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.

 

Program Enquiries

Still have questions after reviewing this page thoroughly?
Contact the program

Meet a Representative

PhD Funding Opportunities

Date: Wednesday, 31 August 2022
Time: 10:00 to 11:00

Join Dr Julian Dierkes, Associate Dean, Funding and Shane Moore as they talk about funding opportunities for PhD's at UBC. Dr Dierkes will provide an overview of the different awards and scholarships available to incoming PhD students.

This session will cover:

  • Overview of PhD funding at UBC
  • PhD minimum funding guarantee
  • UBC Awards database
  • Advice on writing funding proposals and applications
  • Q&A

Who is this webinar for?

This webinar is for those who are applying to PhD programs at UBC and are interested in learning more about internal and external funding opportunities. 

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

Application open dates and deadlines for an upcoming intake have not yet been configured in the admissions system. Please check back later.

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 themes include Cellular and Molecular Engineering (including Regenerative Medicine, Synthetic Biology, and Imumune Engineering); Imaging and Computational Biology (including AI & Multiscale Imaging, Bioinformatics/Systems Biology, and Computational Modeling & Automation); Human Interfacing Devices (including Therapeutic Delivery Systems & Nanodevices, Bionics & Bio-Sensors, Biomaterials, and Biomechanics/Injury Prevention).

We are now building capacity to increase research opportunities in areas of global importance including molecular and cellular engineering and synthetic biology, genomics and nano-devices, immune-engineering and advanced biomaterials, regenerative medicine, artificial intelligence and simulation systems with biomedical application, visualization and imaging from nanomolecular to physiological scales.

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$110.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,767.18$3,104.64
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,301.54$9,313.92
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,057.05 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,366.20 (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 the School of Biomedical Engineering in September 2018 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $23,000 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 research supervsiors may provide funding packages that are greater than $23,000 per year.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 45 students within this program were included in this study because they received funding through UBC in the form of teaching, research/academic assistantships or internal or external awards averaging $32,854.
  • 21 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 21 students was $7,504.
  • 38 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 38 students was $21,421.
  • 44 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 44 students was $5,807.
  • 9 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 9 students was $27,926.

Study Period: Sep 2020 to Aug 2021 - average funding for full-time PhD students enrolled in three terms per academic year in this program across years 1-4, the period covered by UBC's Minimum Funding Guarantee. Averages might mask variability in sources and amounts of funding received by individual students. Beyond year 4, funding packages become even more individualized.
Review methodology
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

 20212020201920182017
Applications7871506443
Offers22128153
New registrations18117123
Total enrolment7156464136

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 88% based on 8 students admitted between 2008 - 2011. Based on 14 graduations between 2017 - 2020 the minimum time to completion is 4.00 years and the maximum time is 7.33 years with an average of 5.53 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: 7 April 2022]. 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: 19 October 2021].

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Wednesday, 24 August 2022 - 12:30pm

Yuheng Wang
Computer-aided Diagnosis of Skin Diseases with Deep Learning

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
2017 Dr. Sikorski developed small volume methods to grow and analyze single mammalian cells. These studies assist us in understanding how single cell differences affect populations of cells.
2017 Dr. Guo developed a novel microfluidic chip to process human blood and sort individual red and white blood cells based on their mechanical deformability. This technique has not only improved the diagnostic sensitivity of malaria, humanity's most devastating infectious disease, but also enabled the sorting of white blood cells based on their phenotypes.
2016 Dr. Brosch developed artificial intelligence models to automatically analyze medical images. His methods found patterns in the brain images of multiple sclerosis patients that can help monitor their disease. His work will help researchers understand multiple sclerosis imaging features and evaluate new treatments more efficiently and accurately.
2015 Dr. Ouellet developed a powerful technology that allows scientists to rapidly discover new drugs called aptamers, which are made from short sequences of genetic material. He found that, by applying this technology, new treatments for macular degeneration could be identified. This is now being studied by researchers at UBC's Centre for Blood Research.
2015 Dr. Talebi Fard developed optical devices and sensors for medical, clinical and environmental safety applications. This research is a major advancement towards development of a sensing system on a chip. This system can provide low cost, accurate, and easily accessible diagnosis and monitoring, to both healthcare providers and patients at home.
2014 Dr. Gilchrist studied the design and evaluation of laboratory experiments on hip fractures. He compared the outcomes of different test methods and informed researchers of the most appropriate techniques. The results will be applied by researchers developing new screening procedures to identify, and ultimately treat, those at risk of hip fracture.
2014 Dr. Newell conducted research on identifying vulnerable neck postures that may be present prior to a head impact in an accidental car rollover. She demonstrated that being upside-down and bracing for impact by tensing the neck muscles can change the posture of the neck. These findings are important to understanding and preventing neck injuries.
2014 Dr. Chen developed novel methods for modelling brain and muscular activity. Using neuro-physiological signals, he discovered coupling patterns between brain and muscular activities in Parkinson's disease. The research goal was to uncover the underlying coupling patterns between neuro-systems and ultimately assist with diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.
2013 Dr. Sahebjavaher developed new methods for imaging of prostate cancer and liver fibrosis using MRI. He developed several MRI-compatible devices for clinical use at UBC hospital, and co-developed a new scan method in Paris currently being used in France, UK and Korea. The results of this research will ultimately translate into better patient diagnosis.
2013 Dr. Cajiao developed a mathematical model that streamlined the drug discovery process for a neutralizing agent to the anticoagulant fondaparinux. Since fondaparinux is a superior alternative to current anticoagulants, this research will greatly impact the health care system, the therapeutic field, and patient safety.

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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

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