Graduate programs in biomedical fields are offered at the master's and doctorate level, with the 2-year master's programs typically requiring students to have a bachelor's degree in fields such as engineering, computer science, biology or maths, depending on the program. GRE scores may also be needed. For doctoral programs, a master's degree and significant background in biomedical coursework are required. Research is a major component of all of these programs.
Master's Degree in Biomedical Engineering
A biomedical engineering graduate program prepares students to become neurobiologists, biomedical scientists, molecular biologists or similar professionals. Master's degree programs in biomedical engineering may offer specializations in biomaterials, biomechanics, optics and biophotonics, biotechnology, biosystems or synthetic biology.
Studies usually begin with a course in biomedical engineering fundamentals, which gives students a working knowledge of the issues in biomedicine. In-depth coursework discusses biomedical ethics, animal research, bioinformatics and research problem solving. Other courses include:
- Molecular and cellular principles
- Electrical and chemical physiology
- Orthopedic tissue mechanics
- Biomedical optics and imaging
Master of Biomedical Informatics
Bioinformatics uses technology such as computers along with information science to solve biological problems. Master's programs in biomedical informatics tend to focus on research and design of sophisticated medical instruments or devices. They also hone in on biomedical research, but computer science and information systems coursework makes up a substantial portion of the curriculum.
Courses in genetics, computer science and mathematical statistics are the foundation of the curriculum for a master's degree in biomedical informatics. Advanced courses include:
- Molecular and genomic evolution
- Principles of database systems
- Computational techniques for genomics
Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering
Ph.D. degree programs in biomedical engineering link academic science, clinical medicine and industry. Some research specialties focus on biological molecules and organisms, with an aim to develop new life-saving technologies. Other biomedical engineering specialties offer opportunities in implantable medical devices, therapies, drugs or diagnostic technologies.
Research in laboratories or hospitals plays a large role in the curriculum of a biomedical doctoral program. Biomedical seminars and teaching undergraduate and master's degree courses provide additional experience. Courses include:
- Molecular biology
- Principles of neuroanatomy
- Synthetic organic chemistry
- Human genetics
- Cell and tissue design
Career paths for graduates with a master's degree in biomedical engineering are usually based on a graduate's area of interest or specialization. Graduates may work in:
- Biomedical research
- Prosthetics design
- Artificial organ development
- Medical information systems
- MRI development
- Medical device development
Graduates of a master's degree in bioinformatics generally take positions related to their backgrounds. Graduates with a background in health care may work in hospitals or for e-health companies. Alternatively, graduates may work in the insurance or pharmaceutical industries. Possible careers may include:
- Chief medical officer
- Nursing information officer
- Biotechnology consultant
- Pharmaceutical researcher
A Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering paves the way for professional opportunities in academia, private research and medical research facility administration or management.
The number of biomedical engineers is expected to rise by 23% over the 2014-2014 decade, a rate that is much faster than the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS|http://www.bls.gov]). The median annual wage for a biomedical engineer was approximately $86,220 in 2015, according to the BLS.
Master's and doctoral programs in biomedical fields give students the opportunity to learn extensively about medical devices, biomedical research, engineering and computer science, among other areas. Career opportunities in research, healthcare, consulting and teaching are available to graduates.