Graduate Study
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Biomedical Engineering (PhD)
Admissions

The Department of Biomedical Engineering offers only fall admissions for PhD candidates. To learn more about the admissions process for the PhD program please see the list of frequently asked questions below.

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Applications and Admissions

How do I apply for admission to the BME PhD program?

Applications for admission are submitted online through the Graduate School website.

When is the application deadline for fall admission?

The deadline for the submission of PhD applications is December 15.

Applications will not be reviewed until all required supplementary information is received and the application fee is paid to the graduate school.

Can I apply to the PhD program for winter or spring admission?

We generally do not admit PhD students for admission during the winter or spring quarter.

Before I apply, can I have somebody in the BME department review my qualifications and tell me if I have a chance of being admitted?

No. Because of the difficulty of accurately assessing qualifications of students in the absence of official transcripts, letters of recommendation and other information, we cannot honor these requests. Emails sent to the BME department requesting a pre-application analysis of admission chances will not be acknowledged.

Can I send supporting materials before my online application is complete?

All documents, including transcripts and letters of recommendation must be scanned and submitted online via CollegeNet only.

What factors are taken into consideration, and when are admission decisions made?

Past academic performance, work experience, research experience, test scores, letters of recommendation and statement of purpose are all taken into consideration, and each case is unique. Admission decisions are made after review of applications by a committee of BME faculty, after which final approval of admission recommendations is granted by the Graduate School. Generally, most admission decisions are made by mid-March for fall admission.

I originally applied to the BME PhD program, but I have changed my mind and would like to be considered for the MS-only program. Can I automatically be considered for the MS-only program without reapplying?

In the online CollegeNet application, applicants are able to select if they would like to be considered for the MS program if they are denied to the PhD program. If applicants do not make this selection, and are not offered PhD admission, they may not request MS consideration after the decision has been made.

Admissions Prerequisites and Testing

I do not have a degree in biomedical engineering. Am I eligible to apply for admission to the BME PhD program?

Students with undergraduate or MS degrees in other engineering fields or the quantitative sciences may apply for admission and are often admitted. At a minimum, students must have a background in advanced mathematics (through ordinary differential equations) and a basic understanding of biological sciences, physics and engineering related to their intended area of research. Under exceptional circumstances, a student may be admitted prior to meeting these requirements, but is expected to meet them before enrolling.

Is there a minimum GPA or GRE requirement for eligibility to apply?

The BME department does not enforce minimum GPA or GRE scores for applicants. However, admission is competitive - about 10% of the applicants will be offered admission. 

How many letters of recommendation are required?

We require at least two (three preferred) letters of recommendation. The letters of recommendation should be provided via the online CollegeNet system.

Is there a form to be used for recommendation letters?

No. Persons providing letters of recommendation should comment on your past academic/research performance and future potential to perform independent research.

Do I need to take the GRE exam?

All applicants must take and submit the results of the general GRE exam. Official scores must be less than five years old and include results from the new analytical writing section.

The institutional code assigned to The Graduate School at Northwestern is 1565. Be sure to include this number, and only this number, on your test form. If your results are not sent to this code, updated September 2005, we will not receive them. If you are unable to submit an official copy from Educational Testing Services (ETS), you may submit your test results via screenshot or in PDF format. It must clearly show that these were taken from the ETS website. We also accept MCAT scores in lieu of GRE scores.

Do I need to take the TOEFL?

Students whose first language is not English must take and submit the results of the TOEFL exam. Official scores must be less than five years old. International students who completed a BS or MS degree from an institution where English is the medium of instruction do not need to submit a TOEFL score. TOEFL scores for PhD applicants must be 90 or higher. On the IELTS, the score must be 7.0 or higher.

Financial Aid and Funding

What kind of financial aid is available and how do I apply for it?

All admitted PhD students are supported by University/school fellowships, external fellowships, research assistantships, or teaching assistantships. Applications filed by the December 31 deadline are automatically considered for school and university based fellowships. Exceptional students are encouraged to apply for external fellowships during the application process. The National Science Foundation , the National Institutes of Healththe Department of Defense, as well as several nonprofit organizations offer fellowships appropriate for graduate study in biomedical engineering. Many of these programs have application deadlines in the fall and winter for enrollment in a graduate program the following fall. More information on external fellowships for graduate study can be found on the Graduate School website.