Apr 16, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
    
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Biosystems Engineering Major, PhD


Graduate program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy with a major in biosystems engineering is available to graduates of a recognized curriculum in engineering, mathematics, or one of the physical or biological sciences. Major focus areas of the program are machinery systems; environmental quality and resource conservation; instrumentation, sensor, and control systems; and bioprocessing. Depending upon the applicant’s academic background and interest area within the program, prerequisite courses may be required.

Concentration (Optional)


Energy Science and Engineering

Campus Code


Knoxville Campus

Admissions Standards/Procedures


  • To the Office of Graduate Admissions submit online application, application fee, and official transcripts. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is recommended but not required for admission to the program. Scores from the general GRE test are given different weights by various faculty advisors, so applicants are encouraged to directly contact their desired faculty advisor to determine the importance of this indicator to the success of their application. The online application procedure will also direct the applicant to submit an updated resume, three letters of reference (or three Graduate Rating Forms) from persons capable of assessing the applicant’s suitability for graduate work, and a statement of professional goals, research interests, and reasons for applying (less than one page). Each applicant will be advised about any prerequisite courses before entering a program. The student’s program of study must be approved by his/her advisory committee and must comply with the requirements of the Graduate Council. Prerequisite courses are selected based on the standards described in the BESS Graduate Student Handbook.
  • A PhD candidate progressing directly from a BS degree may be eligible for a Concurrent MS. Please see the BESS Graduate Student Handbook (https://bess.tennessee.edu/graduate-student-handbook/) for details.

Academic Standards


  • Each applicant will be advised about any prerequisite courses before entering a program. The student’s program of study must be approved by their advisory committee and must comply with the requirements of the Graduate Council.

Credit Hours Required


75 credit hours of approved graduate credit (beyond the baccalaureate degree) in biosystems engineering and supporting areas (engineering, computational methods, agricultural and biological sciences, and other related areas).

Required Courses


  • Of the 75 graduate credit hours, 48 must be in courses numbered greater than 500 (including 24 credit hours of course BSE 600) and 6 credit hours of courses at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, numbered greater than 600. Other specific requirements for the minimum 75 credit hours are:

  • (3 credit hours)
  • (3 credit hours)
  • Four graduate courses (12 credit hours) in Biosystems Engineering (BSE) or closely related programs 
  • Graduate coursework (9 credit hours) in Mathematics (MATH), Computer Science (COSC), Statistics (STAT), or any course containing appropriate computational components that may be approved by the department
  • Program electives (21 credit hours) selected in consultation with the major professor and graduate committee
  • (taken three times, 1 credit hour each) the last enrollment must be during the student’s final semester
  • (24 credit hours)

Non-Course Requirements


Each doctoral student must also pass a comprehensive examination as required by the Graduate Council.

Energy Science and Engineering (Optional) Concentration


This concentration is offered in collaboration with the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education. The ESE program is a joint effort between the College of Engineering, other UTK colleges, the UT Institute of Agriculture, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Credit Hours Required


  • 72 graduate credit hours
    • Completion of the core requirements
    • Minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate coursework beyond the Bachelor of Science degree
    • Minimum of 24 credit hours of graduate coursework beyond the Master of Science degree
      • Exclusive of credit for an MS thesis

Required Courses


  • (24 credit hours)
  •  

    Core Curriculum (Includes Knowledge Breadth Curriculum and Knowledge Specialization Curriculum):

  • (3 credit hours)
  • (3 credit hours)
  • Knowledge Breadth Curriculum: Select one course from the following three areas (3 credit hours)

    • Political, social, legal, ethical, and security issues related to energy (e.g.,  POLS, PHYS, ESE)
    • Entrepreneurship, leadership, and management (e.g., IE, ME, MGT, ESE)
    • Additional courses may be selected in consultation with the Bredesen Center’s Director

    Knowledge Specialization Curriculum: Select two courses from the following areas selected in consultation with the major professor and guidance committee (6 credit hours):

    • Bioenergy and biofuels (e.g., EEB, MICR, BCMB, CBE, LFSC, PLSC)
    • Cross-cutting energy sciences (e.g., MICR, ECE, CHEM, PHYS, MATH, STAT)
    • Distributed energy and grid management (e.g., ECE)
    • Energy conversion and storage (e.g., CBE, CHEM, ME, MSE, PHYS)
    • Energy materials (e.g., MSE, PHYS)
    • Environmental and climate sciences related to energy (e.g., GEOL, MICR, BCMB, EEB, ESS, FORS, GEOL, LFSC, MICR, PLSC, ENVE, FWF)
    • Nuclear energy (e.g., NE, CHEM, ME, PHYS)
    • Renewable energy (e.g., MATH, CBE, ENVE, ME, STAT)
    • Transportation sciences (e.g., CBE, CE, ECE,  ME)
    • Additional courses may be selected in consultation with the major professor or research advisor

Non-Course Requirements


  • No later than one year after entering the program, each student must take a qualifying examination to proceed in the PhD program and to engage in dissertation research.
  • Each doctoral student must also pass a comprehensive examination as required by the Graduate Council.