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Writing and defending the doctoral dissertation is the last major milestone in the PhD programs in biomedical engineering and bioinformatics. The defense should take place at least one year after you pass the preliminary examination.
You must be in good academic standing and have completed all other graduation requirements before defending your dissertation.
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Important Preparatory Steps
In the term you plan to defend your dissertation, you must submit your intent to graduate. Log in to the university portal at my.uic.edu. Find the “Student Self-Service” – “Records Menu” at the bottom left of the Welcome tab. Click on “Graduation” in the new Records page and then click “Apply to Graduate.” Read the information carefully and follow the instructions given. For more information, visit the Graduate College graduation page.
You must be registered for the term in which you defend your thesis (including the summer term, if that is when your defense is scheduled) with one exception: If your defense will take place within the first 10 days of the fall or spring term or the first five days of the summer term, and if you were registered for the previous term, then further registration is not required.
Doctoral students who have completed all degree requirements except the dissertation and who do not wish to register for additional coursework may petition and register for zero hours as they work on their dissertations. Please check with the graduate program coordinator to confirm that all degree requirements have been fulfilled prior to petitioning for zero hours. The petition must be submitted by the 10th day of the term (or the fifth day of the term in summer) and should include the choice of option A or B, outlined below. Students should register for 0 credit hours of PhD thesis research (BME 599) by the registration deadline even if the petition is still pending approval.
- Option A: Range IV (0 hours) tuition, tuition differential, and all related fees, including CampusCare (unless under the opt-out option) are assessed. Students requesting Option A only have to petition one time for zero-hour approval.
- Option B: No fees are assessed; only Range IV (0 hour) tuition (and differential, if applicable) is assessed. Students who elect Option B are ineligible for access to certain on-campus facilities, such as the gym, and are ineligible for student health insurance (CampusCare). Doctoral students who request Option B must specify Option B on the petition and the terms requested (maximum two terms per petition). If more than two terms of Option B are needed, a new petition must be filed before the start of that term. Students must re-file a petition for Option B by the 10th day of the term (or the fifth day of the term in summer) so that the student bill is correctly calculated.
More information about zero-hour registration, including important information for international students, can be found on zero-hour registration page
Registration for terms after the term of a successful defense is not required unless you are the recipient of a fellowship, assistantship, and/or tuition and fee waiver, or if you are on a student visa.
For graduation eligibility in a given term, you must submit the dissertation and receive approval based on the Graduate College academic calendar. If you do not defend your dissertation and receive approval based on the deadline for a specific term, you will be eligible for graduation in the following term instead.
Advisor and Committee Requirements
All PhD candidates must have an advisor who is a full member of the UIC graduate faculty. The advisor is considered the primary reader of the dissertation.
The dissertation committee must be approved by the Graduate College at the recommendation of the director of graduate studies. It should be the same as your preliminary examination committee unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Like the preliminary exam committee, the dissertation committee consists of at least five people. Specific requirements include:
- at least two core UIC biomedical engineering faculty (defined as tenured or tenure track faculty with a 50% or greater appointment in the UIC biomedical engineering department)
- at least one additional UIC College of Engineering faculty (can be UIC biomedical engineering)
- at least one member must come from outside the UIC biomedical engineering department
- at least three members must be full members of the UIC Graduate College
- at least two members must be tenured faculty
- the chairperson of the committee must have full membership in the UIC Graduate College (but does not necessarily need to be tenured)
Students should note that any committee members who are not members of the UIC Graduate Faculty must have their CV included with the committee recommendation form.
You must submit the committee recommendation form to the graduate program coordinator for approval from the director of graduate studies and then to the Graduate College for approval at least three weeks prior to your dissertation defense date. Please note:
- The form must be typed on the PDF. Handwritten versions will not be accepted.
- Your full name on the form must exactly match the name on the final dissertation that is submitted to the Graduate College.
- The program code for the bioengineering program is 20FS0408PHD. The program code for the biomedical engineering program is 20FS5971PHD.
- The program code for the bioinformatics program is 20FS1909PHD.
- The thesis title may not exceed 105 characters, including spaces, and it may not include any abbreviations.
- The dissertation title on the form must exactly match the title of the final dissertation that is submitted to the Graduate College.
Changes to the committee or the dissertation title may be requested before the defense occurs using the Request for Change in Thesis Title/Committee Member(s) Form. Students who may need changes are strongly encouraged to submit this form and receive approval in advance of their defense date. If you need to change your title or committee list afterward, this form must be submitted to the Graduate College, rather than the biomedical engineering department, which triggers the creation of a new examination report. It would then be your responsibility to obtain all the signatures from your committee members for the new report and re-submit it.
Announcement of the Dissertation Defense
To enable the sharing of research among colleagues at UIC, dissertation defenses must be open to the academic community of the university and must be publicly announced one week in advance. You are responsible for emailing the graduate program coordinator at email@example.com at least one week prior to the defense date with the elements of the announcement: date, time, location, advisor, title, and abstract. The defense announcement will be distributed to the students and faculty.
Dissertation Defense Timeline
At least two months prior to the defense
- Consult your with research advisor regarding the anticipated defense date and confirm that your committee members all will be available at the selected date and time.
- Confirm your registration (coursework, research or zero hours) for term in which you will defend.
- Submit your intent to graduate (see the “Important Preparatory Steps” section above for details).
At least three weeks prior to the defense
- Complete the committee recommendation form and submit to the graduate program coordinator.
- Reserve a room. Contact the graduate program coordinator when requesting a biomedical engineering classroom.
Two weeks prior to the defense
- Send your dissertation defense announcement to the graduate program coordinator with date, time, location, advisor, title, and abstract. This announcement information is due no later than one week prior to the defense, but additional time is appreciated.
One week prior to the defense
- Provide copies of your completed dissertation to each member of the committee.
- Submit your dissertation through iThenticate and generate the reports required by the committee and the Graduate College. (See the “iThenticate Procedures” section below for details.)
Immediately following the defense
- Confirm that every committee member has signed the examination report form, indicating a grade (“Pass” or “Fail”).
- Make sure the chairperson indicates the examination date and any conditions that may have been made by the committee.
- Submit the signed form to the graduate program coordinator within two business days of the defense.
In the weeks following the defense
- E-mail a copy of the committee-approved dissertation to the graduate program coordinator for format approval. You will be notified within 1 business day if it is ready to be submitted through the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) system. (See the “ETD” section below for details.)
- Upload the final dissertation to the Graduate College through the ETD system. Follow all instructions related to the format requirements and pay the publishing fee.
Defense Procedures and Grading
The student’s defense presentation must be limited to less than one hour. Additional time will be allowed for direct examination by the thesis committee and discussion among the committee members alone.
The Executive Committee of the Graduate College has endorsed a return to in-person defense of preliminary/qualifying examinations, theses and dissertations as of Spring 2022. A limited use of Zoom and similar technologies for hybrid defenses will be permitted in cases where (1) members of the committees have a documented excused absence from the UIC campus, (2) the student is currently remote and unable to return to campus, or (3) where external committee members are employed more than 50 miles from UIC – making travel to campus problematic or expensive.
The student and advisor will be notified when the Examination Report Form is available. Committee member votes should be indicated on this form.
The committee vote is “pass” or “fail.” A candidate cannot be passed if more than one vote of “fail” is reported.
The Examination Report Form must include the pass/fail decision and signature by the entire committee. The Examination Report Form must be submitted to the graduate program coordinator within two business days of the thesis defense.
The student is the sole author of the thesis, and it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all information is correctly cited and that proper copyright permissions have been obtained. The iThenticate screening process is one tool toward that end and must be completed prior to the thesis defense.
iThenticate account information will be e-mailed from firstname.lastname@example.org to you upon receipt of the Committee Recommendation Form by the Graduate College. The Graduate College website includes a page on iThenticate review procedures.
There are three iThenticate report documents that need to be submitted to the Graduate College through a shared Box folder. Detailed instructions and a demonstration video are available on the Graduate College’s iThenticate page. Please be sure that the Box folder is shared with the Graduate College using email@example.com (along with your advisor) and that it includes all three reports required by the Graduate College. The final report must show zero percent overlap.
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Submission
The Graduate College Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) guidelines and the Thesis Manual can be found at thesis page These elements will assist you in preparing and submitting your thesis.
Following your defense, the final version of your thesis must be reviewed by your advisor and the graduate program coordinator before it is submitted to the Graduate College through the ETD submission system. Students are required to pay a publishing fee as outlined in the ETD guidelines.