PhD in Biological Engineering

General Information

Admission to the PhD Program in Biological Engineering will be made based on a recommendation by the graduate admission committee. The plan of study for each student will be developed in consultation with and approved by the student’s graduate advisory committee. The committee will include the student’s major advisor and at least two additional members of the graduate faculty such that the LSU Graduate School’s requirements for graduate committees are satisfied.

Forty-two credit hours of non-research coursework beyond the bachelor of science are required with the following provisions:

  • At least half credit hours at 7000 level or above
  • At least half credit hours in the College of Engineering
  • At least one (3 credit hours) advanced math or statistics course at 4000 or 7000 level
  • At least 12 credit hours in biological engineering
  • No more than six credits of BE 7909
  • One credit hour of BE 7500

Students with a MS degree in Biological Engineering or a related field can transfer up to 21 credit hours of non-research coursework with approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

PhD students from other departments who choose BAE as a minor should be expected to take at least 12 hours of BE graduate credits to satisfy their requirements for a minor. The specific courses, which can include independent study, will be determined by the student's minor professor.

PhD Program of Study

According to the LSU Graduate School, a student is eligible to work toward a doctoral degree beginning with the semester in which he or she is formally admitted into a doctoral program. During the first six months in which a PhD student is enrolled, he or she should meet with his or her major professor and determine a future program of study for completing the PhD. The importance of this activity establishes a guide for students to follow for completing work needed to obtain the PhD.

The student should first prepare a working draft of the program of study. As a courtesy to the student’s committee members, course titles and numbers should be listed. Then, the student, together with his or her major professor, should select the committee members who will review the proposed program of study. The student should provide copies of the drafted program of study to the committee members, who may approve, amend, or not approve the program of studies. If the proposed program is not approved, the major professor will assume responsibility for ensuring that the revised version is distributed among committee members for their approval. A copy of the approved program of study will be filed in the student’s folder in the BAE academic secretary’s office. The student’s department-level academic course plan is subject to LSU Graduate School policy and departmental regulations.

Qualifying Examination

All PhD students must complete a milestone exam within 12 months of admission to the BE PhD program. This serves as the student’s qualifying exam for continuing in the PhD program. The student’s advisory committee will evaluate the written research proposal and presentation and recommend that the student continue in the PhD pro-gram or be transferred to an MS BAE program. Committee members must sign the qualifying exam report form when they agree that the student has satisfactorily completed the requirements for the exam. The signed form should be kept in the student’s file folder in the BAE academic secretary’s office. The major professor and student should also keep a copy of the signed form.

General Examination

At or near the completion of a PhD student’s required course-work, he or she should schedule the general exam. In the BAE department, this exam is conducted by the student’s advisory committee. In addition to the student’s advisory committee, a graduate dean’s representative will be appointed to serve as committee member for the general exam. This representative will continue to serve on the student’s committee through the final exam. A “request for the general exam must be submitted to the LSU Graduate School by the student’s department chair at least three weeks prior to the proposed examination date.” Any changes to the committee “must be approved in advance by the dean of the LSU Graduate School.”

The general exam consists of two parts—one written, the other oral. The written portion will be administered in a form decided on by the advisory committee. The oral portion includes an overview of the written exam, as well as an update on research progress to date.

The oral exam will involve the advisory committee plus the dean’s representative, who will have a vote. There is no prescribed format or length of time required for this exam. The student presents the outcomes of the written general exam and presents an up-to-date report on research progress. To pass the general exam, the student must receive no more than one dissenting vote from the committee. All votes of the committee must be recorded and signed on the exam report cards provided by the LSU Graduate School. These cards should be given to the BAE academic secretary, who will forward them to the LSU Graduate School. If the student fails the general exam, the committee will attach a memorandum to the report card “specifying if the student will be allowed to retake the exam and any time constraints.”

Further, the committee will determine the appropriate steps to be followed by the student with regard to continuing in the PhD program. A written report of these steps should be completed, with copies given to the committee members and student and filed in the student’s folder in the BAE department.

The Final Examination

The final exam can be scheduled no earlier than one “academic” year after the student passes the general exam. One “academic” year in this case, according to the LSU Graduate Bulletin, is the “interval between a general exam held early in one term and a final exam held toward the close of the following term.” The final exam may not be scheduled between semesters or when the university is not officially “open for business.” A request for the final exam must be submitted to the LSU Graduate School on the appropriate graduate school form at least three weeks prior to the proposed exam date, which must be on or before the published deadline for the current semester (see the LSU Academic Calendar for each individual semester deadline).

In no case should this request be submitted less than five weeks prior to the final date for submitting approved dissertations and final exam reports to the LSU Graduate School. The exam committee, including the dean’s representative, must have copies of the dissertation at least two weeks prior to the date of the final exam. The committee will determine whether the student should provide paper or electronic copies of the dissertation prior to the dissertation defense.

The final exam will be an oral exam primarily concerned with the dissertation, although the committee may opt to extend the subject matter. There is no prescribed format or length of time required for this exam. The major professor and committee members will be responsible for establishing the format and content of this exam. Dissertation defenses are open meetings for all members of the BAE department, and all faculty members and fellow students are strongly encouraged to attend.

To pass the final exam, the student must receive no more than one dissenting vote from the exam committee. All votes must be recorded on the exam report cards provided by the LSU Graduate School. Committee members who approve the dissertation should also sign the dissertation approval page. The signed exam report cards and dissertation title pages should be completed and presented to the BAE department academic secretary, who will forward them to the LSU Graduate School. Students are not permitted to handle the report cards; that is the responsibility of the student’s chair.

However, it is the student’s responsibility to handle the approval pages. If the student fails the final exam, the advisory committee will attach a memorandum describing the report card, “specifying if the student will be allowed to retake the exam and any time constraints.” Further, the committee will determine the appropriate steps to be followed by the student with regard to continuing in the PhD program. A written report of these steps should be completed, with copies given to the committee members and student and filed in the student’s folder in the BAE department academic secretary’s office.

Semester 1

  • Selection or appointment of major advisor
  • Selection of advisory committee
  • Development of plan of study (final approval by student’s graduate advisory committee)
  • Identification of research topic
  • Nine or 12 hours of coursework and three hours of thesis research

Semester 2

  • Submission of graduate school plan of study and advisory committee forms
  • Preparation of thesis proposal, including literature review
  • Nine hours of coursework and three hours of research
  • Completion of the qualifying exam

Semester 3

  • Development of a statistically valid experimental design and conduct research
  • Nine hours of coursework and three hours of research

Semester 4

  • Completion of general examination
  • Conduct of research
  • Nine hours of coursework and three hours of research

Semester 5

  • Completion of research data analysis
  • Preparation of dissertation draft
  • Six hours of coursework and three hours of research

Semester 6

  • Final examination (dissertation defense)
  • Twelve hours of thesis research

 

Cristina M. Sabliov, Ph.D., P.E., Graduate Coordinator

Richard R. & Betty S. Fenton Alumni Professor

csabliov@agcenter.lsu.edu