Bioprocess Engineering

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Master of Bioprocess Engineering (MBPE) degree is 9-month degree program designed to prepare graduates for meaningful careers in Bioprocess Engineering spanning the biopharmaceutical, industrial biotech, and food tech industries (and beyond). These include ways to produce bio-based chemicals and fuels, proteins, pharmaceuticals, and other high-value biologics; how to design and/or operate appropriate unit operations (e.g., fermentation systems), mammalian-cell culture systems, and instrumentation to monitor and control biotechnological processes; and how to apply and test bioproduct separation and purification technologies. The MBPE program has access to state-of-the-art bioprocessing equipment both on campus and at the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU), which is part of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory funded by US DOE. Emphasis on translating fundamentals into practical applications across the bench, pilot, and commercial production scales offers an integrated didactic experience. As a result, you will be able to immediately apply hands-on skills and knowledge to develop, design, and scale-up bio-based processes and products from concept through commercialization.

Industrial Advisory Board

  • Paul Hill, Amyris
  • Ashley Hesslein, Bayer Pharmaceuticals
  • Paul Wu, Bayer Pharmaceuticals
  • Marcella Yu, Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Brian Kelley, Vir Biotechnology
  • Jay Keasling, UC Berkeley

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MBPE admissions requirements include a background in Chemical Engineering (B.S.) and an undergraduate biochemistry/molecular biology course equivalent to BIO ENG 11 or MCELLBI 102. Candidates from other backgrounds will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with focus on a strong foundation to undergo the MBPE program. We are open to working with the motivated applicant (either graduating senior student or industry worker) who wishes to complete appropriate coursework during the summer prior to joining the program.

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

Master's Degree Requirements

Required Courses

Master of Bioprocess Engineering degree candidates will be required to complete a minimum of 24 core units over two semesters. This includes a Biochemical Engineering lecture and laboratory series covering 1) cells and the production of biomolecules; and 2) the recovery, separations, and purification of biomolecules, respectively. This foundational series is complemented by required coursework in Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Quality by Design (QbD), statistical experimental design, and a Bioprocess Industry seminar series to ensure that you graduate with the necessary skill set and exposure to begin or continue your career in the bioprocess industries.

CHM ENG 170ABiochemical Engineering4
CHM ENG 170BBiochemical Engineering4
CHM ENG C170LBiochemical Engineering Laboratory3
CHM ENG 275Advanced Bioprocess Engineering3
CHM ENG 275LAdvanced Bioprocess Engineering Laboratory4
CHM ENG 298Seminar in Chemical Engineering1
CHM ENG 298BSeminar in Bioprocess Engineering (Students are required to take 2 units; 1 unit in fall and 1 unit in spring)1

The curriculum also allows room to personalize your MBPE education and experience by choosing electives from a wide variety of approved options offered by the Department and across campus:

Elective Courses

CHM ENG 180Chemical Engineering Economics3
CHM ENG 274Biomolecular Engineering3
BIO ENG 124Basic Principles of Drug Delivery3
BIO ENG 133Biomolecular Engineering3
CHEM C130Biophysical Chemistry: Physical Principles and the Molecules of Life4
CHEM 135Chemical Biology3
CHEM C230Protein Chemistry, Enzymology, and Bio-organic Chemistry2
CHEM C271AChemical Biology I - Structure, Synthesis and Function of Biomolecules1
CHEM C271BChemical Biology II - Enzyme Reaction Mechanisms1
CHEM C271CChemical Biology III - Contemporary Topics in Chemical Biology1
IND ENG 185Course Not Available
MCELLBI 38Stem Cell Biology, Ethics and Societal Impact3
MCELLBI 88Immunotherapy of Cancer: Success and Failures2
MCELLBI C95BCourse Not Available2
MCELLBI 104Genetics, Genomics, and Cell Biology4
MCELLBI 110Molecular Biology: Macromolecular Synthesis and Cellular Function4
MCELLBI C112General Microbiology4
MCELLBI C116Microbial Diversity3
MCELLBI 130Cell and Systems Biology4
MCELLBI 133LPhysiology and Cell Biology Laboratory4
MCELLBI 150Molecular Immunology4
NUSCTX 115Principles of Drug Action2
PB HLTH W236ARegulatory Science, Drug Development and Public Health3

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the Master of Bioprocess Engineering program, you will be prepared for a role as an Associate Scientist or Bioprocess Engineer in the biopharmaceutical, industrial biotech, or food tech industries.

Professional Development Activities

The CHM ENG 298B Seminar in Bioprocess Engineering provides an interactive interface for students, bioprocess industry experts, and the MBPE program. This 80-min weekly seminar pairs our students with industry partners to discuss relevant bio-based technologies, processes, and products spanning the biopharmaceutical, industrial biotech, and food tech industries (and beyond). After completion of the MBPE degree, every student who wishes to can be placed in a 3–12 month industry apprenticeship for an additional opportunity to apply Bioprocess Engineering in an industrial research and development or production operations setting.

Faculty and Instructors


Michelle Chang, Associate Professor. Biochemistry, Chemical Biology, and Synthetic Biology.
Research Profile

Douglas S. Clark, Professor. Biochemical engineering and biocatalysis.
Research Profile

Teresa Head-Gordon, Professor. Computational chemistry, biophysics, bioengineering, biomolecules, materials, computational science.
Research Profile

Jay Keasling, Professor. Microorganism metabolic engineering for environmentally friendly product .
Research Profile

Sanjay Kumar, Professor. Biomaterials, molecular and cellular bioengineering, stem cells, cancer biology, translational medicine.
Research Profile

Markita Landry, Assistant Professor. Nanomaterials, single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, biophysics.
Research Profile

Brian Maiorella, Adjunct Professor.

Jason Ryder, Adjunct Professor.

David Schaffer, Professor. Neuroscience, biomolecular engineering, bioengineering, stem cell biology, gene therapy.
Research Profile

Karthik Shekhar, Assistant Professor. Cellular and systems biology, statistical inference, single-cell genomics.
Research Profile

Wenjun Zhang, Associate Professor. Natural product biosynthesis and engineering for health and bioenergy applications.
Research Profile


George Tyson, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Harvey W. Blanch, Professor Emeritus. Biochemical Engineering.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

201 Gilman Hall

Phone: 510-642-2291

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Executive Director

Jason Ryder

121 Lewis Hall

Graduate Student Advisor

Alethea Stoltzfus

402 Latimer Hall

Director of Biomolecular Engineering

Wenjun Zhang

116 Gilman Hall

Phone: 510-643-8682

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