Biological Systems Engineering

Ph.D. Degree Guidelines

The Department of Biological Systems Engineering (BSysE) offers two Ph.D. degrees: Ph.D. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE).

Approval has been granted for a reduction of the minimum number of graded-course credits required the ENG S Ph.D. degree from 34 to 15 credits effective Fall 2010. This policy that can also be applied to current students who have not submitted a program of studies to the Graduate School by Fail 2010. BSysE StudentTherefore, the emphasis of the Ph.D. degree in our department will be on research and scholarly work, the essence of doctoral training, rather than in completing a large number of courses. A minimum set of required courses provides the core knowledge base for four areas of emphasis in BSysE; Land, Air, Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, Food Engineering, Bio-energy and Bio-product Engineering, and Agricultural Automation Engineering. Individual graduate student committees may require additional courses as needed to complement the doctoral research work of the student.

In addition to graded courses, students must complete research and scholarly work requirements to earn a Ph.D. degree. These requirements ensure the quality of the scholarship of doctoral students graduating from the department.

Research and Scholarly Work

1. Enrolling each semester for BSysE 598 Graduate Seminar (P/F, 1 credit).
2. Submission of a doctoral research proposal approved by the student graduate
3. Present a minimum of two seminars. The first is a brief 25-minute seminar based on the student doctoral research proposal. The second is a 50-minute seminar prior to the final examination.
4. Satisfactory passing a preliminary examination intended to measure student's
qualifications to pursue a doctoral degree.
5. Submission of a dissertation approved by the student graduate committee. The dissertation must be comprised of a minimum of 3 manuscripts. Two of these manuscripts, after approval by the student graduate committee, must be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal prior to the scheduling of the final examination.
6. Satisfactory passing a final examination with a focus on doctoral dissertation defense.

Courses - General

BSysE 512 Research and Teaching Methods (3 credits).
BSysE 598 Graduate Seminar (P/F, 1 credit)

A graduate math course beyond differential equations or Stat 512 Analysis of Variance of Designed Experiments (3 credits).

Courses - Emphasis Area

Land, Air, Water Resources and Environmental Engineering

BSysE 556 Surface Hydrological Processes and Modeling (3 credits).
BSysE 557 Nutrient Cycling and Transport (3 credits)

Food Engineering

BSysE 581 Advanced Physical Properties of Foods (3 credits)
BSysE 582 Food Process Engineering I (3 credits)
BSysE 583 Food Process Engineering II (3 credits)
BSysE 584 Thermal and Non-thermal Processing of Foods (3 credits)

Bio-energy and Bio-products Engineering

BSysE 594 Design and Analysis of Biomass Conversion Processes and Systems (3 credits)   This course is only required for students without an engineering background
BSysE 596 Biomass Thermo-chemical Conversion (3 credits)
BSysE 597 -Biomass Biological Process Engineering (3 credits)

Agricultural Automation Engineering

EE 501 Linear System Theory (3 credits)
BSysE 530 Machine Vision for Biological Systems (3 credits)
BSysE 532 Electro-hydraulic Controls (3 credits)

Ph.D. Examinations


Purpose:  It serves as a check point to evaluate: 1) if the student has adequate disciplinary knowledge and understands the context of the discipline, and 2) if the student is able to integrate knowledge into researchable questions and demonstrates the capacity to successfully conduct his/her PhD. research.

When: The preliminary exam should be conducted before the end of the second year as a full-time PhD. student.

Format: A preliminary exam consists of two parts, written and oral. The goal of the written examination is to evaluate student’s command of core knowledge required for the specific area of his/her research, and his/her ability to integrate the knowledge for PhD research;  the oral exam evaluates student ability to defend his/her PhD research proposal submitted prior to the Preliminary Exam.   


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Biological Systems Engineering, PO Box 646120, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6120, 509-335-1578, Contact Us