Undergrad FAQs

Advising Chart

Issue VAC Message Drop-in Advising


College Advisors
Personalized Academic Planning     x  
Complicated or Individualized Questions     x  
General Questions About Major Requirements x x    
Questions About GE or University Requirements       x
Academic Standing/Academic Probation       x
Readmission to the University       x
Continuing Student Application x x    
Petitions x x    
Degree Audit Updates (Major Requirements) x x    
Enrollment Logistics x x    
Technical Electives x x    
Senior Design x x    
BS/MS Program x x    
Study Abroad x x    

Advising Services

What kind of advising should I seek out?


For quick or more general questions, please send us a message through the Virtual Advising Center (VAC) or join our virtual drop-in advising. To create a course plan or for more complicated questions, please consider scheduling a one-on-one appointment. Questions from current students sent via email will not be answered.


How can I schedule an appointment?


To schedule an appointment, please send us a Virtual Advising Center (VAC) message with your weekly availability, and whether you prefer a virtual (Zoom) or in-person appointment. Appointments are scheduled in 30-minute increments. You will receive confirmation and a calendar invitation once your appointment is scheduled.


How can I access drop-in advising?


Virtual drop-in advising is held daily (Monday-Friday) from 1-3pm. To sign in, please use the “meet with advisor” function in the Virtual Advising Center (VAC). Students will be seen in the order they sign in. 


Admission to the Department 

What does it mean that the Bioengineering majors are “selective?”


Each of the 4 majors in our department are selective, meaning the demand for the major exceeds capacity. Due to this, enrollment in our majors is limited. In order to be considered for one of our majors as a first-year student, you must list the major you are interested in as your first choice when applying to UC San Diego.


Can I apply to the Bioengineering department if I was not admitted directly?


For students not admitted to the Bioengineering department as first-year students, there is a one time application process. This process takes place at the beginning of students’ sophomore year. Applicants must take a set of required screening courses during their first year to be eligible to apply.

See Prospective Students | Shu Chien-Gene Lay Department of Bioengineering for more information.

Students who were not admitted to the Bioengineering department as transfer students are unfortunately not eligible to apply, as their time to graduation would be delayed. The only way for transfer students to be admitted to a selective major is to be admitted directly from a community college or other institution.


Admission to the Department as a Transfer

How can I find out which of my community college courses are equivalent to courses at UCSD?


Please use www.assist.org to view the transfer equivalencies between your community college and UC San Diego for your major. If a course you took is not listed as equivalent, you may petition the course for credit with the appropriate department.

Petitions will only be submitted to the Bioengineering department for courses you believe to be equivalent to Bioengineering courses. Community college courses are typically only eligible for lower division course credit (1-99) at UCSD.


How can I find out which of my courses from another institution or out of state community college are equivalent to courses at UCSD?


The UCs unfortunately do not have articulation agreements with each other, nor with any other 4 year university or out of state community college. You will need to wait until your transcript is processed by admissions over the summer before your first quarter to see which of your courses articulated. This information will be available to view under your Academic History on TritonLink. If a course you took does not show an articulation, you will need to directly petition the department that offers the course for which you wish to receive credit.


What do I need for an equivalency petition? 


You should aim to provide as much information as possible, including:

  • Name/title/author/edition of the textbook used for the course
  • Syllabus for the course
  • Any homework assignments/tests (optional, but recommended)
  • Undergraduate Student Petition (available under the Forms tab on TritonLink) filled out describing why you believe the course is similar to what you believe to be our equivalent (similar subjects covered, textbook, homework, etc.,) and the course that you believe it to be equivalent to as well as where you took the course.

A strong petition draws on the similarities between course descriptions (see the UC San Diego General Catalog).

Please bear in mind that the response rate will vary by department and may take up to a month.


Can I graduate in 2 years as a transfer student in Bioengineering?


Not usually for transfer students. Our major flowcharts are designed to be completed in 4 years for students entering as first-year students, but due to the course load and sequential nature of our department’s courses, most transfer students will need 3 years to complete their degree. Exceptions may apply depending on the course credit with which a transfer student enters UC San Diego.

BS/MS Program and Masters/PhD Programs

What is the BS/MS program?


The BS/MS program is a 5 year program designed to allow students to earn their Masters degree in one year following the completion of their Bachelors degree. This program is only available for the MS Plan I - Thesis degree. Students admitted to the program take one Masters level course per quarter of their senior year, and complete their Masters coursework in the following year.


How can I apply for the BS/MS program? 


Applications for the BS/MS program are available in the Spring quarter of students’ junior year. For more information, please visit Five-Year BS/MS Program | Shu Chien-Gene Lay Department of Bioengineering 


Where can I find more information about the Bioengineering department’s graduate programs?


The Bioengineering department offers 5 Masters degree aims and a PhD program. Information about our department’s Masters and PhD programs is available here: Graduate Students | Shu Chien-Gene Lay Department of Bioengineering 

Course Equivalencies

Can I take courses at a community college?


You can complete some lower division courses (math, physics, chemistry, etc) at community colleges. California community colleges have articulation agreements with UC San Diego on assist.org which list confirmed course articulations. To confirm equivalency for community college courses, please reach out to the appropriate department.


Are there any pre-approved course substitutions?


  • CHEM 40A + 40B or CHEM 41A + 41B can be used in place of BENG 120 (but not vice versa). Please submit an Undergraduate General Petition to make this substitution. 
  • MAE 8 or another MATLAB course can be used in place of BENG 2 (but not vice versa). Please submit an Undergraduate General Petition via My TritonLink: Forms to make this substitution. 
  • NANO 15, CENG 15, or SE 9 can be used in place of MAE 8
  • PHYS 4B can be used in place of PHYS 2C
  • CSE 8A + 8B can be used in place of CSE 11

Degree Audit

What is my degree audit?


The degree audit serves as a checklist of each course you are required to take to complete your degree requirements at UC San Diego. It is separated into sections for your lower division major requirements, upper division major requirements, general education requirements, and university requirements.


How can I request an update if something doesn’t look quite right on my degree audit?


If you would like an update made to either of the major requirements sections of your degree audit, please send us a message through the Virtual Advising Center (VAC) or join virtual drop-in advising. If an update needs to be made to the other sections of your audit, please contact your college. 

Double Majors and Minors

Can I double major as a Bioengineering student?


Bioengineering students may request to add a double major, as long as their intended double major is not in the Jacobs School of Engineering.

See How to Declare a Double Major (Undergraduates)  for more information.


Can I declare a minor as a Bioengineering student?


Yes. Bioengineering students may add a minor, as long as their intended minor is not in the Jacobs School of Engineering.

See How to Declare a Minor (Undergraduates) for more information.


When is the schedule of classes available for each quarter?


The schedule of classes for the following quarter is released during week 8. For example, the Winter schedule of classes becomes available during week 8 of Fall quarter. Enrollment appointment times are also available during week 8. 


When does enrollment begin for each quarter?


Please see the Enrollment and Registration Calendar here:

Enrollment and Registration Calendar 2023-2024


What is the difference between first and second pass? How many units can I enroll in?


First and second pass enrollment appointment times are assigned based on the number of units a student has completed. Students may enroll in up to 11.5 units during their first pass, and up to 19.5 units (including waitlisted courses) during their second pass. Starting the first day of instruction, students may enroll in up to 22 units. We recommend enrolling in your non-BENG major coursework in your first pass.

Please see here for more information regarding continuing undergraduate enrollment.


What can I do if the times for two of my courses conflict with each other?


Two courses that are intended to be taken together according to your major flowchart should never have a time conflict. If there is a conflict between two courses listed in the same quarter, please reach out to the department via the Virtual Advising Center (VAC).

If two courses conflict and are not listed in the same quarter of the flowchart, we cannot guarantee that a time conflict will not occur. In this case, you may reach out to the instructors of each course to see if they are able to accommodate you completing both courses.


I am a student outside the Bioengineering department who is interested in taking a Bioengineering course, may I enroll?


Priority enrollment is given to Bioengineering students in all department courses. If seats remain in a given course during week 1 of the quarter, students outside of the department may submit an EASy request to be authorized to enroll. Students must meet all prerequisites for a course. 


General Department Questions

What is the difference between each of the Bioengineering majors?


Descriptions of each major and their differences can be found on the individual major pages:


Can I switch between the Bioengineering majors?


If you were admitted directly into the Bioengineering department as a first-year student, you have the opportunity to switch to a different major within the department one time, or switch back to your original major one time, before the end of your second year.

If you were admitted into the Bioengineering department as a transfer student, you have the opportunity to switch to a different major within the department one time, or switch back to your original major one time, before the end of your first quarter.


Can I receive credit for my AP scores?


Yes. Depending upon the score you receive on an AP exam, you may be exempt from taking one or more courses required for your major. Please refer to the online UC San Diego General Catalog for a list of course credit by AP exam.



What grade do I need to earn in my major courses?


All major required courses must be completed with a C- or higher. Students in the Bioengineering department may submit a petition to allow one D grade to count towards their major requirements. 


Can I take my major courses Pass/No Pass?


No, all major courses must be taken for a letter grade, unless pass/no pass is the only grading option for the course (as is the case for BENG 1, BENG 196, and BENG 199).



What do I need to do to be prepared for graduation?


  • Ensure that all of your requirements are complete on your degree audit. If something needs to be updated, please contact the appropriate advisors (departmental or college).
  • Submit your Degree and Diploma Application (DDA). See here for more information: How to File for Your Degree (Undergraduates) 
  • Register to walk at Commencement.  See here for more information: UC San Diego Commencement
  • Please note that filing your DDA and registering for Commencement are two separate processes. Filing your DDA is required for your degree to be conferred.

Internships and Career Information 

Can I receive course credit for my internship?


Yes. Students participating in Bioengineering related internships can enroll in BENG 196 for course credit. One quarter (4 units) of BENG 196 can be used to fulfill one technical elective requirement. Please contact industrial liaison Dr. Isgard Hueck (ihueck@eng.ucsd.edu) for more information. International students can receive CPT while enrolled in BENG 196.


What career options are available after I receive my degree?


Career information is available on our website here. This page contains presentations prepared by Dr. Bruce Wheeler as well as links to various job boards.


What resources are available to learn more about my career options?


Students are encouraged to visit the Career Center for coaching on searching for internships and jobs as well as applications to graduate school. All undergraduate students are assigned a faculty advisor during the fall quarter of their freshman year who will also serve as a resource for career/graduate school information. 


Major Requirements and Course Planning 

What is the purpose of the Bioengineering major flowcharts?


Each major’s flowchart lists all required courses for each major, and the intended year/quarter of enrollment. The arrows on the flowcharts indicate which courses are prerequisites for courses taken in subsequent quarters. 


What do the “HSS” boxes mean on the flowchart? 


The HSS boxes are placeholders for general education courses. Students should consult with their college regarding general education requirements.


What do the “TE” boxes mean on the flowchart?


The TE boxes are placeholders for technical elective courses taken by students in all 4 majors. Please see the “technical electives” section below for more information.


What do the “DE” boxes mean on the flowchart? 


The DE boxes are placeholders for design elective courses taken alongside the senior design series. Please see the “Senior Design” section below for more information.


How can I satisfy my organic chemistry requirement?


Biotechnology students may complete either the CHEM 40 series or the CHEM 41 series to satisfy their organic chemistry requirements.

Bioinformatics and Biosystems students complete BENG 120 for their organic chemistry requirement. CHEM 40A/B or 41A/B may be used in place of BENG 120, but not vice versa.


A course I am required to take has prerequisites that don’t appear on my flowchart. Do I need to complete these prerequisites?


Bioinformatics students are not required to take CSE 15L, 20, 29 or 30 as prerequisites for CSE 100 and 101. These students should submit EASy requests to enroll in CSE 100 and 101.

BILD 3 is a prerequisite for BICD 100. While this course is not listed on the Biotechnology flowchart, it must be completed as a prerequisite for BICD 100.



What can I submit a petition for?


Petitions are used to request to enroll in a course without completing its prerequisite(s), to take a course concurrently with its prerequisite(s), to receive credit for a course taken outside of UC San Diego, to substitute a course with a different UCSD course, to receive approval to use a course as a technical elective, or to request to graduate with one D grade in major requirements.


What is the process of submitting petitions? When can I expect to receive a decision on my petition?


Students should fill out the Undergraduate General Petition available in the Forms section of TritonLink (or here). 

Completed petitions should be sent to be-uginfo@bioeng.ucsd.edu. Students can expect to receive a response to their petition via the Virtual Advising Center within 2-4 weeks.



Can I complete medical school prerequisites as a Bioengineering student?


Yes. Depending on your major, you will already be completing a range of courses that are typically prerequisites for medical school. More information about prerequisites can be found here: Prepare for Med School .


How do I register as pre-med?


Please visit the career center’s pre-med advisors here: Pre-Health & Pre-Med Advising 


Can I conduct research as an undergraduate?


Yes. Upon completion of 30 UC San Diego units with a 3.0 GPA, you may request to work with a Bioengineering faculty member and enroll in a BENG 99 (Independent Study for Undergraduates) course. Additionally, when you achieve upper-division standing and have completed a total of 90 units with a 2.5 GPA, you are encouraged to participate in research with a faculty member by enrolling in a BENG 199 course. Students are encouraged to contact faculty members directly to inquire about research opportunities.


How do I enroll in BENG 99/BENG 199?


To enroll in special studies courses, students must submit an EASy request for the course and select the faculty member they plan to work with. Requests are routed to the faculty member, then to Student Affairs, then to the Registrar for final approval. The Registrar enrolls students in special studies courses; students do not enroll via WebReg.


How can I get started with research?


Connecting with professors directly is a great way to get involved in research. If you are taking a course with a professor you are interested in working with, attending their office hours and fostering conversation with them conveys your interest in their work.
If you are interested in working with a professor you are not taking a course with, you are welcome to reach out to them directly.

Lists of all faculty members and their lab websites are available here:

Faculty | Shu Chien-Gene Lay Department of Bioengineering.

Research Focus & Groups | Shu Chien-Gene Lay Department of Bioengineering.

Senior Design

What is Senior Design?


The Senior Design series is a capstone project required for every student in the department of Bioengineering. The series begins in the Spring quarter of the junior year, and is completed in the Spring quarter of the senior year. 


What courses will I enroll in to complete my Senior Design requirement?


The Senior Design sequence involves a series of 4 1-unit courses on selection, design, implementation, and presentation of design projects (BENG 187A-187D) as well as a 2 course series of 3-unit laboratory design projects (also known as design electives). Students enroll in BENG 187A during the Spring quarter of their junior year, BENG 187B and a design elective (BENG 1XXA) during the Fall quarter of their senior year, BENG 187C and a design elective (BENG 1XXB) during the Winter quarter of their senior year, and BENG 187D during the Spring quarter of their senior year. Design electives will be assigned to students at the end of BENG 187A.

Study Abroad

Can I study abroad as a Bioengineering student?


Bioengineering students are advised to participate in summer study abroad programs when it is possible. Studying abroad during a traditional academic quarter can be challenging as many courses required for the 4 bioengineering majors are only offered once per year, and are highly dependent on prerequisites.


Will my study abroad courses count towards my major requirements?


There are no previously approved courses equivalent to upper division Bioengineering courses. Students are encouraged to complete general education courses in their study abroad programs.


Student Organizations

How can I learn more about the student organizations in the Bioengineering department?


A list of active student organizations is available here: Student Organizations | Shu Chien-Gene Lay Department of Bioengineering 


Technical Electives

What are technical electives?


All Bioengineering students are required to complete 8 units of technical electives to fulfill their major requirements. Technical electives are upper division engineering or science courses that are not already required for a given major, intended to expand the breadth of upper division coursework students complete. Students are required to complete a minimum number of “engineering” units as part of their technical electives, as described below:

Major Total # of TE Units

Minimum # of TE Units with Engineering Content

Bioengineering 8 4
Biotechnology 8 6
Bioinformatics 8 8
Biosystems 8 8


Note for Biotechnology students: Because there are relatively few courses that count as 2 units of engineering content, the majority of these students will complete 8 units of engineering technical electives. 


How do I know what courses are approved as technical electives for my major?


Updated lists of pre-approved technical electives are available for each major here under “Technical Elective Course Options.”


Can I use BENG 199 for my technical electives?


Yes. Your technical elective requirements can be satisfied by completing two quarters of BENG 199 (4 units each for a total of 8 units) with the same instructor. Your instructor must be a faculty member in the department of Bioengineering. 


Can I take courses that have not been pre-approved?


If you would like to use a course as a technical elective that is not on the pre-approved list, you may submit a petition.


Why are my technical electives not appearing in my degree audit?


Technical elective requirements must be manually updated in your degree audit. Please contact Student Affairs to request an update.