Biomedical Engineering Degrees

What degrees can I earn?

Colleges and universities offering a campus-based or online engineering degree program in biomedical engineering will likely offer bachelors, masters and doctoral programs as the top biomedical engineering degrees. Due to the high degree of medical specialization in the field, employers typically prefer engineers who have completed biomedical engineering graduate programs or PhD programs.

Certificate

Certificate programs in biomedical engineering are available to candidates with a bachelors or masters degree, and can be useful to engineers already working in the field for further practical and applied knowledge. Some areas of specialization for which engineers may seek a certificate are in the biochemical, bioelectronics and biomechanics fields. In most cases, an engineering certificate in this field can be completed in 15 to 20 credit hours over the course of 1 to 2 years.

Associates degree

Most career opportunities in the field of biomedical engineering require a bachelors degree, making fewer associates degree programs available in this discipline. Students seeking an onsite or online engineering associates degree may be interested in pursuing a career as a biomedical technologist, which assists the engineer in the design and development of medical devices.

Bachelors degree

Earning a bachelors in biomedical engineering will allow you to be competitive in the job market upon graduation. Degree types vary by institution, with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering or a Bachelor of Engineering with a biomedical engineering focus being most common.

Prerequisites for admission commonly include a grade C or higher in core math and science courses, and may require a passing score in placement tests for physics, chemistry or calculus. A campus-based bachelors program typically takes 4 years to complete 120 to 140 credit hours, although it may be possible to earn an online engineering bachelors degree or accelerated bachelors in less time.

Masters degree

A Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering and Master of Engineering with a biomedical engineering concentration are the most common biomedical engineering masters offered by colleges and universities. A campus-based or online engineering masters degree program is approximately 30 to 40 credit hours, requiring 2 to 3 years to complete.

Prerequisites for many programs can include a bachelors degree earned from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accredited institution, as well as a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher.

PhD

The PhD in engineering or Doctor of Science degrees are the highest academic degrees that can be earned by students of engineering. The length of time for a biomedical engineering PhD program varies widely due to the high level of scientific research that will be necessary to complete the program. Credit hours can range from 50 to 120 hours beyond a bachelors degree, and can take 2 to 5 years or more to complete, depending upon the research and dissertation timeline.

Are there any programs online?

Students pursuing online biomedical engineering degree programs will find many colleges and universities to choose from. While most online degree offerings are partial or hybrid programs that require students to attend some courses on campus, the number of top brick-and-mortar universities and private institutions offering full online programs continues to rise.

Online degrees

As you consider a biomedical engineering associates degree online, be aware that most accredited online biomedical engineering colleges also offer a bachelors program, which is considered the entry-level credential for the field. While earning your associates will help you to gain experience and employment, you may find that you need to further your education in order to be fully competitive in the job market.

Earning an online biomedical engineering bachelors degree from both an accredited engineering program and an accredited college or university may be an important factor to consider as you pursue degree programs.

The licensing body for engineering requires graduation from an engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. If you are not interested in pursuing professional licensure, you may still want to research institutional accreditation, as attending a university accredited by 1 of several national accrediting agencies is required for state and federal financial aid.

As you pursue an online biomedical engineering masters degree, be sure to prioritize networking outside of your degree program. Most brick-and-mortar institutions provide opportunities to exchange ideas and forge relationships with faculty members and other professionals in the field. It may be challenging to make those same connections while attending an online program, but you can do so by being an active member of professional organizations and attending biomedical engineering conferences and events as available.

Earning a PhD in biomedical engineering will likely require a great deal of research. One of the challenges of attending biomedical engineering schools online is the potential lack of laboratory resources that will be available to you. The best online biomedical engineering program will accommodate this lack of availability and will work to ensure that your research needs are met.

What kinds of classes will I take in my program?

There are core courses that you will be required to take during your bachelors in biomedical engineering program. Whether you choose to take onsite or online engineering courses, most programs will require completion of calculus, trigonometry and physics classes in your first year. By the third and fourth years of your undergraduate program you will be able to take advanced biology, bioelectricity and bioinformatics courses.

Graduate students in a biomedical engineering program will be taking courses that are more specific to your chosen area of specialization. Some of the most common campus-based and biomedical engineering online courses will include biomechanics, biochemistry and molecular biology.

Finally, as a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering, your work will focus upon independent research on a topic related to your specialization. While you will likely take courses in advanced biology and biomechanics, the majority of your earned credit hours during this program will focus on completion of a qualifying examination in biomedical engineering, as well as your dissertation defense.

What careers can I choose from?

Biomedical engineering is one of the most rapidly advancing disciplines in engineering, creating more biomedical engineering jobs than ever before. With an anticipated growth of 62% over 10 years, job prospects for the best careers in biomedical engineering will likely continue to improve through the year 2020.

Clinical Engineer

A clinical engineer deals with medical technology, both in its design and development and in its correct usage. Clinical engineers can often be found in the hospital setting, assessing new medical technology and training staff on its functionality.

Clinical engineering jobs will require a bachelors in biomedical engineering or chemical engineering, and employers often voice a strong preference for candidates with a masters or higher. The average salary range for this field is $43,000 to $97,000.

Pharmaceutical Engineer

Pharmaceutical engineering combines principles of biology, medicine and engineering to design and employ technologies that lead to the manufacturing of medicinal drugs. This is a highly specialized field that will require a masters degree in biomedical engineering or chemical engineering, with some employers preferring a doctoral degree. The biomedical engineering salary for this field ranges from $66,000 to $102,000.

Genetic Engineer

Genetic engineering uses engineering principles to manipulate DNA in order to produce biological products such as hormones and insulin, or to change hereditary traits.
This is a highly advanced field of engineering for which many jobs will require a masters degree or greater, offering a median income of $82,000.

Is there anything else I should know about getting a degree?

While not all engineers choose to pursue licensure, some biomedical engineering jobs will offer greater compensation to applicants with a Professional Engineering license obtained through specialized biomedical engineering training. The first step toward this type of engineering certification is to take the Fundamentals in Engineering exam in order to be considered an engineer in training until you become eligible to sit for your licensure exam to then get your biomedical engineering certification.

There are 2 professional associations in biomedical engineering that offer continuing education and networking opportunities for members of the biomedical engineering community. The Biomedical Engineering Society and the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society each host annual conferences and events to highlight technology advancements in the field and to bring members together to meet and share information.