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Degree Programs FAQ's
1. General Issues
(1A) What majors are offered by the Bioengineering Department for undergraduates?
(1B) What are the differences among the departmental majors?
(1C) Is majoring in Bioengineering going to be very difficult?
(1D) What does ABET mean?
(1E) Why is it important to graduate from an ABET-accredited degree program?
(1F) What is the significance of the BENG 187A-D courses and the Capstone Senior Design course sequence?
(1G) How do I satisfy the required Technical Elective (TE) courses?
2. Undergraduate Majors in the Department of Bioengineering
(1.2.1.x) The Bioengineering Major
(188.8.131.52) What is Bioengineering?
(184.108.40.206) What topics are studied in the Bioengineering major?
(220.127.116.11) Can a student in the BENG major replace BENG 140A and 140B with BIPN 100 and 102, respectively?
(1.2.4.x) The Bioengineering: Bioinformatics Major
(18.104.22.168) What is Bioengineering: Bioinformatics?
(1..2.4.2) Who should sign up for bioinformatics?
(22.214.171.124) What kind of classes do you take in bioinformatics?
(1.2.5.x) BS/MS Program
(126.96.36.199) What’s the BS/MS program?
(188.8.131.52) When do I contact the Graduate Student Affairs Office about applying to the 5 Year B.S./M.S. Program?
(184.108.40.206) What is the difference between getting a Master’s and PhD degree?
(220.127.116.11) Why would I consider an MS or MEng. degree as opposed to a PhD?
1. General Issues
(1A) Q: What majors are offered by the Bioengineering Department for undergraduates?
A: The department offers *four 4-year engineering majors leading to a B.S. degree: Bioengineering, Bioengineering: Biotechnology, Bioengineering: Bioinformatics and Bioengineering: Premedical. (*The Bioengineering: Premedical major has been phased out and discontinued.)
(1B) Q: What are the differences among the departmental undergraduate majors?
A: The Department of Bioengineering offers several undergraduate programs. One program leads to a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in Bioengineering. This program addresses the bioengineering topics of biomechanics, biotransport, bioinstrumentation, bioelectricity, biosystems, and biomaterials, and the complementary fields of systems and organ-level physiology. Training in these areas allows application of bioengineering and scientific principles to the development of medical devices that benefit human health by effectively diagnosing and treating disease. The Bioengineering program prepares students for careers in the medical device industry and for further education in graduate school.
A second program leads to a B.S. degree in Bioengineering: Biotechnology. This program addresses the bioengineering topics of biochemistry and metabolism, kinetics, biotransport, biosystems, bioreactors, bioseparations, tissue engineering, and the complementary fields of cellular physiology. Training in these areas allows application of bioengineering and physicochemical principles to cellular and molecular biology, with the consequent development of drugs and pharmaceuticals that benefit human health by effectively treating disease. The Bioengineering: Biotechnology program prepares students for careers in the biotechnology industry and for further education in graduate school.
A third program leads to a B.S. degree in Bioengineering: Bioinformatics. Bioinformatics is the study of the flow of the vast amount of information (genetic, metabolic and regulatory) in living systems to provide an integrated understanding of the systems properties of cells and organisms. The Bioengineering: Bioinformatics program provides training in molecular biology, systems engineering analysis, and mathematical and computer sciences. Bioinformatics allows a new understanding of cellular functions, protein structure and design, evolutionary biology, regulatory networks, and the molecular basis of disease, and the generation of novel therapeutics, patient-specific designer drugs, and customized proteins. Bioengineering: Bioinformatics is one of four such programs offered by the Departments of Bioengineering, Chemistry/Biochemistry, Computer Science and Engineering and the Division of Biology at UCSD. Students wishing to major in Bioinformatics may select a program from any of the departments or Division. Bioengineering: Bioinformatics prepares students for careers in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and biomedical software industries or for further studies in graduate school.
(1C) Q: Is majoring in Bioengineering going to be very difficult?
A: For those seeking a challenge, Bioengineering is in the top tier of difficulty of all the majors offered at UCSD. While it is possible to complete the degree in four years, students considering a double major or minor should know that since it will be very difficult to complete a double major/minor in four years, engineering students are discouraged from this type of endeavor. You will be expected to gain a strong understanding of many different fields--including biology, physiology, chemistry, math, physics, computer programming, and circuitry.
(1D) Q: What does ABET mean?
A: ABET stands for the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology of the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC). The Board places emphasis on the following categories: engineering fundamentals, teamwork, leadership, presentation, creative design and application, and ethics. After a university's program(s) is evaluated and accredited by ABET, this prestigious certification is recognized in the engineering industry as confirmation that ABET's rigorous program parameters and standards have all been satisfied. Currently, the Bioengineering and Bioengineering: Biotechnology majors are ABET-accredited. (The certification is automatic and requires no additional paperwork.)
(1E) Q: Why is it important to graduate from an ABET-accredited degree program?
A: Many groups (employers, graduate schools, and licensure, certification, and registration boards) require graduation from an accredited program as a minimum qualification. ABET basically does the leg work for these groups and ensures that all ABET students have been taught the things they need to know. Not graduating from an ABET-accredited major can significantly limit your competitiveness in industry.
(1F) Q: What is the significance of the BENG 187A-D courses and the Capstone Senior Design course sequence?
A: Capstone and BE 187 series were implemented Fall ‘05 to bolster the BE-BE and BTEC ABET accreditation in it’s design requirement. Seniors This is done through a flowchart decision form found in the Bioengineering Student Affairs Office (BSA). Freshman FA’05 must follow this new flowchart. BE 187A-D revolve around developing design, implementation, presentation, and teamwork skills. The Capstone Design courses are two 3-unit design electives (DE) taken Fall and Winter quarter of the Senior year. You must choose them from a list of available DEs (the list found in the BSA Office) and must be chosen in A-B order ( e.g. - BE 113A in the Fall, and BE 113B in the Winter).
A: There is a list of approved TE classes available in the BSA office. BE 191 (Ethics) and BE 197 (Internship) are useful but will not take over a TE. If you take BE 199 to satisfy your TE requirements, you must take them consecutively, and with the same professor. During this time, your professor must evaluate your work at a “B-level” or higher for the entirety of your BE 199 courses for it to count.
1.2. Undergraduate Majors in the Department of Bioengineering
1.2.1. The Bioengineering Major
A: Bioengineering is an interdisciplinary major in which the principles and tools of traditional engineering fields, such as mechanical, materials, electrical, and chemical engineering, are applied to biomedical problems. Engineering plays an increasingly important role in medicine in projects that range from basic research in physiology to advances in biotechnology and the improvement of health care delivery. By its very nature, bioengineering is broad and requires a foundation in engineering and mathematics as well as in the physical, chemical, and biological sciences.
Q: What topics are studied in the Bioengineering major?
A: The Bioengineering major covers material in biomechanics, biotransport, bioinstrumentation, bioelectricity, biosystems, and biomaterials, and the complementary fields of systems and organ-level physiology. Students are trained in the development of medical devices that benefit human health by effectively diagnosing and treating disease. The Bioengineering program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and prepares students for careers in the biomedical industry and for further education in graduate school.
1.2.2. The Bioengineering: Biotechnology Major
Q: What is Biotechnology?
A: Bioengineering: Biotechnology addresses the bioengineering topics of biochemistry and metabolism, kinetics, biotransport, biosystems, bioreactors, bioseparations, tissue engineering, and the complementary fields of cellular physiology. Like the Bioengineering program, the Bioengineering: Biotechnology program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and prepares students for careers in the biomedical industry and for further education in graduate school.
Q: What are the differences between Bioengineering and Bioengineering: Biotechnology?
A: The Bioengineering major contains a strong engineering component, yet provides a balance among engineering, biology, and chemistry and is geared toward teaching students about the development of medical devices. The Bioengineering: Biotechnology major also has a strong engineering component, but has an additional focus on chemical processes and teaches the application of bioengineering and physicochemical principles to cellular and molecular biology, with the consequent development of drugs and pharmaceuticals that benefit human health by effectively treating
Q: I am going to graduate as a PMED; how do I keep competitive in a industry that favors ABET-accredited majors?
A: Find several companies that are representative of the field you want to work in. Contact their HR departments or talk to recruiters and ask which classes they recommend you take as a supplement to the PMED program. Many, if not all of these courses can be applied towards the PMED TE requirement (e.g. BENG 103B). BMES industry events are a great way to familiarize yourself with the workplace and gain invaluable contacts before graduating.
1.2.4. The Bioengineering: Bioinformatics Major
A: Bioinformatics is the study of the flow of information (genetic, metabolic, and regulatory) in living systems to provide an understanding of the properties of cells and organisms. This major has been developed by the Departments of Bioengineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Computer Science and Engineering, and the Division of Biology. Students wishing to major in bioinformatics may apply through any of these departments or the division. The Bioengineering: Bioinformatics major emphasizes systems engineering and model-based approaches to interpreting and integrating bioinformatics data and prepares students for careers in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and biomedical software industries, and for further studies in graduate school.
A: If you are fascinated by genomic studies, protein networks, systems biology, or any other computationally intense scientific fields, then bioinformatics provides an excellent foundation. But practically speaking, if you’re in the bioengineering dept and you know how to program, bioinformatics is currently a very attractive major. People are often impressed, and that includes scholarship committees! Finding positions in research labs is often easy because working knowledge in both biology and computers is very desirable. (18.104.22.168) Q: What kind of classes do you take in bioinformatics?
A: The bioinformatics course track is essentially the biology core (lower division biology/chemistry/physics, genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry) plus the computer science core (data structures, algorithms, discrete math), some bioengineering and physics classes thrown in between, and a core set of 6 courses that focus intensely on bioengineering. This is perhaps one of the most interdisciplinary and challenging majors on campus, but it is rewarding!
1.3 BS/MS Program
A: The BS/MS program allows any BE major to graduate in five years with an MS degree. This requires a 3.5+ GPA in upper division BE classes, as well as a 3.0+ GPA overall. If accepted, you must be prepared to add on at least one graduate class each quarter of your Senior year.
A: When you are one year away from graduation, contact the Advisor in the Graduate Student Affairs Office, room 141 PFBH. You will also need to contact a Bioengineering faculty member to serve as your faculty advisor.
A: A master’s degree typically takes 2 years, and is more focused on graduate-level coursework and a short-term research project. A full doctorate degree is similar to a master’s for the first 2 years, but then you continue on to work on a more involved thesis, for a few more years. A masters degree typically leads on to jobs in industry, or research assistants, while a PhD is normally required if you want to be a professor or a senior scientist in industry. For more information, BMES organizes a graduate mentor/mentee program for 3rd/4th year undergraduates who are interested in grad school but need some advice. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
A: An MS degree will offer the freedom of choosing a path of Industry or Research. This degree also allows for some freedom for Bioengineers interested in both fields. A MEng. degree strictly caters to the Industry side of Bioengineering with no research needed to complete. It is intended for students who are primarily interested in engineering design, development, manufacturing and management within an industrial or professional setting.