Graduate Group Bylaws

The Bioengineering Graduate Group is composed of a broad group of faculty drawn from different departments and schools of the University of Pennsylvania.  The purpose of the Graduate Group is to administer a graduate program of instruction and research leading to the master’s and PhD degrees in Bioengineering to students who meet the standards of the program.  The current requirements are listed in the MSE and Ph.D. graduate student handbooks.


The Graduate Group is governed by a Chair and an Executive Committee.

A. Chair

The Chair is responsible for the overall direction of the Graduate Group.  The Chair oversees all committees of the Graduate Group and convenes meetings of the Executive Committee.  The Chair presides over Graduate Group Meetings, and sets the agenda and policies, consistent with procedures used by the Department of Bioengineering and subject to the policies described in the University Faculty Handbook.  In addition to these responsibilities, the Chair also supervises day-to-day operations of the Graduate Group, serves on all administrative committees (Admissions, Masters, and Graduate Exams) as an ex-officio member, and serves on the necessary School and University level committees on graduate education.  In addition, the Chair attends meetings of the Biomedical Graduate Studies Graduate Group Advisory Committee in the School of Medicine as an associated member.

The Chair, with the help of an assistant, is responsible for approving each student’s course of study with consultation of the research/thesis advisor, approving thesis committees and appointing chairs of these committees, monitoring the progress of students through the program, providing advice to graduate students, approving exceptions to the rules stated in the graduate student handbook, and answering questions from prospective applicants.

The Chair serves a term of up to three years and reports directly to the Bioengineering Department Chair.  In the Spring semester of the terminal year of the Graduate Group Chair’s term, the Chair of the Department of Bioengineering either seeks the renewal of the standing chair or contacts other nominees to determine their willingness to serve.  The final nomination is forwarded by the Bioengineering Department Chair to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), who forwards the recommendation to the Associate Provost for Education.  The Graduate Group Chair is appointed by the Provost upon recommendation by the aforementioned Department Chair, Associate Dean, and Provost.  The Graduate Group Chair must hold a tenured appointment in the standing faculty of the University and be a member of the Bioengineering Graduate Group.

B. Executive Committee

The Executive Committee shall have the responsibility of overseeing admissions to the graduate program, overall curriculum development, and faculty membership in the Graduate Group.  In addition, the Executive Committee advises the Graduate Group Chair and makes policy or procedural recommendations that the Graduate Group Chair can put before the Graduate Group. The Executive Committee shall be composed of the following members: Chair of the Graduate Group, Director of the Masters Program, Chair of the Admissions Committee, and the Director of Graduate Examinations. The Bioengineering Department Chair is an ex-officio member of the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee members will be appointed by the Chair of the Department of Bioengineering after consultation with the Graduate Group Chair, within the framework of assignment of administrative responsibilities in the Department of Bioengineering. The Graduate Group Chair may appoint other members to the committee as necessary.  Membership on the committee should change slowly, so it has a substantial institutional memory.

1. The Admissions Committee

The appointments of the Chair of the Admissions Committee and up to two additional committee members are for a two-year term.  Committee members review new PhD and MD/PhD student applications and develop recruitment strategies. Graduate Fellowship admission offers are made by the Graduate Group Chair.

2. Director of the Masters Program

The Director of the Bioengineering Masters program reviews Masters student applications, develops recruitment strategies, and assists each student in the Masters program to develop a program of study.  If the student chooses the option of performing a thesis, the student’s thesis advisor may provide additional guidance on course selection, and will supervise the student’s thesis research.  The Director will provide students assistance with finding a mentor. The Graduate Group Chair, Bioengineering Department Chair, and Executive Committee will provide governance and oversight in the Masters program as needed.

3. Director of Graduate Examinations

The Director of Graduate Examinations is responsible for composing, organizing, standardizing, and reviewing the results of all qualifying and preliminary examinations.

Faculty Membership

A. Guidelines

Candidates applying for membership in the Bioengineering Graduate Group must be a member of the Standing, Associated, or Emeritus Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, in accordance with the University bylaws. Candidates are evaluated on scholarly achievement and competence to supervise graduate research.  All candidates must demonstrate, commensurate with their experience, a strong commitment to and competence for PhD and/or Masters graduate training and graduate teaching. All faculty must have an independent research program and clearly demonstrated expertise and productivity in Bioengineering, Biomedical Engineering and /or Biological Engineering as judged, for example, by multiple first or last authored publications in highly respected peer-reviewed journals within the field. Faculty applying for membership three or more years after their initial appointment must demonstrate the presence of an active, high-quality research program appropriate for the training of graduate students. This can be accomplished, for example, through a distinguished record of publications in the field of Biomedical Science, Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering, a history of outside funding, and participation in graduate teaching or graduate group activities.

B. Admission of New Faculty

Faculty who wish to join the Graduate Group in Bioengineering must be nominated by a current Bioengineering Graduate Group Member.  Applicants must provide the following documentation:

  • A current curriculum vitae, including grant support and training record.
  • A paragraph describing the faculty’s current and envisioned bioengineering component of their research.
  • A statement of the faculty member’s willingness to participate with specific Graduate Group community activities such as mentoring students, serving on qualifier and thesis examination committees, attending thesis defenses, attending meetings of the Graduate Group, developing and teaching graduate level courses.

The required application materials should be submitted through the following form:

Apply to join the BE Graduate Group

The Graduate Group Chair will review the submitted materials to determine if the faculty member is likely to be a suitable mentor for graduate students in the program and be willing to contribute to Graduate Group activities.  Suitable candidates will then be submitted to current Graduate Group members for approval. When cases are discussed at a meeting, it is strongly recommended that the nominating Graduate Group member be present to endorse the case for consideration.

Following approval, the Graduate Group Chair will send a letter of confirmation of Graduate Group membership to new faculty members.

Once admitted to the Graduate Group, a faculty member may supervise a research rotation or dissertation for any student in the Graduate Group. Supervision of Ph.D. students is contingent on demonstrating the capability of supporting a student’s stipend and tuition/fees should he/she do a dissertation in that laboratory. In addition, membership requires participation in Graduate Group activities (see Renewing Membership, below).  The Graduate Group Chair forwards the names of accepted new faculty members in the Graduate Group to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at SEAS.

C. Renewing Membership in the Graduate Group

Each new appointment and reappointment to the Graduate Group is for a three-year term. In order to qualify for renewal of membership, an individual must meet the Bioengineering Graduate Group activity participation requirements outlined below and maintain a strong independent research program suitable for the training of graduate students.

Each Graduate Group member must participate annually in Graduate Group community, service, teaching, and/or graduate training activities. Documentation of service will be provided by annual surveys submitted by each faculty member to the Bioengineering Graduate Group and by written confirmation of faculty teaching contributions.  Failure to provide the necessary information in a timely manner could be construed as failure to meet the community, service, teaching, and/or graduate training requirements of the Graduate Group.  Inactive members will be given written warning, and may be removed from the Graduate Group on recommendation from the Executive Committee prior to the end of their current membership term.

  • Graduate Group Community and Service Activities include attending Graduate Group Meetings, and serving on Bioengineering Graduate Group Committees. Graduate Group Committee Service includes participation in Bioengineering preliminary exam and dissertation committees. This activity category does not include supervision of a research rotation or dissertation/thesis student.
  • Teaching Activities include directing Bioengineering courses and preparing/giving lectures in Bioengineering Graduate and Undergraduate courses.
  • Graduate Training Activities include serving as a principal investigator of a training grant supporting Bioengineering graduate students, and supervising research rotations and Masters theses and PhD dissertations.


The Graduate Group Chair shall call meetings of the Group as are deemed necessary; at least one Group meeting per semester. The Chair shall call a special meeting of the Group any time it is requested by ten or more Group members in writing.


Changes in these bylaws shall be made only by approval of at least two-thirds of the Graduate Group members present at a meeting and/or responding via email. Any proposed changes will be distributed to the Graduate Group members with proper time for review.