The Medical Informatics Advising Committee, chaired by the Faculty Graduate Advisor, advises students during the first year and is available to students throughout the tenure of their study.

Upon entering their second year in the Medical Informatics Home Area, students will select a mentor who will serve as their dissertation chair, research advisor, and primary graduate advisor. Together the student and the mentor will convene a doctoral committee who will guide the student throughout their research, the University Oral Qualifying Exam, Doctoral Dissertation Defense, and will approve the final dissertation.

Individual Development Plan: Beginning with a mandatory training workshop in the first quarter of graduate study, students are required to generate an Individual Development Plan via myIDP Website: in order to map out their academic and professional development goals throughout graduate school. The myIDP must be updated annually, and the resulting printed summary discussed with and signed by (Year 1) the student’s advising committee member, or (Years 2-5) thesis adviser, and then turned in to the Graduate Student Affairs Office to be placed in the student’s academic file each year by June 1.

Annual Committee Meetings: Beginning one year after advancement to doctoral candidacy, and in each year thereafter until completion of the degree program, students are required to meet annually with their doctoral committee. At each meeting, students give a brief, 30-minute oral presentation of their dissertation research progress to their committee. The purpose of the meeting is to monitor the student’s progress, identify difficulties that may occur as the student progresses toward successful completion of the dissertation and, if necessary, approve changes in the dissertation project. The presentation is not an examination.

Annual Progress Report: All students are required to submit a brief report (a one-page form is provided) of their time-to-degree progress and research activities indicating the principal research undertaken and any important results, research plans for the next year, conferences attended, seminars given, and publications appearing or manuscripts in preparation. Annual Progress report must be submitted to the Medical Informatics Home Area Students Affairs Office for review by the Program Director.

Course Requirements

Students must complete all of the following: (1) nine core courses (34 units) Bioengineering 220, 223A, 223B, 223C, 224A, 224B, M226, M227, and M228; (2) MIMG C234; (3) 8 units of Bioinformatics 596; (4) 4 units of 200-level seminar or journal club courses approved by the program; and (5) six electives, chosen from the following list: Bioinformatics M223, M226; Biomathematics 210, M230, M281, M282; Biostatistics 213, M232, M234, M235, 241, 276; Computer Science 240A, 240B, 241B, 245, 246, 247, 262A, M262C, 262Z, 263A, 265A, M268, M276A; Electrical and Computer Engineering 206, 210A, 210B, 211A, M217, 219; Information Studies 228, 246, 272, 277; Linguistics 218, 232; Neuroscience CM272; Physics in Biology and Medicine 210, 214. M248; Statistics 221, M231A, 231B, M232A, M232B, 238, M241, M243, M250, 256. Courses must be taken for a letter grade, unless offered on S/U grading basis only.

Teaching Experience

One quarter of teaching experience is required by the end of the third year.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations

Doctoral students must complete the core courses described above before they are permitted to take the written and oral qualifying examinations. Students are required to pass a written qualifying examination that consists of a research proposal outside of their dissertation topic and the University Oral Qualifying Examination in which they defend their dissertation research proposal before their doctoral committee. Students are expected to complete the written examination in the summer following the first year and the oral qualifying examination by the end of fall quarter of the third year. The written qualifying examination must be passed before the University Oral Qualifying Examination can be taken.

During their first year, doctoral students perform laboratory rotations with program faculty whose research is of interest to them and select a dissertation adviser from the program faculty inside list by the end of their third quarter of enrollment. By the end of their second spring quarter, students must select a doctoral committee that is approved by the program chair and the Graduate Division.

Written Qualifying Examination

The Written Qualifying Examination (WQE) must take place in the summer following the first year of doctoral study. In order to be eligible to take the WQE, students must have achieved at least two passing lab rotation evaluations, as well as at least a B average in all course work. Students are expected to formulate a testable research question and answer it, by carrying out a small, well-defined and focused project over a fixed one-month period. It must include the development of novel (bio)medical informatics methodology. The topic and methodologies are to be selected by the student. The topic requires advance approval by the faculty committee, and may not be a project from a previous course, a rotation project, a project related to the student’s prior research experience, an anticipated dissertation research topic, or an active or anticipated research project in the laboratory of the student’s mentor. The WQE must be the student’s own ideas and work exclusively. Students are expected to complete a WQE paper of publication quality (except for originality), with a maximum length of 10 pages, single-spaced, excluding figures and references. This paper is submitted to the Student Affairs Office and graded by a faculty committee on a pass or no-pass basis. Students who do not pass the examination are permitted one additional opportunity to pass, which must be submitted to and graded by the faculty committee no later than the end of the summer of the first year.

Oral Qualifying Examination

The University Oral Qualifying Examination must be completed and passed by the end of the fall quarter of the third year. Students prepare a written description of the scientific background of their proposed dissertation research project, the specific aims of the project, preliminary findings, and proposed (bio)medical informatics approaches for addressing the specific aims. This dissertation proposal must be written following an NIH research grant application format and be at least six pages, single spaced and excluding references, and is submitted to the students’ doctoral committee at least 10 days in advance of the examination. Exclusive of their doctoral committee members, students are free to consult with their dissertation adviser, or other individuals in formulating the proposed research. The examination consists of an oral presentation of the proposal by the student to the committee. The student’s oral presentation and examination are expected to demonstrate: (1) a scholarly understanding of the background of the research proposal; (2) well-designed and testable aims; (3) a critical understanding of the (bio)medical informatics, mathematical or statistical methodologies to be employed in the proposed research; and (4) an understanding of potential informatics outcomes and their interpretation. This examination is graded Pass, Conditional Pass, or Fail. If the doctoral committee decides that the examination reflects performance below the expected mastery of graduate-level content, the committee may vote to give the student a Conditional Pass. A student who receives a Conditional Pass will be required to modify or re-write their research proposal, so as to bring it up to required standard. In the case of a Conditional Pass, the student will be permitted to seek the advice of their committee in modifying or re-writing the proposal. Any required re-write or modification will be submitted to, and reviewed by the doctoral committee. A second oral presentation is not necessary unless the doctoral committee requires so. The signed Report on the Oral Qualifying Examination & Request for Advancement to Candidacy will be retained in the Graduate Student Affairs Office until the student has satisfied the doctoral committee’s request for revision or re-write. Students are allowed only one chance to revise or re-write their proposal.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students are advanced to candidacy upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.

Doctoral Dissertation

Every doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study.

Final Oral Examination (Defense of the Dissertation)

Required for all students in the program.


Students are expected to complete the written qualifying examination in the summer following the first year of study and the University Oral Qualifying Examination by the end of fall quarter of the third year. Normative time-to-degree is five years (15 quarters).