Candidacy and Dissertation

Advancement to Candidacy Requirements

The requirements for advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree in the Department of Biomedical Engineering are as follows:

Requests for advancement to candidacy must be made to the Graduate Council on a special form obtained from the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and signed by the Graduate Program Director. Students cannot be recommended for advancement to candidacy if they are on academic probation or if an Incomplete grade remains on their transcript.

In accord with the Graduate Council By-Laws, a minimum of six full-time academic terms is required for the Ph.D. degree. In addition, student must be candidates for at least five academic terms prior to the final oral examination for the Ph.D. degree.

Dissertation Advisory Committee

Please refer to the Graduate Council By-Laws (Article IX, Section G.7) for the School of Medicine Guidelines for Requirements for Thesis/Dissertation Advisory Committee.

If a thesis or dissertation is required by the student's graduate studies program, a thesis/dissertation advisory committee shall be appointed by the Program Director to guide and advise the student in the thesis/dissertation research and preparation of the thesis/dissertation document. The committee shall be appointed within one year after advancement to Ph.D. candidacy or upon commencement of the thesis or dissertation research, whichever is earlier.

The Associate Dean for Graduate Studies must approve the appointment of each Advisory Committee based upon the recommendation of the Program Director. The committee shall consist of no fewer than four members of the Graduate Faculty for a Ph.D. dissertation committee except that: permission may be requested from the Associate Dean to replace one of the committee members by a recognized scholar who is not a member of the Graduate Faculty. Requests to appoint a committee member who is not a member of the OHSU School of Medicine Graduate Faculty should include a copy of the individual's curriculum vitae. The mentor or advisor of the candidate may be included as a member of the committee.

The advisory committee shall meet at least annually to evaluate progress toward completion of the thesis or dissertation. With the approval of the Program Director, the committee may place a student on academic probation if it is determined that progress has not been adequate. The Program Director shall notify the student and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in writing of the probationary status and specify in what way(s) the student is failing to meet standards and specify time limits for correcting the deficiencies. If the student fails to correct the deficiencies within the specified time limits, the Program Director may recommend dismissal of the student.

Students must meet with their Thesis/Dissertation Advisory Committee within 6 months of passing the Qualifying Examination (QE) and at least once a year after the initial meeting. Thesis/ Dissertation Advisory Committee meetings will usually involve oral presentation by the student of thesis research goals and progress. During the initial meeting, one member of the committee, excluding the thesis advisory, should be selected to serve as chair of the committee. Following each committee meeting, the chair should prepare a brief memo evaluating the student’s progress which should be sent to the BME Graduate Program Director.

Ph.D. Dissertation and Oral Examination

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree must present a written description of the research carried out during their course of study in the form of a thesis/dissertation. The thesis/dissertation must demonstrate ability on the part of the student to plan and execute original research, and the results must represent a definite contribution to scientific knowledge. The dissertation document must be prepared according to the Graduate Council Guidelines and Regulations for Completion of Master's and Ph.D. Degrees. Although there is flexibility in the amount of work required for the thesis/dissertation, in general the thesis should represent the equivalent of at least two first-author publications in significant, peer-reviewed journals, and should be submitted for publication prior to the defense. BME requires that the Thesis Advisory Committee must meet to review and approve the proposed thesis/dissertation research before a thesis/dissertation defense can be scheduled. The chair of the Thesis Advisory Committee should send a memo to the BME Graduate Program Director recording approval of the thesis project and approval for scheduling the oral thesis defense.

The composition of the Oral Thesis Exam Committee (TEC) should be suggested by the student and mentor, and must be approved by the BME Graduate Program Director and the BME Department Chair. Permission may be requested to replace one of the committee members by a recognized scholar who is not a member of the graduate faculty; see Graduate Council By-Laws. The committee must include at least one member who was not a member of the student's dissertation advisory committee. The Chair of the Oral Examination Committee must be a member of the Graduate Faculty. The oral examination committee shall be appointed by the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies upon the recommendation of the BME Graduate Program Director. After these approvals are obtained, the BME Academic Coordinator will submit the form to the School of Medicine Graduate Studies Office for final approval of the composition of the Oral Exam Committee (OEC) by the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. This form must be submitted no later than 4 weeks prior to the scheduled defense.

Students must present a public seminar describing the Ph.D. research project, pass the oral examination, edit the dissertation document to the satisfaction of the Examination Committee, and meet all other degree requirements specified by the Graduate Council By-Laws. The oral examination typically addresses issues related to the dissertation project, but is not limited to the content of the dissertation document. Questions related to other aspects of the student's graduate education should be anticipated. The public seminar is considered to be an important part of the oral thesis examination and the candidate's performance will be evaluated by the examination committee in the context of determining the general preparedness of the candidate to receive the degree.

A student who fails the Oral Thesis Examination may petition the department for the opportunity to be reexamined. Such petitions must be submitted in the form of a letter to the Department Chair within 2 weeks after the exam. The petition letter should include an explanation of any circumstances that may have adversely affected the student's performance on the exam. Moreover, the letter should provide a rationale for expecting a different outcome upon re-examination. The student's request will be formally considered at a meeting of the department's graduate faculty within 1 month of the receipt of the petition letter. The student will receive written notice of the department's decision. In case of reexamination, the Department Chair may recommend changes in the composition of the proposed Examination Committee. In accord with the Graduate Council By-Laws, a student whose petition for reexamination is denied by the department may appeal to the Graduate Council.

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