Pathways to Undergraduate Degrees

How important is ABET Accreditation?

Accreditation, conducted by an independent review body, verifies that academic programs have met certain quality and performance standards in a specific profession. Prospective students can review ABET accreditation criteria to determine the importance of this standard for their intended career path. ABET accreditation serves a signal that the academic program is align with professional standards for the field. Choosing an ABET accredited program is desirable and it is a requirement for obtaining a Professional Engineer (PE) licensure. It is important to note that the American Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) only accredits bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, not doctoral programs.

How do I select an undergraduate degree program in bioengineering?

Research opportunities, course opportunities, and career path guidance are the most important factors in selecting an undergraduate program in bioengineering. However, the surrounding environment and opportunities for community involvement are factors to consider as well. Meet with current undergraduate students and learn about their experiences and career expectations. Talk with faculty members at institutions of interest to learn about their research and decide if these are areas you wish to study and explore. Meet with career counselors to discover the career outcomes of students attending particular programs. Explore combined bachelors and masters degree programs. 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:

How long will it take to get my degree?

Do most students who enter a specific program graduate and earn their degrees?

What are my options for helping offset the cost of tuition?

Is there flexibility in the classes and requirements needed to graduate?

What types of internship opportunities are available?

What types of professional development activities are students engaged in?

Are there opportunities for networking?

What types of positions do students find after graduation?

How may I contact current bioengineering to ask them about their experiences?

What types of career placement services are there?

Undergraduate Tips for Success

Explore opportunities to participate in research.

An undergraduate research experience will give you an inside look at what a research career can offer. It will allow you to learn about cutting-edge discoveries   being made in your field. Acquiring lab and research skills and honing critical thinking and writing skills are important to advance your career.

Explore opportunities to engage with industry.

Student internships, summer training programs, and co-ops with industry provide opportunities to get hands-on, real world experience that will help shape your career. They are an excellent way to bridge the gap between what you learn in school with what you will do on the job.

Establish relationships with faculty members.

Whether participating in an undergraduate research experience with a faculty member, seeking advice and mentorship of one or more of your professors, or taking classes taught by esteemed biomedical engineers, connecting with faculty members in your field is key to helping you navigate your career and research options.

Consider pursing graduate degree programs.

Is graduate school right for me? The first step in your decision should include learning about yourself and defining your personal goals. Next, talk with your professors and graduate students about their experiences. They can give you an insider’s perspective on programs. Also, review the research areas of faculty members in prospective programs and see if these interest you.  If you do wish to pursue a graduate degree program, request information from schools of interest and explore entrance requirements and deadlines.

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.

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