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Biomedical Engineering

Graduate Program FAQ


I'd like to know more about graduate programs and research opportunities in the BME Department at Vanderbilt.  More information can be obtained at the following sites:

Graduate Programs: VUBME Graduate Programs

Two page overview of the BME graduate program and faculty research

Faculty Research: VUBME Research

How long does it take to earn a PhD?

Most students finish in 4 to 6 years.

Is it required to earn an MS before earning a PhD?

No. Students have the option or writing an MS thesis or not.


What are the entry requirements for the BME program?

see Admission Requirements on this page.

Does the Department have minimum standards for GPA and GRE?

There are no strict minimum GPA or GRE requirements; however, the department does not expect to admit students with less than a B average in their undergraduate work or GRE scores below the 50th percentile. Average scores for recently admitted classes are at the bottom of this page.

What is more important, grades or research experience?

There is no formula. We admit students based on the holistic evaluation of their application, including their research interests.

Do I need an engineering undergraduate degree to apply?

No. See Admission Requirements on this page.

I don't satisfy all of the entry requirements above. Can I apply anyway?

Yes, but you should explain how you intend to make up any deficiency. This should be stated explicitly in the application on the "Statement of Purpose" page.  We strongly recommend that course deficiencies be made up at an accredited institution during the summer before the student enters Vanderbilt. Tuition for prerequisite courses taken at Vanderbilt will not be covered by financial aid awards. If your grades or GRE scores do not reflect your ability, this should be explained in the "Statement of Purpose."

When is the application deadline?

Applications are only considered for admission for the Fall semester of each year. The application deadline is January 1.

How can I apply?

All applications are submitted online.  Go to the following URL
for information on how to apply:

Aside from submitting my online application, what other information do I need to provide?

Have an official copy of your transcript sent to the Graduate School. Letters of recommendation can now be submitted online and we would prefer that method over letters received by mail. You need to take the General Graduate Record Examination and enter the results on your application form (M. Eng. students are not required to take the GRE examination). The official GRE scores will eventually be delivered to us, but you should also enter them on your application form. International applicants should also take the TOEFL exam and enter their results on the application form.   

Can you please pre-review my application?

We do not pre-review applications.

What is the "department code" requested on GRE applications?

            The code for BME is 1603 

Who should I ask to write letters of recommendation?

You should ask professors you have had in class who are familiar with your academic performance and research mentors who can provide information about your research abilities. Do not ask a TA to write a letter. One letter can be from an employer or former employer. We are primarily interested in letters that address your potential for success in both the academic and research phases of our program.



How do I apply for financial aid?

Simply check the box on the application form requesting that you be considered for financial aid. Your application to graduate school is also your application for financial aid.

What kinds of financial aid are available?

BME students receive their financial aid from numerous sources: Teaching Assistantships, Research Assistantships, Training grants, individual fellowship (most commonly the NSF graduate fellowship). Each year, some of the top applicants are considered for special topping-up fellowships supplied by IBM or the Vanderbilt Graduate School.

How much financial aid can I expect?

PhD students in our program that are supported as either a teaching assistant or research assistant typically receive a stipend, coverage of health insurance, and tuition support.  


How many new graduate students enter the program each year?

            Varies from year to year, but typically around 20. 

How many students apply to the program each year?

            about 200-250. 

How many graduate students are in the BME program?

            about 85. 

How are students supported in your department? 

Most graduate students serve as teaching assistants 1-2 semesters of their first year in the program. Otherwise, students are supported on Research Assistantships (i.e., from their advisor's grants) or Individual Fellowships / Training Grant slots. In the last five years (2013-2017), approximately 42 Vanderbilt BME predoctoral students have won competitive fellowships (NSF, AHA, NIH, NDSEG) and NIH training grant positions. Thus, between 40-50% of our students successfully compete for individual, stipend-granting awards.

Do you admit international students? 

Yes. In recent years we have had students from Canada, Romania, Korea, Thailand, Nigeria, India, Ghana, and China. 


How do I apply for the MD/PhD program

Information can be found on this page.