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How to Choose a Bioengineering School

Bioengineering is the broad study of the life sciences where technical engineering principles are used to develop theories, techniques, instruments and software to solve biological, engineering and biomedical problems. Graduate certificate programs, as well as bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs are available in bioengineering and in the subfield of biomedical engineering.

At any level of postsecondary education, students can choose from various concentration areas within bioengineering, including biomechanics, medical imaging and molecular engineering. Students may enroll in master's or doctoral degree programs, which focus specifically on engineering, biology or medicine.

Top 10 Bioengineering Schools

These schools all offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in bioengineering or biomedical engineering. Tuition rates are for undergraduate programs, based on the 2015-2016 academic year:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees*
Johns Hopkins University (Whiting) Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $48,710
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public Combined Bachelor's/Masters, Master's, Doctoral $12,204 in-state, $32,396 out-of-state
University of California - San Diego (Jacobs) La Jolla, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,530 in-state, $38,238 out-of-state
Duke University (Pratt) Durham, NC 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,241
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,704
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,320
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,431 in-state, $38,139 out-of-state
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $49,536
Boston University Boston, MA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $48,436
Rice University (Brown) Houston, TX 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $42,253

*Source: NCES

School Selection Criteria

Students choosing a school with a bioengineering program may want to keep these considerations in mind:

  • Ph.D. programs are recommended for students pursuing academic faculty or advanced research positions, while certificate programs designed for a particular specialization might appeal to working professionals in specific areas of medicine, such as biomedical physiology.
  • Students may seek programs that offer opportunities for collaboration, such as internships, summer programs or student associations, which may provide benefits such as financial assistance, specified research, and networking, respectfully.
  • Research facilities with computer labs and up-to-date bioengineering instruments and equipment enable students to train in real-world clinical settings.
  • Certificate programs may be offered online to accommodate working students' schedules; however, hands-on practice must be accomplished through the workplace.

Bachelor's Degree

Undergraduate programs in biomedical engineering or bioengineering may require an internship or capstone project for successful completion. Basic science courses in biology, chemistry and physics are commonly required.

Graduate Certificate

Bioengineering, cardiovascular bioengineering or biomedical engineering graduate certificate programs are typically designed for students already holding bachelor's degrees in nursing, engineering, biology or health science.

Master's Degree

Master's degree programs in biomedical engineering or bioengineering may require a thesis, capstone project or both for successful completion. However, students may have the option to choose a coursework-only program. Graduate students may also be given opportunities to instruct or mentor undergraduates. Coursework is largely determined by a student's chosen research topic.

Doctorate Degree

Ph.D. programs in bioengineering or biomedical engineering require the completion of a dissertation based on independent research. Some programs require students to teach undergraduate students and complete research rotations as well. Doctoral degree programs prepare students to become college professors and research scientists.

Students can enroll in bioengineering programs at 4-year colleges and universities, typically through the college of engineering. Bachelor's degree programs prepare students to enter the field as practicing bioengineers, and they can continue on to earn a master's degree or a Ph.D.

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