Overview || MS thesis || MS non-thesis
MS program overview
Students who have earned a baccalaureate degree in engineering or in a related field such as mathematical, physical, or life sciences are eligible to be considered for admission to the Master of Science Degree study in Biomedical Engineering provided they have a minimum grade point average of 3.00 out of 4.00, and have attained an acceptable score on the Graduate Record Examination (typically, a combined score of 310 for Verbal and Quantitative). Students may, under exceptional circumstances, be considered for conditional admission with a lower grade point average and GRE scores. Students may choose to pursue one of two types of MS degrees – MS (thesis) and MS (non-thesis).
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MS Thesis degree
An MS Thesis degree requires 24 semester hours of core and elective graduate-level courses and 6 semester hours of MS thesis. The core courses required of all graduate students are provided in the Graduate Curriculum and Policies page
. The elective courses are expected to conform to the focus area of the candidate. The MS thesis will be evaluated by an examining committee of faculty members. Students are encouraged to publish their thesis work in peer-reviewed journals and present them in the BME graduate seminar, where possible. Usually, students obtain their MS thesis degree in four semesters.
Research advisor/mentor: The research mentor is a faculty member who will guide the candidate in their MS thesis research, in choosing appropriate elective courses, managing the administration of the thesis defense, often providing financial support and in guiding the candidate toward a chosen career path upon graduation. Identifying a research mentor is one of the most important and indispensable steps for an MS thesis candidate. Therefore, the earlier a research mentor is identified, the better. Many MS thesis candidates identify and have communicated with their research mentor even before starting their graduate studies. All students seeking an MS thesis are encouraged to identify their research mentor within the first semester of graduate studies.
Academic advisor: The academic advisor is a BME primary faculty member who will guide the candidate on general academic requirements of their graduate studies including the approval of courses for registration. If the research mentor is a BME primary faculty, then he/she will also serve as academic advisor. However, if the research mentor is not a BME primary faculty member, an academic advisor from BME will be assigned to the candidate (or may be chosen by the candidate).
Examining Committee: The examining committee will evaluate and pass/fail the candidate's MS thesis effort. The candidate must form an examining committee with input from his/her research mentor. It must consist of at least three members and conform to the following requirements:
- At least 2 of the committee members must be members of the University of Iowa tenure-track faculty;
- At least one of the committee members must be a BME faculty member who is eligible to be an academic advisor;
- At least two committee members should be faculty members who hold any appointment in BME (i.e., affiliated BME faculty); and
- The chair of the examining committee should be the candidate’s research mentor and hold an appointment in BME (primary or otherwise) and be a member of the University of Iowa tenure-track faculty.
MS thesis report and oral defense: The MS thesis effort must be presented to the examining committee through a report and an oral defense. Thesis report must conform to the instructions provided in the graduate college thesis manual. All committee members have the right to examine corrected drafts as well as earlier drafts to assure that recommended changes have been made before the thesis is submitted to the Graduate College. An oral defense in front of the examining committee must be scheduled by the candidate. In typical cases, the candidate will present his/her thesis project effort and findings followed by a Q&A session. The examining committee will then convene in private, discuss and vote to pass or fail the candidate. The student will be considered to have passed the MS thesis defense if a majority of the members vote to pass. If the student fails the thesis defense, he/she may retake it at the discretion of the examining committee.
Three weeks before the thesis defense date, the candidate should submit the BME exam request to the Graduate Program Coordinator. The 'Nondoctoral plan of study' and the 'Request for final examination form' will be completed and submitted to the Graduate College on the students behalf. The 'Report of Final Examination Form' will be obtained from the main BME office by the committee chair, and be available during the thesis oral defense. After the oral defense, the examining committee chair should have the report of final examination form signed by all the members and return it to the department office. Relevant forms may be downloaded from the BME graduate program Forms and Documents
MS non-thesis degree
An MS non-thesis degree requires a minimum of 24 semester hours of core and elective graduate-level courses (100-level), six semester hours of Ph.D level courses (200-level) and passing of an oral exam. The core courses required of all graduate students are provided in the Graduate Curriculum and Policies page
. The elective courses are expected to conform to the focus area of the candidate. The MS non-thesis oral exam will be administered by an examining committee of faculty members. Usually, MS non-thesis candidates obtain their degree in three to four semesters of graduate studies.
Academic advisor/mentor: The academic advisor is a BME primary faculty member who will guide the candidate in academic aspects of their graduate studies including the approval of courses for registration. A BME primary faculty will be assigned as the academic advisor to the candidate at the beginning of their graduate studies, but may be changed upon request by the candidate.
Research mentor/advisor: Not required
Examining Committee: The candidate should choose an oral exam committee with advice from and approval by his/her academic advisor. It should comprise of three University of Iowa faculty members, and at least two with primary appointments in BME. At least one member of the faculty committee must have expertise in the chosen topic for the oral exam. The candidate's academic advisor need not necessarily have to be part of the examining committee.
MS non-thesis oral exam: This oral exam is to be taken during the final semester of the candidate’s degree program. The purpose of this exam is to evaluate whether the student has acquired a deep enough understanding of the student’s chosen focus area to be deserving of a graduate-level degree from BME. The candidate must choose a topic that is relevant to his/her career objective and the field of biomedical engineering with the approval of the candidate’s academic advisor. The oral exam should begin with a short (about 10-15 minutes) presentation by the candidate on the chosen topic. The faculty committee will quiz the candidate on issues relevant to the presented topic, at the end of which they will vote to pass or fail. Approval from a majority of the committee members is required for passing the oral exam. Candidates are permitted to repeat the exam a second time if they fail in the first attempt.
At least two weeks before the oral exam date or by the Graduate College
deadline (whichever falls earlier), the candidate should submit the 'Nondoctoral plan of study' and 'Request and Report for final examination form' to the BME office. The 'Report of final examination form' will be held in the student file until the oral exam. After the oral exam, the committee chair should have the report of final examination form signed by all the members and return it to the department office. Relevant forms may be downloaded from the BME graduate program Forms and Documents
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