Master’s and PhD Degrees in Biomedical Engineering
About the MS Program
The MS graduate program is a 30-credit option for students who come to the program from a traditional field, such as electrical, mechanical or chemical engineering, to make up for deficiencies in their biological science background and to students in the life-sciences to make up for deficiencies in engineering.
Students who complete their BS degree in BME at UW-Madison, with an overall GPA of at least 3.0 or a GPA of 3.25 for the final 60 credits, are eligible to apply for the MS degree and can complete it in only 24-credits, which is intended primarily for students not planning to pursue a PhD. Those interested in obtaining a PhD should take the 30-credit MS option.
Specific course selection is very flexible and draws upon a variety of courses. The required coursework is designed to complement each student’s interests and background in biomedical engineering.
About the PhD Program
Because of the diverse technical requirements for various specialties, the PhD is administered on a degree-by-committee basis. A PhD in BME requires passing a qualifying examination as well as a preliminary examination. The PhD qualifying examination consists of five 30-minute one-on-one oral tests with five BME faculty. Students take two tests in their chosen core area of specialization. Two tests evaluate two additional biomedical engineering core areas chosen by the student and a fifth exam concentrates on testing the student’s knowledge of engineering physiology or cell biology.
Within 12 months of passing the PhD qualifying exam, a doctoral student must submit a written preliminary report describing his or her proposed dissertation research. The student defends this proposal in an oral preliminary examination and is expected to demonstrate initiative, imagination and a high level of professional ability. Finally, the student defends his or her PhD thesis in an oral exam. Most students can complete the program in five years or less.
Graduate Admission Information
Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in engineering (biomedical, chemical, electrical, industrial, mechanical, etc.) or science (biology, biochemistry, chemistry, genetics, immunology, physics, etc.). Each application is judged on the basis of previous academic record, Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores for the general test (or TOEFL examination for international students), three letters of recommendation, and statement of purpose. Students admitted to the program may be required to make up deficiency course requirements. In addition, all applicants must satisfy requirements that are set forth by the Graduate School.
Complete applications (including supportive materials) must be submitted as described below and received by the following deadline dates:
- Fall Semester — December 1 (PhD), January 1 (MS)
- Spring Semester — October 1 (bit MS & PhD programs)
- Summer Session — December 1 (PhD), January 1 (MS)
*please note summer admissions are generally limited to continuing BME students at UW Madison or applicants who have research assistantships already arranged with UW faculty.
Note checklists provided by BME and the Graduate School in your online application. Application deadlines are strictly followed – the following application materials must be submitted by the application deadlines.
- Online application
- Statement of purpose explaining why you want to pursue further education in BME. As part of your Statement of Purpose, please mention the names of faculty members you would be interested in doing research with during your graduate program.
- Three letters of recommendation. These letters are required from people who can accurately judge your academic or research performance. Letters of recommendation are submitted electronically to graduate programs through the online application. (Please do not send any more than 3 letters – only the first three will be considered.)
- Resume – ONLY if applying for the PhD program.
- Official GRE aptitude scores. (MCAT scores may be substituted for GRE). Notify ETS to send the scores to us (institution code 1846, department 1603).
- Official TOEFL scores. Required for international students unless a degree from a U.S. educational institution is held (institution code 1846, department 69).An applicant whose TOEFL (paper-based) test score is below 580; TOEFL computer based test (CBT) score below 237; (TOEFL internet based iBT) test score below 92; IELTS score below 7; or MELAB below 82 must take an English assessment test upon arrival. Depending on your score you may need to register for any recommended English as a Second Language (ESL) courses in the first semester you are enrolled.Any international applicant who will hold a teaching Assistantship (TA), and whose native language is not English must:
- Application fee – online through the application, it is non-refundable and can be paid by credit card (Master Card or Visa), Debit/ATM. By state law, this fee cannot be waived or deferred.
- Electronically submit one copy of your official transcript of all undergraduate and previous graduate work along with your online application with the Graduate School. Unofficial copies of transcripts will be accepted for review but official copies are required for admitted students. Please do not send transcripts or any other application materials to the Graduate School or the BME department.If questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grade Point Average (GPA)
Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
Deadlines and due dates
Application for admission
Graduate degrees in biomedical engineering
BME Employment Information
What is the GPA requirement to get into graduate school at the UW-Madison?
Please visit the Graduate School Admission Requirements.
Typically, graduate students admitted into BME have GPAs greater than 3.5.
What is the GRE or MCAT requirement for the Biomedical Engineering Department?
Applicants to the BME graduate program are required to report either a GRE or MCAT score. There are no specific minimum requirements, but generally our students score in the top 75%tile or greater for the analytical and quantitative (GRE) or physical sciences (MCAT) portions of the exams. These scores are just one factor in the application review process.
Is either the GRE or MCAT acceptable?
Yes, either the GRE or MCAT is accepted by the Biomedical Engineering Department. Please have ETS send your GRE score to the Graduate School at the UW-Madison. Please give ETS the institution code of 1846 to transmit the score. You do not need to indicate a department code. If you send us a photocopy of your GRE score, ETS still must send the official score to the Graduate School.
What is the TOEFL requirement?
The BME department expects international students to report a TOEFL score. A TOEFL score of 625 (paper-based) or greater is required to be considered for admission to the graduate program.
Who is required to take the TOEFL?
Please visit the Graduate School Admission Requirements. Please note that if you take the TOEFL more than once, we will consider your highest score.
What are the deadlines to be considered for financial support?
The Biomedical Engineering Department has no deadline for financial support, but generally awards funding to applications who apply for Fall admission. The Fall application deadline is December 1st for PhD applicants and January 1st for MS applicants, but we evaluate candidates on a rolling basis and so strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.
Research assistantships are available from individual faculty based on available research funding and needs and can be awarded any time after admission to the BME graduate program has been granted.
What is the application deadline for fall semester?
The application deadline for fall semester is December 1st for PhD applicants and January 1st for MS applicants, although we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. Available space is limited. The later you apply, the lower your chances are for admission and to obtain funding. Complete applications including ALL supportive documentation (GRE, TOEFL information, etc.) must be received by the deadline date for evaluation for admission.
What is the application deadline for spring semester?
The application deadline for spring semester is October 1st, although we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. Complete applications including ALL supportive documentation (GRE, TOEFL information, etc.) must be received by the deadline date for evaluation for admission.
What is the application deadline for summer semester?
We do not encourage students to apply for Summer, as there are not many courses offered. The application deadline for summer semester is February 1st. Complete applications including ALL supportive documentation (GRE, TOEFL information, etc.) must be received by the deadline date for evaluation for admission.
How do I apply to the Biomedical Engineering Department?
Apply online at Graduate School Application Form.
What if my undergraduate degree is in a bioscience field?
Bioscience majors have been successful in our program as long as exhibit strong aptitude in math and the physical sciences. Some additional undergraduate course work may be required after enrolling in the BME graduate program to fill training gaps.
What should the statement of purpose (reasons for graduate school) include?
The statement of purpose should include technical areas of interest, research experience, professional goals, and any other items unique or relevant to your qualifications for graduate school. See Writing a Statement of Purpose. As part of your Statement of Purpose, please mention the names of the faculty members you would be interested in doing research with during your graduate program.
What items need to be included in my application packet to the Biomedical Engineering Program?
See above under “Admission Requirements”.
DO NOT send your application fee or any financial documents to the department. The application fee should be mailed to the Graduate School or paid online (see next question) and financial documents should not be sent until requested.
Electronically submit one copy of your official transcript of all undergraduate and previous graduate work along with your online application with the Graduate School. Unofficial copies of transcripts will be accepted for review but official copies are required for admitted students. Please do not send financial documents, transcripts or any other application materials to the Graduate School or the BME department. (Financial documents should not be sent until requested). If questions, please contact; email@example.com.
I received an e-mail instructing me to log into Grad Apps, what is that?
GradApps is an additional database where we request you to fill out a questionnaire. This is extremely important, as this is where we ask you to indicate your area of interest. Applications will not be considered until this questionnaire is completed.
What items do I need to send to the Grad School?
The only item that should be mailed to the Graduate School initially is your application fee (which can also be paid by credit card). All other application documents, except for financial documents, should be sent to the department at the address listed above. Please send all financial documents to the graduate school. Please visit Graduate School Checklist.
If I apply to more than one department, do I have to send an application packet to each department?
Yes. Send a separate complete packet of application materials to each department or program you are applying to. NOTE: We will NOT copy an application packet for you and send it to another department or program.
If I apply for one semester, but want to reapply for another, how do I do that?
Applicants changing to the immediate adjacent term will not be required to complete a new application, but please note if you applied in Spring, you will be reconsidered for Summer (not Fall). Only applicants applying to a non-adjacent session will have to submit a new application and pay a new fee.
What do you mean by official transcripts?
Official transcripts or academic records are required from each institution attended as an undergraduate. We do not need any high school transcripts. If you have completed a MS degree, it is helpful to send us the transcripts but it is not required. *International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Documents must be issued by the school with the official seal/stamp and an official signature. Please upload a copy of your official transcript(s) with your online application for review purposes (unofficial copies are acceptable for the review however an official transcript(s) will be required to be submitted to the graduate school should you be recommended for admission into the graduate program to the Graduate School.
How do the recommendation letters need to be sent and can an electronic request be sent more than once to a recommender?
Again, we prefer if you have the letters sent electronically through your online application, but paper copies can be mailed. Please follow the instructions on the Graduate School website. Please do not send any more than 3 letters as only the first three will be considered. If your recommender has lost the initial e-mail request, you can log back into your online application and send a reminder e-mail.
Do I have to pay any tuition and fees?
Yes, unless you have an assistantship. Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, and Program/Project Assistants must have a minimum of a 1/3 time position in order to be eligible for tuition remission. The tuition remission does not include segregated fees, which will be your responsibility each term. For further information on Graduate School tuition, fees, and stipends, please go to: http://registrar.wisc.edu/students/fees_tuition/.
How much is the application fee, how do I pay it, and where do I send it?
Please visit the Graduate School Checklist. The only item that should be mailed to the Graduate School is your application fee (which can also be paid by credit card and online).
Can I get the application fee waived?
The application fee cannot be waived
What are the international student expenses?
Please visit Graduate School Financial Information. Please do not mail any financial documents unless requested.
What degrees are offered in Biomedical Engineering?
- MS in Biomedical Engineering
- PhD in Biomedical Engineering
About how long will it take me to obtain an MS degree in Biomedical Engineering?
Approximately 2 years.
About how long will it take me to obtain a PhD degree in Biomedical Engineering?
Coming in with an MS degree, approximately 3.5 years.
Coming in without an MS degree, approximately 5 years.
How are applications reviewed?
The Biomedical Engineering Department has an admissions committee comprised of faculty who review all graduate applications submitted.
How many students are admitted each semester and what are my chances of being admitted?
Please see our Program Profile for more information. Although we accept applications for Fall, Spring, and Summer, the majority of our applicants begin in the Fall of each year. Admission into the Biomedical Engineering Department is very competitive, and the number we accept varies on a year-to-year basis, largely dependent on how many faculty are looking for students and/or how many faculty have funds to support new graduate students.
Do all admitted students obtain funding?
It is our experience that nearly all doctoral students in the BME department obtain funding, but there are no guarantees. A limited number receive fellowships. Research Assistantships are available from individual faculty based on their research funding and awarded when grants are funded and after applications for BME admission are accepted. Sometimes there are Project Assistantships, Teaching Assistantships, and Traineeships also available. A few students enrolled in MS coursework program are self-funded.
Admission with or without funding – what does this mean?
- Admitted with funding:
We have a limited number of University or Departmental fellowships to offer each year. In addition, there are Research Assistantships that are offered to grad applicants from individual faculty members. Teaching Assistantships (TA) are possible through specific departments with more opportunity in lower level courses, such as Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics. Often, funding matches with specific faculty occur during the Visit Wisconsin Weekend in the spring.
- Admitted without funding:
If you are admitted without funding, please know that you will be considered by BME faculty for potential support. You are also encouraged to contact faculty in BME whose research is of particular interest. Our list is at http://www.engr.wisc.edu/bme/faculty/. Please wait to hear from us about your admission without aid before contacting faculty for support. You may also apply to BME specific TA positions (see below) after being admitted or other TA positions on campus.
How will I know if my application is complete?
Due to the volume of applications, please allow up to 4 weeks for your documents to be processed and your application check list updated. Please do not e-mail our office to confirm your transcripts have arrived, as we will not respond to these inquiries. When we process your individual application materials, we will notify you if there is anything missing. If your application is complete, you will see a box checked “Application Complete” in your MyUW.
How will I know when a decision has been made on my application?
We will either inform you of the decision the admissions committee makes on your application via email, or we will send you a letter in the mail. Responses can take up to 12 weeks. If you have questions about your application status please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BME Employment Information
Where are some of the most recent alumni from Biomedical Engineering employed?
Visit Engineering Career Services for further information regarding BME student placement in industry.
If you have questions about graduate admissions or applications you may email
Stop by the BME Student services office at:
3182 Mechanical Engineering Building
1513 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706
In total, the MS program is 30 credits*.
The MS program requirements include:
- Completion of a BME Degree Program Plan
- The student’s advisor must approve either prior to or within the first semester of the student’s coursework
- Two semesters of seminar in Biomedical Engineering (BME 701)
- At least 12 credits of engineering courses, 400-level or above
- At least one course in physiology (335 or 435 ) or other bioscience course for 3-5 credits (for non UW-BME BS students)
- At least 15 credits in one area of specialization
- At least 15 credits of graduate level course work
*UW-BME BS students are allowed to count up to 6 credits of undergraduate BME coursework towards the MS degree requirements with the approval of their BME Faculty Advisor
Optional degree components:
Up to 6 credits of independent study project experience or master’s thesis research in the student’s area of specialization (a master’s thesis is recommended for students interested in a PhD).
To enroll in graduate level BME independent study credits, please place yourself on the waitlist for the appropriate course number and faculty member. Non-BME students wishing to enroll in BME credits click here.
In total, the PhD program is 60 credits–30 beyond that necessary for the MS program.
The PhD program requirements include:
- Qualifying Examination
- The BME qualifying exam is offered twice a year, in November and April. The qualifying exam is usually taken during the second year of the PhD program. Very well-qualified students can consider taking it during their first year, and it must be attempted by the second year of the PhD program.
- PhD Committee
- Preliminary Examination
- Dissertator Status/Thesis Research
- Final Oral Examination
Optional degree components:
- PhD Minor or Interdisciplinary Training
- Obtaining a PhD minor is possible for both BME and non-BME students. More information on minors university-wide is available through the Graduate School here; more information regarding BME-specific minors can be found in The Guide here.
- Students wishing to obtain a minor need to complete a PhD Minor Approval Form.
The Graduate Student Services Office (3182 Mechanical Engineering) will send out an e-mail at the beginning of each semester requesting the names of students who plan to graduate and with instructions and deadlines for submitting final degree warrant information for graduation. Students must also indicate plans for graduation their final semester in their MyUW student center at the beginning of their final semester.
Students should be knowledgeable of campus-wide Graduate School Degree & Dissertation Eligibility Deadlines and complete the following paperwork about 2 months before graduation:
- For Students Completing the MS Program:
- A copy of the student’s original BME Degree Program Plan signed by the student’s program advisor. (please note this form MUST be accompanied by a paragraph)
- A MS Warrant Request Form approved by the student’s faculty advisor and the BME Graduate Chair (please note this form MUST be accompanied by a paragraph)
- For Students Completing the PhD Program:
- Students must complete a Final PHD Final Oral Warrant Request form to the Graduate Student Services office in 3182 ME at least 3 weeks prior to the Final Defense for processing with the Graduate School.
Once a student has met their degree requirements, they may choose to attend a fall or spring commencement ceremony. Commencement occurs in May and December each year and is coordinated by the Office of the Chancellor. There is no summer commencement ceremony. If a student plans to graduate in August, they may attend either the May or the December ceremony.
If a student wants their name to be printed in the commencement program, they must do the following at least 2 months before graduation:
- Apply to graduate through MyUW Student Center
- Contact their major program to request a degree warrant from the Graduate School
Notify the Student Services Office of their graduation plans
You may attend the commencement ceremony even if your name is not included in the commencement program. See commencement.wisc.edu for more information.
BME Teaching Assistant Vacancies can be found here for the Fall and Spring semesters. Posting times may vary but are generally in May/June for the Fall semester and October/November for the Spring semester. The TA vacancies will be filled subject to funding availability.
To apply, a UW NetID through UW-Google Docs is required to access the TA application.
IMPORTANT: If you are logged into Google with another account – you must log out to access the application. If you see a google page that asks you to request access to the TA application DO NOT request access – LOG OUT of our personal Google account and access it with your UW-Google Apps account: https://it.wisc.edu/services/google-apps/.
To apply, complete BOTH steps:
- Fill out the application: Teaching Assistant Application
- Upload your resume below: (Applications will not be reviewed without a resume).
- DEADLINE: Sunday June 16, 2017