A major in biological engineering offers students an opportunity to enter a field with the potential to make a tremendous impact on our world. Whether developing drugs to treat disease, creating plants with the potential to meet the growing demand for food, or designing new ways to create and store energy; bioengineers are working to find solutions to a wide variety of problems.
What is Bioengineering?
Biological engineering involves using engineering design and analysis to help develop advances in agriculture, food production, and pharmaceuticals, as well as in the preservation and protection of natural resources. The University of California, Berkeley has an excellent description of the study of bioengineering on its site.
A very broad area of study, bioengineering can include elements of electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science, materials, chemistry and biology. This breadth allows students and faculty to specialize in their areas of interest and collaborate widely with researchers in allied fields.
Graduates are well placed to work in management, production or research and development in a variety of industries – such as medical devices, diagnostics, genetics, healthcare industry support, pharmaceutical manufacture, drug discovery, environmental remediation, or agricultural advancement – as well as in nonprofit and academic research. Many go on to receive advanced degrees in bioengineering or a related field, or to medical school. Other students find the rigor of bioengineering a useful launching point for careers in business or law.
Careers in Biological Engineering
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, biomedical engineering is expected to grow by 27% between 2012 and 2022, which is a much faster growth rate than most careers. It is suggested this is due to the needs of an aging population. The demand for bioengineers does not stop at developing pharmaceuticals and medical equipment for baby boomers. The desire for more ecologically sound products across the board is also driving the demand for bioengineers.
To get an idea of just how varied the career possibilities are in the field take a look at the industries hiring:
- Energy companies
- Hospitals and medical treatment facilities
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Medical equipment manufacturers
- Medical systems manufacturers
- Chemical companies
- Security and defense industries
- Universities and educational organizations
Within these industries, bioengineers work in many different jobs making it likely that graduates in the field will find work that is satisfying and suitable for helping them meet their personal and professional goals.
SciLogs author Paige Brown does a great job outlining the career possibilities for bioengineers.
Biological engineers end up in a wide variety of academic, research, and industrial fields. From environmental and ecological fields, to bioprocessing, to biofuels and bioenergy research and production, to food processing and genetic engineering, biological engineers are everywhere. Engineers are often dynamic individuals who show self-initiative and critical thinking – a key credential that employers look for.
Engineers work in teams – today’s problems are global and inter-disciplinary, requiring engineers and scientists to have good teamwork and ethical skills. Biological engineering touches cutting-edge technology and biosystems. Consequences of technology, environment, and biosystem modification are systematic in a globalized society, potentially impacting millions of people.
Bioengineers work on the cutting edge of so many industries it can be difficult to limit a bioengineer's job to one description. It is a safe bet that once you start working with a company there will be opportunities to train in new disciplines and try new paths.
Top Universities Offering Degrees in Biological Engineering
When looking for an undergraduate program, keep in mind your main area of interest. A top university for biomedical engineering may not be suitable if you are more interested in environmental or agricultural research.
While alternative paths exist, probably the fastest way to get started on a career in bioengineering is by graduating in good standing from a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET). Some excellent schools do not have this particular certification, so don't rule a school out on this one point.
U.S. News College Compass offers a ranking of both undergraduate and graduate programs. The following is a list of accredited programs provided by ABET with the first ten being those ranked highest by U.S. News and the remaining listed in alphabetical order. Please let us know if we need to add a program to the list.
- Johns Hopkins University
- Duke University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Not ABET accredited in bioengineering or biomedical engineering)
- Georgia Institute of Technology (Shared department with Emory University)
- University of California, San Diego
- Stanford University (Not ABET accredited in bioengineering or biomedical engineering)
- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
- Rice University
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of California, Berkeley (Not ABET accredited in bioengineering or biomedical engineering)
|ABET Accredited Programs in Bioengineering or Biomedical engineering|
|Arizona State University
Case Western Reserve University
City University of New York, City College
Florida Gulf Coast University
Florida International University (Modesto Maidique Campus)
George Mason University
Illinois Institute of Technology
Indiana Institute of Technology
Indiana University - Perdue University Indianapolis
Lawrence Technological University
Louisiana Tech University
Michigan Technological University
Milwaukee School of Engineering
New Jersey Institute of Technology
North Carolina State University
Oregon State University
Pennsylvania State University
Perdue University at West Lafayette
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Saint Louis University
State University of New York at Binghamton
Stevens Institute of Technology
Stony Brook University
Texas A&M University
The Catholic University of America
The College of New Jersey
The George Washington University
The Ohio State University
The University of Akron
The University of Memphis
The University of Toledo
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of California, Davis
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Riverside
University of Central Oklahoma
University of Cincinnati
University of Connecticut
University of Hartford
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Iowa
University of Louisville
University of Maryland College Park
University of Miami
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Rhode Island
University of Rochester
University of South Carolina
University of Southern California
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
University of Texas at Austin
University of the Pacific
University of Utah
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Virginia Commonwealth University
Washington State University
Western New England College
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Wright State University
***This list is from the ABET search feature and may not be complete.
Please check with your university of choice about their accreditations
prior to making a decision.
Scholarships in Biological Engineering
When conducting a scholarship search to fund undergraduate study in bioengineering there are several paths to follow. First, check for scholarships for the universities to which you are applying. These do not have to be degree-specific scholarships. They may have merit and need-based scholarships available.
After looking for scholarships linked to your chosen university, check out scholarships specifically for those studying science, biology or engineering. Finally, check for scholarships intended specifically for the study of bioengineering.
We have listed scholarships in the right sidebar to help get you started on your search. We are still filling our scholarship database, so please check back if you do not find everything you need on this visit. If you sponsor a scholarship and do not see it listed, please consider submitting your scholarship today.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Biomedical Engineers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm
U.S. News College Compass, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/eng...
Career Cornerstone, http://www.careercornerstone.org/pdf/bioeng/bioeng.pdf