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PhD Degree Requirements

The requirements for a PhD from the university are:

  1. Dissertation (research thesis written, approved, and submitted to the library)
  2. Residence (at least two consecutive semesters of full-time study – all students meet this requirement)
  3. Oral Exam (successfully passing the DBO)

The additional requirements for the school and/or program are:

  1. Attend two semesters of BME seminars (typically, during first year)*
  2. 30 credits of courses (min. 12cr life sciences/medicine; min. 12cr engineering/quantitative sciences; min. 3cr substantial theory content)
  3. Ethics/RCR course (Introduction to Research Ethics I & II) – refreshed every four years
  4. Annual Individual Development Plans (IDPs)*
  5. One teaching or teaching assistant experience
  6. Annual thesis committee meetings after DBO
  7. Thesis proposal (written document and presentation)
  8. Research defense (permission to write meeting)
  9. Public defense (final presentation)

* Note that previously, IDPs were only required from third year; we are moving to a policy of an IDP every year including first year, and this does not apply retroactively. Similarly, the BME seminar requirement began in recent years and students do not have to retroactively satisfy this requirement.

Maximum Time to Degree

As of 2019, the maximum time to degree for a JHU PhD is 9 years; official leaves of absence (e.g. for internships or health reasons) are not included in the calculation.

The Doctoral Board Oral (DBO) examination should be completed once classes are complete – typically 12-18 months into the program, and no later than 24 months from matriculation. Within six months after passing the DBO, the student and advisor are expected to form a thesis committee and hold the first thesis committee meeting.

It is expected that students will meet annually with their thesis committees. Student, advisor, and committee members must complete and sign a Thesis Committee Meeting form that contains written feedback on the student’s progress.

If the student has not graduated by 72 months post-matriculation, meetings should be held semi-annually at which the program director or their designee must be present.

For more details, view the BME PhD guidelines..

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