Jul 22, 2024  
2021-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences: Medical Physics

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Department of Physics
190 Mathematics and Science Center   (map)
(248) 370-3416 • Fax (248) 370-3408

Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences
Program Committee members:

Yang Xia, Professor of Physics
Chhabi Govind, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Xiangqun Zeng, Professor of Chemistry

Graduate Coordinator:
Yang Xia
276 Hannah Hall
(248) 370-3420

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Graduate Catalog Addendum   

Program description

The College of Arts and Sciences offers a Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical sciences degree with a specialization in medical physics that is centered in the Department of Physics.

Medical physicists are providing primary contributions to advances in biomedical diagnostic and therapeutic medicine. Laser surgery, ultrasonics, nuclear medicine, radiotherapy, computer tomography, and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging are examples of medical modalities developed and implemented by medical physicists. The medical physics specialization of the biomedical sciences doctoral program is designed for students who plan careers in research in industrial, hospital, and academic settings. The curriculum is designed to prepare the student to engage in research in areas of physics applied to medicine. Ph.D. candidates may elect to do their dissertation research either with one of a number of Oakland University faculty currently involved in biomedical research or with one of the scientists in area hospitals that collaborate closely with the university. Among these are Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit; and William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. In addition to available Oakland University graduate assistantships, hospitals participating in this program may provide support for qualified students. Interested students should consult the program coordinator for details.

Admission terms and application deadlines

Before an applicant’s file can be reviewed for full program admission, all application documents must be received in Oakland University Graduate School by the semester deadlines listed below. Incomplete applications will not be sent to departments for admission review.


  • February 15 (early) April 15 (regular) and July 15 (late) for fall semester
  • October 1 (early) and November 15 (regular) for winter semester
  • March 1 (regular) for summer semester
  • International applicants   

Application requirements

To be considered for graduate admission, applicants must submit all Graduate Application Requirements and additional department requirements by the published application deadlines:

  2. Additional department application requirements
  • Additional Recommendation for Graduate Admission form
    In addition to the two recommendation forms, listed above, a third recommendation form is required by the program.
    Requirements for recommendations
    All three forms must be submitted directly by individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s potential for graduate-level scientific research.
  • Official results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The physics subject exam is also recommended. The Biomedical Sciences: Medical Physics PhD Program will waive the general GRE for students with an MS in physics or medical physics from an accredited university in the United States or Canada obtained within the last five years.
  • To request a waiver, applicants must submit a Request to Waive GRE form to the Graduate School as part of the application packet. The request for waiver is subject to the approval of the Graduate Admissions Committee.
  • Students will be considered for admission if they hold a baccalaureate degree in physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, engineering, or other disciplines related to medical physics.
  • Each student entering the program must demonstrate proficiency in specific areas of coursework. Upon entering the program the student must consult with the specialization adviser who will plan a program of coursework to eliminate any deficiencies in the student’s preparation. Proficiency typically would consist of satisfactory knowledge of coursework equivalent to the following Oakland University courses: modern physics (PHY 3710), physical chemistry (CHM 3430), and at least three of the following: computer programming, differential equations (APM 2555), electronics (PHY 3410, 3470), electricity and magnetism (PHY 3810), physiology (BIO 2600 or BIO 3620), and statistics (STA 2226).

Admission review and assessment

Admission to graduate school at Oakland University is selective. In making admission recommendations to Oakland University Graduate School, each department assesses the potential of applicants for success in the program by examining their undergraduate records, goal statement, letters of recommendation, prerequisite courses and any other admission requirements established by the academic department.

Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Program Committee

The program committee, appointed by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, consists of one faculty member from each of the three biomedical sciences specialization areas* as well as the coordinator of graduate programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, who serves as chair of the program committee. The program committee advises the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on admission of students, selection of student committees, proposals for changes in degree requirements and approval of doctoral dissertations.

* Biological Communication, Health and Environmental Chemistry, and Medical Physics

Biomedical Sciences doctoral program specialization committees

Three specialization committees, appointed by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on recommendations from the chairs of the chemistry, physics, and biology departments, are responsible for preliminary screening of applications for admission, preliminary approval of dissertation committees, approval of course selections by each student, certification of fulfillment of proficiency requirements by each student, administration and grading of preliminary examinations for each student, and proposal of any modifications in degree requirements for students in that specialization. Each specialization committee appoints specific faculty members to advise each incoming student selecting that specialization until the student’s dissertation committee is established.

Proficiency of entering students

Each student entering the program must demonstrate proficiency in specific areas of coursework. Upon entering the program the student must consult with the appropriate specialization adviser who will plan a program of coursework to eliminate any deficiencies in the student’s preparation.

Degree requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical sciences: medical physics degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of 80 credits in an approved program of study.

The basic requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical sciences: medical physics degree are completion of a unified program of formal coursework and independent research approved by the candidate’s dissertation committee and the medical physics specialization committee.

Course requirements

a. Foundation requirements

Areas of graduate-level proficiency required for the medical physics specialization are theoretical physics, mathematical methods in scientific research, and biophysical sciences and laboratories.

b. General requirements

A minimum of 80 credits beyond the baccalaureate is required, including at least 20 credits of dissertation research. The Ph.D. in biomedical sciences: medical physics degree program is an approved interdisciplinary program, so graduate students, with the approval of the medical physics specialization committee, may use up to 12 credits of 3000-4999 courses taken at Oakland University toward a graduate degree.

Satisfactory academic progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used to denote a student’s successful completion of coursework toward a certificate or degree. Federal regulations require the Office of Financial Aid to monitor Satisfactory Academic Progress for all financial aid recipients each semester.

Students who fall behind in their coursework, or fail to achieve minimum standards for grade point average and completion of classes, may lose their eligibility for all types of federal, state and university aid. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for additional details.

Good academic standing

All graduate students are expected to remain in good academic standing throughout the entire course of their graduate program. To be in good academic standing, a graduate student must make satisfactory progress toward fulfilling degree requirements, including the completion of critical degree milestones as set forth by the academic program. The student must also maintain a minimum semester and overall GPA of 3.0 (B) or better.

Good academic standing is a requirement for:

  • Holding a Graduate Assistantship
  • Receiving a fellowship or scholarship
  • Advancing to candidacy for a graduate degree
  • Going on a leave of absence
  • Obtaining a graduate certificate or degree from Oakland University.

Additionally, graduate students must meet all department academic standards which may be more stringent than the minimum set forth by the University.

Graduate students who are not in good academic standing for any reason are subject to probation and/or dismissal from further graduate study.

Related program information

Plan of study

All accepted applicants, in consultation with their assigned faculty program adviser, must develop a plan of study that details specific courses the students will use to satisfy their degree requirements. The plan of study must be approved by the faculty program adviser and submitted to Oakland University Graduate School.

Master’s and graduate certificate students must submit a department-approved plan of study by the end of their first semester of graduate coursework. Doctoral students must submit an approved plan of study prior to completion of the first year of coursework. (See the Graduate Student Responsibility  section of this catalog.)

Preliminary examination

Within two years after admission into the program the student must pass a comprehensive written and oral examination. The comprehensive examination consists of three written exams in theoretical physics, mathematical methods, and biophysical sciences, and an oral exam. The examination is intended to determine the extent of the student’s knowledge and fitness for the doctoral degree and will be designed and evaluated by the medical physics specialization committee. If the student does not pass the examination, the specialization committee may allow the student to retake the examination within one year. Failure to pass the examination within two attempts shall constitute failure in the Ph.D. program.

Dissertation committee

A dissertation committee consisting of at least three members, one of whom serves as dissertation adviser, will be chosen by the specialization committee and the student in question. The student’s dissertation adviser will be chairperson of the committee. The committee is charged with the guidance of the student in course selection, review of dissertation proposals before initiation of a project, and approval of the completed dissertation.

Research and dissertation

An integral and major component of the program is the successful completion of original research using state-of-the-art experimental or theoretical methods to study a problem of current interest. Each student shall, in consultation with their adviser, prepare a dissertation proposal outlining the problem to be studied, a survey of the appropriate literature, a description of the appropriate techniques, and an outline of the experiments to be performed. The student shall, at the request of the dissertation committee, orally defend the proposal or elaborate on the methods for data collection and analysis. Approval of the proposal by the committee is required prior to commencing research. The project shall be deemed ready for preparation of dissertation at such time as the student’s committee agrees that the student has completed the project and that the student is an expert in the use of specific methods required by the project. At that time, the student shall prepare a doctoral dissertation for submission to the committee and shall defend the dissertation in a public oral examination conducted by the committee and attended by the medical physics specialization committee. Acceptance of the dissertation by Oakland University Graduate School requires favorable recommendations by the dissertation and specialization committees. All dissertations must conform to university standards (see Thesis and Dissertation ).


All students are required to fulfill a residency requirement for this program. Although students may complete some of the program on a part-time basis, continuous full-time enrollment is highly preferred. The minimal residency requirement shall be full-time residency (8 credits per semester) for at least three consecutive full semesters with at least two of these devoted primarily to the student’s research project.

Continuous enrollment

The continuous enrollment policy for doctoral students requires continuous registration of graduate students for at least 1 credit each semester in the academic year to maintain an active graduate student status. This includes semesters in which the comprehensive, preliminary or qualifying examination is taken, defense, and each subsequent term (fall and winter) until the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is submitted to Oakland University Graduate School.

Some agency and graduate assistantship eligibility may have course-load requirements that exceed the minimum registration requirements of the Continuous Enrollment Policy (e.g., Veterans Affairs, Immigration and Naturalization for international students, and federal financial aid programs). Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to register for the appropriate number of credits that are required for funding eligibility and/or compliance as outlined by specific agency regulations under which they are governed.

Time to degree

The maximum time limit for completing a Ph.D. degree is no more than ten years from the term of the first course enrollment in the doctoral program.

The Time Limit for Completing a Ph.D. Degree policy requires a student to achieve candidacy within six years from the first course enrollment in the doctoral program. After being advanced to candidacy, a student is expected to complete the remaining degree requirements within four years (including the dissertation defense).

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