Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. Admissions

Four members of the biomedical engineering faculty pose side-by-side at graduation and smile.
BME faculty members Owen McCarty, Ph.D.; Karina Nakayama, Ph.D.; Yali Jia, Ph.D. and Sandra Rugonyi, Ph.D. at the 2023 OHSU School of Medicine Commencement. (OHSU/Michael Schmitt)

If you are motivated to learn and eager to seek out scientific discoveries that reduce disease and improve patients’ lives, we welcome you to apply for our biomedical engineering Ph.D. program. We value diverse academic backgrounds, skills, experiences and perspectives. 

Ready to start your research? Our program matches you with a faculty member’s lab right from the start. Passionate about medicine? Our proximity to OHSU’s hospital and clinics centers our work on people and their health care needs. 

We encourage prospective Ph.D. students to apply by Dec. 10 to start in the fall of the following year. We also accept applications year-round and review them quarterly. 

Admission requirements

  • A Bachelor’s of Science or equivalent degree  
  • Thorough training and background in STEM 
  • Strong interest in and aptitude for research 
  • A cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 or its equivalent

Department of Biomedical Engineering requests

We follow a holistic approach to admissions, which means we are interested in your development both academically and as a person. We request: 

  • A personal statement describing your scientific and research experience, your career goals and your research area of interest at OHSU 
  • An explanation of your interest in OHSU 
  • A list of faculty members in our department whose research interests you 
  • Three letters of reference from people who know your background, qualifications and potential for success in research and graduate school 
  • Your insight into how you will contribute to diverse perspectives at OHSU (optional) 
  • A description of adversity you have faced (optional) 
  • Honors, awards, fellowships and distinctions (if applicable) 
  • Publications and original work (if applicable) 
  • Membership(s) in professional organizations (if applicable) 

Applicants should have taken undergraduate classes in engineering or other basic sciences with a strong math component. However, there are no specific undergraduate course requirements for admission. The GRE is not required.  

Admissions process

Review. At least three members of the BME Admissions Committee review each application we receive. Reviewers follow an established rubric based on the applicant’s education, research accomplishments, letters of recommendation, honors/awards/publications, writing and overall alignment with our program. 

Interview. Selected applicants are invited to interview at our recruitment event held in late January or early February each year. Admissions decisions are made after this event and communicated to applicants in a timely manner. We schedule individual interviews for students who apply outside this time frame. 

Offer. We match students to faculty mentors for both the interviews and final offers. To do this, we circulate a list of faculty members who are interested in recruiting students and arrange opportunities for students and faculty to meet each other.

Join our program

Your research career starts here. 

Read more

Our BME Program Guidelines outline our admissions process in detail.

Commitment to diversity

OHSU strives to be a welcoming organization, diverse in people and ideas. We vow to recruit, retain and advance a diverse, culturally competent learning community. Visit the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Fees, waivers and transcripts

Please see the School of Medicine Graduate Studies admissions page for information on fees, fee waivers, where to send transcripts and more.

International students

We welcome international students. If English is not your native language, take either the Test for English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). We will waive this requirement if you received an undergraduate or graduate degree at an accredited college or university in an English-speaking country. You may also request a waiver if you can provide strong evidence of fluency in reading and writing English. 

Applicants with foreign degrees are strongly encouraged to obtain a World Education Services International Credential Advantage Package (WES ICAP) course-by-course credential evaluation. Applicants are responsible for the full cost of this service. Please contact us to determine if the WES ICAP is required during the application process.  

The OHSU Office of International Affairs will help international students admitted into the program to obtain their student visas.

Frequently asked questions

What courses should I be taking in order to be considered for your program?

We are looking for students who have strong engineering backgrounds. We recommend that you take courses like biochemistry, organic chemistry, differential equations, physics and statistics. We also recommend laboratory-based courses that provide hands-on experience in research methods. 

What GPA should I have?

Applicants who are invited to interview usually have a GPA greater than 3.0. Students with GPAs below 3.0 require special consideration.  

What should I include in my personal statement to make it stand out?

We especially want to know about research projects you have been involved in, what role you played in those projects and the type of research you want to do as a student in our program. This might include naming faculty you would be interested in working with and what you envision as your long-term career plan.  

What information should my recommenders include in their letters?

We want to know how long they have known you and under what circumstances. Did you take a class with them or work in their lab? We would like to know what you do well and what areas are challenging, as well as the ways your skills and interests might affect how you would do in graduate school. 

What GRE score do I need? Do I need to complete a GRE subject test?

We do not require the GRE and there are no GRE subject test requirements. 

I missed your application deadline. Do you admit students mid-year?

We consider applications and admit students year-round. At least three faculty members on the BME Admissions Committee review off-cycle applications three months prior to the start of each term. We schedule interviews for off-cycle applicants on a one-by-one basis. Off-cycle applicants should identify faculty they would like to mentor them. 

I currently have a master's degree. May I transfer credits to your program?

You can petition any time during your first year to transfer credits you earned for formal coursework (not research or independent study). We only consider courses in which you received a grade of B or better. We can accept a maximum of 45 quarter-term credits from an accredited institution. The program director and the School of Medicine Dean’s Office of Graduate Studies must approve the transfer. 

How much will it cost me to be a student in your program?

We provide a stipend to all students in our program. Please see the stipend policy for current rates. All tuition and student fees are waived for full-time students who are members of Graduate Researchers United. Students are also eligible for health and dental insurance

How many people do you admit each year?

Approximately 20-23 students matriculate each academic year. 

When will I hear if you are going to interview me?

You should hear from us by the second week of January. 

How long will it take to get my degree?

Typically, students complete the requirements for their Ph.D. degree in 4-6 years. Our current average time to degree is 4.8 years. 

English is not my first language. Will I need to complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirement?

The TOEFL is required if you do not speak English as a native language. You may request a waiver of the TOEFL requirement in your personal statement. The waiver is generally granted for applicants who completed a degree at a university in an English-speaking country.