The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 10% growth in life, physical, and social science occupations by 2026, with 100,000 new jobs flowing into the economy. The boom in life science occupations means that the industry needs more educated professionals to work in these positions. For students interested in medicine and technology, biomedical engineering combines both fields into one compelling industry.
The BLS projects 10% growth in life, physical, and social science occupations by 2026, with 100,000 new jobs flowing into the economy.
A biomedical engineering master's degree increases earning potential and makes workers more attractive to employers. This degree also teaches employees innovative skills to help them design the next generation of medical equipment. Workers who want to take the next step in their careers must find the right master's program in biomedical engineering. Each biomedical engineering master's program offers its own benefits. This guide provides all the information you need regarding cost, coursework, and the admissions process.
Should I Get a Master's in Biomedical Engineering?
Students who love the technical aspect of medicine can pursue a biomedical engineering master's degree. Most schools with a master's program in the discipline also offer a bachelor's degree in the field. However, many students with a background in life or natural sciences enroll in biomedical engineering programs. Once students enroll, they can explore class format.
On-campus courses appeal to students looking for the traditional college experience complete with a lecturing professor and a written syllabus. Online programs work best for self-starters, people who need little direction, and whose busy schedules prevent them from taking traditional courses. On-campus students value the face-to-face contact and individualized attention from instructors.
With this degree, learners develop into medical engineers capable of building an artificial heart from scratch. They understand the functions of every cell, artery, and organ in the body. They use this knowledge to create innovative medical devices that improve the quality of life for many people. Master's programs in biomedical engineering expose students to the world of scientific technology and the ever-growing healthcare industry.
While in this program, students visit hospitals, laboratories, and other healthcare facilities filled with healthcare personnel and patients who rely on engineers to create the technology they use daily. Schools also help connect students with industry professionals and like-minded individuals. Students should take advantage of their school's career services center before graduation.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Biomedical Engineering?
Biomedical engineers possess a unique skill set because they understand the complexities of engineering coupled with the attributes of medicine. They can work in many different capacities creating, using, and selling equipment. Most scientists must know how to use advanced technology to perform their duties. A biomedical engineering master's degree prepares graduates to work with this equipment, using it to conduct research and test samples. Students interested in the industry's research aspect enjoy working in laboratories with other researchers to brainstorm ideas. Extroverted students like interacting with other healthcare personnel and prefer sharing their inventions in the field.
- Biomedical Engineers
Biomedical engineers use engineering principles to design medical devices and equipment for use by patients and healthcare professionals. They develop artificial organs and prosthetic body parts. In addition to creating medical equipment, they also repair and troubleshoot it. These engineers collaborate with life scientists and medical scientists.
Median Annual Salary: $88,040*
Most biochemists and biophysicists work in laboratories to conduct research on cells, diseases, and other living organisms. Biochemists often test the effects of pharmaceutical drugs and hormones on body tissue. They use lasers, microscopes, and computer software to perform much of their work.
Median Annual Salary: $91,190*
- Environmental Scientists
These professionals study the environment to determine its impact on human health. They concern themselves with environmental issues such as pollution, collect data, and write reports about their findings. Environmental scientists strive to inform the general public and the government about environmental changes.
Median Annual Salary: $69,400*
- Medical Scientists
These individuals research the external factors that affect human health. They use medical samples during research trials to investigate diseases and pathogens. They also create medical devices. Medical scientists test pharmaceutical drugs to understand their potency and determine the right dosage for users.
Median Annual Salary: $82,090*
- Agricultural Scientists
Also known as food scientists, these professionals study soil, field crops, and farm animals to enhance their sustainability. They work with other researchers to develop new food products and packaging. Animal scientists, plant scientists, and soil scientists fall under the umbrella of agricultural scientists.
Median Annual Salary: $62,910*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Master's Program in Biomedical Engineering
Master's programs in biomedical engineering take two years to complete. Most schools offer a thesis or non-thesis track. The thesis track features a practicum requirement or courses pertaining to the thesis project. Non-thesis tracks can also include a final project, but it is not graded like a thesis. A thesis involves original research, so it takes time to write. Instructors often work with students to meet deadlines. Thesis and non-thesis options are comparable in length. The curriculum consists of courses in life sciences, mathematics, research, and engineering. For advanced courses, students must take and pass the prerequisite course. Classes tend to build off of each other.
Accreditation also matters. Accredited schools receive the seal of approval from the U.S. Department of Education, which allows them to receive and distribute federal funds. Students have a better chance of receiving funding from an accredited institution.
A student's enrollment status remains one of the biggest factors in program length. Full-time students take more credits per semester than part-time students. Due to their course load, full-time students graduate on time or ahead of their graduation date. Part-time enrollment helps students with busy schedules or tight budgets complete courses when they can. However, these students pay the same or more tuition than full-time enrollees.
Program specializations also affect a degree's length and cost. Concentration courses can raise tuition price by a few hundred or thousands of dollars.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master's Programs in Biomedical Engineering
Attending an accredited school helps students receive better financial aid packages. Regionally accredited schools use federal funds to award grants, scholarships, and loans to students in need. Accredited schools make it easy to transfer credits to other institutions. They also partner with community colleges to allow students to transfer all of their undergraduate credits.
Programmatic accreditation is more specific. Programmatic accrediting bodies consist of industry insiders and academics. They evaluate the faculty and program curriculum to ensure courses prepare students to work in the field. While programmatic accreditation isn't required, it represents exceptional educational quality and delivery.
The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) supervises the evaluation process for biomedical engineering master's programs. ABET oversees many of the engineering programs at higher education institutions. Students can find accredited programs online.
Master's in Biomedical Engineering Program Admissions
Admission to a biomedical engineering master's program is highly competitive. Schools want the best and brightest students, so they require high GPAs and test scores. Students should start applying to schools at least a year before they start a program. Schools handle the admissions process through online portals. Students create an online profile containing their personal information, upload their documents, and submit their application to the school.
When selecting candidates, schools review work experience, research experience, and academic performance. A committee that heads the biomedical engineering program reviews applications, but the graduate school makes the final decisions. Schools also impose their own application deadlines. Some programs only accept students during the fall or spring semester. In these instances, students must submit their application as soon as the school starts accepting them. For the fall semester, schools accept applications in early spring.
- Bachelor's Degree: An undergraduate degree in bioengineering or life sciences helps a student understand the concepts in the biomedical engineering master's program. The program requires an undergraduate degree with a math or science focus.
- Professional Experience: Many students apply for their master's degree immediately after graduating from an undergraduate program. However, administrators welcome students with any scientific or medical experience.
- Minimum GPA: Schools seek applicants with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Many programs want applicants with a minimum 3.2 or even a 3.5 GPA.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Biomedical Engineering?
While curricular details vary, there are some common characteristics -- including concentrations and core coursework -- that can be found in most biomedical engineering programs.
|Biomaterials||Biomaterials are the substances used to create medical equipment. These substances can either be found in nature or made in a laboratory. Many engineers take this concentration to study different materials and their uses. Students may be asked to use these materials to construct an artificial organ or prosthetic limb.||Rehabilitation Engineer|
|Biotechnology||Biotechnology combines biology with technology to create a comprehensive curriculum for future bioengineers. Students learn about molecular biotechnology and structural technology, two advanced science concepts. Students also review pharmaceutical technologies used to create and test prescription drugs. Biotechnology is a broad field that is offered as its own major at other schools.||Research Scientist|
|Health Data Science||Health data science involves mathematics and computer engineering. Heavily rooted in statistics, this discipline teaches students how to collect and analyze the health data needed to solve problems in the biomedical sciences. Students apply statistical methods and scientific computing to a host of problems.||Health Data Scientist|
|Immune Engineering||This concentration explores the immune system and how it responds to diseases. This information helps bioengineers create new devices that mimic the functions of the immune system and improve them. In this concentration, learners study the cells, tissues, and other system components.||Clinical Engineer|
|Biosensors and Bioinstrumentation||Elements of biochemistry, electronics, and physiology make up the foundation of this concentration. Researchers use biosensors to detect antibodies in different environments. Bioinstrumentation is the basis of healthcare technology. Further research in this field can help with developing devices for third-world countries.||Environmental Scientist|
Courses in a Master's in Biomedical Engineering Program
A biomedical engineering master's curriculum varies. Each school creates its own curriculum to meet the learning and course objective they deem important. Core courses hold different names, but the content stays the same with a focus on science and mathematics. See below for a sample curriculum.
- Neural Signal Acquisition
Students learn to measure neural signals using analog and digital equipment. Analog equipment includes electrodes, filters, and amplifiers. With these features, students read electrograms and EEGs. Using the digital equipment, students examine spike detection and sorting. By the end of the course, students can understand and record signal processing algorithms.
- Biomedical Materials and Artificial Organs
In this course, students explore the chemical composition, uses, and regulations for biomedical materials. Students analyze equipment such as implants and prostheses and the process behind their creation. Instructors may focus on polymer-based materials and their role in the construction of artificial organs, especially organ membranes and arteries.
- Cell Mechanics and Mechanotransduction
The course focuses on cells, their properties, and their biological processes. Engineers use this information when creating medical equipment and organs that mimic human body functions. Class material covers cell function, adhesion, cytoskeleton mechanics, and other mechanical properties. Students should have some knowledge of cell biology.
- Tissue Biomechanics
Learners probe the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems, specifically the system's solids and fluids. Coursework focuses on tissues, cells, molecules, and their applications. For bodily tissues, students evaluate stress-strain and the equipment used to measure it. Other topics assess the mechanics of blood vessels and cells.
Instructors focus on the core functions and meaning of biosensors. Learners probe the principles of protein binding as it relates to receptor-transmitting, lectin-sugar, and enzyme-substrate. The course delves into physics as students research the surface-binding phenomena. Usually students take bioengineering before taking the course.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Biomedical Engineering?
Degree candidates can finish their biomedical engineering master's degree in two years or less depending on the amount of credits they take each semester. Most programs consist of 30 credits or more. Students can also choose a concentration which includes additional courses. Most schools want students to take 12 elective credits and complete a thesis or final project to graduate. Thesis programs include a seminar course and a final review by board members. Learners must receive a passing grade on their project to graduate.
To graduate on time, students take the maximum number of credits allowed per semester. Students also enroll in summer and winter session courses. These accelerated programs take a few weeks to complete and students use their financial aid to pay for them. If students take longer than two years to graduate, they pay more for their program as prices change each year.
How Much is a Master's in Biomedical Engineering?
The price of a biomedical engineering master's degree depends on the school. Several factors affect tuition, especially how the school divvies up tuition rates. Schools can charge students a flat rate per semester, a rate for credit ranges, or cost per credit. With flat-rate tuition, students pay one fee for the entire semester. The rate also includes additional university fees. The rate for credit range options covers a full course load, usually 12-18 credits per semester. Students who want to take less than 12 or more than 18 credits pay individually for the course. Cost per credit options cover one course. Most courses are worth 1-4 credits.
Most students use financial aid in the form of scholarships, loans, and grants to pay for tuition. However, some financial aid packages include provisions asking students to take a certain amount of credits per semester to receive aid. The final degree cost also depends on the institution. Private universities tend to cost more than public universities. Also, some schools charge different tuition rates for certain programs or courses, such as online courses. The cost of attendance starts at $27,000 per semester.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Biomedical Engineering Prepares For
- Clinical Engineer
The American College of Clinical Engineering administers this certification to clinical engineers. The Clinical Engineering Board of Examiners reviews applications before applicants can proceed to the next step. After the review, applicants sign up for the written exam and take an oral exam.
- Medical Technologist
The multi-step process to medical technologist certification includes passing an AAB exam in chemistry, hematology, immunology, immunohematology, or microbiology. Applicants must also pass the generalist exam. Educational qualifications include an associate degree in medical laboratory technology or laboratory science. The AAB also accepts credits from an accredited clinical laboratory training program.
- Embryology Laboratory Scientist
Three levels of qualification standards exist for the embryology laboratory certification. The first requires a doctorate from an accredited university, but the second requires a master's degree and three years of embryology testing supervision or human specimens directing experience. During their supervision or directing, applicants should have performed at least 60 reproductive procedures.
Resources for Graduate Biomedical Engineering Students
This database aggregates journal articles from the top medical publications for free. Students can search the database for articles on life sciences and biomedicine.
This search engine is part of the U.S. Library of Medicine. Students find information on various health and wellness topics. They can also search for information on prescription drugs and supplements.
ScienceDirect goes a step further than other databases and provides more than one million articles, journals, and books for review. Students can explore the database by sections including engineering, health sciences, and life sciences.
This center led by Northwestern University is one of the top research centers dedicated to healthcare innovation.
This job board assists recent college grads with finding positions in their field. Some schools partner with the site to provide lists of curated jobs.
Professional Organizations in Biomedical Engineering
With a biomedical engineering master's degree students can go on to perform groundbreaking research and find the next medical breakthrough. They can also join a professional organization to meet people in their field who can help them land that first job out of college or find a mentor to help guide their way. Professional organizations welcome students and recent graduates, offering valuable services as they navigate school and their careers. Organizations host conferences and networking opportunities for members all over the world.