Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering tools for solving problems in biology and medicine. It is an engineering discipline that is practiced by professionals trained primarily as engineers, who specialize in medical and biological applications. This area of study combines fundamentals of the biomedical sciences with advanced engineering methods of analysis and design, and brings together these two fields in order to contribute to the design of new medical instruments and devices, apply engineering principles for understanding and repairing the human body and other biological systems, and use engineering tools for decision making and cost containment.

The interdisciplinary degree program offers a course of graduate study leading to the master of science or the doctor of philosophy degrees in biomedical engineering. The Department of Biomedical Engineering should be of interest to students who wish to practice engineering or engage in research in an engineering specialization in medicine and biology. An individualized course of study is planned with a faculty advisor. Biomedical engineering faculty and affiliated faculty come from the various colleges and professional schools throughout the university. They specialize in biomedical engineering areas as diverse as biomechanics, bioinstrumentation, biomedical imaging and biophotonics, micro and nanotechnology, systems biology, biomaterials, cellular engineering, tissue engineering, neuroengineering, and rehabilitation and human performance. A list of biomedical engineering faculty, affiliated faculty, and their respective areas of specialization is available from the department website.

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic degree programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet requirements of both the program(s) and the Graduate School. Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.  

Fall Deadline December 1
Spring Deadline October 1
Summer Deadline December 1
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) The MCAT may be accepted as an alternate to the GRE.
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

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:

All applicants must satisfy requirements that are set forth by the Graduate School. Students admitted to the program may be required to make up deficiency course requirements.

To apply to the BME program, complete applications, including supportive materials, must be submitted as described below and received by the following deadline dates:

  • Fall 2019 Semester—December 1 (Ph.D.), January 1 (MS)
    *Starting Fall 2020 Semester—December 1 (MS and Ph.D.)
  •  Spring Semester—October 1 (MS and Ph.D.)
  • Summer 2019 Session1—December 1 (Ph.D.), January 1 (MS)
    *Starting Summer 2019 Session1—December 1 (MS and Ph.D.)

1Please note that summer admissions are generally limited to continuing BME students at UW–Madison or applicants who have research assistantships already arranged with UW faculty.

Official Academic Transcript

Electronically submit one copy of your official transcript of all undergraduate and previous graduate work along with your online application to 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 you have questions, please contact

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Applicants should request ETS to send their official GRE scores by using institution code 1846 and department code 1603.

MCAT scores may be substituted for GRE. Domestic applicants who choose to substitute MCAT scores for the GRE should send their MCAT score report to

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

The TOEFL is required for international students unless a degree from a U.S. educational institution is held. Scores should be forwarded using institution code 1846 and department code 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 take the SPEAK test when arriving on campus.

Three Letters of Recommendations

These letters are required from people who can accurately judge the applicant's academic or research performance. Letters of recommendation are submitted electronically to graduate programs through the online application. Applicants should not send any more than three letters (if more than three are sent, only the first three will be considered). See the Graduate School for FAQs regarding letters of recommendation.

Statement of Purpose

In this document, applicants should explain why they want to pursue further education in BME and discuss which UW faculty members they would be interested in doing research with during their graduate study (see the Graduate School for more advice on how to structure a personal statement).

Resume (for Ph.D. applications only)

Include your resume ONLY if applying for the Ph.D. program.

Application Fee

Submission must be accompanied by the one-time application fee. It is non-refundable and can be paid by credit card (Master Card or Visa) or debit/ATM. By state law, this fee can only be waived or deferred through the conditions outlined here by the Graduate School.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

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. A few students enrolled in M.S. coursework program are self-funded.

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 M.S. coursework program are self-funded.

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. 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 after being admitted or other TA positions on campus.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 60 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (30 credits out of 60 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations Candidates are required to pass a comprehensive qualifying examination and preliminary examination.

Doctoral students are required to take a comprehensive preliminary/oral examination after they have cleared their record of all Incomplete and Progress grades (other than research and thesis). Deposit of the doctoral dissertation in the Graduate School is required.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements Breadth is provided via interdisciplinary training (minor requirement waived): The central aim of biomedical engineers is to unravel gaps in biological knowledge through the use of engineering principles. Thus, the doctoral program is inherently interdisciplinary. Prior to obtaining a Ph.D. warrant, students will prepare a summary of their effort in interdisciplinary coursework and training. The purpose of the summary will be to document the effort to meet the spirit of the minor requirement. The summary must be approved by the student's thesis committee and filed with the department. Students may elect to pursue a doctoral minor.


M.S. Requirements

To receive a Ph.D., students must first complete the requirements for an M.S. degree in biomedical engineering:

  • Completion of a Degree Program Plan (found on the BME website or through the graduate student coordinator): 
    • During their first semester of coursework, students must complete and have their advisor approve a Degree Program Plan, which will be stored in their secure BOX folder. This form will be useful for students to reflect upon at the end of their program when they complete their Final Warrant Request Form. 
  • Two semesters of  B M E 701 Seminar in Biomedical Engineering 
  • At least one course in bioscience  (such as ANAT&PHY 335 Physiology or 3 a cell biology course; if not from a bioscience or BME background)
  • At least 12 credits of engineering courses, 400-level or above
  • At least 15 credits in one area of specialization, 400-level or above (any program)
  • At least 15 credits that are graduate level (700 or above or from the approved list)
  • Optional, but recommended: 3-6 credits of independent study project experience or master's thesis research in the student's area of specialization (a maximum of 6 credits can be applied to the MS although students may take more). These credits may count towards your area of specialization. 

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 and meet the spirit of a BME degree; deviations from the requirements should be discussed with the associate chair of graduate advising and will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Ph.D. Requirements

In addition to the M.S. requirements listed above, Ph.D. students must complete an additional 30 credits of Ph.D. study. These 30 credits must include completion of one the following six Ph.D. tracks: 

Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering Track1

Biomaterials and tissue engineering employ a diverse range of approaches to develop methods to diagnose and treat diseases, create living tissue environments that may be used to restore the function of a damaged organ, and uncover biological mechanisms related to tissue development and disease. Graduate students trained in biomaterials and tissue engineering are expected to gain a detailed understanding of cellular and molecular biology, materials science, and engineering methods relevant to their research focus. 

Biology Requirement (2-3 Credits)2-3
Cell Biology
Cellular Signal Transduction Mechanisms
Molecular and Cellular Organogenesis
Introduction to Experimental Oncology
Data Analysis Requirement (1-3 Credits)1-3
Introduction to Biostatistics
Data Visualization
Systems & Synthetic Biology Requirement (6 Credits) 6
Biological Interactions with Materials
Introduction to Tissue Engineering
Tissue Engineering Laboratory
Stem Cell Bioengineering
Engineering Extracellular Matrices
Introduction to Biological and Medical Microsystems
Special Topics in Biomedical Engineering
Polymer Science and Technology
Advanced Polymeric Materials
Elective Requirement (9-11 Credits) To provide breadth, at least 9 credits of electives must be chosen from courses that are not listed above9-11
Total Credits18-23

Biomedical Imaging & Optics Track1

Biomedical imaging and optics research develops and utilizes new experimental and computational tools to characterize tissue structure across multiple size scales. A particular focus in on human health, especially with respect to achieving superior diagnostic/prognostic tools for a spectrum of diseased states. Graduate students trained in this track are expected to gain a detailed understanding of mathematics, biology and engineering both optical and/or physical methods relevant to their research focus.

Mathematics Requirement (0-3 Credits)0-3
Applied Linear Algebra (OR previous undergraduate course with grade B- or better)
Biology Requirement (3 Credits)3
Cell Biology
Imaging Requirement (9 Credits) 9
Medical Imaging Systems
Medical Image Science: Mathematical and Conceptual Foundations
Imaging in Medicine: Applications
Non-Ionizing Diagnostic Imaging
Special Topics in Biomedical Engineering
Biological Optical Microscopy
Advances in Medical Magnetic Resonance
Elective Requirement (6-11 Credits) To provide breadth, at least 6 credits of electives must be taken from courses that are not listed above6-11
Total Credits18-26

Biomechanics Track1

Biomechanics utilizes experimental and computational tools to analyze and develop novel biomechanical systems. Graduate students trained in biomechanics are expected to gain a detailed understanding of mathematics, biology and engineering methods relevant to their research focus.

Mathematics Requirement (3 Credits)3
Applied Linear Algebra
Ordinary Differential Equations
Analysis of Partial Differential Equations
Biomechanics of Solids & Fluids Requirement (>9 Credits) 9+
Biomechanics of Human Movement
Topics in Bio-Medical Engineering (Finite Elements for Biomechanics)
Tissue Mechanics
Special Topics in Mechanical Engineering (Orthopedic Biomechanics: Design of Implants)
Biosciences (3-6 Credits)3-6
Human Anatomy-Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy
Introduction to Exercise Psychology
Neural Control of Movement
Cardiorespiratory Adaptions to Environment and Exercise
Fundamentals of Human Physiology
Cell Biology
Elective Requirement (6 Credits) To provide breadth, electives must be courses that are not listed above; some recommendations are below6
Data Analysis
Introduction to Biostatistics
Learning a Programming Language
Computational Methods
Practicum in Finite Elements
Introduction to Finite Elements
Applied Thermal / Structural Finite Element Analysis
Solid & Fluid Mechanics
Mechanics of Continua
Viscoelastic Solids
Theory of Elasticity
Intermediate Fluid Dynamics
Experimental Mechanics
Computational Fluid Dynamics
Medical Instrumentation
Medical Imaging Systems
Microscopy of Life
Statistical Experimental Design
Total Credits12-24

Medical & Microdevices Track1

Medical and mircodevices involve the use of electronic and computational tools to develop devices used in diagnosis and treatment of disease ranging from the systemic to the cellular and molecular levels

Mathematics Requirement (3 Credits)
Applied Linear Algebra
Ordinary Differential Equations
Analysis of Partial Differential Equations
Biology Requirement (3 Credits) 3
Special Topics in Biomedical Engineering (Physiology for BME Students)
Cell Biology
Data Analysis (3 Credits) 3
Programming II
Learning a Programming Language
Biostatistics & Medical Informatics Course (B M I)
Signal Processing Course
Medical & Microdevices (6 Credits)6
Therapeutic Medical Devices
Introduction to Energy-Tissue Interactions
Introduction to Biological and Medical Microsystems
Biomedical Instrumentation
Elective Requirement (9-11 Credits) To provide breadth, 6 credits of electives must be from courses that are not listed above; examples of possible courses are listed below:9-11
Imaging in Medicine: Applications
All of Signal Processing
Total Credits21-23

Neuroengineering Track1

Neuroengineering is the convergence of neuroscience, computation, device development, and mathematics to improve human health. Neuroengineering brings together state-of-the-art technologies for the development of devices and algorithms to assist those with neural disorders. It is also used to reverse engineer living neural systems via new algorithms, technologies and robotics. Students pursing this track are involved in all of these endeavors so as the next generation of engineers, they will transcend the traditional boundaries of neuroscience, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

Mathematics Requirement (0-3 Credits)0-3
Applied Linear Algebra (OR previous undergraduate course))
Ethics (1 Credit)1
Ethical and Regulatory Issues in Clinical Investigation
Ethics and the responsible conduct of research and practice of Medical Physics
Data Analysis (3 Credits)3
Learning a Programming Language
Medical Image Analysis
Computer Vision
Computational Methods for Medical Image Analysis
Engineering Requirement (12 Credits) 12
Therapeutic Medical Devices
Special Topics in Biomedical Engineering (BioMEMs )
Special Topics in Biomedical Engineering (Special Topics in Neuroinstrumentation)
Medical Instrumentation
Computers in Medicine
Introduction to Optimization
Image Processing
Introduction to Artificial Neural Network and Fuzzy Systems
Methods for Neuroimaging Research
Neurobiology Requirement (6 Credits) 6
Stem Cell Bioengineering
Neural Basis for Movement
Principles of Motor Control and Learning
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Systems Neuroscience
Neuronal Mechanisms for Sensation and Memory in Cerebral Cortex
Neurobiology of Disease
Statistical Analysis of Psychological Experiments
Systems Neuroscience
Perceptual and Cognitive Sciences
Development of the Nervous System

Systems & Synthetic Biology Track1

Systems and synthetic biology utilizes experimental and computational tools in an iterative fashion to analyze and regulate biological systems.

Students interested in earning a doctoral minor in Quantitative Biology: enrollment in B M E 601 Special Topics in Biomedical Engineering (Methods in Quantitative Biology) is a requirement. Additionally, students will need to take one additional 3-credit course in quantitative science, biology, or integrated biology/quantitative science from the approved list of courses in the doctoral minor (this course counts toward the elective credits for this track).

Mathematics Requirement (3 Credits)3
Intermediate Problems in Chemical Engineering
Applied Linear Algebra
Ordinary Differential Equations
Analysis of Partial Differential Equations
Biology Requirement (3 Credits)3
Introduction to Biochemistry
Cell Biology
Cellular Signal Transduction Mechanisms
Data Analysis Requirement(1-3 Credits)1-3
Special Topics in Biomedical Engineering (Matlab Skills)
Introduction to Biostatistics
Learning a Programming Language
Systems & Synthetic Biology Requirement (6 Credits) 6
Systems Biology: Mammalian Signaling Networks
Biochemical Engineering
Biological Engineering: Molecules, Cells & Systems
Modeling Biological Systems
Electives Requirement (9-11 Credits) To meet the requirement of 12 credits of engineering courses, 3-6 credits of electives must be engineering coursework. To provide breadth, 6 credits of electives must be from courses that are not listed above. Suggested courses include the below list)9-11
Introduction to Tissue Engineering
Stem Cell Bioengineering
Engineering Extracellular Matrices
Introduction to Biological and Medical Microsystems
Microscopy of Life
Total Credits22-26

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

The Graduate School’s minimum credit requirement for graduation can ONLY be satisfied with graduate-level courses taken as a graduate student at UW–Madison. The minimum credit requirement is 32 credits for Ph.D. students. The BME department will allow the student to use up to 6 credits of graduate course work from another institution toward his/her degree requirements. See the graduate student coordinator for more information. 

UW–Madison Undergraduate

Fulfillment of Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement with prior UW–Madison undergraduate coursework is allowed up to 6 credits numbered 700 or above in engineering-degree-granting programs or from the approved list. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a Ph.D. degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. Prior coursework from the UW–Madison undergraduate career may not count toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement.

UW–Madison University Special

A maximum of 15 credits from the UW–Madison University Special student career may count toward program requirements. Minimum graduate resident credits requirement and minimum graduate degree credit requirement: allowed up to 15 credits numbered 300 or above. Minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement: allowed up to 15 credits numbered 700 or above. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a Ph.D. program is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).


Every BME graduate student must have a faculty advisor. A faculty advisor provides the graduate student with academic guidance in their course program and research oversight in their thesis, project, or engineering report. Graduate students should always seek advice from their advisor and other faculty in their interest area prior to enrolling for courses.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Students typically complete their degree within seven years of entering the program.

Within two years of entering their program, students are required to pass a comprehensive qualifying examination.

Within one year of after completion of their qualifying examination, students are required to prepare for a preliminary examination.



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Program Resources

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) 

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) helps graduate students and postdoctoral researchers:

  • assess current skills, interests, and strengths;
  • make a plan for developing skills to meet academic and professional goals; and
  • communicate with supervisors, advisors, and mentors about evolving goals and related skills.

The IDP is a document to be revisited again and again, to update and refine as goals change and/or come into focus, and to record progress and accomplishments. 

The university recommends IDPs for all postdoctoral researchers and graduate students, and requires IDPs for all postdoctoral researchers and graduate students supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. See the Graduate School for more information and IDP resources.

Engineering Career Services

The Engineering Career Services staff offers assistance to students searching or preparing for internships, co-ops, and jobs with well-recognized organizations.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is a campus-wide organization that provides free of charge, face-to-face and online consultations for students writing papers, reports, resumes, and applications.

  1. Demonstrate an ability to synthesize knowledge from a subset of the biological and physical sciences.
  2. Conduct original research.
  3. Demonstrate an ability to create new knowledge and communicate it to their peers.
  4. Foster ethical and professional conduct.


See also BME Faculty Directory


  • Justin Williams (Chair)
  • David Beebe
  • Walter Block
  • Paul Campagnola
  • Naomi Chesler
  • Shaoqin (Sarah) Gong
  • Kristyn Masters
  • Beth Meyerand
  • William Murphy
  • Darryl Thelen

Assistant Professors

  • Randolph Ashton
  • Aviad Hai
  • Melissa Kinney
  • Megan McClean
  • Jeremy Rogers
  • Krishanu Saha
  • Colleen Witzenburg

Associate Professors

  • Christopher Brace
  • Pamela Kreeger
  • Wan-ju Li
  • Kip Ludwig
  • Melissa Skala

Faculty Associates

  • Amit Nimunkar
  • John Puccinelli
  • Tracy Jane Puccinelli
  • Darilis Suarez-Gonzalez
  • Aaron Suminski
  • Mitchell Tyler


  • Ed Bersu
  • Willis Tompkins
  • John Webster