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MS Program Guidelines

Timeline for Successful Completion of a Masters in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems

BS/MS with Thesis Option April 1st to June 1st of Junior (4th) year Submit BS/MS Thesis Option Petition
All Master's Students By the end of second term in School Submit Graduate Plan of Study for:

MS in Biomedical Engineering
MS in Biomedical Science
MS Integrated in Biomedical Engineering & Business (IBEB)
BS/MS with Thesis Option
Master's with Thesis Option
Students are encouraged to seek a thesis advisor, starting with their first term in School; but no later than 9 months before graduation. Identify a thesis research advisor (and a Biomed co-advisor if research advisor is not a Biomed faculty) and start working on the research problem.
BS/MS with Thesis Option
Master's with Thesis Option
Students are encouraged to form the thesis committee and submit the thesis proposal at the beginning of their research work. But no later than 6 months before graduation.

Allow committee at least 1 week to review the proposal before collecting signatures on the Committee Appointment Form.
BS/MS with Thesis Option
Master's with Thesis Option
No later than during your final term of study.

Finalize your defense date as soon as possible to ensure no scheduling conflicts.
Final thesis defense in front of entire committee.*
  • Begin scheduling a thesis defense date with the committee 4-6 weeks prior to intended defense date.
  • Thesis document must be sent to committee 2 weeks prior to defense.
  • Abstract must be sent to Steve Detofsky with location and time details at least 2 weeks prior to defense.
Bring these forms to the defense meeting: *
Committee Report
Graduate Program Completion Forms [found on this page]

* Students are responsible for coming to all meetings with the appropriate forms already completed with name, student ID, title of thesis etc. Without these the defense will not start.

BS/MS Degree Requirements

The School also offers a combined Bachelor's and Master's Degrees (BS/MS) program, with thesis research or non-thesis options. Students who wish to complete BS/MS with the thesis research option must petition the School for permission to participate in the Research Option of the BS/MS program. See the BS/MS Research Petition Form for details. Students whose petition is accepted must then follow the guidelines described here for Master's Degree with Thesis option.

Master's Degree Requirements

The School offers a master's degree requiring thesis research and a non-thesis master's degree, as well as an option of adding a Graduate Co-op Program (GCP) to a non-thesis master’s degree. Students are required to indicate the intention to pursue a thesis, non-thesis, or co-op option on their plan of study. A plan of study should be submitted no later than the end of the second term in school.

Non-Thesis Master's Degree Option

The non-thesis master’s option requires the completion of a minimum of 45 course credits.

Non-Thesis Master's Degree Option with Graduate Co-op Program (GCP)

Although the GCP and the Non-Thesis elections are independent of each other, this combination is recommended for students who are interested in securing a public sector industry position upon graduation. For more information about Drexel's Graduate Co-op Program, please visit:

Master's Degree with Thesis Option

Credit Requirements

The master’s thesis option requires the completion of a minimum of 45 credits. Of the 45 credits, at least 36 must be course credits and up to 9 can be thesis or research credits. Detailed information about credit requirements of the available graduate programs is available at:

Thesis Research Requirement

A Master's Thesis provides opportunities for students to plan, implement, interpret, and report research. The thesis requirement is fulfilled by the preparation of a written thesis, a public presentation of the research, and an oral defense before the thesis committee.

Research Advisor

Students who wish to pursue the Thesis Option should identify a thesis advisor no later than 9 months before their planned graduation date. Students are therefore encouraged to identify a thesis advisor and a research problem early on during their studies. If the student’s primary thesis advisor is a non-BMES faculty member, a BMES thesis co-advisor must be identified and appointed at the same time as the primary advisor. The co-advisor must hold a primary, full-time appointment (as a tenured/tenure track, teaching, or research faculty member) in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems. It is recommended that the BMES co-advisor be selected such that his or her area of expertise or research interests align or complement the thesis research being conducted.

Composition of the Thesis Committee

The thesis committee must have at least 3 members, 2 of whom must hold a primary, full-time appointment (as a tenured/tenure track, teaching, or research faculty member) in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems; the chair of the committee must be a faculty member with a primary, full-time appointment in the School (who is not also the student's thesis advisor). The thesis committee appointment form must be submitted at least 6 months prior to the planned defense date and is subject to approval by the graduate advisor. Any requests for changes to this initial thesis committee composition must be submitted to the graduate advisor no later than 2 weeks prior to the thesis defense meeting.

The student's advisor should be a member of the Thesis Committee, but not its Chair. The Chair shall be a School faculty member, preferably a senior faculty member. All members of the Thesis Committee must attend the thesis defense presentation in person or via Skype. Individual examinations on a one-on-one basis are not permitted. If one member of the Committee does not attend and a replacement who satisfies the aforementioned requirements of the Committee cannot be found, then the thesis defense meeting must be rescheduled.

Thesis Proposal

The purpose of the thesis proposal is to outline the intended thesis research study and to show feasibility and appropriateness of the proposed work. The student will send the thesis proposal to the thesis committee members and seek feedback via email or through individual meetings with the committee members. BS/MS students can use their approved thesis petition document in lieu of the thesis proposal, with updates to reflect changes in research since the petition was approved. The thesis proposal document (3 page limit, not including references; at least 11 point font and 0.5” margins) should include the following sections:

  • Abstract: one paragraph summary of the proposed work
  • Background/ Significance: a brief literature review of the related work, identifies gaps in knowledge, and leads to the formulation of a scientific question that will be addressed by the thesis.
  • Innovation – briefly highlight the main innovative aspects of the proposed research
  • Experimental Design & Methods
  • Expected outcomes and interpretation
  • Anticipated potential pitfalls and alternative approaches

Prior to sending out the thesis proposal, the student should have their research advisor review and approve the document. The approved final document must be saved as a .pdf file and emailed to the Committee members. Students should also email to the Committee a Drexel unofficial transcript and a resume containing education, publications, and presentations. Student should allow at least a week after emailing the proposal to provide sufficient time for committee to review the proposal. Student will then collect signatures of the committee members on the Committee Appointment Form. Student is encouraged to discuss the proposed research individually with each committee member and receive feedback.

Thesis Document

The student, in consultation with his or her advisor, will prepare a written thesis report. The purpose of the thesis report is to document student's scholarly activity in a formal structure. The thesis document must be submitted to the Thesis Committee at least 2 weeks before the thesis defense. The format of the thesis document must follow the standards required by Drexel University Libraries.

Peer-reviewed publication alternative to Thesis Document

An original research article accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal where the student is the first author can be used as an alternative to the thesis document. The journal must be deemed acceptable by the thesis committee. Students who use their peer-reviewed publication in place of the thesis document still need to present and defend their thesis.

Thesis Presentation and Defense

Student presents his or her thesis in a public oral presentation. The content of the presentation mirrors the thesis document. The oral presentation is followed by a defense that includes open-ended questions by the Thesis Committee in a private session. The thesis committee makes the final decision on the acceptability of the thesis. The recommended procedure for the thesis presentation and defense is as follows:

  1. 30 min: The student presents their research presentation.
  2. 5 min: The audience is given the opportunity to ask questions, and then is dismissed.
  3. 30 min: Each Examiner takes approximately 10 minutes to ask questions of the student.
  4. 10-15 min: The student is dismissed while the Committee deliberates.
  5. When a consensus decision is reached, the student is asked to return, and the Chair informs the student of the Committee’s decision.

Responsibilities of the Student

  1. The student is responsible for scheduling a 2-hour time block with the Committee members (Doodle is a suggested tool), for the Thesis defense meeting. All Committee members must attend the presentation and question session in one way or another (Skype is permissible for those who would otherwise have difficulty attending). It is recommended to begin scheduling this meeting 4-6 weeks before the intended defense date.
  2. The student is responsible for reserving a room to hold the thesis presentation (see the School of Biomed front desk for room reservations, or email Danielle Crocker at
  3. The student's and advisor's full names (and co-advisors' names, where applicable), a title, an abstract of the thesis, along with time, date, and place of the presentation, must be emailed to Steve Detofsky at at least 2 weeks prior to the defense so that the presentation can be adequately publicized.
  4. The student must submit the thesis document to the entire Committee via email (and with a copy to Natalia Broz at at least 2 weeks prior to the scheduled presentation.
  5. The student must bring their Graduate Program Completion Forms [found on this page] to the thesis presentation for the Committee members' signatures. Student must fill in these forms before the meeting. Student may leave out the title of the thesis on these forms so it can be filled later, as the Thesis Committee may require a change to the thesis title during the oral defense.

Responsibilities of the Advisor

The advisor is responsible for working with the student to select appropriate members of the Candidacy Exam Committee who are knowledgeable in the general area of research of the student. The Advisor should ensure that the Chair is familiar with the responsibilities of the Chair. The Advisor should work with the student to make sure he or she is preparing appropriately for the exam. It is recommended that the Advisor attends a practice presentation by the student.

Responsibilities of the Chair

It is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure a fair and balanced thesis defense while maintaining the high standards of the School. The Chair should ensure that every committee member has the opportunity to ask questions during the defense. During the defense, the Chair should maintain the order of questioning. Following the defense, the Chair should summarize the recommendations and the decision of the Committee and ensure that the student understand.