Pathways to Graduate School
Key Differences Between Undergraduate and Graduate School
FundingPaying for an undergraduate degree education is largely dependent on an individual student’s resources, scholarship opportunities, and loans. Students in graduate degree programs are often fully funded by multiple sources such as teaching assistantships, research assistant positions, or fellowships.
Focus on ResearchCoursework and exams are the main focus of undergraduate students in biomedical engineering, whereas conducting your own research is the focus of a graduate student in this field.
AdvisingGraduate students are required to identify a faculty advisor whom they will work with throughout their graduate education that has similar research interests.
IndependenceAs an undergraduate student, much of your time is scheduled around classes and labs. As a graduate student, your time will be largely unstructured and will allow you to create your own timelines and deadlines.
How do I select a graduate degree program in bioengineering?
Most importantly, talk with faculty members at institutions of interest to learn about their research and decide if these areas interest you. Meet with current graduate students and learn about their experiences and career expectations. Explore funding mechanisms like scholarships and teaching assistantships to help decipher how much the program will cost to attend. Search the websites of programs of interest and learn about their specific degree requirements and areas of focus. Finally, utilize the college and university search tool.
What questions should be addressed before selecting a bioengineering program?
The answers to these questions (provided by schools and departments) will help you get the information you need to choose the right program for you:
Graduate Tips for Success
Pursue publishing opportunities early and often.
Students will have a leg-up on their career if they are able to begin publishing while pursuing their degrees. Aim for publication in top-notch journals. This is one of the most important products that you can demonstrate from your training.
Develop strategic research collaborations.
Seek out and develop strategic research collaborations with faculty members. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of biomedical engineering, collaborations should span across medicine, biology, and engineering. Also be sure to connect with your peers in the field to learn from each other.
Continue to explore opportunities to engage with industry.
Internships, summer training programs, and co-ops with industry not only provide opportunities to get hands-on, real world experience that will help shape your career, they are also an excellent way to develop career connections that you can call upon after graduation.
Seek out leadership roles to set yourself apart.
Whether supervising a research project or serving as an advisor to undergraduate or graduate students, finding ways to serve in leadership roles will advance your career opportunities. Join professional societies and associations and ask about volunteering on their service committees and local chapters.
What is a PE license?
A PE (Professional Engineer) license is a certification by a state board of registration to practice engineering. The requirements for professional engineering licensure vary by state; however, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) has developed guidance for states on the best practices for requirements for engineering licensure. According to the guidance, to become licensed as a Professional Engineer, individuals must complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering from an ABET accredited engineering program, pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, work in an engineering position for a minimum of four years, and then pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. PEs must continually maintain and improve their skills throughout their careers to retain their license. PE’s already have thriving professional careers in engineering and acquire a license to enhance their career options. Biomedical engineering is not currently an available PE exam topic. Some biomedical engineers choose exams in chemical, electrical, or mechanical engineering to become licensed.
Trends in Higher Education
(1). Interdisciplinary programs.
Bioengineering is an inherently interdisciplinary field and higher education programs at colleges and universities reflect this. Students in degree programs in bioengineering may take classes in multiple departments within a single institution, as well as at other colleges across town or across the globe. They may also earn their degree from a joint program, encompassing more than one institution.
(2). Increased enrollment.
Enrollment in bioengineering programs at the bachelor’s degree level have grown significantly. Explore the charts below to learn more.