Skip to main content

Biomedical Engineering

BME Graduate School Degree Requirements

Master of Engineering:

The M.Eng. is an advanced professional degree awarded by the School of Engineering. It is designed to provide advanced instruction to qualified students who are interested in applying engineering principles to biological systems. The purpose of the program is to prepare students for the professional practice of biomedical engineering. The emphasis of the Master of Engineering Program is different from that of the Master of Science Program. The M.S. program emphasizes research and requires completion of a thesis, while the M.Eng. program emphasizes professional practice through 30 hours of didactic instruction and a supervised design project. Courses are distributed as follows:

  • Biomedical Engineering: 12 hours
  • Subspecialty Area: 6 hours
  • Engineering Design: 6 hours
  • Professional Practice: 6 hours

In addition, the candidate must complete a design project, and present results to the faculty.


Master of Science:

Candidates for the master of science (M.S.) degree must complete 30 hours of graduate-level credit, approved by the faculty, with the following minimum distribution of didactic hours:

  • Biomedical Engineering: minimum of 12 credit hours
  • Life Science: minimum of 3 credit hours (MPB 8330, or equivalent)
  • Advanced Engineering/Science: minimum of 9 credit hours

At least 6 of the BME hours and 3 of the advanced science or engineering hours must be 6000+ level courses. One (1) hour of BME seminar and 6 hours of thesis research credit hours can count toward the total of 30 hours necessary for the M.S. degree. In addition, the candidate must submit a research thesis for faculty approval and give a final oral presentation. 


Doctor of Philosophy:

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree must complete a minimum of 27 semester hours of graduate-level didactic courses approved by the program faculty, excluding seminar, research, and teaching hours, and distributed as follows:

  • Biomedical Engineering: minimum of 15 credit hours (including BME 6110)
  • 3 or more credit hour course in life sciences offered at the 6000-level or above, which is taken from the list below or approved by the mentoring committee:
            - PATH-GS 8352 Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease
            - HGEN Human Genetics
            - M&IM 8329 Principles of Immunology and the Immune System in Disease
            - MPB 8330 Human Physiology and Molecular Medicine
            - CBIO-GS 8325 Histology
            - NURO 8327 Neuroanatomy
            - NURO 8345 Fundamentals of Neuroscience I
            - NURO 8340 Fundamentals of Neuroscience II
  • Advanced Engineering/Science: minimum of 9 credit hours

At least 6 of the BME hours and 3 of the advanced science or engineering hours must be 6000+ level courses. The remainder of the 72 hours required for a Ph.D. will primarily consist of dissertation research, but may also include seminar and other approved (didactic) courses. In addition, students must pass a qualifying examination consisting of written and oral presentations of a proposal for doctoral research, present a dissertation showing the results of original research in biomedical engineering, and successfully defend the dissertation in an oral examination. The 24 didactic hours taken towards the M.S. degree count towards the 27 didactic hours required for the Ph.D. degree; however, seminar hours do not count towards the didactic hour requirement for a Ph.D.

Students wishing to combine study for the M.D. degree with that for a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering must apply to the School of Medicine for admission to the Medical Scientist Training Program. Financial aid for this program is available on a competitive basis.


CURRICULUM:     link to on-line graduate catalog

Graduate courses offered on a regular basis in Biomedical Engineering are listed below. Additional courses are also offered as special topics courses. Students choose their BME courses with the assistance of their advisor. All M.S. and Ph.D. students take the physiology course offered by the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics (MPB 330).


BME 6110 Introduction to Research and Professional Development in Biomedical Engineering
MPB 8330 Human Physiology and Molecular Medicine

Regularly Offered Full Graduate Courses:

BME 7410 Quantitative Methods in Biomedical Engineering
BME 7413 Advanced Biomechanics
BME 7419 Engineering Models of Cellular Phenomena
BME 7410 Laser-Tissue Interaction and Therapeutic Use of Lasers
BME 7420 Optical Diagnosis: Principles and Applications
BME 7425 Physical Measurements on Biological Systems
BME 7310 Advanced Computational Modeling and Analysis
BME 7430 Cancer Imaging
BME 7440 Neuroimaging
BME 7473 Design of Medical Products, Processes and Services 
BME 5420 Advanced Quantitative and Functional Imaging
BME 7420 Magnetic Resonance Imaging Methods
BME 7500 Independent Study in Biomedical Engineering

Recently Offered Special Topics Courses:

BME 8900 Advanced Biomaterials
BME 8900 Tissue Engineering and Drug Delivery
BME 8900 Advanced Systems Biology
BME 8900 Advanced Automated Biology
BME 8900 Advanced Drug Delivery
BME 8900 Cellular Transport Phenomena
BME 8900 Advanced Therapeutic Bioengineering
BME 8900 Optical Microscopy and Imaging
BME 8900 Advanced Magnetic Resonance Engineering
BME 8900 Advanced Image Reconstruction in MRI


Admission Requirements:

Students applying for admission to the graduate program in biomedical engineering must meet the general requirements of admission of the Vanderbilt University Graduate School. Admission is competitive and students are selected on the basis of their scholastic preparation and intellectual capacity. All applicants shall have maintained a B average in their undergraduate work, provide three letters of recommendation and take the General Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Applicants for study in biomedical engineering should have a bachelor's degree in engineering or science, with the following minimum preparation:

Biology- one semester of molecular-based biology

Mathematics- calculus, differential equations, and statistics; one semester of computer programming highly recommended.

Physics- two semesters, modern physics recommended

Chemistry- one semester; biochemistry or organic chemistry recommended

Engineering - introductory courses in two of the following three areas: materials science or biomaterials, mechanics or fluid mechanics, transport or heat and/or mass transfer, signals and systems. Courses in instrumentation and systems physiology are highly recommended.

Research or Design Experience - highly recommended.

Special plans may be made on an individual basis for students who are highly prepared in one area, but underprepared in another.

Applicants should have a minimum 3.0/4.0 grade point average overall, in the last two years of undergraduate study, and in their major field.

Students for whom English is not the primary language and who have not earned a degree at an English-speaking US institution must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination. A minimum score of 100 (600 on the old (paper-based) scoring scale) is required.

Admission to the program is competitive and limited by financial support and available positions in laboratories. Qualifications of an applicant are judged relative to the qualifications of the entire applicant pool.