Graduate Programs in Biological Systems Engineering

Nov 29, 2018

Students who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in biological systems engineering can do so by enrolling in either master's degrees or Ph.D. programs in this field. This article will focus on some general information about these degree programs by covering what types of courses are commonly required, the general degree requirements, and admission standards.

Information about Graduate Programs in Biological Systems Engineering

Master's degree programs in this field generally require students to complete 30 credit hours through a combination of coursework and independent research if the student decides to complete a master's thesis. Ph.D. programs also require that students complete all coursework before beginning work on their doctoral dissertation.

Irrigation and Drainage Systems

Graduate degree programs in biological systems engineering often include a course that focuses on irrigation and drainage systems. By taking this subject, students may learn how these intervention systems affect the amount of liquid in the soil. The course may also cover different examples of techniques/machines used in these systems which include sprinklers, among other water-dispensing devices.

Topics in Hydrology

These programs will also likely have one or several courses that focus on topics in hydrology. In such a course, students will learn about the different water cycle processes combined with calculus or statistics. Courses may also focus on more specific aspects of hydrology, like vadose zone hydrology or hydro climatology, which would cover topics like how snow melt, run off, and how changes in the climate affect the hydrologic cycle.

Quantitative Techniques and Mathematical Modeling for Biological Systems

It is also common for these programs to require students to take a course that covers various quantitative techniques and mathematical models that can be used in the design of and implementation of biological systems. Students in this course will learn about how biological processes can be quantified and manipulated in order to suit the needs of researchers and scientists. This course may cover topics like how energy is used in cells and ecosystems, as well as the transfer of mass in these systems.


Graduate programs in biological systems engineering also often include a course that covers biomaterials. In this course, students will learn about different types of biomaterials, how they are characterized, and their mechanical and physical properties. In addition, the course will likely cover topics such as how biomaterials interact and degrade, how they can be applied, and the methods by which they are tested and approved by the FDA.

Food Process Operations and Engineering

These programs may also require that students take a course that covers food process operations and engineering, which would focus on a variety of topics in regard to how food processing systems are designed and implemented. The course may also cover topics in pasteurization and sterilization, the various types of equipment that is used in food processing systems, and how different food industries may require different structural systems. The principles of heat and mass transfer, as well as the principles of mechanics, may also be discussed.

Admission Standards for Graduate Degree Programs in Biological Systems Engineering

When applying to a graduate program in biological systems engineering, students must supply admissions committees with a number of documents if they wish to submit a complete application file. This includes letters of recommendation, a personal statement, transcripts from all undergraduate or graduate work if applicable, a resume, and a complete application form. These programs also typically require students to submit their results from the GRE examination. Generally, it is expected that students who apply to these programs will have already achieved a bachelor's degree in engineering or have taken substantial coursework in engineering in order to be prepared for the graduate-level work.

In summary, students can enroll in graduate degree programs in biological systems engineering at the master's or doctoral level and may be required to take courses typically available in these programs such as biomaterials and hydrology. Though application criteria may vary depending on each program, prospective students need to have a thorough undergraduate preparation to stay competitive in the selection process during admissions.

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