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Department of Biological Engineering

Graduate Admissions FAQs: Degree Programs

What degree programs do you offer in Biological Engineering?

In addition to an MEng Program in Biological Engineering and the Leaders for Global Operations Program (an S.M. in Biological Engineering and an MBA or S.M. in Management from MIT Sloan), Biological Engineering offers a Ph.D. program with two tracks, one in Bioengineering and one in Applied Biosciences. BE is also a lead department for the Computational and Systems Biology (CSB) Ph.D., a collaborative effort involving BE, Biology, and Electrical Engineering & Computer Science. As illustrated by the faculty research interests listed below, these tracks complement one another as a reflection of the importance of approaching quantitative biological and biomedical problems from the two perspectives. Keep in mind that students in one track or the other may pursue research projects in any area by agreement with their research supervisor.

Bioengineering Research

  • Molecular, Cell & Tissue Biomechanics
  • Cell & Tissue Engineering
  • Biomolecular Engineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biological Imaging & Functional Measurement
  • Biological & Physiological Transport Phenomena
  • Biophysics

Applied Biosciences Research

  • Genetic Toxicology
  • Metabolism of Drugs & Toxins
  • Microbial Pathogenesis
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Molecular Pharmacology & Toxicology

Bioengineering & Applied Biosciences Research

  • Genomics, Proteomics and Glycomics
  • Discovery & Delivery of Molecular Therapeutics
  • Macromolecular Biochemistry & Biophysics
  • Computational Modeling of Biological Systems
  • Nanoscale Engineering of Biological Systems

The mission of Biological Engineering (BE) is to educate leaders, and to generate and communicate new knowledge at the interface of engineering with biology. Our focus at this interface is on combining quantitative, physical, and integrative principles with advances in modern biology.

Graduate level training in BE prepares students to do basic research that will:

  • Increase understanding of how biological systems function in terms of physical/chemical mechanisms, and of how they respond when perturbed by external factors including medical therapeutics and environmental agents.
  • Create novel technologies based on this understanding for a spectrum of applications emphasizing, but not limited to, human health from both medical and environmental perspectives.
  • Generate new biology-based paradigms for solving problems in non-biological applications of science and engineering.

Please contact for additional information regarding BE educational programs.

I am an undergraduate chemistry major. Do I have a chance of being admitted? Are there courses I should take to strengthen my engineering background?

The admissions committee considers all applications submitted. A Chemistry major with an interest in applying chemistry to biological problems would be entirely appropriate for the graduate program in Biological Engineering since the program consists of two tracks: Bioengineering and Applied Biosciences. Most students admitted to the Bioengineering track have an undergraduate and/or graduate background in an engineering discipline (most likely Biomedical, Chemical, Electrical, Mechanical, Materials Science, or Computer Science). Most students admitted to the Applied Biosciences Track have an undergraduate and/or graduate background in Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics. However, we do admit students with training in other fields. These students may need an additional semester of coursework to strengthen their engineering/science background and prepare them for the doctoral qualifying exams.

When do I choose a research advisor/supervisor?

The choice of a research advisor is made at the end of the first term of study after admission to the graduate program. You will have many opportunities to visit with BE faculty during your first four months to help you find an appropriate match.

How many years does it take to complete the PhD program?

It varies depending on the individual and their research. Required coursework should be completed by a student's 4th or 5th semester. At that time, research and dissertation writing begin.


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