Bioengineering

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Bioengineering offers a Master of Engineering (MEng) in Bioengineering, PhD in Bioengineering, and a Master of Translational Medicine (MTM). The PhD and MTM are operated in partnership with UC San Francisco, and degrees are granted jointly by UCSF and UC Berkeley.

Master of Engineering (MEng)

The Master of Engineering is a one-year master’s degree with a strong emphasis on engineering and entrepreneurship designed for students planning to move directly into industry after completing the program.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD in Bioengineering is granted jointly by Berkeley and UCSF, two of the top public universities in the world in engineering and health sciences. Our interdisciplinary program combines the outstanding resources in biomedical and clinical sciences at UCSF with the excellence in engineering, physical, and life sciences at Berkeley.

Administered by the Department of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley and the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at UCSF, all students in the program are simultaneously enrolled in the graduate divisions of both the San Francisco and Berkeley campuses and are free to take advantage of courses and research opportunities on both campuses. The program awards the PhD in Bioengineering degree from both campuses.

For a full list of our core faculty, visit this page.

Visit Department Website

Admissions

Admission to the Master of Engineering

Please see more information on the department website.

Admission to the Master of Translational Medicine

Please see more information about the MTM Program.

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy

Please see detailed guidelines and instructions on the graduate program website.

Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.

 

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Curriculum

 The course requirements are designed to develop a strong and useful knowledge base in both biology and engineering. In general, the program of study includes a major and a minor field of study. Due to the wide variety of topics included in bioengineering and the variety of student interests, major and minor subfields will be chosen by the student in consultation with their primary graduate adviser, taking into account the student’s prior training, research interests, and career goals. Students who already hold a master’s or other professional degree (MD, DDS, or DVM) may not be required to complete minor coursework.

All students in the Program must complete the following course requirements:

  • Area Requirements (see below)
  • Major Area and Minor Area
    Major = 16 semester (24 quarter) units. Minor = 8 semester (12 quarter) units.
  • First Year Seminars: Bioengineering 200 (UCB) and Bioengineering 280/281 (UCSF)
  • Bioengineering Teaching Techniques: Bioengineering 301 (UCB)
  • Ethics: Bioengineering 201 (UCB) or equivalent, taken in the first and fourth years

All students in the Ph.D. program are required to have completed, at some time during their academic career, the Area Requirements described below. Most students will have completed some of these courses prior to initiating the Ph.D. program; any remaining coursework will be integrated into the graduate program of study.

  • Anatomy, physiology, and biology: 9 semester or 13.5 quarter units of upper division or graduate level coursework.
  • Biochemistry and/or intermediate chemistry: 3 semester or 4.5 quarter units of upper division or graduate level coursework.
  • Engineering and/or computer science: 7 semester or 10.5 quarter units of upper division or graduate level coursework.
  • Mathematics and/or statistics: 2 semester or 3 quarter units of upper division or graduate level coursework.

Laboratory Rotations

Students should perform three 12-week rotations in different graduate group faculty laboratories during the first year. The objective of the research rotation is to allow students to become familiar with different areas of research, learn new experimental techniques, obtain experience in unique research laboratories, and ultimately to identify a lab in which to conduct dissertation research. The research being performed during a rotation may correspond to the initial stages of a thesis project or may be on an entirely different topic.

Teaching

Anticipating future careers which may include teaching, all graduate students participate in undergraduate instruction by serving as a Graduate Student Instructor for at least one semester.

Qualifying Examination

An oral qualifying examination must be taken in the spring of the second year or the fall of the third year. In this examination, students demonstrate their ability to recognize research problems of fundamental importance, to propose appropriate experimental approaches to address these problems and to display comprehensive knowledge of their disciplinary area and related subjects.

Dissertation Work 

After advancing to candidacy, a student meets each fall semester with his or her thesis committee to discuss the dissertation project, to review results, and to chart directions for their third and subsequent years. In the final years in the program, students complete a dissertation based on original laboratory research. It generally takes five and a half years to complete the doctoral program.

Please see the graduate program website for more details. 

Master's Degree Requirements

Core Requirements

The Bioengineering MEng Degree requires a minimum 25 total units of course credit, a capstone report and presentation, and passing the leadership and technical comprehensive exams. Coursework requirements fall across three areas – technical bioengineering (12 units), leadership (8 units), and capstone (5 units).

1. Technical Electives – Bioengineering Courses [12 units]

Students must take a minimum of 12 credits of 200-level Bioengineering courses for a letter grade, selected within any of our 7 technical concentrations, or any Bioengineering courses across those concentrations.

2. Leadership Courses [8 units]
Two boot camp short courses in mid-August (One unit each)
ENGIN 270AOrganizational Behavior for Engineers1
ENGIN 270BR&D Technology Management & Ethics1
Two units of boot camp short courses in early January. Select two of any of the one-unit electives (Note: Electives listed below are subject to change)
ENGIN 270DEntrepreneurship for Engineers1
ENGIN 270GMarketing & Product Management1
ENGIN 270HAccounting & Finance for Engineers1
ENGIN 270ITechnology Strategy for Engineering Leaders1
ENGIN 270JIndustry Analysis for Engineering Leaders1
ENGIN 270LGlobal Leadership Expertise1
ENGIN 270MProfessional Ethics in Technology, Law and Business1
ENGIN 270CTeaming & Project Management (fall)1
ENGIN 270KCoaching for High Performance Teams (spring)1
Two units of ENGIN 295 Communications (One unit in fall and one unit in spring)
Communications for Engineering Leaders [1]
3. Capstone Experience [5 units] 

Students must be enrolled in ENGIN 296MA in the fall (1-2 units) and ENGIN 296MB in the spring (3-4 units), for a total of 5 units total over both semesters.

4. Comprehensive Exams – Leadership & Technical
Leadership: The Fung Institute will administer a written exam for the fall leadership portion of the curriculum. Students should be prepared to spend a designated day to complete the degree requirement Leadership Comprehensive Exam.
 
Technical: The Bioengineering Technical Comprehensive Exam will take place late in the Spring semester (generally during RRR week) and will consist of a 20 minute minimum presentation on your Capstone project. The presentation will be assessed by a BioE faculty member and an allied field member (for example, if a project is in ME, the second assessor must be in ME). Students will be asked probing questions during the presentation and answers given will determine a pass. If a student fails the presentation requirement, they will be given the option to give the presentation again the following Fall semester. Failure to pass the exam on the third attempt will constitute a failure of the comprehensive exam requirement for the MEng degree. 

Please visit the Bioengineering Department website for more details. 

Concentrations

Students earning this degree will choose a track (concentration) of coursework in one of these seven fields. Please see the requirements for each concentration below:

Bioinformatics & Computational Biology

BIO ENG 225Biomolecular Structure Determination3
BIO ENG 231Introduction to Computational Molecular and Cellular Biology4
BIO ENG 235Frontiers in Microbial Systems Biology4
BIO ENG 241Probabilistic Modeling in Computational Biology4
BIO ENG 245Introduction to Machine Learning for Computational Biology4
Biomedical Engineering Design
BIO ENG 221LBioMEMS and BioNanotechnology Laboratory4
BIO ENG 224Basic Principles of Drug Delivery3
BIO ENG C237Adv Designing for the Human Body4
BIO ENG C250Nanomaterials in Medicine3
BIO ENG 252Clinical Need-Based Therapy Solutions2
BIO ENG 253Biotechnology Entrepreneurship: Impact, History, Therapeutics R&D, Entrepreneurship & Careers2
Biomedical Imaging
BIO ENG 252Clinical Need-Based Therapy Solutions2
BIO ENG C261Medical Imaging Signals and Systems4
BIO ENG 263Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biophotonics4
BIO ENG 263LMolecular and Cellular Biophotonics Laboratory4
Biomaterials & Biomedical Devices
BIO ENG C208Biological Performance of Materials4
BIO ENG C215Molecular Biomechanics and Mechanobiology of the Cell4
BIO ENG C216Macromolecular Science in Biotechnology and Medicine4
BIO ENG 221Advanced BioMEMS and Bionanotechnology4
BIO ENG 221LBioMEMS and BioNanotechnology Laboratory4
BIO ENG C223Polymer Engineering3
BIO ENG 224Basic Principles of Drug Delivery3
BIO ENG C237Adv Designing for the Human Body4
BIO ENG C250Nanomaterials in Medicine3
BIO ENG 252Clinical Need-Based Therapy Solutions2
BIO ENG 253Biotechnology Entrepreneurship: Impact, History, Therapeutics R&D, Entrepreneurship & Careers2
General Bioengineering
BIO ENG C208Biological Performance of Materials4
BIO ENG C209Advanced Orthopedic Biomechanics4
BIO ENG C215Molecular Biomechanics and Mechanobiology of the Cell4
BIO ENG C216Macromolecular Science in Biotechnology and Medicine4
BIO ENG 221Advanced BioMEMS and Bionanotechnology4
BIO ENG 221LBioMEMS and BioNanotechnology Laboratory4
BIO ENG 224Basic Principles of Drug Delivery3
BIO ENG 225Biomolecular Structure Determination3
BIO ENG 231Introduction to Computational Molecular and Cellular Biology4
BIO ENG 235Frontiers in Microbial Systems Biology4
BIO ENG C237Adv Designing for the Human Body4
BIO ENG 241Probabilistic Modeling in Computational Biology4
BIO ENG 247Principles of Synthetic Biology4
BIO ENG 248Bioenergy and Sustainable Chemical Synthesis: Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biology Approaches3
BIO ENG 245Introduction to Machine Learning for Computational Biology4
BIO ENG C250Nanomaterials in Medicine3
BIO ENG 252Clinical Need-Based Therapy Solutions2
BIO ENG 253Biotechnology Entrepreneurship: Impact, History, Therapeutics R&D, Entrepreneurship & Careers2
BIO ENG C261Medical Imaging Signals and Systems4
BIO ENG 263Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biophotonics4
BIO ENG 263LMolecular and Cellular Biophotonics Laboratory4
Mechanobiology
 
BIO ENG C209Advanced Orthopedic Biomechanics4
BIO ENG C215Molecular Biomechanics and Mechanobiology of the Cell4
BIO ENG C237Adv Designing for the Human Body4
Synthetic Biology
BIO ENG 225Biomolecular Structure Determination3
BIO ENG 235Frontiers in Microbial Systems Biology4
BIO ENG 245Introduction to Machine Learning for Computational Biology4
BIO ENG 247Principles of Synthetic Biology4
BIO ENG 248Bioenergy and Sustainable Chemical Synthesis: Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biology Approaches3
 

Courses

Bioengineering

Contact Information

Department of Bioengineering

306 Stanley Hall

MC 1762

Phone: 510-642-5833

bioeng@berkeley.edu

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Sanjay Kumar, MD, PhD

Phone: 510-642-5833

bioe_chair@berkeley.edu

Graduate Student Affairs Officer - PhD

Rocío Sanchez

306D Stanley hall

Phone: 510-642-9931

rocio_s@berkeley.edu

Executive Director, MTM Program

Michael "Moose" O'Donnell, PhD

Phone: 510-664-4472

mooseo@berkeley.edu

Graduate Student Services - MEng

Staff

Phone: 510-642-5833

bioe-meng@berkeley.edu

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