Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering (PhD)
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.
Contact the program
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
IELTS: International English Language Testing System
Overall score requirement: 6.5
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
January 2024 Intake
Application Open Date01 March 2023
3) Prepare Application
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.
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)
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.
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
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
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,802.52||$3,166.73|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$1,081.64 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $18,517.90 (check cost calculator)|
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
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.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
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 EducationBritish Columbia Institute of Technology
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationCook Biotech Inc.
Response Biomedical Corp
AR Medical Technologies
MEA Forensic Engineers and Scientists
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationResearch Engineer
Manager, Product Development
Chief Operating Officer
PhD Career Outcome SurveyYou may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
DisclaimerThese 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.
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.
Completion Rates & Times
|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.|
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.