We Engineer Excellence


Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. program that is part of the BIG (Bioengineering Interdepartmental Graduate) Program is heavily integrated with research activities and is intended for well-qualified individuals who wish to pursue leadership careers in academic or industrial research.

The program requires approximately three years of full-time study beyond the master’s degree but an M.S. is not required to enter into the Ph.D. program. In consultation with a faculty advisor, BIG Ph.D. students plan their program of study. The doctoral dissertation is based on original research in the field of specialization. The doctoral program includes a teaching requirement, an oral and written qualifying examination, and a dissertation.

The normative time to complete the Ph.D. degree is five years.

How to Apply


In addition to the following requirements, all applicants must meet the general requirements of the UCR Graduate Council as set forth by the Graduate Division.

An M.S. degree is not a prerequisite for entering the Ph.D. program.

Applicants will need to have completed coursework in chemistry, physics, math, biochemistry and biology, and engineering. Students without an undergraduate engineering degree should have excellent training in mathematics and the physical sciences.

Specific recommendations for students without an undergraduate engineering degree are:

  • Two years of mathematics
  • One year of physics
  • One year of inorganic chemistry including lab
  • One year of organic chemistry including lab
  • One course in biochemistry
  • One course of molecular biology

Students with strong academic records may be admitted with limited coursework deficiencies, provided that these are satisfied by appropriate coursework taken during the first two years of graduate study.

Ph.D. Requirements

Language Requirement

All international students whose first language is not English must satisfactorily complete the SPEAK test.

Course Requirements

Students must satisfy the core course requirements (see Core Courses). Students will enroll in the interdepartmental colloquium series in Bioengineering each quarter it is offered.

Ph.D. Written Qualifying Examination

Students in the Ph.D. program must pass a written qualifying examination that covers the fields of engineering and biology that relate to the student’s dissertation project. This exam is usually taken at the end of the student’s first year of study.

Ph.D. Oral Qualifying Examination

Following successful completion of the written examination, candidates for the doctoral degree must pass an oral examination, normally within three quarters of the date of their written exam. The oral examination will be scheduled only after the candidate has written a proposal detailing the rationale, specific aims and approaches to be undertaken for her/his dissertation research.

Ph.D. Dissertation

A written dissertation will be completed by each students in the Ph.D. program. A candidate for the degree of Ph.D. may be required to defend his/her dissertation in a public, oral presentation at a time announced to members of the University community