their program. No more than 6 credits of coursework below the level of dissertation registrations may be in the form of Directed or Independent Study.
  • All courses must be conducted at the graduate level.
  • Students must pursue and complete a program of study approved by their assigned advisor.

The interdisciplinary nature of this program makes close contact between each student and his or her advisor important.

Curriculum Overview

Core Requirements

The core courses provide a common foundation for all students, either from life science or physical science/engineering backgrounds.
Introduction to Biomedical Engineering & Biotechnology should be taken in a student’s first semester if possible. Instrumentation and Laboratory Experience (3 credits) is designed to give students exposure to cutting-edge research methodology in a number of different areas, with a balance between biomedical engineering and biotechnology areas. The core mathematics requirement offers a choice for those from a physical science, engineering, mathematics background or a life sciences background. Quantitative Physiology (3 credits) helps integrate the curriculum for individuals with life science and engineering undergraduate backgrounds, permitting engineers and physical scientists an appreciation of how organisms function from the organ/system perspective and giving life scientists a more rigorous quantitative approach to physiology than is usual in undergraduate courses. Bioethics (1 credit) and Advanced Cell and Molecular Biology (3 credits) fill out the core requirements.

Specialization Course Requirements

Specialization courses help the student attain depth in focused areas. The BMEBT program organizes specialization opportunities under various options:

Biomedical Engineering Specialization Options

  • Biomaterials: Tissue Engineering, Polymers/ Plastics, Fibers/Textiles, Nanotechnology
  • Biomedical Information Systems: Bioinformatics, Genomics, Proteomics
  • Biomedical Instrumentation: Clinical Sciences, Signal Processing, Sensors, Microprocessing, Manufacturing/ Quality Control
  • Biomechanics: Biotransport, Cell Mechanics, Tissue/Organ Mechanics, Joint/Muscle Mechanics
  • Medical Imaging: Optics, NMR, MRI, Acoustics, Cell Imaging
  • Medical Physics/Radiological Sciences: Dosimetry, Shielding/ Protection, Nuclear Instrumentation

Biotechnology Specialization Options

  • Agricultural Biotechnology: Therapeutics, Pharmacology, Nutritional Biochemistry, Food Science Technology
  • Bioprocessing/Applied Microbiology: Bioremediation, Fermentation, Biocatalysis, Applied Genetic Engineering
  • Molecular Biotechnology: Clinical Sciences, Biochemical Applications, Diagnostics.

Faculty involved in each specialization will see to an appropriate combination of depth and breadth in the student’s selection of specialization courses. They may announce some structure to the course selections allowed within the area. With the approval of their advisor, students will select 12 credits of course work (minimum) from within one of the specializations. Any graduate course approved by the advisor may be used to satisfy this requirement. Some specialization options will require more than 12 credits.

Each campus participating in the BMEBT program offers its own emphases within this overall list of specializations. Not all of the specialization options or specific topics are available at the Dartmouth campus.

Capstone Requirement

As students transition from coursework to dissertation research, they undertake a capstone project course. This is designed to be a culminating experience in which the student synthesizes his/her course knowledge and experimental skills into a brief but detailed experimental study, which also involves cross- field interdisciplinary cooperation. Although in some cases this project may be done individually under the supervision of one faculty member, it is expected that students will join in a team-based, collaborative effort involving students from a number of different disciplines or post-doctoral fellows and industry representatives; and with intercampus participation.

Annually in May, a Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology Research Symposium will be held, rotating each year to a different campus, at which the students from all four campuses will present their projects in a poster session and/or orally. Participation in this non-credit activity is required.

Earning the MS Degree

Following successful presentation of the capstone project and with a minimum of 31 credits of completed or transferred in required and approved courses, the student will be awarded the Master of Science degree as a Biomedical Engineering/Biotechnology credential along the way toward the doctorate.
Students must have at least a cumulative B average to receive the MS degree and advance to the Qualifying Examination.

Selection of the Doctoral Dissertation Committee

As they move through this stage of their program, students will select their Doctoral Dissertation Committee, with one person as the major advisor. A committee must be formed in accordance with the guidelines for doctoral programs at UMass Dartmouth, as presented in this Catalogue. The advisor and at least one other dissertation committee member must be chosen from the approved Program Faculty of the Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology program. Having one member of a dissertation committee be an outside industry scientist or engineer is encouraged. Also, strongly recommended is for one’s committee to have one faculty member from a campus other than the candidate’s home campus. It is expected that all three members will not represent the same academic departmental affiliation. Each student’s committee is approved by the campus program oversight committee, which will also approve any changes to a previously-approved committee.

Qualifying (Written) Examination

Students must pass a written qualifying examination that will cover questions on course work as well as experimental procedures the student has utilized. The qualifying examination will be administered and evaluated by program faculty selected by the campus program oversight committee. The examination must be taken within one year after completion of the MS Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology requirements, or, for a student with advanced standing, within two years of entering the program. Doctoral students, in consultation with their advisor, will identify two topic areas in which to be examined. One of the topics must be primarily engineering/technological in nature (for example, solid mechanics), and another primarily biological in nature (for example, pathophysiology of musculoskeletal disorders). The examination will be in written form and given during two one-half days within a one- week period. Examinations for a given topic area will be designed to be completed within a three to four-hour period. The material covered by the exam may be designated as specific portions of courses, textbooks, and journal articles. Emphasis will be placed on the student’s ability to integrate information in the areas examined. Examinations for a given topic area will be graded Pass or Fail. Students who are unsuccessful in their first attempt in a given topic area may repeat it once. Failure to pass the examination on any topic area on the second attempt results in overall failure on the Qualifying Examination and dismissal from the PhD program.

Doctoral-level Credit Requirements

Doctoral Seminar (1 credit - required twice)

Doctoral students will present research in progress. The seminar will emphasize not only research but also communication and writing. Every active doctoral candidate will present her or his work in progress in the seminar, and in addition there will be at least two presentations from external speakers. Students will write summaries of each presentation. Course is graded pass-fail or satisfactory-unsatisfactory (depending on grading system in use on the campus). Students must complete this course in at least two different semesters.

Dissertation Research (variable credit each semester, 30 credits minimum)
Doctoral students will register for a minimum of 30 credits of doctoral research with their faculty advisor (dissertation chair). They will use these credits during preparation and defense of the dissertation proposal, carrying out their dissertation research and preparation and defense of the doctoral dissertation.
Dissertation Proposal (Oral Preliminary Examination)

Students must present for approval a written dissertation proposal and then defend it in an oral presentation to his or her dissertation committee. The dissertation proposal will follow the format established for NIH proposals, including the page limits, and will perform an extensive review of the literature on the student’s chosen topic, present original hypotheses, design experiments to test the hypotheses, document the appropriate methodology that will be used, project anticipated results, and indicate how such results might be interpreted. The proposal must show application to a current biomedical/ biotechnological problem. After successfully defending the dissertation proposal, the student attains the designation “doctoral candidate.” Failure to pass the defense of the dissertation proposal (oral examination) results in dismissal from the PhD program.

Dissertation Defense

The doctoral candidate will defend his/her written dissertation before the doctoral dissertation committee, the university, and the outside community. The specific format of the defense is usually decided by the committee chair, but a typical format consists of the PhD candidate first presenting an overview of the thesis research, then answering specific questions asked by the committee members. Questions may test anything from knowledge of the existing literature, to scrutinizing of the material and methods or experimental design, to the assumptions in the research, to the interpretation of the results, to recommendations for future work. If the candidate has worked closely with his or her advisor, and committee, it is likely that there will be no surprises at this final stage of the process. It is common, however for the committee to ask that certain minor revisions be made to the written dissertation before final submission to the library. Successful defense of the dissertation and presentation of the finished work to the library will result in the awarding of the PhD in Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology. Dissertations must be filed with Dissertation Abstracts International.

Dismissal and Continuation

Students must meet the UMass Dartmouth requirements for progression and quality. Faculty advisors monitor the progress of each Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology student through his or her core and specialization courses. If requirements are not met, a recommendation for dismissal is made by the student’s campus to the administrators on the Program Oversight Committee (POC), and if the POC approves the dismissal the appropriate member will carry that action through on the student’s campus. A student thus dismissed may appeal the dismissal to the IACC, which will similarly recommend to the POC.

More information can be found on the curriculum map and course descriptions pages.

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