If you have an undergraduate degree in computer science, chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics or another STEM field, an online biomedical engineering master’s degree can open up several possible career paths in academia, industry, and healthcare. Biomedical engineers help solve global health issues and improve quality of life through engineering. The pay is also lucrative, as biomedical engineers earn an average annual salary of $85,620.
Choosing a Program
While most online biomedical engineering master’s degree programs cover the same content, there is some variation between the programs you’ll find at different schools. Most programs offer both a thesis track, meant for students interested in becoming research scientists, and also a non-thesis track, designed for students interested in biotech. Some programs encourage students to pursue start-up business through emphasizing entrepreneurship and providing mentorships. Other programs prepare students for medical school. Whatever the school’s emphasis, to earn an online master’s degree in biomedical engineering, you can expect to take classes in anatomy and physiology, statistics, and data analysis. You will also do some type of hands-on research through an internship or practicum.
Coursework in most biomedical engineering programs will provide you with a foundation in physiology, mathematics, and molecular and systems-level biology. In addition, you will learn about mechanical design and the structure and functions of different biomaterials. As a transdisciplinary degree that touches on both the fields of engineering and medicine, a master’s in biomedical engineering can typically be obtained with either a medical-focused concentration such as tissue engineering, human performance, or neural engineering, or an engineering-focused concentration such as biomedical instrumentation or nanotechnology. These options allow you to tailor the degree to your academic strengths and career interests.
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Online Master’s in Biomedical Engineering Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Master’s in Biomedical Engineering Programs
1 Harvard University
One of the best universities in the world, Harvard University delivers world-renowned educational programs through its extension school. The master of liberal arts in bioengineering and nanotechnology features coursework in human anatomy and physiology, stem cell and regenerative biology, and neurobiology.
Before applying, prospective students take two online prerequisite courses at Harvard. Students must earn at least a “B” in the research methods and scholarly writing in biotechnology prerequisite, and may take it twice, if necessary. A life science course is also required, and students must maintain a 3.0 GPA between the two courses. After successful completion of prerequisites, potential students may apply for full admission to the 12-course online biomedical engineering master’s program. Applications must be submitted when students are completing the second course.
There are three admission dates each year. Potential students should have an undergraduate degree in a science-related field; computer science is acceptable. Applicants should also have conducted at least one year of scientific research in a laboratory or clinical setting.
The program includes another life science course, five courses in engineering science, and an ethics class. Students must submit a thesis to graduate. While the majority of coursework is online, a minimum of four courses must be taken on-campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. These can be in standard 15-week semesters, three-week intensives in January, or three-week or seven-week summer courses.
Admitted students have five years to complete the degree program. Students that need more time for the thesis may pay a $500 fee for a one-year program extension. Program enrollment must be continuous to avoid “inactive” status. Harvard does not accept credit transfers or dual degree enrollments.
The Harvard Extension School is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
2University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
Named for alumnus Andrew J. Viterbi, who developed the building blocks for wireless technology, USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering is dedicated to innovative programming. The master of science in biomedical engineering is a fully online program delivered through the [email protected] system. Courses can be asynchronous or synchronous, based on student preference. Even in asynchronous courses, students can contact instructors in real-time to ask questions.
Full-time students can complete this 28-unit program in under two years. The program includes 15 units of core courses, including signal and systems analysis, physiological control systems, and studies of the nervous system. The remaining 13 units are electives. Students may choose courses such as estimation theory, medical imaging informatics, and random processes in engineering. Distance learners may opt to submit a thesis. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA for graduation.
Students may take exams in their community under the supervision of proctors at approved locations. USC exam coordinators assist with the proctoring process. Students enjoy the benefits such as a dedicated IT staff, online writing workshops, career services, financial aid, and library access.
There are two program start dates annually. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in engineering, mathematics, or science. Potential students submit GRE scores, a professional resume, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Online students are eligible for financial aid.
The University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the WASC Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
3University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The master of engineering in biomedical engineering at UIU prepares students for leadership positions in healthcare organizations. This industry-focused degree provides a unique mix of business, engineering, and technology training. Students select one of three degree concentrations: bioinstrumentation, general bioengineering, or computational genomics.
Students pursuing the biomedical engineering master’s online complete 32 credit hours: 18 in bioengineering, eight in electives, and six in professional development coursework. All students complete a team project and a course in managing business operations. Academic advisors provide assistance with selecting technical and general electives, which may be tailored based on student interest. There is no thesis requirement. Distance learners can complete the program in about one year, or five semesters, but have up to five years. This fully online program is delivered asynchronously. All instructors have virtual office hours.
Financial aid is currently not available for the bioinstrumentation program. Students interested in the computational genomics program should be able to demonstrate knowledge of molecular genetics, computer programming, and statistics. UIU accepts applications on a rolling basis. Applicants are not required to have professional work or internship experience, and GRE scores are optional. Applications must include an essay, personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. UIU considers all aspects of the application, not just undergraduate grades. The university seeks students with leadership qualities.
The University of Illinois is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins was founded in 1876 as the first research university in the U.S. The university’s researchers in Baltimore, Maryland have achieved significant advancements across many fields of study since then, from verifying the authenticity of the Dead Sea Scrolls to developing a blood test to detect cancer. Today, the university serves approximately 15,000 graduate students, including those in the biomedical engineering online master’s program.
The M.S. in applied biomedical engineering is a ten-course program that must be finished within five years. Students select one of three tracks: instrumentation, imaging, or translational tissue engineering. Graduates are able to solve complex medical problems using engineering solutions and computer simulation strategies. Coursework combines core classes, track options, and electives. Examples of available elective courses include biomechanics of cell and build-a-genome.
The program is fully online, but students may select to take some courses on-campus. Each degree option requires one on-campus component. Students in the biomedical engineering practice and innovation course must attend six days of clinical and laboratory work at the Johns Hopkins University campus and Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Applicants must have completed undergraduate courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and molecular biology. Potential students hold at least a 3.0 GPA for the last half of coursework. Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores.
Johns Hopkins is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
New York, New York
Columbia’s interdisciplinary master of science in biomedical engineering empowers students to solve medical problems with innovative scientific solutions. Students in this 30-credit program complete three core courses, one mathematics class, two biomedical engineering courses, and four electives of interest. Students must also complete a class in computational modeling of physiological systems. Notable biomedical engineering courses include artificial organs and tissue engineering. Advisors may need to approve selected electives.
This fully online program is delivered asynchronously through the Columbia Video Network. It features an online remote proctor service for testing, but students may opt to have their exams proctored in-person. Most students finish the program in three and a half years, but have up to five years. Distance learners gain access to Columbia’s library and career services. Student financial services staff can assist with identifying opportunities for aid.
Applicants to this master’s degree in biomedical engineering must hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering, mathematics, computer science, or physics. They should also have completed undergraduate coursework in calculus, biology, physics, and chemistry. Applicants submit GRE scores, three letters of recommendation from previous professors and work supervisors, a resume, personal statement, and transcripts verifying a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Columbia does not accept transfer credits. Admission is rolling, so potential students can apply anytime. Accepted students must register for at least two classes each year.
Columbia is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
6 University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
UMD’s online biomedical engineering master’s program enhances the expertise of engineers in the field. This program is administered through the UMD Office of Advanced Engineering Education, which partners with the A. James Clark School of Engineering. This research center regularly achieves biomedical advancements such as the first 3D bioprinted model of a placenta used to study preeclampsia. The engineering department develops technology that positively impacts the understanding and management of diseases and disabilities.
The master of engineering in bioengineering is fully online. This 30-credit, 10-course program is comprised of three core classes and seven electives. Elective courses include: the science and engineering of biopharmaceuticals, biomedical device development, and applications of tissue engineering. Distance learners must log in for synchronous weekly conferences. There is no thesis requirement. Some instructors require students to have their exams proctored. Local students have the option to take exams on campus in College Park, Maryland.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, physics, or engineering. They should hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prerequisites include biology, engineering science, differential equations, and calculus I, II, and III. Upon admittance, students without engineering science experience must take a course in fundamentals of thermal systems. Tuition is the same for Maryland residents and non-residents. There are four admission dates per year.
The University of Maryland is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
7University of Washington
UW’s master of pharmaceutical bioengineering is a 38-credit program that takes approximately two years to complete. This fully online program assists students with launching a new career in biotechnology or pharmaceuticals. Distance learners gain knowledge in drug design, pharmacy, and molecular and cellular biology. Students can select one of three tracks: drug discovery and design, translational pharmaceutics, or basic bioscience.
Students in this 38-credit degree must complete core coursework before beginning classes in their chosen track. Instead of a thesis, students complete a capstone project in which they showcase their understanding of drug development. Graduates may use findings from the project to secure employment or gain admission to Ph.D programs.
There are two application deadlines each year. All applicants must submit GRE scores. Potential students should have a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering, public health, or a related field. UW may waive this requirement for students with a minimum of two years work experience in biotechnology or pharmaceuticals. Students that do not meet either of these criteria must complete additional coursework in calculus, chemistry, biology, physics, and statistics. Distance learners are eligible for financial aid as long as they register for a minimum of five credits.
UW boasts a variety of bioengineering centers, including the Center for Cardiovascular Biology and the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering. The university values collaboration across its diverse bioengineering efforts. The school’s BioEngage initiative connects students, faculty, and professionals in the biomedical industry through networking opportunities. The faculty includes 29 American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering fellows.
The University of Washington is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
8Worcester Polytechnic Institute
WPI’s Bioengineering Institute develops new biomedical technologies such as skeletal remodeling and bioinstrumentation. Successful initiatives include blood vessel engineering and sutures that can heal wounds. Graduates of WPI’s master’s degree in biomedical engineering have the leadership, communication, and analytical skills to develop solutions that create positive change. Students receive the training to successfully conduct experiments, analyze data, and adhere to FDA guidelines and regulations. Courses include medical device design controls; biomedical robotics; and business law, ethics, and social responsibility.
Most courses for this biomedical engineering master’s online program are asynchronous. Students conduct group projects through email and discussion boards. The team efforts required by these WPI “project teams” mirror the collaborative work of the biomedical engineering field. Students are able to develop their own degree plan based on their career interests, but advisors must have final approval. The degree requires 12 credits in biomedical engineering, nine credits in life sciences and advanced mathematics, and 12 credits in electives. Students must also take a graduate seminar online, on-campus, or off-site.
Ideally, applicants should have an ABET-accredited degree in engineering, computational chemistry, physics, or computer science. Potential students should hold a 3.0 minimum GPA. There are three program start dates each year. Part-time students can complete the degree in three to five years.
WPI offers the Gateway Scholarship to online graduate students. The scholarship provides up to $5,000 toward tuition expenses. Distance learners may also receive financial aid through federal sources, other scholarships, and fellowships.
The Worcester Polytechnic Institute is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Located in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers was established before the American Revolution. Today, Rutgers is a distinguished public research university with more than 200 graduate programs, including an online master’s degree in biomedical engineering. Rutgers’ alumni network includes more than 480,000 active members. The school’s small class sizes enable students to collaborate with each other while receiving individual attention from instructors.
Students enrolled in the online master’s degree in biomedical engineering gain knowledge and skills in key areas of biomedical engineering, including biomaterials, biomedical imaging, and neuroengineering. The program prepares students for professional research in tissue engineering, drug delivery, medical devices, and other cutting-edge bioengineering initiatives. Students have the unique opportunity to conduct an independent study project with a faculty member. Faculty members are experts in diverse aspects of biomedical engineering, including neurotechnology and biomaterials.
Interested students are provided enrollment coaches. These coaches walk students through the admissions and financial aid processes and offer resources as needed. Applicants must submit GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Potential students should hold a minimum GPA of 3.0. Undergraduate coursework must include one or two semesters of physics and three semesters of calculus. The school accepts applications throughout the year. There are three program start dates. Distance learners gain access to executive coaches who provide free training on topics like motivation, study habits, and time management.
Rutgers University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
10 Case Western Reserve University
CWRU established one of the first biomedical engineering programs in 1968. Today, the university operates a biomedical engineering department jointly administered by the Case School of Engineering and the CWRU School of Medicine. The department oversees 20 innovative research centers and almost $42 million in active grants. Faculty members partner with clinicians to solve health problems related to stroke, cancer, paralysis, and many other diseases and conditions. CWRU works with with more than 270 organizations and companies to fund research projects, expand employment opportunities, and provide networking events for students.
The master of science in biomedical engineering is rich with cutting-edge research, simulations, and case studies. Faculty members serve as both instructors and researchers. The online curriculum requires nine courses totaling 27 credit hours. The degree plan includes: two core courses in biomedical engineering, one core engineering course, two biomedical engineering specialty courses, two translational research classes, and two technical electives. Biomedical engineering specialty courses include polymers in medicine or bioelectric phenomena. Options for the technical electives include a business course and research project.
In their undergraduate studies, applicants should have completed two semesters of chemistry, two semesters of physics, four semesters of mathematics, and one programming class. CWRU offers a new $10,000 scholarship for online graduate students pursuing the master of science in biomedical engineering.
Case Western is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Online Master’s in Biomedical Engineering Careers
Graduates with a biomedical engineering online master’s degree often find jobs researching and developing new medical devices. Professionals with this degree might also start their own technology company, conduct academic research, become medical doctors, or work as consultants. Examples of possible careers include the following:
- Technical Writer: Technical writers prepare reports, instruction manuals, patent applications, research manuscripts, and other documentation related to the communication of highly technical scientific projects and products. Because of the complex nature of most technical writing content, an advanced science degree is often required for staff writer positions. Science and technology writers earn higher pay than their peers.
- Median Annual Salary: $69,850
- Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Biomedical Engineer: Biomedical engineers collaborate with other scientists to design and develop equipment for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of health-related issues. Engineers with advanced degrees often supervise their own laboratories and research teams.
- Median Annual Salary: $86,620
- Projected Growth Rate: 7%
- Sales Engineer: Sales engineers use their technical knowledge to explain and demonstrate products and train customers in new technology. Sales engineers with graduate-level degrees are often involved in the research and development of products. They troubleshoot problems and collect customer feedback, which is then used to adapt and redesign the product for better outcomes.
- Median Annual Salary: $100,000
- Projected Growth Rate: 7%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics