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Master Program Requirement

Master's Degree

Undergraduate Preparation for Admission

The graduate program in Bioengineering will accept students who show strong scientific aptitude, excellent communication skills, and motivation to pursue an intensive course of study. Students will be expected to exceed the minimum acceptance criteria of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and provide evidence they are interested in pursuing a career in bioengineering or a related discipline.


Many potential applicants to our graduate program in bioengineering may either lack sufficient training in mathematics, physics, and engineering (i.e. students with undergraduate life sciences degrees) or biology and chemistry (i.e. students with undergraduate degrees in mechanical, electrical, materials engineering, etc.).  As a general rule we will require thorough preparation in all of these areas, however, we anticipate that in some cases we will admit top-tier students with undergraduate training in a subset of these areas who show evidence of interest in interdisciplinary bioengineering career goals.  As will be discussed later, there is a mechanism in place in our curriculum to ensure these students are trained in the full set of these disciplines before graduation.


Specific requirements for admission include the following prerequisites: 1 year of college-level biology, 1 semester (or 2 quarters) of organic chemistry, 1 quarter of physical or biophysical chemistry, mathematics through differential equations, and 1 year of college-level physics.  Applicants must also demonstrate academic excellence as indicated by competitive grades in undergraduate coursework and/or excellence in undergraduate research. Other factors of importance are included on our admissions evaluation form that we currently use in determining admissions to the existing BME IDP (e.g. GRE scores, research experience, and publications) and will be retained for the Bioengineering graduate program.



Each department or program in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has a graduate adviser. A current list of graduate advisers may be obtained from the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, 6426 Boelter Hall, Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. This list is also available from the Department of Bioengineering.

Students are assigned a faculty adviser upon admission to the School. Advisers may be changed upon written request from the student. All faculty in the School serve as advisers.

New students should arrange an appointment as early as possible with the faculty adviser to plan the proposed program of study toward the M.S. or Ph.D. degree. Continuing students are required to confer with the adviser during the time of enrollment each quarter so that progress can be assessed and the study list approved.

Based on the quarterly transcripts, student records are reviewed at the end of each quarter by the departmental graduate adviser and Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. Special attention is given if students were admitted provisionally or are on probation. If their progress is unsatisfactory, students are informed of this in writing by the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs.

Students are strongly urged to consult with the program student office staff and/or the Office of Academic and Student Affairs regarding procedures, requirements, and the implementation of policies. In particular, advice should be sought on on the procedures for taking M.S. comprehensive examinations and Ph.D. preliminary examinations, on advancement to candidacy, on the procedures for filing the thesis for those who choose the thesis option, and on the use of the Filing Fee. Students are also urged to become familiar with the sections on Termination of Graduate Study and Appeal of Termination at the end of this document.

Areas of Study

Field 1:  Molecular Cellular Tissue Therapeutics (MCTT)

This field of emphasis covers novel therapeutic development across all biological length scales from molecules to cells to tissues. At the molecular and cellular levels, this area of research encompasses the engineering of biomaterials, ligands, enzymes, protein-protein interactions, intracellular trafficking, biological signal transduction, genetic regulation, cellular metabolism, drug delivery vehicles, and cell-cell interactions, as well as the development of chemical/biological tools to achieve this. At the tissue level, this field encompasses two sub-fields which include biomaterials and tissue engineering. The properties of bone, muscles and tissues, the replacement of natural materials with artificial compatible and functional materials such as polymers, composites, ceramics and metals, and the complex interactions between implants and the body are studied at the tissue level. The emphasis of research is on the fundamental basis for diagnosis, disease treatment, and re-design of molecular, cellular, and tissue functions. In addition to quantitative experiments required to obtain spatial and temporal information, quantitative and integrative modeling approaches at the molecular, cellular, and tissue levels are also included within this field. Although some of the research will remain exclusively at one length scale, research that bridges any two or all three length scales are also an integral part of this field. Graduates of this program will be targeted principally for employment in academia, government research laboratories, and the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and biomedical industries. 


Field 2:  Biomedical Instrumentation (BMI)

This field of emphasis is designed to train bioengineers interested in the applications and development of instrumentation used in medicine and biotechnology. Examples include the use of lasers in surgery and diagnostics, new micro electrical machines for surgery, sensors for detecting and monitoring of disease, microfluidic systems for cell-based diagnostics, new tool development for basic and applied life science research, and controlled drug delivery devices. The principles underlying each instrument and specific clinical or biological needs will be emphasized. Graduates of this program will be targeted principally for employment in academia, government research laboratories, and the biotechnology, medical devices, and biomedical industries. 


Field 3:  Imaging, Informatics and Systems Engineering (IIS).

This field consists of the following four subfields:  Biomedical Signal and Image Processing (BSIP), Biosystem Science and Engineering (BSSE), Medical Imaging Informatics (MII), and NeuroEngineering (NE).

Subfield 1:   Biomedical Signal and Image Processing (BSIP)

The Biomedical Signal and Image Processing (BSIP) graduate program prepares students for a career in the acquisition and analysis of biomedical signals; and enables students to apply quantitative methods applied to extract meaningful information for both clinical and research applications. The BSIP program is premised on the fact that a core set of mathematical and statistical methods are held in common across signal acquisition and imaging modalities and across data analyses regardless of their dimensionality. These include signal transduction, characterization and analysis of noise, transform analysis, feature extraction from time series or images, quantitative image processing and imaging physics. Students in the BSIP program have the opportunity to focus their work over a broad range of modalities including electrophysiology, optical imaging methods, MRI, CT, PET and other tomographic devices and/or on the extraction of image features such as organ morphometry or neurofunctional signals, and detailed anatomic/functional feature extraction. The career opportunities for BSIP trainees include medical instrumentation, engineering positions in medical imaging, and research in the application of advanced engineering skills to the study of anatomy and function.

Subfield 2:  Biosystem Science and Engineering (BSSE)

Graduate study in Biosystem Science and Engineering (BSSE) emphasizes the systems aspects of living processes, as well as their component parts.  It is intended for science and engineering students interested in understanding biocontrol, regulation, communication, measurement or visualization of biomedical systems (of aggregate parts – whole systems), for basic or clinical applications.  Dynamic systems engineering, mathematical, statistical and multiscale computational modeling and optimization methods – applicable at all biosystem levels – form the theoretical underpinnings of the field.  They are the paradigms for exploring the integrative and hierarchical dynamical properties of biomedical systems quantitatively – at molecular, cellular, organ, whole organism or societal levels – and leveraging them in applications.  The academic program provides directed interdisciplinary biosystem studies in these areas – as well as quantitative dynamic systems biomodeling methods – integrated with the biology for specialized life science domain studies of interest to the student.  Typical research areas include molecular and cellular systems physiology, organ systems physiology, medical, pharmacological and pharmacogenomic system studies; neurosystems, imaging and remote sensing systems, robotics, learning and knowledge-based systems, visualization and virtual clinical environments.  The program fosters careers in research and teaching in systems biology/physiology, engineering, medicine, and/or the biomedical sciences, or research and development in the biomedical or pharmaceutical industry.

Subfield 3:  Medical Imaging Informatics (MII)

Medical imaging informatics (MII) is the rapidly evolving field that combines biomedical informatics and imaging, developing and adapting core methods in informatics to improve the usage and application of imaging in healthcare. Graduate study in this field encompasses principles from across engineering, computer science, information sciences, and biomedicine. Imaging informatics research concerns itself with the full spectrum of low-level concepts (e.g., image standardization and processing; image feature extraction) to higher-level abstractions (e.g., associating semantic meaning to a region in an image; visualization and fusion of images with other biomedical data) and ultimately, applications and the derivation of new knowledge from imaging. Notably, medical imaging informatics addresses not only the images themselves, but encompasses the associated (clinical) data to understand the context of the imaging study; to document observations; and to correlate and reach new conclusions about a disease and the course of a medical problem. Research foci include distributed medical information architectures and systems; medical image understanding and applications of image processing; medical natural language processing; knowledge engineering and medical decision-support; and medical data visualization. Coursework is geared towards students with science and engineering backgrounds, introducing them to these areas in addition to providing exposure to fundamental biomedical informatics, imaging, and clinical issues. This area encourages interdisciplinary training, with faculty from multiple departments; and emphasizes the practical, translational development and evaluation of tools/applications to support clinical research and care.

Subfield 4:  NeuroEngineering (NE)

The NeuroEngineering (NE) subfield is designed to enable students with a background in biological science to develop and execute projects that make use of state-of-the-art technology, including microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), signal processing, and photonics. Students with a background in engineering will develop and execute projects that address problems that have a neuroscientific base, including locomotion and pattern generation, central control of movement, and the processing of sensory information. Trainees will develop the capacity for the multidisciplinary teamwork, in intellectually and socially diverse settings, that will be necessary for new scientific insights and dramatic technological progress in the 21st century. NE students take a curriculum designed to encourage cross-fertilization of the two fields. Our goal is for neuroscientists and engineers to speak each others' language and move comfortably among the intellectual domains of the two fields.

Foreign Language Requirement


Course Requirements

At least 12 courses (44 units) are required, at least ten  of which must be from the 200 series.  For the thesis plan, a minimum of seven must be formal courses and two must be 598 courses involving work on the thesis. For the comprehensive examination plan, no units of 500-series courses may be applied toward the minimum course requirement except for the field of medical imaging informatics where 2 units of 597A are required. Lower division courses may not be applied toward a graduate degree. To remain in good academic standing, an M.S. student must maintain an overall grade-point average of 3.0 and a grade-point average of 3.0 in graduate courses.

By the end of the first quarter in residence, students design a course program in consultation with and approved by their faculty adviser.


Field 1:  Molecular Cellular Tissue Therapeutics (MCTT)

Group I consists of Core Courses on General Concepts: Bioengineering C201, C204, C205, and C206, 299, 495

Group II consists of Field Specific Courses:  Bioengineering 100, 110, 120, 176, Bioengineering CM278, C283, C285

Group III consists of Field Elective Courses. Bioengineering 180; Biomathematics 201, M203, M211, 220 M270, M271; Bioengineering M215, M225, CM240, CM245, C287 (renumbered to C247); Chemistry 153A, 153B, M230B, CM260A, CM260B, C265, 269A, 269D,  277, C281; Materials Science and Engineering 110, 111, 200, 201; Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 156A, 168; Molecular Cell Development Biology 100, M140, 144, 165A, C222D, 224, M230B, M234; Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics 185A; Molecular & Medical Pharmacology M110A, M110B, 203, 211A, 211B, 288; Neuroscience 205; Pathology M237, 294

Other Electives (Recommend on a case-by-case basis)


Field 2:  Biomedical Instrumentation (BMI)

Group I:  Core Courses on General Concepts:  Bioengineering C201, C204, C205, and C206, 299, 495

Group II:  Field Specific Courses:  Bioengineering CM250A, Electrical Engineering 100.

Group III:  Field Elective Courses:   Electives are broken down into three categories to aid students in choosing classes for a particular thrust area in BMI.

Microfluidics, MEMS, and Biosensors:  Bioengineering CM250L, M260, 282; Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering C216; Chemistry 118, 156; Electrical Engineering 102, 110, 110L; Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering 103, 150A, 150G, M168, 250B, C250G, 250M, 281, M287; Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics 185A, 229; Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology 165A, 168, M175A-B, M272

Surgical/Imaging Instrumentation:  Bioengineering 224A, CM240, C270, C271, C272; Biomathematics M230, Electrical Engineering 176, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering 171A, 263D

Bionanotechnology & Biophotonics:  Bioengineering C251, C270, C271 , Chemistry and Biochemistry C240; Electrical Engineering 121B, 128, 150DL, 172, M217, 225, 274, ; Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 258A, C287L, M287 

Other Electives (Recommend on a case-by-case basis)


Field 3:  Imaging, Informatics and Systems Engineering (IIS)

This field consists of the following four subfields:  Biomedical Signal and Image Processing (BSIP), Biosystem Science and Engineering (BSSE), Medical Imaging Informatics (MII), and NeuroEngineering (NE).

Subfield 1:   Biomedical Signal and Image Processing (BSIP)

All BSIP students are expected to achieve and demonstrate competency in core areas that are fundamental to their career and research. These include a general exposure to the field of Bioengineering, knowledge of human or animal anatomy and physiology, broad exposure to the technologies of medical imaging, and a high level of skill in digital signal/image processing.

BSIP students are required to complete coursework in each of the three group areas below; BSIP students must also complete a research ethics course.

Group I:  Core Courses on General Concepts

Bioengineering Core: Bioengineering  C201 or CM286B

Anatomy and Physiology Core:  Either Bioengineering CM202 & CM203 or Physiological Science 166 & Molecualr Cell Development Biology 144.

Ethics:  One of the following – Bioengineering 165EW, Neuroscience 207, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics C134, or Biomathematics M261
Bioengineering Seminar – Three quarters of Bioengineering 299

Teaching Assistant Training – One quarter of Bioengineering 495

Group II:  Subfield Specific Courses (minimum of three required)

Biomedical Physics 205, M219. M248. Electrical Engineering 239AS, 266, Neurobiology M200C, Neuroscience CM272, M284, M287

Group III:  Subfield Elective Courses (used to complete the Group II/III seven course requirement)

Bioengineering 100, 120,  223A-223B-223C, 224A, M261A-M261B-M261C, Biomedical Physics 210, 217, 218, 222, 227, M230, Biostatistics 238, Computer Science 269, Electrical Engineering 102, 113, 151A-151B, 208A, 210A, 211A, 211B, 212A, CM224, M231, 236A, 236B, 273, Mathematics 155, 133, 270A, 270B-270C, 270D-270E, 270F

Other Electives (Recommend on a case-by-case basis)

Subfield 2:  Biosystem Science and Engineering (BSSE)

BSSE students are required to complete coursework in each of the three group areas below.

Group I:  Core Courses on General Concepts

Physiology: molecular, cellular & organ system biology:  Either Bioengineering CM202 & CM203 -- or -- Physiological Science 166 & either Molecular Cell Developmental Biology 140 or 144 (or other equivalent approved courses).

Dynamic biosystems modeling, estimation & optimization:  Bioengineering CM286B and either Bioengineering M296B or Biomathematics 220

BE 299, BE 495

Group II:  Subfield Specific and Elective Courses

These should be chosen in consultation with and approval of the faculty advisor.

Bioengineering C204, C205, C206, M217, CM245, M248, M260, C283, and M296D, Biomathematics 201, 206, 208A or B, 213, M230, Chemistry CM260A, CM260B, Electrical Engineering 102, 103, 113, 131A, 132A, 136, 141, 142, 210B, 232E, 240B, M240C, 241A, 241C, M242A, 243, CM250A, CM250L, M252, 260A, 260B, Computer Science 161, CM224, 267B  Math 134, 136, 151A, 151B, 155, 170A, 170B, 171, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 107, 171A, Physiological Science 135, M200

       Group III:  Ethics Courses (One of the following):

Bioengineering 165EW, Biomathematics M261, Neuroscience 207, Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics C134

Subfield 3:  Medical Imaging Informatics (MII)

MII coursework is designed to expose students to a wide variety of current clinical and imaging informatics topics. Students are required to demonstrate proficiency across the core areas and fundamentals comprising the field, including: human anatomy/physiology; medical imaging; medical informatics; and a high degree of skill in programming and understanding of computer science. Additionally, MII students must complete a research ethics course.

Group I:  Core Courses on General Concepts: Bioengineering 220, 221 or CM202 & CM203, M227, 223A, 223B, 223C, M228, 224B, and M226, 299, 495

Group II:  Subfield Specific Courses

Minor 1 (Information networks and data access in the medical environment): Computer Science 240A, 241A, 244A, 245, 246, 217A, Electrical Engineering 211A.

 Minor 2 (Computer understanding of text and medical information retrieval): Computer Science 263A, 263B, 276A, Information Studies 228, 246, 277, Linguistics 218, 232

 Minor 3 (Computer understanding of images): Biomedical Physics 210, 214, Computer Science 268, 276B, Electrical Engineering 211A, M217, 221B, Neurosceince CM272

 Minor 4 (Probabilistic modeling and visualization of medical data): Biostatistics 213, M234, 276, Computer Science 241B, 262A, 262B, M262C, 265A, Information Studies 272

Group III:  Ethics Courses (One of the following)

Bioengineering 165EW, Biomathematics M261, Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics C134, Neuroscience 207

Subfield 4:  NeuroEngineering (NE)

Group I:  Core Courses on General Concepts

Bioengineering concentration: Bioengineering C201 or CM286

Human body concentration:  Bioengineering CM202 & CM203 or Physiological Science 166 & Molecular, Cell, Development Biology 144

BE 299, 495

Group II:  Subfield Specific Courses

Bioengineering M260, M261A, M284A

Group III:  Subfield Elective Courses

Electronic engineering concentration

MEMS: Electrical Engineering M250A, M250B, M250L, M252

Signal Processing & VLSI: Electrical Engineering 210A, 214A, 214B, 216B

Chemical Engineering: Chemical Engineering C215, C225

Neuroscience concentration

Bioengineering C206, M263, Neuroscience M201, M202, M203, 205

Group IV:  Ethics Courses (One of the following)

Bioengineering 165EW, Biomathematics M261, Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics C134, Neuroscience 207


Teaching Experience


Not required


Field Experience


Not required.

Comprehensive Plan

The comprehensive examination plan is available in all fields.  The requirements for fulfilling the comprehensive exam varies for each field.  Specific details about the comprehensive examination in each field is available from the Graduate Advisor. Students who fail the examination may repeat it once only, subject to the approval of the faculty examination committee. Students who fail the examination twice are not permitted to submit a thesis and are subject to termination. The oral component of the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination is not required for the M.S. degree.

Students are required to complete the comprehensive exam no later than the end of Winter quarter during their first academic year.

Thesis Plan

New M.S. students who choose the thesis plan are expected to submit the name of the thesis adviser to the Graduate Adviser by the end of their first quarter in residence. The thesis adviser serves as chair of the thesis committee. A research thesis is to be written on a bioengineering topic approved by the thesis adviser. The thesis committee consists of the thesis adviser and two other qualified faculty members, who must be selected from the list of BE core, joint, or interdisciplinary research faculty. 


The normal length of time for completion of the M.S. degree under the comprehensive examination plan is one year. The normal length of time for completion of the M.S. degree under the thesis plan is two years.

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