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. In fact, some programs even offer a live course option where online students actually “attend” live courses via online streaming video.
In addition to coursework, students have access to professors via email and during office hours and 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 degrees in biomedical engineering without sacrificing any educational quality.
The option to study 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 as well as active or reserve military members who are unable to live in the same place for an extended period of time.
Gaining admissions to a reputable online biomedical engineering program does require a fairly extensive application process. While the specific demands of any program will vary, there are a few steps that are common across most schools.
Applicants will need to complete and submit an online application, along with an application fee in most cases. 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 towards the end of fall (e.g. December 1). Some schools do allow for Summer semester admission. In addition, there are programs that 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 a number of areas during their undergraduate career with the majority of programs demanding applicants have a minimum 3.0 GPA prior to applying. Students must submit official transcripts from their undergraduate programs. Many also have course requirements for calculus and life sciences courses, as well as 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 go into the profession should be sure to confirm their status with their state of residence prior to employment.
For online graduate studies in biomedical engineering, the exact courses will vary, 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 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.
A number of 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.
It offers an online master of science (MS) in biomedical engineering with a specialization in translational health technology. This specialization offers a blend of knowledge in marketing, bioengineering, entrepreneurship, ethics, experimental design, and bioregulatory affairs. The program is ideal for students who have an undergraduate degree in engineering.
Application requirements include a completed online application, two letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, unofficial GRE scores, unofficial transcripts, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants.
Made up of 27 credit-hours, the program includes courses such as translational BME orientation, engineering entrepreneurship, experimental design for biosciences, clinical ethics, clinical information system, models of the healthcare system, biodesign, and bio-regulatory affairs.
Graduates of this program have secured jobs at leading organizations such as GE Healthcare, Steris, Cleveland Clinic, NASA, Invacare, HealthTechnology startups, and Siemens. Also, it is important to note that apart from this specialization, Case Western Reserve University also offers an online master of science in biomedical engineering with a specialization in wireless health.
Colorado State University, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, offers an online master of engineering (ME) in biomedical engineering. The CSU program is closely associated with the School of Veterinary Medicine, meaning that students will not only learn biomedical sciences as applicable to humans but also as it applies to animals. Specifically tailored for working professionals, this program helps them learn more about material issues in mechanical design, concepts in data and design analysis, and 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-hour program involves courses such as bioengineering, quantitative systems physiology, biological physics, materials engineering, biomedical signal processing, regression models and applications, generalized regression models, 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 instruments 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-hour 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 for solving 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.
In order 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.
Consisting of 30 credit-hours, 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 three different specializations. These programs provide students with an opportunity 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 will be required to submit proof of English language proficiency through TOEFL or IELTS scores.
The master's certificate 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.
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 towards 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 a number of courses that are available both online and on-campus, giving students the opportunity 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 when it comes to online learning, but all programs offer access to office hours in addition to email communication with professors. Some programs also have online forums where students can discuss assignments with their classmates, which can be effective for learning as well as networking for future opportunities.
While alumni visibility will not be as high for those students who do not actually 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 as well as to teaching.
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 identification of 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 University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Andrew Brightman is the assistant head of biomedical engineering and an associate professor of engineering practice at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University.
Notably, Dr. Brightman holds a number of patents in the biomedical engineering field. His research interests include tissue engineering, oxidative stress, ethics pedagogy in engineering, epi systemic mechanisms, 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 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 University of Trieste. He is currently involved in research on vision—specifically, how circuits and sensors can be used to mimic human vision. He has published his work in prominent journals such as Neuron, Neural Computation, and Electronics Letters.
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 efforts are focussed on healthcare IT, educational pedagogy, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Dr. Drummond has published in influential journals such as 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.
Dr. Dominique M. Durand is the E.L. Lindseth professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University, Case School of Engineering. He teaches 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 Case Western Reserve University.
Dr. Jennifer H. Elisseeff is the Morton Goldberg professor at the Johns Hopkins University Wilmer Eye Institute and Biomedical Engineering and Translational Tissue Engineering Center.
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.
Dr. Taekjip Ha is a professor of biophysics, biophysical chemistry, and biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, as well as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. 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 in physics from Seoul National University.
Dr. Elisa E. Konofagou is the Robert and Margaret Hariri Professor in both radiology and biomedical engineering at Columbia University. Her academic career has been extremely decorated, with awards that include the International Society of Therapeutic Ultrasound Early Career Award 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, and Ultrasonics. She earned her PhD from the University of Houston, MSc from Imperial College, and a BSc from Paris VI University.
Dr. Helen H. Lu is a professor of biomedical engineering and chair of graduate studies 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.
Dr. Michael I. Miller is the Bessie Darling Massey Professor and director of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He also directs the Center for Imaging Science and serves as co-director of the Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute, having particular interest in computational anatomy and brain mapping.
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.
Dr. Eric A. Nauman is a professor of mechanical engineering, a professor of basic medical sciences and biomedical engineering, and director of honors programs at Purdue University’s College of Engineering.
In 2010, Dr. Nauman was the recipient of the Purdue College of Engineering Early Career Research Award of Excellence, Purdue University Faculty Scholar Award, and the B.F.S. Schaefer Outstanding Young Faculty Scholar from the School of Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include human injury, cell and tissue mechanics, biophysics and biotransport, and adult stem cell-based tissue regeneration. He holds his PhD and MSME from the University of California and his BME from the University of Delaware.
Dr. Ketul C. Popat is an associate professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering at Colorado State University. His research interests include tissue engineering, biomedical engineering, controlled release, biomaterials, biocompatibility, bio-nanotechnology, and orthopedics. He has taught courses such as materials engineering, bioengineering, cell and tissue engineering, and the structure and function of biomaterials.
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.
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 Endocrinology, the Journal of Neuroscience, and Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology. Some of his published work explores central and peripheral components of the olfactory system, as well as 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.