Graduate Students

General Information:

Students are encouraged to review the resources available on the Graduate Education website. Most questions can be answered by referring to the Graduate Student Handbook. Information can also be found in the catalog.

Finding a Thesis/Project Advisor:

Cal Poly students (blended thesis program) typically develop a potential thesis topic in consultation with BMED faculty prior to applying. Thesis topics are typically driven by faculty research interests, but can draw from myriad other sources, such as industry collaborations with students and/or faculty. A BMED faculty member is required to act as committee chair for MS culminating experiences.

The BMED program does not offer an exam option. MS work involving proprietary information can be kept internally and processed as a ‘project’, though this should not be confused with the Project Track.

Funding Sources:

Graduate Student Funding Sources: (apply early)

    • Tuition Waivers (Residents and non-Residents)
    • State University Grants
    • Graduate Equity Fellowships
    • Diverse Education Scholarship
    • Funding to present research at a profession conference
    • And Graduate Assistantships
    • For more information, see the Graduate Education website, under the “Resources > Financial Resources” tab.

Department Funding Opportunities: (apply early)  

Instructional Student Assistantship (ISA). ISAs assist in the instruction of courses taught by BMED faculty. Please contact the Department Office staff and request to be included on the list of available ISAs. In addition, please be prepared to indicate which courses for which you’d like to be considered.

Teaching Assistantship (TA). TAs carry the primary responsibility for teaching a course or lab, but typically work under the direction and mentorship of BMED faculty. Please contact cognizant faculty or Department Office staff to determine if there are opportunities to teach undergraduate coursework or labs.

External Funding Sources: (apply early) 

There are funding opportunities offered by the major funding agencies, e.g., NSF Graduate Student FellowshipCSUPERB student grants. Locally, please consult the Dean of Research and Graduate Education. Also, please explore the websites for the various agencies for opportunities. 

Paperwork, Processes, and Deadlines:

Refer to the Graduate Education website for links to forms and information about deadlines. In general, though, the following forms are required:

Blended MS Students:

Cross check deadlines with Grad Ed Blended Programs. Typically, the following forms must be received (and students eligible) by the end of the 5th week of the quarter.

Blended Program Application Approval (BPA): Completed by students, initiated by BMED Grad Coordinator after applicant is recommended for acceptance.

Post Baccalaureate Change of Objective (PBCO): Completed by students, due by the 3rd week of the quarter PRIOR to transitioning to graduate standing. GWR must be complete before filing.

All MS Students:

Working Formal Study Plan (WFSP): Initiated and completed by students in consultation with their faculty advisor. Outlines a tentative course of study to complete 45 units as required by the degree program. Usually completed during first quarter as a graduate student, and due by the end of the 5th week of the quarter. Note: courses taken by Blended Program students prior to graduate standing still go in the second (400-level), third (400-level), or fourth (500-level) boxes, not the first. First box is for classes taken while NOT a Cal Poly student, e.g., through Open University.

Application for Graduation: Initiated and completed by students. Must be submitted by the end of the 5th week of the quarter prior to the quarter in which a student will graduate. E.g., end of Winter quarter for Spring graduation. This can be updated and modified, using the Change of Degree Completion Term Request, so file as soon as you think you might be completing your degree.

Final Formal Study Plan: Initiated and completed by students. This reflects the courses the student actually took to meet the degree requirements. They may be different from those listed on the WFSP, but still must be approved by Faculty Advisor and Graduate Program Coordinator. Completed by the end of the 5th week of the quarter in which students graduate. Note: courses taken by Blended Program students prior to graduate standing still go in the second (400-level), third (400-level), or fourth (500-level) boxes, not the first. First box is for classes taken while NOT a Cal Poly student, e.g., through Open University.


In order to earn an MS degree in BMED, you are required to complete 2 main objectives: coursework as listed in the program catalog and significant research or engineering work along with thorough analysis that reflects your mastery of a topical area. With exceedingly rare exception, this will involve the collection and analysis of data with appropriate methods and statistical analysis. Keep this in mind as you plan your timeline, that the MS degree is not awarded for completing coursework alone.

As you near the completion of the coursework and culminating experience (project or thesis work), meet with your advisor to determine an appropriate timeline for your graduation.

Work with your advisor and committee to determine a date and time for your defense. Contact BMED staff to reserve a room for the defense.

Approximately 4 weeks before your defense, you should submit a draft of your thesis or project report to your advisor. Templates are available here.

After completing revisions requested by your advisor, submit your final draft of your thesis or project report to your committee.

Prepare an oral presentation approximately 30-45 minutes in length (consult with your advisor).

Initiate the Masters Project or Masters Thesis Approval Form.

Initiate the BMED MS Evaluation Form (one for each student).

After your defense, your committee may have additional suggestions or changes for you to make to your thesis or project report. This may involve minor corrections, additional numerical or computational analysis, or additional experimental data collection. Good communication with your advisor and your committee is crucial to ensure a smooth defense process.

The Approval Form and Evaluation Form must be completed by the end of the quarter (last day of finals week) in which you wish to graduate.