Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Biomedical Engineering

Program Description

The field provides rich, interdisciplinary opportunities in research and education leading to the Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering. It integrates engineering and the life sciences to prepare students for diverse careers in academe, industry, and government.

The field focuses on both the molecular and macroscopic aspects of biomedical engineering and comprises five research areas: biomedical instrumentation; drug delivery, design and metabolism; biomaterials; computational and systems biology; and medical biomechanics. Facilities commonly used include the Cornell Nanofabrication Facility, the NSF STC in Nanobiotechnology, the Cornell High-Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS), the Cornell Theory Center, the Cornell Center for Advanced Technology in Biotechnology, and the programs in the Department of Biomechanics and Biomaterials at the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Orthopedic Affiliate of the Cornell Medical College.

It is anticipated that students entering into the field of Biomedical Engineering will have received formal training in a recognized sub-discipline of engineering. Students obtain thorough training in biomedical engineering research. They also master the Ph.D. course work for a minor in a traditional engineering discipline and another minor in an area of the life sciences. Formal course work in the major includes a two-semester course in the Foundations of Biomedical Engineering, advanced BME analysis of biological systems, at least one other advanced course in bioengineering, and required seminars. Further, PhD students are expected to complete a six week immersion experience in medical research and clinical practice at Weill Medical College, as well as completing a graduate student teaching experience. M.S. students complete the Foundations in Biomedical Engineering course, two semesters of seminars, and typically four to five additional courses in engineering and the life sciences. These requirements are subject to revision.

Students are supervised by a core of faculty members who represent twelve departments in the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Engineering, Human Ecology, Veterinary Medicine, and the Weill Medical College. Currently biomedical engineering is a program, but a process to form a distinct department is underway.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-2573

Weill Hall 121A
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • biomedical engineering


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Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Jan. 3

Requirements Summary:

Applicants are expected to have a bachelor's degree in a recognized subdiscipline of engineering. However, exceptional students with a BS in the Sciences and demonstrated knowledge of advanced mathematics, calculus-based physics, and introductory computer science will also be considered.

Learning Outcomes

The educational goal of the BME Graduate Field is to produce future leaders of BME who are able to able to apply quantitative methods across multiple spatial and temporal scales in order to solve problems related to human health.

A person can have an impact only through communication and so the BME Graduate Field emphasizes written, spoken, and presentation communication skills.  A student in the Field will acquire and practice these skills pervasively throughout their program, e.g., in course work, A and B exams, teaching, publishing research papers, etc.

Ethical issues are important in all domains but especially so in BME because of the proximity to human health.  Discussion of these issues arise in many contexts during the first year, e.g., in the Summer Immersion Term. The successful completion of the Responsible Conduct of Research unit online is required of all students.

Each candidate must demonstrate the following proficiencies:

  • Make an original and substantial contribution to the discipline of BME:
    • Demonstrate creative and independent thinking.
    • Identify new research opportunities in field of BME.
  • Demonstrate advanced research skills:
    • Identify existing knowledge and resources.
    • Integrate a variety of existing knowledge and resources to address a new problem.
  • Evaluate the candidate's results and those of others in the context of this integrated knowledge.
    • Master and/or innovate research methodologies and techniques.
    • Master and/or innovate communication methods for oral and written information exchange.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to advancing scholarship:
    • Maintain familiarity with advances in the field.
    • Engage with other investigators in the field and communicate findings via professional publications, participation in professional societies and research seminars, and other modes of communication.
    • Support learning through teaching, collaborative inquiry, and mentoring.
  • Demonstrate professional skills
    • Display high ethical standards and expect high ethical standards of others.
    • Listen, give, and receive feedback effectively.
  • Progress through the degree program in an appropriate timeframe.