Biomedical engineering (BME) 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, but with a specialized focus on the medical and biological applications of classical engineering principles. BMEs apply their multidisciplinary expertise to problems such as designing new medical instruments and devices, understanding and repairing the human body, and applying resourceful and cross-disciplinary approaches to age-old problems in the fields of medicine, biology, and beyond. A biomedical engineer can expect to work in a wide variety of multidisciplinary teams with professionals such as physicians, biologists, researchers, nurses, therapists, mathematicians, administrators, and many others while working in industry, as entrepreneurs, and in the medical profession and academia.

To prepare students for such careers, the 128-credit, four-year BME undergraduate degree emphasizes engineering design; access to cooperatives/internships at local or national medical device manufacturers, hospitals, or laboratories; continuous advising; flexibility in engineering specialization areas; participation in program evaluation and improvement; study-abroad opportunities; and an option to complete a one-year M.S degree following the undergraduate program.

The cornerstone of the BME program is its unique, seven-semester design curriculum. Students take an advising/design project course the freshman year and every semester during the sophomore through senior years. A faculty member advises small teams of students, serving as advisor/consultant/mentor, to guide them through real-world design projects solicited from clients throughout the university, medical profession, industry, and the community. These clients serve as resources for students in their project, conduct discussions, and expose the students to various aspects of the BME field. Over the course of each semester, teams design, fabricate, and ultimately present a product that meets the needs of the client. This novel approach gives students an exceptionally balanced education by incorporating clinical and biomedical industry experience, thus expanding their network. Overall, the design experiences highlight the very multidisciplinary nature of BME.

Within the program, BME students choose a course of study that emphasizes one of the following four specializations within the field:

  1. Bioinstrumentation and medical devices is the application of electronics, measurement principles, and techniques to develop devices used in diagnosis and treatment of disease. Examples include the electrocardiogram, brain–computer interface, implantable electrodes, sensors, tumor ablation, and other medical devices. Neuroengineering, a subfield, involves using engineering technology to study the function of neural systems and the development of implantable technology for neuroprosthetic and rehabilitation applications.
  2. Biomedical imaging and optics involves the design and enhancement of systems for noninvasive anatomical, cellular, and molecular imaging. In addition to common imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET), biomedical imaging includes topics such as biophotonics, optics, and multimode imaging, and is now expanding to serve functional and therapeutic purposes as well. Advanced capabilities result when fundamentals of engineering, physics, and computer science are applied in conjunction with the expertise of clinical collaborators.
  3. Biomechanics applies engineering mechanics for understanding biological processes and for solving medical problems at systemic, organ, tissue, cellular, and molecular levels. This includes the mechanics of connective tissues (ligament tendon, cartilage and bone) as well as orthopedic devices (fracture fixation hardware and joint prostheses), vascular remodeling (pulmonary hypertension), muscle mechanics with injury and healing, human motor control, neuromuscular adaptation (with age, injury, and disease), microfluidics for cellular applications, cellular motility and adhesion, and rehabilitation engineering (quantifying, adapting and restoring function for those who lost abilities).
  4. Biomaterials/cellular/tissue engineering involves the characterization and use of structural materials, derived from synthetic or natural sources, to design medical products that safely interact with tissues for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes such as artificial blood vessels, heart valves, orthopedic joints, and drug delivery vehicles. Tissue engineers understand structure–function relationships in normal and pathological tissues to engineer living tissues and/or biological substitutes to restore, maintain, or improve function. At the cellular and molecular level this includes the study or manipulation of biological processes such as the cell’s differentiation, proliferation, growth, migration, and apoptosis.

Although the various disciplines within BME can be separately defined, solving a biomedical program requires an overall understanding of the field. For example, the design of an artificial hip requires an understanding of the forces and biomechanics of human movement as well as the mechanical and material properties of the prosthetic device. The material choice and topography play a critical role in cellular and tissue integration, which ultimately leads to long-term stability of the implant. In addition, biomedical imaging techniques are required to characterize the morphology of the diseased hip and the success of the procedure. Finally, instrumentation devices are utilized during the hip replacement surgery.

Students choose the biomedical engineering field to be of service to people; for the excitement of working with living systems; and to apply advanced technology to the complex problems of medical care. Students in the BME program can expect to develop skills in innovative thinking, critical analysis of ethics, project management, and technical writing, all in an environment that cultivates creativity, teamwork, and curiosity. With many possible focuses within the major, BME students have the opportunity to explore and cultivate their interests in specific topics while applying the concepts of engineering to medical applications, hands-on projects, and cutting-edge research. 

Students successfully completing the B.S. degree in BME with an overall GPA of 3.0 or a GPA of 3.25 for the last 60 credits of the B.S. program are eligible to apply for the one-year M.S. degree.

Biomedical Engineering Program Educational Objectives

We recognize that our graduates will choose to use the knowledge and skills that they have acquired during their undergraduate years to pursue a wide variety of career and life goals, and we encourage this diversity of paths. Whatever path graduates choose, be it a job, postgraduate education, or volunteer service, be it in engineering or another field, we have for our graduates the following objectives; that they will:

  1. exhibit strong skills in problem solving, leadership, teamwork, and communication;
  2. use these skills to contribute to their communities;
  3. make thoughtful, well-informed career choices; and
  4. demonstrate a continuing commitment to and interest in their own and others’ education.

Admission to the College as a Freshman

Students applying to UW–Madison need to indicate an engineering major as their first choice in order to be considered for direct admission to the College of Engineering. Direct admission to a major means students will start in the program of their choice in the College of Engineering and will need to meet progression requirements at the end of the first year to guarantee advancement in that program.

Cross-Campus Transfer to Engineering

UW–Madison students in other schools and colleges on campus must meet the course and credit requirements for admission to engineering degree granting classifications specified in the general college requirements. The requirements are the minimum for admission consideration. Cross-campus admission is competitive and selective, and the grade point average expectations may increase as demand trends change. The student’s overall academic record at UW–Madison is also considered. Students apply to their intended engineering program by submitting the online application by stated deadlines for spring and fall. The College of Engineering offers an online information tutorial and drop-in advising for students to learn about the cross-campus transfer process.

Off-Campus Transfer to Engineering

With careful planning, students at other accredited institutions can transfer coursework that will apply toward engineering degree requirements at UW–Madison. Off-campus transfer applicants are considered for direct admission to the College of Engineering by applying to the Office of Admissions with an engineering major listed as their first choice. Those who are admitted to their intended engineering program must meet progression requirements at the point of transfer or within their first two semesters at UW–Madison to guarantee advancement in that program. A minimum of 30 credits in residence in the College of Engineering is required after transferring, and all students must meet all requirements for their major in the college. Transfer admission to the College of Engineering is competitive and selective, and students who have earned more than 80 transferable semester credits at the time of application are not eligible to apply.

The College of Engineering has dual degree programs with select four-year UW System campuses. Eligible dual degree applicants are not subject to the 80 credit limit.

Off-campus transfer students are encouraged to discuss their interests, academic background, and admission options with the Transfer Coordinator in the College of Engineering: or 608-262-2473.

Second Bachelor's Degree

The College of Engineering does not accept second undergraduate degree applications. Second degree students might explore the Biological Systems Engineering program at UW–Madison, an undergraduate engineering degree elsewhere, or a graduate program in the College of Engineering.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

Summary of Requirements

General Education21
Engineering Courses:
Introduction to Engineering3
Engineering Mechanics Core Courses6
Biomedical Engineering Core Courses18
Biomedical Engineering Area Technical Elective Requirements15
Biomedical Advanced Technical Elective3
Engineering Technical Elective3
Total CreditsAt least 128


MATH 221
MATH 222
MATH 234
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
and Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2
and Calculus--Functions of Several Variables
MATH 320 Linear Algebra and Differential Equations3
or MATH 319 Techniques in Ordinary Differential Equations
B M E 325 Applied Statistics for Biomedical Engineers3
or STAT 324 Introductory Applied Statistics for Engineers
or STAT/​MATH  431 Introduction to the Theory of Probability
Total Credits19


COMP SCI 220 Data Programming I3-4
or COMP SCI 200 Programming I
or COMP SCI 300 Programming II
or COMP SCI 310 Problem Solving Using Computers
E M A 201 Statics (only statics counts for Engineering credits below)3
or PHYSICS 201 General Physics
or PHYSICS 207 General Physics
PHYSICS 202 General Physics5
or PHYSICS 208 General Physics
One of the following:5-9
Advanced General Chemistry
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
CHEM 343 Introductory Organic Chemistry3
or CHEM 341 Elementary Organic Chemistry
CHEM 345
CHEM 344
Intermediate Organic Chemistry
and Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory
or CHEM 327 Fundamentals of Analytical Science
or CHEM 329 Fundamentals of Analytical Science
Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory (or)
Introductory Biology (or)
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Cellular Biology
ANAT&PHY 335 Physiology (or)5
Fundamentals of Human Physiology (or)
Principles of Physiology
and Principles of Physiology Laboratory
ANAT&PHY 337 Human Anatomy3
or ZOOLOGY 430 Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates
or ZOOLOGY 470 Introduction to Animal Development
or ZOOLOGY/​PSYCH  523 Neurobiology
or ZOOLOGY 570 Cell Biology
or ZOOLOGY 611 Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology
or GENETICS 466 Principles of Genetics
or BIOCORE 587 Biological Interactions
Total Credits37-42

General Education

Communications A3
Science and Storytelling
Introduction to Speech Composition
Introduction to College Composition
Academic Writing II
Communications B
INTEREGR 397 Engineering Communication (was EPD 397 before Fall 2020)3
or ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY/​BOTANY  152 Introductory Biology
or BIOCORE 384 Cellular Biology Laboratory
At least 15 credits of liberal studies following the College of Engineering guidelines15
Total Credits21

Engineering Courses

Introduction to Engineering3
Design Practicum
Required engineering mechanics core courses6
Mechanics of Materials
Mechanics of Materials
Required B M E core courses18
Biomedical Engineering Design
Biomedical Engineering Fundamentals and Design
Biomedical Engineering Design
Biomedical Engineering Design
Capstone Design Course in Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical Engineering Design
Biological Interactions with Materials
Engineering area technical electives (see below)15
One advanced B M E technical elective from any area selected from an approved list of courses3
Engineering technical elective: Any engineering course(s) from a degree-granting engineering program 13
Total Credits48

Biomedical Engineering Area Technical Elective Requirements

Choose 15 credits of area technical electives in one of the following tracks and at least one advanced B M E elective:

Bioinstrumentation and Medical Devices:

Required Area Elective
E C E 230 Circuit Analysis4
Area Electives in Bioinstrumentation11
Choose from any ECE course, the courses below, and from the advanced BME electives in this area
M E 445 Mechatronics in Control & Product Realization3
Advanced BME Area Technical Electives in Bioinstrumentation and Medical Devices
B M E/​E C E  462 Medical Instrumentation3
B M E/​E C E  463 Computers in Medicine3
B M E/​MED PHYS  535 Introduction to Energy-Tissue Interactions3
B M E 550 Introduction to Biological and Medical Microsystems3
B M E 556 Systems Biology: Mammalian Signaling Networks3

Biomedical Imaging and Optics:

Required Area Elective
E C E 330 Signals and Systems3
Area Electives in Biomedical Imaging12
Choose from the following and from the advanced BME electives in this area
E C E 203 Signals, Information, and Computation3
E C E 331 Introduction to Random Signal Analysis and Statistics3
E C E 431 Digital Signal Processing3
E C E/​COMP SCI  533 Image Processing3
B M E/​H ONCOL/​MED PHYS/​PHYSICS  501 Radiation Physics and Dosimetry3
B M E/​MED PHYS  566 Physics of Radiotherapy4
B M E/​MED PHYS  573 Medical Image Science: Mathematical and Conceptual Foundations3
B M E/​MED PHYS  574 Imaging in Medicine: Applications3
B M E/​MED PHYS  580 The Physics of Medical Imaging with Ionizing Radiation4
N E 305 Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering3
N E 408 Ionizing Radiation3
N E 427 Nuclear Instrumentation Laboratory2
Advanced BME Area Technical Electives in Biomedical Imaging
B M E/​MED PHYS  530 Medical Imaging Systems3
B M E/​MED PHYS  535 Introduction to Energy-Tissue Interactions3
B M E/​MED PHYS  578 Non-Ionizing Diagnostic Imaging4
B M E/​MED PHYS/​PHMCOL-M/​PHYSICS/​RADIOL  619 Microscopy of Life3


Required Area Elective
E M A 202 Dynamics3
or M E 240 Dynamics
Area Electives in Biomechanics12
Choose from any E M A or M E course, the courses below, and from the advanced B M E electives in this area
M S & E 350 Introduction to Materials Science3
or M S & E 351 Materials Science-Structure and Property Relations in Solids
M S & E/​CHEM  421 Polymeric Materials3
CBE/​B M E  320 Introductory Transport Phenomena4
or B M E/​CBE  330 Engineering Principles of Molecules, Cells, and Tissues
CBE 324 Transport Phenomena Lab3
CBE/​M E  525 Macromolecular Hydrodynamics3
Advanced B M E Area Technical Electives
B M E/​M E  414 Orthopaedic Biomechanics - Design of Orthopaedic Implants3
B M E/​M E  415 Biomechanics of Human Movement3
B M E/​M E  505 Biofluidics3
B M E/​I SY E  564 Occupational Ergonomics and Biomechanics3
B M E/​M E  603 Topics in Bio-Medical Engineering1-3
B M E/​M E  615 Tissue Mechanics3

Biomaterials/Cell/Tissue Engineering:

Required Area Elective
B M E/​CBE  330 Engineering Principles of Molecules, Cells, and Tissues4
or B M E/​CBE  320 Introductory Transport Phenomena
Area Electives in Biomaterials/Cell/Tissue Engineering12
Choose from any CBE or M S & E course, the courses below, and from the advanced B M E electives in this area
M E 417 Transport Phenomena in Polymer Processing3
M E 418 Engineering Design with Polymers3
M E/​STAT  424 Statistical Experimental Design3
M E/​BSE/​FOOD SCI  441 Rheology of Foods and Biomaterials3
B M E 511 Tissue Engineering Laboratory1
Advanced BME Area Technical Electives in Biomaterials/Cell/Tissue Engineering
B M E/​CBE  510 Introduction to Tissue Engineering3
B M E/​CBE  520 Stem Cell Bioengineering3
B M E 545 Engineering Extracellular Matrices3
B M E 550 Introduction to Biological and Medical Microsystems3
B M E 556 Systems Biology: Mammalian Signaling Networks3
B M E/​CBE  560 Biochemical Engineering3
B M E/​M E  615 Tissue Mechanics3
B M E 630 Nanomaterials for Biomedical Applications3

Total Degree Credits: at least 128

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies

SAMPLE Four-Year Plan

First Year
MATH 2215MATH 2224
CHEM 109 (or CHEM 103 & CHEM 104)1, Med5E M A 201, PHYSICS 201, or PHYSICS 2073, Med3
Communications A3CHEM 343 or 3414, Med3
INTEREGR 17023Liberal Studies Elective3
 COMP SCI 200, 220, 300, or 31053-4
 16 16-17
Second Year
B M E 20061B M E 2012
MATH 2344MATH 320 or 3193
PHYSICS 202 or 208Med5E M A 303 or M E 3063
CHEM 345 or 3274, Med3Select one of the following options:5
B M E 325, STAT 324, or STAT 4315, Med3
BIOCORE 382 (the first lab-382- is recommended not required)7, Med
 B M E 31083
 16 16
Third Year
B M E 30061B M E 30161
CHEM 344 (or CHEM 327 in second year)Med2Liberal Studies Elective1
INTEREGR 397 (if ZOOLOGY 152 or BIOCORE 384 is not taken)93Free elective credits3
Liberal Studies Elective2Select one of the following options:Med5
Engineering Technical Elective2
B M E 31583
Area-Required Engineering Technical Elective3
B M E/​PHM SCI  43083
Area-Engineering Technical Elective3
 16 16
Fourth Year
B M E 4003B M E 40261
Liberal Studies Elective3Liberal Studies ElectiveMed3
Free elective credits1Liberal Studies ElectiveMed3
Advanced Zoology Elective, select one of the following:3Free elective credits2
Engineering Technical Elective1
Advanced Biomedical Engineering Technical Elective3
Area-Engineering Technical Elective3
Area-Engineering Technical Elective3 
Area-Engineering Technical Elective3 
 16 16
Total Credits 128-129



Each College of Engineering program has academic advisors dedicated to serving its students. Program advisors can help current College of Engineering students with questions about accessing courses, navigating degree requirements, resolving academic issues and more. Students can find their assigned advisor on the homepage of their student center. 

Engineering Career Services

Engineering Career Services (ECS) assists students in identifying pre-professional work-based learning experiences such as co-ops and summer internships, considering and applying to graduate or professional school, and finding full-time professional employment during their graduation year.

ECS offers two major career fairs per year, assists with resume writing and interviewing skills, hosts workshops on the job search, and meets one-on-one with students to discuss offer negotiations.

Students are encouraged to utilize the ECS office early in their academic careers. For comprehensive information on ECS programs and workshops, see the ECS website or call 608-262-3471.


Paul Campagnola (Chair)
Randolph Ashton
David Beebe
Walter Block
Christopher Brace
Kevin Eliceiri
Shaoqin 'Sarah' Gong
Aviad Hai
Melissa Kinney
Pamela Kreeger
Wan-ju Li
Kip Ludwig
Kristyn Masters
Megan McClean
Beth Meyerand
William Murphy
Jeremy Rogers
Krishanu Saha
Melissa Skala
Darryl Thelen
Justin Williams
Colleen Witzenburg
Filiz Yesilkoy

Instructional Staff and Faculty Associates

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

See also Biomedical Engineering Faculty Directory.


Accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,

Note: Undergraduate Program Educational Objectives and Student Outcomes are made publicly available at the Departmental website. (In this Guide, the program's Student Outcomes are designated by our campus as "Learning Outcomes.")