PhD in Biological Design Curriculum

Curriculum and Program information

The Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Design is an interdisciplinary degree program designed to develop a new type of scientist, one with specialized expertise combined with a broader understanding of solving problems as a member of a scientific team.  The program is a joint effort by the College of Liberal Arts and SciencesThe Biodesign Institute, and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.  As a result, students work with faculty across disciplines, take courses from a variety of areas, and interact with students from various degree programs.  The faculty work across ASU in multiple different disciplines.

The program requires the completion of 84 credit hours, a qualifying exam, a comprehensive exam/proposal prospectus and dissertation. Students are required to maintain satisfactory progress towards degree requirements. All degree requirements, however, can be petitioned.

PhD Handbook
Required coursework

Courses: 23 credit hours of specialized coursework with a recommendation to include courses with components in bioethics and grant writing. Courses are selected by the student in consultation with the Faculty Advisor and Graduate Student Academic Advisor.

  • BDE 702 Biological Design II (required)

Seminar: 4 credit hours minimum. Seminars are repeated until 4 credits hours are completed

  • BDE 791 Biological Design Proseminar
  • BDE 598 Biological Design Seminar

Research:  Credit hours will vary for each student

  • BDE 792 Research (hours will vary and will be used to meet the 84 credit hour minimum and should reflect time spent in the lab)
  • BDE 692 Lab Rotations (2 semesters of 2 credit hours each during the first year of doing lab rotations)

Dissertation: 12 credits only

  • BDE 799 Dissertation (enrollment requires an override, done when post Prospectus defense)

During the first year, students will work with the Graduate Advisor to identify courses.  After the first year, students will work with their Research Advisor to determine coursework.

Students will select a Research Advisor from a list of approved faculty members affiliated with the Biological Design Graduate Program Faculty.  Students are urged to meet with these faculty members in order to choose a Research Advisor with similar research interests.  The student’s Research Advisor needs to be identified by the end of the first year of coursework.


The interactive Plan of Study (iPOS) is an academic contract between the department, the Graduate College and the student. It demonstrates a plan for achieving degree requirements.

Each student will need to create an iPOS when they have determined a Faculty Advisor, a Supervisory Committee and developed a Plan of Study. Students should work with his/her Faculty Advisor when establishing an individualized Plan of Study.  Student’s will be prompted to complete this via myASU.  Instructions to file the iPOS

Once the student has filed an iPOS, the student will need to print their Plan of Study and obtain signatures of approval from the Faculty Advisor and Supervisory Committee. The student will then submit the signed iPOS approval form to the Graduate Advisor for review and approval. The iPOS must be approved before a student can request to take the comprehensive examination, advance to candidacy, or graduate

The iPOS is a dynamic document and can be updated.  To update the iPOS, the student will submit a course change and submit an updated iPOS.  A student should print the updated iPOS and obtain signatures from the Faculty Advisor and Supervisory Committee.  The student will then submit the signed iPOS approval form to the Graduate Advisor for review and approval.


The student is eligible for graduation when all the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is approved by the Supervisory Committee.  Students should discuss with the Faculty Advisor in which university ceremony the hooding will occur.  Details regarding how to file for graduation and the graduation ceremonies can be found on myASU.