Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Students with a degree in engineering, physics, or the life sciences are eligible for admission. All students must have a strong background in physics and mathematics. This background should include chemistry, calculus-based physics, and mathematics through calculus and differential equations. Students who lack this background may still be considered for provisional admission but will have to make up any deficiency early in their graduate program. These remedial courses will be required in addition to the stated graduate program course requirements. Students with a 3.0 junior/senior grade-point average and with appropriate course backgrounds will be considered for admission. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces available. Exceptions to the minimum average may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests, at the discretion of the program. GRE scores are not required for admission.

Degree Requirements

Master of Science (M.S.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

A minimum of 30 credits are required for a master's degree in Bioengineering, with at least 24 credits at the 500-, 600-, or 800-level. Students must take the following:

Required Courses
12 credits of lecture- or laboratory-based coursework at the 500-level 112
6 credits of lecture- or laboratory-based coursework at the 400- or 500-level 16
BIOE 591Bioengineering Ethics and Professional Development1
1-credit graduate seminar for every semester in attendance4
Electives 21
Culminating Experience
BIOE 600Thesis Research6
Total Credits30

Credits earned at other institutions but not used to earn a degree may be applied toward the requirements for a graduate degree, subject to restrictions outlined in GCAC-309 Transfer Credit.

A thesis is required for the M.S. degree. This thesis will be defended in front of the student’s academic advisory committee. The thesis must be accepted by the academic advisory committee members, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a thesis defense.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

Upon entering the program, a student, along with his/her research adviser, will select an academic advisory committee consisting of three members of the IDGP in Bioengineering Graduate Faculty (including the adviser). Working with this committee, students will select courses appropriate to their research and their professional goals.

Required Courses
6 credits each in bioengineering, life sciences, and technical/quantitative electives6
12 credits that are lecture- or laboratory-based (not independent study) and at the 500-level12
6 credits at the 500-level in courses relevant to their research6
4 credits in graduate program seminar series (1 credit every semester until passing the comprehensive exam)4
BIOE 591Bioengineering Ethics and Professional Development1
Total Credits29

600-level research credits are assigned every semester in attendance. Graduate credits earned at other institutions, including those used toward a degree, may be used to satisfy some of the Ph.D. degree requirements at Penn State, but in these cases credits are not transferred. Regardless of previous courses taken, every doctoral student must take a minimum of 6 course credits at the 500-level at the University Park campus.

Supporting courses are available at University Park in: anatomy, biochemistry, biology, biophysics, chemistry, laboratory animal medicine, materials science, mathematics, physics, physiology, and the engineering departments.


After completion of the first year, completion of at least 18 graduate credits and within three semesters (not including summer) of entry into the doctoral program, all students must complete and pass the qualifying exam, which consists of a written research proposal and oral defense of that proposal on a topic other than the subject of the student’s dissertation. This exam also tests for English competency, which is a Graduate Council requirement. A comprehensive examination consisting of a written research proposal and oral defense of that proposal on the student’s Ph.D. dissertation topic is administered by the student’s Ph.D. committee, typically at the end of second year of residency. A final oral examination based on a defense of the doctoral dissertation is required of all candidates. This exam occurs typically after the fourth or fifth year of residency and consists of a formal public seminar followed by a closed meeting of the Ph.D. committee and the candidate.

In preparation for the comprehensive exam, students, along with their adviser, will choose a Ph.D. committee in accordance with Graduate Council policy. The Ph.D. committee consists of a minimum of four members of the Graduate Faculty including the adviser who serves as the chair. The adviser must be a member of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program (IGDP) in Bioengineering. At least three committee members must be members of the IGDP in Bioengineering. The committee must also include an “Outside Field Member” who is not a member of the IGDP in Bioengineering. Finally, at least one member of the Ph.D. committee must have his/her primary appointment outside the administrative unit in which the adviser’s primary appointment is held. The Graduate School will appoint the committee and notify all persons.

To earn the Ph.D. degree, doctoral candidates must write a dissertation that is accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense).

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Bioengineering (BIOE) Course List


Campus University Park
Graduate Program Head Daniel J Hayes
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Daniel J Hayes
Program Contact

Lisa A Daub
University Park PA 16802
(814) 863-7050

Program Website View