University Senate                                                                                  Proposed: April 26, 2002










WHEREAS,     the Education Committee has favorably reviewed a proposal (described in the attached abstract) from the Department of Biomedical Engineering to establish a new degree program leading to the Master of Philosophy and the Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering, and


WHEREAS,     the committee is satisfied that the proposal has been approved by the Executive Committee of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the provost and has the support of the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science;


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED,       that the University Senate establish a new degree program leading to the Master of Philosophy and the Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering, with the proviso that the Education Committee will review the program in five years;


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,      that this resolution be forwarded to the Trustees for appropriate action.







                                                                                                Senate Committee on Education


The purpose of this proposal is to create a new Doctor of Philosophy program in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. Currently, there exists a Doctor of Engineering Science in Biomedical Engineering, administered by the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). The proposed Ph.D. program is to be administered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). All but two of the doctoral programs in the engineering school offer both a Ph.D. and an Eng.Sc.D. Generally, the Ph.D. program is found more appropriate for basic engineering science, while the Eng.Sc.D. is more appropriate for applied engineering. Due to the extensive ties between biomedical engineering and the biological and biomedical basic sciences, a Ph.D. program in Biomedical Engineering would provide an opportunity to distinguish between the more basic and the more applied engineering sciences and satisfy the needs of our graduate student population. This proposed degree program will thus provide the same options to doctoral students in Biomedical Engineering as are available to doctoral students in other engineering departments.

            The proposed Ph.D. program in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia will address the specific needs of our existing doctoral students, as well as potential new applicants who are interested in the existing strengths of our curriculum and research programs. Since an Eng.Sc.D. doctoral program already exists at Columbia, the proposed Ph.D. program will not likely have an effect on the doctoral programs at other institutions in the New York and tristate areas.

            All applicants to the proposed Ph.D. program are expected to have earned the bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering or in a cognate scientific program. The Graduate Record Examination (General Test only) will be required of all applicants. Applicants will be screened on the basis of their letters of recommendation, cumulative grade point average from previous degrees, and GRE scores. Letters of recommendation should generally rank applicants in the top ten percentile of their peer group  and provide enthusiastic support; GPA should generally be above 3.6, and GRE cumulative score above 1900. Columbia University admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic  origin, and age to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students of the University. It does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, or age in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other University-administered programs. Candidates for the Ph.D. degree must complete six Residence Units. A master’s degree from an accredited institution may be accepted as the equivalent of one year of residence (30 points or two Residence Units) for the Ph.D. degree.

            The Department of Biomedical Engineering was established on January 1, 2000. Since its establishment, the Department has taken over the Eng.Sc.D. program in Biomedical Engineering, previously administered by the Center for Biomedical Engineering (1996–1999) and the Bioengineering Committee (1962–1995). Enrollment into the Eng.Sc.D. program has risen steadily from one new student in 1996 to ten new students in 2001, and it is estimated from this trend that this number will double within the next five years. We also expect that 50 percent or more of the twenty-six students in the existing Eng.Sc.D. program will transfer to the Ph.D. program after its establishment and that approximately 50 percent of new students will elect the Ph.D. program over the Eng.Sc.D. Therefore, about ten new students will enroll per year in the proposed Ph.D. program within the next five years. Departmental requirements will include comprehensive written and oral qualifying examinations. Thereafter, the student must write a dissertation embodying original research under the sponsorship of a member of his or her department and submit it to the department. The proposed program will comply with the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.

            The director of the proposed Ph.D. program is Professor Van C. Mow, Ph.D., who also serves as the chair of the Department of  Biomedical Engineering. The department currently has fourteen core faculty members (four Professors, five Associate Professors and five Assistant Professors) whose role is to teach courses, serve as academic and research advisors, serve as doctoral sponsors, and serve on administrative committees of the department. All core faculty members hold a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering or a closely related field; currently, six have tenure and the remaining eight are on tenure-track. Five faculty members hold joint appointments with clinical departments and four hold joint appointments with other academic departments. The average teaching load of the core faculty is two to three courses per academic year. The faculty also has a demonstrated record of grant support from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Whitaker Foundation, the American Heart Association, and the Department of Defense. The core faculty is supported by one departmental administrator, two administrative assistants, one teaching laboratory supervisor and one computer systems manager. Nineteen affiliated faculty members, who co-teach biomedical courses or supervise students in their research laboratory, as well as three adjunct faculty members and one senior research scientist, complement the teaching and research resources of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

            Because of the infrastructure and resources currently available for the existing Eng.Sc.D. program, no incremental expenditures are necessary to support the proposed Ph.D. program. Much of this infrastructure and these resources were made available thanks to Columbia’s commitment toward the establishment of the new Department of Biomedical Engineering, as well as successful grant funding from the Whitaker Foundation which is expected to total $11 million over the period 1996–2006 in the form of three separate awards (V. C. Mow, PI). Funding to support doctoral students in the Ph.D. program will be provided in the form of teaching assistantships from the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and graduate research assistantships from research grants, fellowships, and the Whitaker Foundation. The department has an established track record of doctoral student support, with twenty-six doctoral students in the Eng.Sc.D. program currently supported in this manner. Anticipated income from the proposed program will be in the form of tuition payments from external grants to the University. It is estimated that this income will range from $32,500 to $62,500 in the first year of the program, and rise to $65,000 to $125,000 in the sixth year.