A bachelor's degree program in biomedical engineering gives students fundamental information on human anatomy and physiology and how engineering can be used to improve healing and body functioning. This program lays the groundwork for further study at the master's and doctoral levels. These graduate programs allow student to pursue advanced specializations and engage in research.
Program lengths will vary according depending on the program level. A senior project for bachelor's programs is usually required and a dissertation is usually required for doctoral programs. To be admitted to a bachelor's program, applicants should possess a high school diploma; while a bachelor's degree in engineering is typically required for master's degree programs. At the doctoral level, a master's degree is usually required.
Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Engineering
At the bachelor's degree level, medical bioengineering students learn the fundamentals of the human body and its biological functions, as well as a variety of engineering skills. As students progress, courses focus on how engineering skills work with the functions of human anatomy to aid in healing and rehabilitative processes. Students often use this program as a launching pad towards a graduate program where they choose a field of specialization.
Many schools require students to complete a senior project in order to graduate. To give students a broad overview of applications and methods, classes cover subjects including:
- Biomedical material science
- Human physiology for engineers
- Biomedical experimental engineering methods
- Tissue and implant mechanics
- Biomedical signals processes
Master's Degree in Biomedical Engineering
Many schools require students to have a bachelor's degree from an engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) prior to applying to a graduate program. Because some students enter this program from another branch of engineering, the beginning coursework also covers introductory human biology topics as related to engineering practices. The master's degree is considered a professional degree and the program focuses more on practical application than theoretical. There are both thesis and non-thesis program options available.
Courses in the master's degree program teach students to apply high-tech science and mathematics principles to the workings of human anatomical functions. Classes include subjects such as:
- Neuroscience theory
- Cellular and molecular physiology
- Neural prosthetic science and applications
- Quantitative physiology studies
- Ethics in biomedical engineering
Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering
A biomedical engineering doctorate program is designed primarily for students wishing to focus on teaching or research and development of biomedical processes and technologies. Some of the math classes in this program duplicate those required for a master's degree. Students studying for the doctorate are often required to teach courses and complete a dissertation in their field of specialization. With prior approval, a student may enter the program with a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering, a related field of engineering or a medical science degree with a pre-determined amount of science and engineering coursework.
Courses are taught in lab, lecture and seminar formats. Classes cover advanced, specialized topics such in:
- Craniofacial and dental tissue engineering
- Microfabrication techniques
- Biomedical polymer engineering
- Bioheat transfer and thermoregulation
- Artificial organ application and design principles
Popular Career Options
A bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering opens many doors to a student entering the workforce because of the diversity of training. Some options include:
- Design engineer
- Sales engineer
- Applications engineer
- Product engineer
Many students with a doctorate in biomedical engineering opt to remain in academia in a teaching capacity while others pursue careers in biotechnology industrial firms; few enter the workforce on an independent basis. Some professions available to those with a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering include:
- College professor
- Research director
- Biomedical engineering consultant
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (''BLS'') has predicted that job opportunities for biomedical engineers will grow by 23% between 2014-2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS notes that the median annual salary for biomedical engineers was $86,220 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
To date, biomedical engineers are not required to have a engineering license to work in the field; however, as the field becomes more involved in medical practice and more people enter the field, a Professional Engineer (PE) license can be a valuable qualification to have on a resume. Licensing is handled by the National Society of Professional Engineers.
Students who want to pursue a career as a biomedical engineer can earn either a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degree. Depending on the chosen degree, the student will focus their studies on different areas of this subject.