Course of Study

Ph.D. Timeline



  • Finish coursework (technical electives)



  • Complete doctoral thesis research
  • Defend and deposit thesis


Stage 1

For each student entering with a bachelor's degree, the first stage of the Ph.D. program at Illinois requires completion of coursework equivalent to that of a master's degree. Students who earned a master's degree in Bioengineering with a written thesis from another program have completed the first stage and enter the Ph.D. program directly but still must complete two credit hours of BIOE 500 Graduate Seminar, one credit hour of BIOE 501 Seminar Discussion, and two credit hours of BIOE 502 Professionalism or equivalent.

Stage 2

Stage 2 of the Ph.D. program begins after completion of the core curriculum. The first benchmark is the Bioengineering Qualifying Exam (BQE). In Stage 2, each student completes technical elective coursework relative to his or her area of research. Research credit (BIOE 599) cannot be included in these credit hours. These credit hours may include credit from courses taken before beginning the Ph.D. program, provided that the credit was not included in the hours for a previous degree. Courses are chosen by each student in consultation with the research advisor to provide additional background knowledge relevant to the dissertation.

Stage 3

The student conducts initial doctoral research, develops a thesis proposal, and assembles a thesis committee. At the end of Stage 3, the student takes the Preliminary Exam, during which he/she defends the research proposal to his or her committee. A Prelim and Final Exam Scheduling form must be submitted to the Bioengineering graduate programs coordinator at least three weeks prior to the preliminary exam date, for approval by the Graduate College.

Stage 4

The student continues the research proposed in the thesis proposal and writes a doctoral dissertation. Continuous registration in BIOE 599 (except possibly during summer sessions) is required until the dissertation has been defended.

During the final stages of the thesis research, when the dissertation is nearing completion, the student schedules a suitable time and place for the final dissertation defense (final exam). A new Prelim and Final Exam Scheduling form must be submitted to the Bioengineering graduate programs coordinator at least three weeks prior to the final exam date for approval by the Graduate College. The candidate should submit the completed dissertation to committee members two weeks before the final exam. Once the candidate has passed the exam, paperwork signed by the committee must be filed with the Bioengineering graduate programs coordinator.