Aims and Scope of the Graduate Program
The Andrew and Peggy Cherng Department of Medical Engineering offers a program of study that leads to the Ph.D. The medical engineering option at Caltech is designed for students with an engineering background who are interested in applications of micro-/nanoscale science and technology in medicine, which forms the core of Caltech’s multidisciplinary medical engineering. The program’s goal is to close the gap between engineering and medicine. Our medical engineering research and education leverage Caltech’s strengths in engineering, applied science, and other fundamental fields, to apply emerging technological advances to medicine, and to create innovative diagnostic, monitoring, and therapeutic systems. Our major areas of research include micro/nano medical technologies and devices, medical nanoelectronics, biomedical materials and biomechanics, fluidics and bioinspired design, and medical imaging and sensing. The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy offers two tracks: MedE only and Medical and
Electrical Engineering (Med-EE). The Med-EE track is offered jointly by both departments of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering (see EE Section), available to any students to graduate after Fall 2022; the single degree to be shown on the diploma is “Ph.D. in Medical and Electrical Engineering”.
MedE Master’s Degree
Students are not normally admitted to work towards the M.S. degree. However, the M.S. degree may be awarded to a student along the way toward a Ph.D. degree, provided Institute and Option requirements are met. The Option requirements for the MS degree are the same as those for the Ph.D. degree except that the MS degree does not require research units, qualifying exam, candidacy exam, and thesis defense. In general, the degree is not conferred before the end of the first year of residence.
MedE Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Admission to Candidacy.
To be recommended for candidacy for the Ph.D. program in medical engineering, each student must, in addition to meeting the general Institute requirements of a minimum of 135 units of graduate work, complete all the following requirements:
- Complete 27 units of advanced math courses (i.e., 100 level or above) or ACM 100ab, as arranged with their adviser. Math courses that are recommended include, but are not limited to: ACM 100ab, ACM/IDS 101, ACM/IDS 104, ACM 105, ACM 106abc, ACM 201ab, ACM 210ab, ACM/EE/CMS 116, Ma 125, and Ma 112ab.
- Complete the three-term seminar sequence, MedE 100abc (1 unit), with a pass grade.
- Complete MedE 101 (9 units) with a pass grade.
- Complete MedE/BE/Ae 243 (9 units), ChE/BE/MedE 112 (9 Units) or ChE103B (9 Units).
- Complete EE 111 (9 units).
- Complete at least 27 units of MedE 291 individual research.
- Complete minimally an additional 42 units of advanced courses (100 level or higher) in any of the following 8 topical areas as arranged with the student’s adviser. Courses that are recommended but not limited to, include:
- Fundamental and Mathematically Oriented Engineering: APh/EE 130 (EM), CDS 101, CDS 110, CDS 140, ChE 103abc, ChE/BE/MedE 188, EE 112, EE/Ma 126 ab, EE 151, EE/CS/IDS 160, EE/CS 161, MS 115, ME 115 ab, ME 118, ME 119ab.
- Biology and Physiology: BE 150, BE 151, BE/Bi 152, BE 159, Bi/Ch 110, Bi/Ch 113, Bi 122, Bi 129, Bi 145, Bi/ CNS/NB 150, Bi/CNS 162, CNS/Bi/Ph/CS/NB 187.
- Biomaterials, Biomechanics, and Bioinspired Design: Ae/ BE 242, BE 141, BE159, Ch/ChE 147, MS 115, MS/ME/MedE 116.
- Biosensing: APh/EE 130, APh/EE 131, APh/EE 132, ChE/BE/MedE 112, EE/MedE 114ab, EE/MedE 115, EE 151, EE 161, MedE/EE/BE 168abc, MedE 201, MedE 202.
- Fluid Mechanics: Ae/APh/CE/ME 101abc, Ae 160, Ae/BE 242, ChE/BE/MedE 112.
- Solid Mechanics: Ae/AM/CE/ME 102abc, Ae 160, AM/ CE 151ab, MS/ME/MedE 116.
- Medical Photonics and Imaging: APh/EE 130, APh/EE 131, APh/EE 132, Bi/BE 177, Bi/BE 227, ChE 114, EE/MedE 115, EE 151, EE/APh 180, MedE/EE/BE 168abc, MedE 205, MedE/EE 268.
- Medical Technologies and Devices: APh 109, APh 114abc, APh/EE 130, APh/EE 131, APh/EE 132, BE/EE/MedE 189 ab, ChE/BE/MedE 112, ChE 115, E/ME/MedE 105 ab, EE 112, EE/MedE 114 ab, EE/MedE 124, EE 151, EE/APh 180, EE/BE/MedE 185, EE/MedE 187, MedE/EE/BE 168abc, MedE 201, MedE 202, MedE 204, MedE 205, MedE/EE 268.
- Required courses must be taken for grades and passed with a grade of at least a C, except for courses offered only on a pass/fail.
- Pass an oral qualifying examination, arranged by the option, on three major subjects before the beginning of the second academic year. Any delay of taking the exam must be preapproved by the option representative. Each student should consult their adviser and/or the option representative to choose the three major subjects. The three subjects of the exam should include (1) Engineering math, Note: Students getting a B- or better for all 27 math units will be waived for “math subject” exam. (2) The major research topical area, and (3) Another related topical area. Students should take at least 27 units of advanced courses on each of the three exam subjects. Transferred credits can be counted toward the 27 units. If the student has a subject minor, examination on the minor subject may be included at the request of the discipline offering the minor and with the approval of the student’s adviser. Note that the program is designed for the students to have multidisciplinary background.
- Pass an oral candidacy examination on the subject of the Ph.D. research before the end of the third academic year of residency. The Ph.D. oral candidacy exam is conducted by a committee of minimum four members that is set up by the student and approved by the option representative. Three members must be Caltech professorial faculty affiliated with Medical Engineering. The fourth member may be a Caltech faculty member or an outside professional of similar standing. The committee must include the adviser, but another member of the committee must be selected as chair. The committee chair must be a Caltech professorial faculty member. This examination will be a test of the candidate’s preparation and knowledge to conduct research in their specialized doctoral research area.
Thesis and Final Examination.
The Ph.D. final thesis defense exam is conducted by a committee that is set up by the student and approved by the option representative. The committee should be made up of minimum of 4 members and at least three of the committee members must be Caltech faculty. The committee must include the adviser, but another member of the committee must be selected as chair. The committee chair must be a Caltech Professorial faculty member. This final examination will be given no less than two weeks after the doctoral thesis has been presented in final form, and before its approval. This examination must be taken at least four weeks before the commencement at which the degree is to be granted. This thesis examination will be a defense of the doctoral thesis and a test of the candidate’s knowledge in their specialized doctoral research area.
Med-EE Track Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Admission to candidacy.
To be recommended for candidacy for the Med-EE Ph.D. program, each student must do the following.
- Complete a minimum of 156 units of courses. The MedE requirement of 21 units of MedE courses plus the EE requirement of 135 units must be met. Cross-listed MedE/EE courses can be double counted.
- MedE course requirements
- Complete the three-term seminar sequence, MedE 100abc (1 unit), with a passing grade.
- Complete MedE 101 (9 units) with a passing grade. Introduction to Clinical Physiology and Pathophysiology for Engineers.
- Complete a 9-unit MedE course. Biomechanics/fluidics: MedE/BE/Ae 243 (9 units), ChE/BE/MedE 112 (9 units) or ChE103b (9 units). Medical Imaging: MedE/EE 268 (9 units). Biomedical Optics: MedE/EE 168abc (9 units each). Design and Construction of Biodevices: BE/EE/MedE 189ab (12 and 9 units).
- All required courses must be taken for grades and passed with a grade no lower than C, except for those courses offered only for pass/fail.
- EE course requirements
- Complete 135 units total with no more than 30 units of pass/fail.
- Complete 54 units of letter-graded EE courses numbered 100 or above towards the 135-unit requirement.
- Complete 27 units of mathematics courses, with letter grade no lower than C. Many math-related courses can count towards the requirement after confirming with your advisor and option representative.
- Complete 18 units of research in your field of interest directed by your advisor.
- MedE course requirements
- Pass the oral qualifying and oral candidacy exams of the MedE department for students having chosen MedE as the home department. Please refer to the EE Section for the reciprocal requirement.
Thesis and Final Examination.
The Med-EE Ph.D. thesis must be related to both options. The final thesis defense exam is conducted by a committee that is set up by the student and approved by the option representative of the home department. The committee must be composed of 2 members from each option. The committee must include the advisor, but another member of the committee must be selected as chair. The committee chair must be a Caltech Professorial faculty member. This final examination will be given no less than two weeks after the doctoral thesis has been presented in final form, and before approval. This examination must be taken at least four weeks before the commencement at which the degree is to be granted. This thesis examination will be a defense of the doctoral thesis and a test of the candidate’s knowledge in their specialized doctoral research area.
MedE Subject Minor
A subject minor is not required, but recommended, for the Ph.D. degree in medical engineering. However, credits from the subject minor cannot be double-counted for the core program. Students may choose their original engineering disciplines as their minor subjects. Students are not allowed to choose medical engineering as a subject minor.