Ms Program Curriculum


Master’s Degree


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. 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 advancement to candidacy for the M.S. degree, on the procedures for taking Ph.D. preliminary examination for those who choose the comprehensive examination option, 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

Biosystem Science and Engineering

Graduate study in biosystem science and engineering 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 basis 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 method – 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, engineering, medicine, and/or the biomedical sciences, or research and development in the biomedical or pharmaceutical industry.

Biomaterials, Tissue Engineering, and Biomechanics

This broad field encompasses the three subfields of biomaterials, tissue engineering, and biomechanics. The properties of bone, muscles and tissues, the replacement of natural tissues with artificial compatible and functional material such as polymer composites, ceramics and metals, and the complex interactions between implants and body are studied. The field includes the delivery of small molecules, proteins, DNA, and cells, and the regeneration of natural tissues to replace lost functions by the use of novel materials to deliver cells and molecular signals.

Biomedical Instrumentation

This program is designed to train biomedical engineers 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, and sensors for detecting and monitoring of disease and controlled drug delivery. The principles underlying each instrument and the specific needs in medical application will be emphasized.

Biomedical Signal/Image Processing

The goals of the program in biomedical imaging and signal processing are to train engineers in approaches and technologies for the acquisition, optimization, and analysis of biomedical images for both clinical and research applications. This is a continuously growing area with major opportunities in both the public and private sectors. The training emphasis is on the understanding and skills in approaches that are modality-independent and cut across the spectrum of biomedical imaging that includes radiography, microscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), electroencephalography (EEG), magneto encephalography (MEG), and other acquisition methods. The instructional program also emphasizes both technological and analytic approaches of combining the results from multiple modalities.

Medical Imaging Informatics

Medical imaging informatics 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 toward 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 track 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.

Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering

The field of molecular and cellular bioengineering encompasses the study of molecular and/or cellular processes in order to engineer new therapeutics and diagnostics. Accordingly, this field includes the study of genetic regulation, protein-protein interactions, enzymes, intracellular trafficking, signal transduction, cellular metabolism, drug delivery vehicles, cell-cell interactions, and so forth. In addition to quantitative experiments required to obtain spatial and temporal information, quantitative and integrative modeling approaches at the molecular and cellular levels are also included within this field. Although some of the research remains exclusively at the molecular or cellular scales, research that bridges these two length scales is also an integral part of this field. Graduates of this program are targeted principally for employment in academia, in government research laboratories, and in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and biomedical industries.


The objective of the neuroengineering field is to bridge the gap between engineering and health/life sciences in education, language, methodology, and technology needed to improve neuroscientific instrumentation and to enable advanced treatments and prosthetics. The graduates of this program are in a position to better understand the biology and to better control the biology through the development and deployment of technology for various neuroscience applications. More specifically, three key objectives of this field are (1) to enable students with a background in engineering to 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; (2) to enable students with a background in biological science to develop and execute projects that make use of state-of-the-art technology, such as microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), signal processing and photonics; in preparing students to use new technology, the program also will introduce them to basic concepts in engineering that are applicable to the study of systems neuroscience, such as signal processing, communication and information theory; and (3) to enable all trainees  to develop the capacity for the multidisciplinary team work that is necessary for new scientific insights and dramatic technological progress. Courses and research projects are co-sponsored by faculty in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Brain Research Institute (BRI).

Foreign Language Requirement


Course Requirements

A minimum of 12 courses (42 units) are required, at least ten of which must be from the 200 series. For the thesis plan, at least seven of the 12 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 two units of Biomedical Engineering 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.

Group I consists of core courses. Students are required to take courses in this group as indicated in each field.

Group II consists of elective courses. Students are required to fulfill the remaining of the course requirements from courses in this group as indicated in each field.

Biosystem Science and Engineering

Group I: Two courses from the following group are required: Physiology: molecular, cellular and organ system biology: Biomedical Engineering CM202 and CM203 or Physiological Science 166 and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology 144 or other approved equivalent approved courses. Two courses from the following group also are required: Dynamic biosystems modeling, estimation and optimization: Biomedical Engineering CM286B, Biomathematics 220 or M270. In addition to the four Group I courses students must complete six units of Biomedical Engineering 299.

Group II: A minimum of three coherent courses from the following elective list are required: Biomathematics 206, 208A or 208B, M230, Biomedical Engineering C201, C204, C205, C206, M217, CM245, M248, M260, C283, M296D, Chemistry and Biochemistry CM260A, CM260B, Computer Science 161, CM224, 267B, Electrical Engineering 103, 113, 131A, 132A, 136, 141, 142, 210B, 232, 240B, M240C, M214A, 241C, M242A, 243, CM250A, CM250L, M252, 260A, 260B, Mathematics 134, 136, 151A, 151B, 155, 170A, 170B, 171, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 107, 171A, Physiological Science 135, M200, Statistics 100B, and other courses approved by the field committee.

Biomaterials, Tissue Engineering and Biomechanics

Group I: Students are required to complete at least five Group I courses. Three of the five courses must be selected from the following four core courses:  Biomedical Engineering C201, C204, C205. C206. The remaining Group I course requirement may be fulfilled by completion of the following: Bioengineering 176,  Biomedical Engineering CM240, CM280, C283, C285, C287, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 281. In addition to the five Group I courses, students must complete six units of Biomedical Engineering 299.

Group II: Students are expected to fulfill the remaining course requirements from courses in this group posted on the website for the Biomedical Engineering program.

Biomedical Instrumentation

Group I: Students are required to complete at least three of the following core courses: Biomedical Engineering C201, C204, C205, C206; also required are Biomedical Engineering CM250A, 299 (six units), and Electrical Engineering 100.

Group II: Students are expected to fulfill the remaining course requirements from courses in this group posted on the website for the Biomedical Engineering program.

Biomedical Signal / Image Processing

Group I: Students are expected to fulfill the core course requirements through the following: Biomedical Engineering 220, two courses in Anatomy and Physiology which could be Biomedical Engineering CM202 and CM203, or CM202 and Neuroscience 205, or Biomedical Engineering 221 and an approved course in Anatomy and Physiology, two courses of a programming intensive approach to image or signal analysis which could be Biomedical Engineering 223A and Biomedical Engineering 223C or Electrical Engineering 211A and 211B, or other approved courses in programming, one course in medical imaging physics Biomedical Physics 205 or an alternate, and one course in special training within biomedical signal/image processing, Biomedical Physics M219 or an alternate. In addition to the seven Group I core courses, students must enroll in six units of Biomedical Engineering 299.

Group II: Students are expected to fulfill the remaining course requirements from the following: Biomedical Physics 200A, 200B, 212, 214, M219, Electrical Engineering 266, Statistics M231.

Remedial courses are taken as necessary. Students without exposure to signal processing are recommended to take: Electrical Engineering 102, Program in Computing 10A, 10B.

Medical Imaging Informatics

Group I: All of the following core courses are required: Biomedical Engineering 220, 221, 223A, 223B, 223C, 224A, 224B, M226, M227, M228, 299 (six units), Human Genetics 210.

Group II: The following are optional elective courses: Biomedical Physics 210, 214, Biostatistics 213, M234, 276, Computer Science 217A, 240A, 240B, 241A, 241B, 244A, 245A, 246, 262A, 262B, M262C, 263A, 263B, 265A, 268, M276A, 276B, Electrical Engineering 202B, 211A, 211B, M217, Information Studies 228, 246, 272, 277, Linguistics 218, 232, Neuroscience CM272.

Remedial courses are taken as necessary. For students without previous computing or programming experience, Program in Computing 20A and 20B or Computer Science 31 and 32 may be substituted for Biomedical Engineering 223A and Biomedical Engineering 223B, respectively.

Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering

Group I: Students are required to complete at least three of the following four core courses: Biomedical Engineering C201, C204, C205, C206. Depending on the number of core courses completed, two to three of the following courses are required: Bioengineering 100, 110, Biomathematics 220, M270, M271, Biomedical Engineering M215, M225, CM245, C283, Computer Science 170A, Mathematics 146, 151A, Statistics 200B. In addition to the five Group I courses, students must enroll in six units of Biomedical Engineering 299.

Group II: Students are expected to fulfill the remaining course requirements from courses in this group posted on the website for the Biomedical Engineering program.


Group I: Biomedical Engineering M260, M261A, M261B, M261C, M263, 299 (six units), Neuroscience M201, M202, M203, 207, and any other graduate-level engineering courses approved by the student’s adviser and the Neuroengineering field chair.

Group II: Chemical Engineering CM215, CM225, Electrical Engineering 210A, M214A, 214B, 216B, CM250A, M250B, CM250L, M252.

Remedial courses are taken as necessary. For students without previous exposure to neuroscience, Neuroscience M101A and M101B. For students without previous exposure to signal processing and information theory, Electrical Engineering 102.

Teaching Experience

Not required.

Field Experience

Not required.

Comprehensive Examination Plan

The comprehensive examination plan is available in all fields. The requirements for fulfilling the comprehensive examination requirement varies for each field. Specific details about the comprehensive examination in each field are available from the Graduate Adviser. 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.

Thesis Plan

Every master’s degree thesis plan requires the completion of an approved thesis that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research.

New students who choose this 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 (eight units of Biomedical Engineering 598) is to be written on a biomedical engineering topic approved by the thesis adviser. The thesis committee consists of the thesis adviser and two other qualified faculty members who are selected from a current list of designated members for the interdepartmental program.


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