Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering

A Ph.D. is for those who know they want to pursue a research career in academia, industry, or government, although there are many additional career paths for Ph.D. graduates.


The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biomedical Engineering is an opportunity to become an expert on a specific research topic and train for a career involving independent research. With your PhD mentor and dissertation committee, you will identify an important void in knowledge and devise and execute a plan to fill the void. Your dissertation synthesizes the existing literature, fills the gap with interpretable and actionable results and discusses the broader implications and future directions. Ph.D. candidates normally defend their dissertation in 5–6 years, but the exact timeline depends on research progress and choice of intervening activities, such as laboratory rotations, professional development programs and your two Elective Educational Experiences (EEEs).

All biomedical engineering Ph.D. students are supported with full tuition, fees, health insurance, and a stipend. These are paid by graduate research assistantships from the sponsoring laboratory, graduate teaching assistantships, predoctoral fellowships secured independently by the student, departmental and institutional fellowships, and training grants from the NIH and other federal agencies, and private sector and foundation support.

Elective Educational Experiences (EEEs) begin the process of life-long learning essential to a career in biomedical engineering. During your PhD, your two required EEEs cover new material or provide additional depth. Students pursue EEEs later in the course of their PhD studies and select them based on their research and future career plans. Possible examples include 1) Taking an additional graduate course beyond the normal course requirements, 2) Taking an intensive 2-week “short course” to learn a series of specialized techniques or 3) Completing a summer internship at a biotechnology company.

BME Graduate Handbook, Forms and Support Resources

timeline for completing bme PhD degree visualized

Milestones along the path to a PhD in biomedical engineering at UVA.