While the field of biomedical engineering may seem like it is not conducive to online learning, the schools work hard to ensure that online learners get the same education that students on campus do. Some programs even offer a live course option where online students actually “attend” live courses via online streaming video.
In addition to coursework, students can access professors via email and during office hours. Most programs feature student forums where online learners can interact with their classmates, ask questions, get feedback, and work on group projects. These interactive capabilities make it possible for schools to offer online biomedical engineering degrees without sacrificing educational quality.
Studying biomechanical engineering in an online setting is ideal for those who want to pursue this exciting and in-demand field but do not necessarily have the time or resources to commit to an on-campus program. Online education is a popular choice for working parents who need to spend more time at home and active or reserve military members who cannot live in the same place for an extended period.
Gaining admission to a reputable online biomedical engineering program does require a fairly extensive application process. While any program's specific demands will vary, a few steps are common across most schools.
In most cases, applicants will need to complete and submit an online application, along with an application fee. Applications for these types of programs are generally accepted for set semesters, usually Fall and Spring. Deadlines for admission in fall tend to be at the end of Spring (e.g., June 1), while applications for spring should be completed toward the end of fall (e.g. December 1).
Some schools do allow for Summer semester admission. In addition, some programs utilize rolling admissions, meaning you can apply at any time, and should you be accepted, you will be eligible to start classes whenever the next semester begins.
Biomedical engineering applicants must have demonstrated proficiency in several areas during their undergraduate career, with most programs demanding applicants have a minimum 3.0 GPA before applying. Students must submit official transcripts from their undergraduate programs. Many also have course requirements for calculus and life sciences courses and current GRE scores.
Applicants who earned their undergraduate degree from a school in a country where English is not the official spoken language will likely also have to submit the results of the TOEFL or IELTS exam.
The most prevalent accreditation for engineering programs comes from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which provides accreditation evaluations for programs focused on applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology at the associate, bachelor, and master’s degree levels. ABET is nationally recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
State or federal licensing requirements are uncommon for biomedical engineers, although a Professional Engineer (PE) license is available to those that earn an undergraduate degree from an ABET-accredited institution. In the US, it is rare for biomedical engineers to be required to sit for a licensing exam. However, because licensing is governed on a state-by-state basis, those looking to enter the profession should be sure to confirm their status with their state of residence before employment.
The exact courses will vary for online graduate studies in biomedical engineering, but commonalities exist across different program curriculums. Common core courses for ME students include:
In terms of specialization, not all programs offer a specialization beyond biomedical engineering itself, but some do. Common specializations may include:
In those programs where specialization is offered, it is an integrated part of the program and does not require additional course hours or semesters to complete.
For those students who choose to pursue a certificate rather than a full master's of engineering at this time, the course requirements are similar but more limited. For instance, whereas an ME student may be required to take ten courses, as is the case at Johns Hopkins University, a certificate student will take only five or six courses. The courses will be focused directly on biomechanical engineering fundamentals and advanced concepts, with not as much breadth of study as a full master's degree program.
Several highly regarded universities offer online biomedical engineering programs. While this is not a complete list, these are some of the top options for students interested in pursuing an online graduate degree or postgraduate certificate in biomedical engineering.
The biomedical engineering program at Case Western Reserve University was founded in 1968, making it a true pioneer in the field. Research is a key part of the program's success and the school's close affiliation with facilities such as the Cleveland Clinic, the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and the University Hospitals Case Medical Center offer tremendous employment opportunities to graduates of the program.
U.S. News and World Report ranked the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University at #18 nationally for biomedical engineering programs. The online master of science program in biomedical engineering is ideal for students who have an undergraduate degree in engineering.
Application requirements include a completed online application, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a current resume, official transcripts, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants.
Made up of 30 credits, the program includes courses such as biomedical instrumentation and signal processing; cellular & molecular physiology; leadership & interpersonal skills; engineering economics & financial analysis; medical imaging fundamentals; principles of medical device design and innovation; and introduction to business for engineers.
Colorado State University, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, offers an online master of engineering (ME) in biomedical engineering. Specifically tailored for working professionals, this program helps them learn more about material issues in mechanical design, concepts in data and design analysis, and the function and structure of biomaterials.
For admission to this program, students must have a BS in engineering, life sciences, or natural sciences from a regionally accredited institution; a grade point average of 3.0 or higher; and proof of coursework completion (calculus, physics, etc.), among other requirements.
This 30-credit program involves courses such as bioengineering; quantitative systems physiology; biological physics; materials engineering; biomedical signal processing; fundamentals of biochemical engineering; advanced composite materials; cardiovascular biomechanics; and biofluid mechanics.
Graduates of this program can pursue careers in a wide range of industries, such as biological product manufacturing, pharmaceutical preparation manufacturing, analytical lab instrument manufacturing, surgical and medical instrument manufacturing, and irradiation apparatus manufacturing, among others.
Purdue University’s online graduate engineering program consistently ranks among the top ten programs by US News and World Report.
Purdue offers an interdisciplinary biomedical engineering program that culminates in an MSE/MS degree. The program allows students to focus largely on biomedical engineering and offers them technical knowledge too. This program is ideal for students who are looking to build a competitive edge in the healthcare and biomedical industry. The faculty for the program includes the same renowned professors who teach on-campus classes.
The major admission requirements for the program include an undergraduate degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program (or one with similar standards), a statement of purpose, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a current resume, among others.
In this 30-credit program, students will delve into topics such as biomedical engineering, life science, regulatory engineering, and analysis. Specifically, courses include an introduction to biomaterials; tissue engineering; quality systems for regulatory compliance; an introduction to clinical medicine; biostatistics; and biomedical signal processing.
As part of its Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University offers an online master's degree in biomedical engineering. Distance-based courses at Columbia University are completed through a tried and tested system known as the Columbia Video Network (CVN), with experienced professors.
This fully online program teaches students to harness applied science and engineering to solve problems in medicine and biology. It also provides them with an understanding of living systems and their behavior, as well as biomedical devices and systems.
To get accepted into the program, applicants must have an undergraduate degree in engineering, mathematics, science, computer science, or a related field from an accredited academic institution, a minimum grade point average of 3.0, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, a current resume, a statement outlining their personal and professional goals, and TOEFL/IELTS scores for international applicants. GRE scores are currently optional for admission.
Consisting of 30 credits, the program includes courses such as quantitative physiology; solid biomechanics; physiological control systems; sound and hearing; ultrasound in diagnostic imaging; tissue engineering; and physiological control systems.
Johns Hopkins University offers both a master's degree and a post-master's certificate in applied biomedical engineering. Online, hybrid, and on-site programs are available in five different focus areas. Focus areas include biomechanics, medical devices, imaging, neuroengineering, and translational tissue engineering. These programs allow students to advance their engineering skills and solve complex problems in medicine and biology.
Admission requirements for the master's degree include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, a grade point average of at least 3.0, and transcripts, among other requirements. The post-master’s certificate requires students to have a master’s degree in a relevant engineering or science discipline, transcripts from all college studies, and a completed online application. International applicants must submit proof of English language proficiency through TOEFL or IELTS scores.
The master's degree involves ten courses, while the post-master’s certificate involves five courses. Students take courses such as molecular biology; physiology for applied biomedical engineering; an introduction to biomechanics; biological solid and fluid mechanics; biomimetics in biomedical engineering; and orthopedic biomechanics, among others.
Students will get an opportunity to work on solving medical and physiological challenges, use their mathematical methods and physiological knowledge to design laboratory equipment and experiments, and develop a strong background in medical physiology.
The University of Southern California offers a master of science in biomedical engineering program, which can be completed on-campus or online through the [email protected] platform. Students can complete this program with a thesis option that requires four units of BME 594abz, or without a thesis that requires coursework only. Students in the online portion can choose from concentrations in medical imaging and imaging informatics, and medical device and diagnostic engineering.
Comprising 28 credits, the program includes courses such as advanced topics in biomedical systems; advanced studies of the nervous system; physiological control systems; signal and systems analysis; ultrasonic imaging; linear control systems; and random processes in engineering, among others.
Admission requirements to the program include a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in any engineering or engineering-related discipline, electronic transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, a current resume, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students whose first language is not English.
University of California-Riverside’s online master of science in engineering program specializing in bioengineering explores high-level topics such as genetics, biological and physiological systems, and computational biology. The program provides students with the technical skills and management expertise that can help them make significant strides in their professional development.
Coursework includes sixteen credits of core engineering classes, plus sixteen credits within the bioengineering specialization. As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as engineering in the global environment; engineering analysis of physiological systems; cellular and molecular engineering; integration of computational and experimental biology; biotransport phenomena; technology innovation and strategy for engineers; and principles of engineering management.
To get accepted into the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or a related field from a regionally accredited institution, official transcripts, reference letters, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants. GRE waivers are available for applicants with a GPA of 3.2 or higher.
The Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland offers an online professional master of engineering in bioengineering program. Students in this program will learn to integrate principles of biological systems and engineering for developing new devices and technologies that fight disease, aid persons with disabilities, and improve human health.
For admission to the program, applicants must have a bachelor's degree in engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, or another technical field from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Those with an undergraduate degree in a non-engineering field must have completed coursework indicating an aptitude for bioengineering.
This 30-credit program includes courses such as applied mathematics in bioengineering; regulatory affairs in medical product development; biomedical device developments; physiology for bioengineers; application of biomaterials; genome editing and synthetic biology; and applications of tissue engineering. There is no thesis or research required for this degree.
With the University of North Dakota's master of science in biomedical engineering program, students will gain the expertise needed to advance in the biomedical device field. They will learn to create innovative solutions through biomedical product development and research. This program is offered jointly by the University of North Dakota's College of Engineering and Mines and North Dakota State University’s College of Engineering. All students in this program will be associated with at least one of the following biomedical research groups: biomechanics; bio-instrumentation; biomaterials; bio-signals; multi-scale, bio-system simulation and modeling; or other emerging areas as identified.
Applicants to the program must have a bachelor of science degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students holding a BS degree in other disciplines may be admitted on a conditional basis.
This degree can be completed with either the thesis or the non-thesis option. Consisting of 30 credits, the program includes courses such as digital image processing; advanced biomedical engineering problems; biomedical instrumentation; anatomy and physiology for biomedical engineers; intelligent decision systems; and seminar for biomedical engineers; among others.
An online master of engineering in bioengineering degree program offered by the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering is designed for students who are looking for a stepping stone to managerial and technical careers in the healthcare industry. This program is an excellent option for those who wish to pursue an advanced graduate degree while working.
Students will be able to augment the depth of their technical background, while also developing fundamental skills in business. The program allows students to choose from two transcribable concentrations: bioinstrumentation and general bioengineering.
As part of the 32-credit curriculum, students will take courses such as biological measurement; managing business operations; innovation and introduction to financial decision-making; and a seminar in bioinstrumentation, among others.
The major admission requirements to the program include a bachelor’s degree in engineering, science, or a related discipline, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and TOEFL or IELTS test results for applicants whose degree is not from an institution where English is the official language.
University of Missouri’s online master of science program in biological engineering is a course-work-intensive degree program that allows students to explore various topics and develop new skill sets in bioengineering. Students can customize their own study plan and develop research skills by completing a substantial independent project. This program can be completed entirely online with no campus visits required.
Made up of 30 credits, the program includes courses such as numerical methods in engineering research; statistical methods in the health sciences; problems in biological engineering; materials characterization techniques; orthopedic failure modes and effect analysis; food process engineering; and orthopedic biomechanics.
To get accepted into the program, applicants must have completed a bachelor’s from a regionally accredited institution in a STEM field with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Additional application requirements include transcripts of all previous college or university education, a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, a current resume, and TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, or C1 Advanced score reports for applicants whose native language is not English.
Villanova University offers an online master of science program in biochemical engineering, providing students with real-world knowledge for a practical application covering topics such as biomaterials, drug delivery, and biopharmaceutical design. The program exposes students to downstream and upstream bioprocess fundamentals and provides them with the tools for designing and optimizing pharmaceutical processes, products, and facilities, using state-of-the-art analysis and technology.
Admission requirements to the program include an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students who have completed their undergraduate degrees at non-accredited U.S. schools will be required to take the GRE and/or the TOEFL exams.
The 30-credit curriculum of the program includes courses such as biochemical engineering; global pharmaceutical business; biomaterials & drug delivery; protein engineering; transport phenomena; polymer science & engineering; systems biology; and survey of biomass conversion.
Not all online biomedical engineering programs actively and consistently report how many campus visits may be required to complete their programs. However, it is possible to give an overview of some different possibilities.
Because online biomedical engineering programs are largely targeted toward working engineers, they can generally be completed without ever setting foot on campus. This is true of programs as varied as Columbia University, Colorado State University, and Purdue University.
For students who are looking for a more hybrid option, Johns Hopkins University offers many courses that are available both online and on-campus, allowing students to choose whether or not they want that type of personal interaction.
It would be impossible to list all the different considerations that must go into choosing the right online biomedical engineering program, but there are a few things to consider that differ from choosing an offline program. For instance, it is essential that anyone participating in this type of learning be fluent in the technology they will be using. While universities offer some degree of technical support, learning can be interrupted if you do not have the proper hardware and internet connection necessary to watch classes and participate in discussions.
It is also understandable that students may concern themselves with a lack of professor interaction regarding online learning, but all programs offer access to office hours and email communication with professors. Some programs also have online forums where students can discuss assignments with their classmates, which can be effective for learning and networking for future opportunities.
While alumni visibility will not be as high for those students who do not attend class on campus, many universities organize alumni networking events around the country, which will be available to online students. It is important to note that for networking and career assistance, online students may have to work a bit harder to seek out these types of resources, but they will still have that important access if they choose to take advantage of it.
The quality of the faculty at any school is a critical part of the quality of education that is offered there. The following professors teach at schools that offer online biomedical engineering courses and have shown a commitment to their field and teaching.
James P. Basilion , PhD Case Western Reserve University
Dr. James P. Basilion is a professor of biomedical engineering in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. Presently, his research focuses on molecular imaging for identifying tumor margins, quenched activity-based optical imaging probes, gold nanoparticles for imaging and drug delivery, and imaging complex molecular signatures.
Dr. Basilion has published in influential journals such as the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, Bioconjugate Chemistry, and PLoS One. He also has won awards such as a Distinguished Investigator Award and an Intramural Research Training Award. He completed his PhD from The University of Texas at Houston and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.
Andrew Brightman , PhD Purdue University
Dr. Andrew Brightman is a professor of engineering practice at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University.
Notably, Dr. Brightman holds several patents in the biomedical engineering field. His research interests include tissue engineering, ethics pedagogy in engineering, diversity, equity, and inclusion in professional formation in engineering, ethical engineering of medical technologies, and chronic stress and health impact. He has been published in respected journals such as the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, the Biochemical Journal, and Physiologia Plantarum. He earned his PhD from Purdue University and a BS from North Carolina State University.
Eugenio Culurciello , PhD Purdue University
Dr. Eugenio Culurciello is a multitalented professor who holds positions as an associate professor in four departments at Purdue: Biomedical Engineering, Psychological Sciences, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering.
Dr. Culurciello earned his PhD and MSECE from Johns Hopkins University and his MSEE from the University of Trieste. His research efforts are focused on deep learning, machine-learning software and hardware, large-scale artificial neural networks, artificial learning and intelligence, and computer vision. He has published his work in prominent journals such as Neuron, Neural Computation, and Electronics Letters.
Colin Drummond , PhD Case Western Reserve University
Dr. Colin K. Drummond is an assistant chair and professor of biomedical engineering in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. His research focuses on healthcare IT, educational pedagogy, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Dr. Drummond has published in influential journals such as Circulation, the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the Journal of Propulsion and Power, and the Journal of Medical Engineering & Technology. He completed his PhD at Syracuse University and holds an MBA in technology management from the Weatherhead School of Management.
Dominique M. Durand , PhD Case Western Reserve University
Dr. Dominique M. Durand is the E.L. Lindseth professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University, Case School of Engineering. He teaches or has taught courses such as engineering concepts and applications, the principles of biomedical instrumentation, biomedical instrumentation laboratory, biomedical engineering laboratories, applied electronics for biomedical engineers, and biomedical transducers.
Dr. Durand’s research efforts are focused on neural engineering. His work has been published in prominent journals such as the Journal of Neurophysiology, the Biophysical Journal, and the Annals of Biomedical Engineering. He has received numerous awards such as an Innovation Research Award and a Graduate Teaching Award. He holds his PhD from the University of Toronto and his master's degree in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University.
Jennifer H. Elisseeff , PhD Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Jennifer H. Elisseeff is the Jules Stein Professor of biomedical engineering, Morton Goldberg professor of ophthalmology, director of translational tissue engineering center, professor of materials science & engineering, and professor of chemical & biomolecular engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Her research interests include regenerative immunology, aging, regenerative medicine, and single-cell analysis. Her research focus areas include translational cell and tissue engineering, and immunoengineering.
Dr. Elisseeff has had a noteworthy academic career, having earned her PhD in biomedical engineering from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and publishing over 120 articles, patent applications, and book chapters, in addition to giving over 130 national and international lectures. She has published in prominent journals such as Biomaterials, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, and the Journal of Controlled Release.
Taekjip Ha , PhD Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Taekjip Ha is a professor of biophysics, biophysical chemistry, and biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He has the distinction of being the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and has published numerous academic articles.
Dr. Ha’s research is focused on using single-molecule detection methods for studying complex biological systems. He has published in journals such as Nature Methods, the Biophysical Journal, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. He completed his PhD in physics from the University of California at Berkeley and his BS from Seoul National University.
Elisa E. Konofagou , PhD Columbia University
Dr. Elisa E. Konofagou is the Robert and Margaret Hariri Professor in biomedical engineering and a professor of radiology at Columbia University. Her academic career has been extremely decorated, with awards that include the Bodossaki Foundation Award for Scientific Excellence in Applied Science and the Nagy Award from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.
Dr. Konofagou’s research interests include ultrasound imaging, soft tissue biomechanics, elasticity imaging, drug delivery, and neuromodulation. She has published in journals such as Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology, Physics in Medicine & Biology, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, and Ultrasonics. She earned her PhD from the University of Houston, an MSc from Imperial College, and a BSc from Paris VI University.
Helen H. Lu , PhD Columbia University
Dr. Helen H. Lu is Percy K. and Vida L. W. Hudson Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering. Her research has earned support from the National Institutes of Health, the National Football League (NFL) Charities, and the New York Stem Cell Initiative. Her research interests include orthopedic and dental biomaterials, mechanisms of biomineralization, multi-functional and inductive biomaterial design, and biomimetic models.
Dr. Lu has published in prominent journals such as Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Biomaterials, and the Annals of Biomedical Engineering. She also has won several awards such as the Janette and Armen Avanessians Diversity Award and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation Early Faculty Career Award in Translational Research. She completed her PhD and MSE from the University of Pennsylvania.
Michael I. Miller , PhD Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Michael I. Miller is the Bessie Darling Massey Professor and director of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He is also the co-director of the Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute, particularly interested in computational anatomy and medical imaging. His research focus includes biomedical data science, imaging and medical devices, computational medicine, and neuroengineering.
Dr. Minner holds his MS and PhD in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and his BS from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He has published in journals such as the International Journal of Computer Vision, the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, and Vision Research.
Ketul Popat , PhD Colorado State University
Dr. Ketul C. Popat is an associate professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering at Colorado State University. His research interests include tissue engineering, titanium nanomaterials for orthopedic implants, novel alloys and surface treatments or implant applications, and blood-contacting biomaterials for cardiovascular medical devices. He has taught courses such as materials engineering, engineering of nanomaterials, cell and tissue engineering, and an overview of biomedical engineering.
Dr. Popat has published his research in prominent journals such as the Journal of Physical Chemistry C, Biomaterials, and the Journal of Membrane Science. He completed his PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago, his MEng from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and his BE from Maharaja Sayajirao University.
Stuart A. Tobet , PhD Colorado State University
Dr. Stuart A. Tobet is a professor of biomedical engineering as part of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University. He holds a PhD and MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BS from Tulane University.
Dr. Tobet has published in many prominent journals, including the Journal of Neuroendocrinology, Journal of Neuroscience, Neuropsychopharmacology, and Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology. Some of his published work explores central and peripheral components of the olfactory system and the development of the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus.
Learn more about how these 20 leading professors of biomedical engineering are helping to advance the field, whilst ensuring their students join the vanguard and continue to innovate.
Biomedical engineers do not just improve lives; in fact, their research, tools, and devices save millions of them every day. Thanks to their work, which bridges the divide between medicine and engineering, people live longer, heal faster, and live more comfortably than ever.
Aspiring biomedical engineers can enroll in various graduate programs, including a master of science (MS), a master of science in engineering (MSE), or a master of engineering (ME). While the differences in each program can sometimes be a matter of semantics, there are a few key differentiators.