Biomedical Engineering Graduate Programs with Course Descriptions
Medical technology is constantly advancing as engineers develop new tools for surgery, treatment and healthcare management. The vast amount of tools and technology used in the medical system, such as artificial organs, cloning, prosthetic limbs and communication systems, is largely due to the work of biomedical engineers. Those seeking biomedical engineering graduate programs may pursue a master's degree or Ph.D. in the field.
Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering
This graduate degree program focuses on fusing science with biomedical technology in order to improve the means of diagnosing and treating health-related issues. Extensive work is done in laboratories, where students use computers and other equipment to study subjects like tissue engineering and wireless communication in cells. Students enrolled in the master's program typically participate in an internship with professional biomedical engineers. Some programs require graduating students to complete a research thesis on a biomedical engineering topic of interest.
Before enrolling in this program, students must hold a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as mathematical science, engineering or life science. In addition, applicants must have a strong background in chemistry, calculus and biology. Many schools require that the applicant submit a letter of recommendation and meet the minimum GPA requirements.
This interdisciplinary program incorporates research and studies from different departments, including medicine, chemistry, math, dentistry and engineering. Here are some common master's-level courses:
- Advanced molecular biology
- Tissue engineering
- Biomedical materials
- Biomedical instrument development
- Bioinformatic algorithms
- Computer cardiology
- Biological imaging
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), as of 2008 there were 16,000 biomedical engineers in the country, a number that is expected to increase 72% between 2008 and 2018. The same source states that the average annual wage for all types of biomedical engineers was $81,120 in 2008. Salaries for biomedical engineers differ by industry; for example, those working in the medical equipment and supplies manufacturing industry made an average of $83,760 in 2008, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Licensure for biomedical engineers is currently optional. Candidates who choose to become licensed must hold a degree from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), meet work experience requirements and pass a 2-part state exam. Along with a license, successful candidates earn the professional engineer (PE) designation. In some states, biomedical engineers need to complete continuing education credits to maintain their licensure.
Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering
This degree program prepares graduate students for careers in industry research and development, government and education. The majority of credit hours spent in this program involve completing a dissertation on a chosen subject, such as biomechanics, biomedical signal processing and instrumentation or neural engineering. A prospective doctoral student must have at least a bachelor's degree and the minimum post-baccalaureate credit hours specified by the school. Many programs require that the prospective student take an exam assessing his or her level of knowledge of medical science and engineering.
Oftentimes, the coursework and dissertation are completed on an individual basis, with scheduling determined by the students and faculty. Doctoral students are also required to complete basic core classes, including the following:
- Biomedical engineering in clinical medicine
- Biomedical mathematics
- Organ transport systems
- Cell and tissue engineering
Career Outlook and Salary Information
A graduate degree is typically required for biomedical engineer positions in research labs, and those who hold a Ph.D. are well-prepared for research careers. According to the BLS, biomedical engineers working in scientific research and development made an average of $42.62 per hour in 2008, which was the second-highest biomedical engineering wage. As of 2008, there were 2,910 research and development biomedical engineers nationwide.
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