Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering (PhD)

Overview

Biomedical Engineers apply their knowledge in engineering, biology, and medicine to healthcare and medical device industries. Biomedical Engineering is a distinct field that encompasses engineering disciplines, biology, life sciences, medicine, clinical applications, and the improvement of human health. Since 2006, our PhD program has trained students in the fundamentals of Biomedical Engineering, providing extensive research experience in biomechanics, biomaterials, biochemical processing, cellular engineering, imaging, medical devices, micro-electro-mechanical implantable systems, and physiological modeling, simulation, monitoring, and control, as well as medical robotics. Graduates continue on to PhD programs as well as research and development positions in industry and other institutions.

What makes the program unique?

The Biomedical Engineering Program at UBC is a part of the School of Biomedical Engineering, which falls under both the Faculty of Applied Science and Faculty of Medicine. This unique interdisciplinary structure provides students with unparalleled access to engineering experts across varied Biomedical Engineering research areas at UBC. It emphasizes a balance of biomedical engineering and life science study with a focus on clinical and industrial application. Our graduates have gone on to become industry leaders, especially in the medical device industry, and provide a network of professionals within the community.

Biomedical Engineering at UBC is the only program in Canada to offer the Engineers in Scrubs (EiS) training program. The EiS program began as an NSERC-funded Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program designed to foster innovation in medical technology by training biomedical engineers in clinical environments. Students receive a significant portion of their training in hospital settings, and the program focuses on the medical technology innovation process. This program complements the research training of MASc and PhD students and allows them to work closely with medical professionals in identifying clinical problems and developing a solution.

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Admission Information & Requirements

1) Check Eligibility

Minimum Academic Requirements

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:

Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.

English Language Test

Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.

Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:

TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based

Overall score requirement: 93

Reading

22

Writing

21

Speaking

21

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 6.5

Reading

6.0

Writing

6.0

Speaking

6.0

Listening

6.0

Property field_prog_lang_test_min

Other Test Scores

Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:

The GRE is not required.

Prior degree, course and other requirements

Prior Degree Requirements

Applicants to the BME program should normally hold a research master's degree in engineering or a closely-related degree with significant technical, analytical and mathematical components (e.g., physics, biophysics, chemistry, computer science). Students with degrees in other fields (e.g., life sciences, kinesiology, physical therapy) may be considered for the program if they have adequate technical preparation.
In exceptional cases, applicants from Canadian or US institutions who hold a bachelor's degree with an overall average in the A grade range and who demonstrate advanced research ability may be granted direct admission to our doctoral degree program. Please see the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website for more information. Applicants from international institutions will have specific minimum admission requirements established by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

2) Meet Deadlines

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
15 November 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 16 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 30 January 2021
Referee Deadline: 06 February 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 16 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 30 January 2021
Referee Deadline: 06 February 2021

January 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
01 March 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 June 2021
Transcript Deadline: 15 June 2021
Referee Deadline: 30 June 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 June 2021
Transcript Deadline: 15 June 2021
Referee Deadline: 30 June 2021

3) Prepare Application

Transcripts

All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.

Letters of Reference

A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.

Statement of Interest

Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.

Supervision

Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering (PhD)
Applicants should browse faculty profiles and indicate in their application who they are interested in working with. No commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary, but contacting faculty members is encouraged.

Citizenship Verification

Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.

4) Apply Online

All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.

Research Information

Research Highlights

Recent research highlights include:
Overdoes Detection Device
Surgical Screw Cover
Magnetic Drug Implant
Parkinson’s App
Painless and Inexpensive Microneedle System
Non-Invasive Migraine Monitoring Technique

Research Focus

UBC Biomedical Engineering researchers work in a wide range of areas. Our main research clusters (RC) include: Imaging, Modeling, Simulation, and Guided Interventions; BIOMEMs and Bio-Optics; Musculoskeletal Biomechanics, Injury, Disease, and Restorative Treatments; Rehabilitative and Assistive Technologies and Human-Environment Interactions; and Physiological Modeling and Control.

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$108.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,095.68$8,952.27
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$969.17 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,242.00 (check cost calculator)
* Regular, full-time tuition. For on-leave, extension, continuing or part time (if applicable) fees see UBC Calendar.
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Financial Support

Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.

Program Funding Packages

The majority of PhD students are offered research assistantships (RAs) by faculty members. RAs are funded by research grants for specific projects which almost always constitute thesis projects. Although you will automatically be considered for an RA when submitting your online application, to successfully secure an RA appointment you are encouraged to make contact with a research supervisor. The number of RAs offered will vary depending on lab and research space as well as available funding.

All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2018 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $18,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $18,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.

Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)

All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.

Teaching Assistantships (GTA)

Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.

Research Assistantships (GRA)

Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.

Financial aid (need-based funding)

Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.

All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.

Foreign government scholarships

Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.

Working while studying

The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.

International students enrolled as full-time students with a valid study permit can work on campus for unlimited hours and work off-campus for no more than 20 hours a week.

A good starting point to explore student jobs is the UBC Work Learn program or a Co-Op placement.

Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals

Students with taxable income in Canada may be able to claim federal or provincial tax credits.

Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.

Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.

Cost Calculator

Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.

Career Outcomes

8 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 7 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):

Sample Employers in Higher Education
British Columbia Institute of Technology
Mahidol University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Cook Biotech Inc.
Response Biomedical Corp
AR Medical Technologies
MEA Forensic Engineers and Scientists
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Research Engineer
Manager, Product Development
Chief Operating Officer
CTO
Biomechanical Engineer
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
Disclaimer
These data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.
Career Options

The PhD program in Biomedical Engineering is designed to prepare students for employment in the public or private sector, or to pursue further studies. Graduates find employment at academic institutions and in high level research and development positions in industry and other institutions. Recent graduates have gone on to work at BCIT, Phillips, and Precision Nanosystems. A burgeoning field, ample opportunities exist in the medical instrument industry, pharmaceutical/biochemical industry, hospitals, medical research facilities and educational institutions, and regulatory bodies, governments, and industry associations.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering (PhD). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.

Enrolment Data

 20192018201720162015
Applications5064433433
Offers815337
New registrations712326
Total enrolment4641363836

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 100% based on 7 students admitted between 2007 - 2010. Based on 18 graduations between 2016 - 2019 the minimum time to completion is 0.66 years and the maximum time is 7.33 years with an average of 5.30 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 10 March 2020]. Enrolment data are based on March 1 snapshots. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Rates and times of completion depend on a number of variables (e.g. curriculum requirements, student funding), some of which may have changed in recent years for some programs [data updated: 29 October 2020].

Research Supervisors

This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.

  • Ma, Hongshen (Microfluidics; Instrumentation; Cell Sorting; Cell Biomechanics; Circulating Tumor Cells; Malaria and Red Blood Cell Deformability; Single Cell Technologies; Cell Migration and Chemotaxis)
  • Madden, John (Functional and Intelligent Materials; artificial muscle; wearables; smart materials; electronic skin; supercapacitors; electrochemical devices; medical devices)
  • McNagny, Kelly Marshall (Cellular immunology; Regenerative medicine (including stem cells and tissue engineering); Stem Cells; Immunology; Inflammation; Mouse models of human disease; Tissue degeneration/regeneration; Cancer; innate immune response; kidney function; Biologics and therapeutics)
  • Nabi, Ivan Robert (Intracellular signaling during neurite outgrowth and sprouting, Identification of small molecules that stimulate neurite outgrowth and regeneration, Examination of the role of semaphorins during embryonic development )
  • Oxland, Thomas (Spinal Cord Injury, Aging Spine, Orthopaedic Implants)
  • Penninger, Josef (Bone Remodeling; Cancer; Cardiovascular Regeneration; Immunopathology; Neurodegenerative diseases; Blood vessel engineering; BH4; Glycoproteomics in cancer; Haploid stem cells; Tissue Engineering)
  • Piret, James (Biomedical engineering, regenerative medicine Cell-based therapies have the potential to provide improved treatments for major diseases such as cancer and diabetes)
  • Rohling, Robert (Medical Imaging, Medical Information Systems, Robotics, Interventional Ultrasound, 3D Imaging, Spatial Compounding, Robotic System Calibration, Elastography, BioMEMS, Biomedical Engineering, Medical imaging and information systems, robetics, ultrasound imaging in 2D and 3D, biomedical technologies)
  • Roskelley, Calvin (Breast cancer, ovarian cancer )
  • Rossi, Fabio (Stem Cell Regenerative Medicine blood, Stem cells, regeneration, gene therapy, control of cell fate)
  • Salcudean, Septimiu (Biomedical technologies, Haptic interfaces, teleoperation and simulators, medical robotics, imaging and interfaces, optimization-based design, prostate cancer)
  • Servati, Peyman (Energy Systems, Emerging Micro/Nano Technologies)
  • Shakiba, Nika (Cell competition; Stem Cells; Bioengineering; Synthetic biology; Cell engineering)
  • Takahata, Kenichi (Biomedical Technologies, Emerging Micro/Nano Technologies)
  • Tam, Roger (Imaging; Expert Systems; Neurodegenerative Diseases; Shape Recognition and Computer Graphics; Computer Science and Statistics; Biomedical Technologies; Machine Learning; Precision Medicine; Radiology; Biomedical Informatics; Data Analytics)
  • Tropini, Carolina (Bacteria; Biological and Biochemical Mechanisms; Bioinformatics; Microbiology; Gut microbiota; Bacteriophages; Bioengineering; Biophysics; Inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Underhill, Michael (Musculoskeletal diseases, transcription factors, growth, cytokines, retinoid signalling pathway in chondrogenesis, osteogenesis, phenotype)
  • Van der Loos, Hendrik (Rehabilitation Robotics, Human-Robot Interaction, Design for Safety, Design Methodology and Design Coaching, Roboethics)
  • Walus, Konrad (Nanoelectronic devices and circuits, quantum-dot cellular automata, single-electron transistors, quantum mechanical simulations)
  • Wang, Zhen (Signal processing theory and applications, bioinformatics)
  • Wang, Rizhi (Biomaterials, biomechanics Also, the structure and formation processes of biologically formed materials (eg seashells, silk, teeth) and applies the mechanisms to the design and processing of novel materials)
  • Wellington, Cheryl Lea (Alzheimer's Disease; Neurodegenerative Diseases; Trauma / Injuries; Lipid/Lipoprotein analysis; Structural Tissue Engineering / Biomaterials; Traumatic Brain Injury; Tissue Engineering; Biomarkers; drug discovery; Apolipoprotein E; Cerebrovascular function)
  • Wilson, David (orthopaedics, arthritis, mechanics, joints, hip, imaging, MRI, activity, Hip, knee, spine mechanics, causes and treatments of osteoarthritis, medical imaging and image processing, orthopedic sports medicine)
  • Wu, Lang (Biostatistics)

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Doctoral Citations

A doctoral citation summarizes the nature of the independent research, provides a high-level overview of the study, states the significance of the work and says who will benefit from the findings in clear, non-specialized language, so that members of a lay audience will understand it.
Year Citation
2018 Dr. Sheikhzadeh worked on improving the diagnostic process of cervical cancer. She demonstrated that novel imaging technologies could be employed to reduce unnecessary biopsies and developed algorithms to differentiate between grades of precancerous tissue. Her work will lead to fast and cost-effective diagnosis of this type of cancer.
2018 Dr. Yoo investigated new computational methods, based on artificial intelligence, that automatically identify changes in brain images. These changes signify how a patient with neurological disorders may get worse over time. His research will help doctors gain more useful information from each patient's MRI and give personalized treatment for each person.
2018 Dr. Baylis examined treatments for bleeding using self-propelling particles. These micro-rockets, loaded with pro-coagulant and applied directly to the wound site, can travel against the flow of blood to stop bleeding at its source. He further developed new bandages, which could stop massive bleeding during surgery or emergency situations.
2018 Dr. Haddad developed novel flexible and breathable electrodes to monitor electrodermal activity, which is a biological signal related to the neurological system. This work improved our understanding of the impacts of electrode design on bio-signal monitoring and identified effective materials for wearable medical devices.
2018 Dr. Amir-Khalili developed computer algorithms to assist clinicians and improve outcomes for patients undergoing complex medical procedures. His contributions include an automated algorithm that locates blood vessels based on movement, and systems for interpreting uncertainties that occur during cancer surgery or radiotherapy interventions.
2018 Circulating tumour cells are important targets for cancer research. Dr. Park developed a technology to enrich circulating tumor cells and then isolate them for genome sequencing. She then applied this technology to sequence single circulating tumor cells from patients with prostate cancer. This work will aid with early diagnosis.
2018 Dr. Mattucci performed a thorough biomechanical investigation and redevelopment of a dislocation spinal cord injury model, to better understand the most common clinical injuries. These improvements will provide future researchers a robust avenue to further investigate the importance of biomechanical factors contributing to spinal cord injury.
2018 Dr. Kharazmi studied the role of cutaneous vascular structures in skin lesions. She developed a technology to analyze cutaneous vessels and identify skin abnormalities at an early stage. Her work increases the effectiveness of screening for skin disorders, which will ultimately save lives and reduce healthcare costs.
2018 Dr. Quader focussed on improving diagnosis reliability of hip instability in infants using ultrasound imaging. His top contribution was in implementing a novel and automatic three-dimensional ultrasound-based system. This has improved the diagnosis reliability of current-state-of-the-art hip instability diagnosis by around 70 percent.
2017 Dr. Lambert-Shirzad studied arm motion coordination in healthy and post-stroke populations. He created a mathematical model to show how a stroke alters healthy motion coordination patterns. This model provides a better understanding of impairment post-stroke and will aid in the design of more efficient therapies for people with stroke.

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Further Information

Specialization

Biomedical Engineering is a multidisciplinary field that involves the application of engineering techniques and technologies to medical and healthcare areas. Opportunities for interdisciplinary education and research exist in areas such as biomechanics, biomaterials, biochemical processing, cellular engineering, imaging, medical devices, micro-electro-mechanical implantation systems, physiological modelling, simulation, monitoring and control, as well as medical robotics.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

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If you don't have a UBC Campus-Wide Login (CWL) please create an account first.
 

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
15 November 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
16 January 2021
International Applicant Deadline
16 January 2021

January 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
01 March 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 June 2021
International Applicant Deadline
01 June 2021
 
Supervisor Search
 

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