Frequently asked questions

Get answers to frequently asked questions about applying to our graduate program (MS and PhD).

Requirements and prerequisites

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I don’t have a previous degree in biomedical engineering. Can I still apply?

Yes, you may apply if you have a background in engineering, physical sciences, and/or biological sciences. We have admitted students from a number of different undergraduate programs, including electrical engineering, physics, biochemistry, and materials science. You don’t need a degree in biomedical engineering to be admitted to this program.

If you don’t have an engineering degree, you may need to take additional math and/or physics courses to prepare you for a graduate engineering program. View prerequisites.

Do I need a Master’s degree before applying for the PhD?

No, a Master's degree isn’t required. Several of our current students joined the PhD program directly after finishing their undergraduate degrees.

If I’m rejected from the PhD program, can I automatically be considered for the Master's program?

You can request to have your application re-evaluated for the Master's program if you’re rejected from the PhD program. Simply email bmengp@umn.edu with this request. You don’t need to submit a second application.

What are the minimum requirements for GPA and test scores?

We don’t have cut-off scores or a minimum required grade point average (GPA), and we don’t determine admission decisions based solely on those criteria. After all required materials have been submitted, we give each application a thorough and holistic review.

Academic performance, test scores, letters of recommendation, research experience, etc., are all considered when determining an applicant’s suitability for our program.

I’d like to know my chances of admission. Can you evaluate my credentials before I apply?

We won’t pre-screen transcripts, test scores, or resumes to determine an applicant's chances of admission. The committee needs to see your entire application package in order to evaluate your suitability for our program and accurately compare you to our other applicants.

Completing your application

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Should I mail in any paper materials as part of my application?

Should I mail in any paper materials as part of my application?

You must electronically submit all materials via the online application system, as described in the application instructions. The admissions committee will not accept or review paper materials.

Master's applicants aren’t eligible to apply for financial support. Individuals seeking a terminal Master's program that will provide funding (e.g., fellowships, research/teaching assistantships) should look into other programs or institutions. Students who apply for our MS program should do so with the understanding that they’ll need to fund their own graduate degree program through personal savings, loans, off-campus employment, and/or other external sources of financial aid.

How do I apply for spring or summer admission?

Full-time applicants won’t be considered for spring admission.

Part-time applicants who wish to be considered for spring admission must first receive pre-authorization from the Graduate Program Coordinator (bmengp@umn.edu) before submitting the application.

We don’t consider summer applications under any circumstances.

Why can't I submit paper copies of my recommendations, test scores, etc.?

The Office of Graduate Admissions and the Biomedical Engineering Program have transitioned to a paperless submission and review system. This is part of a University-wide effort to reduce our negative impact on the environment, save money by cutting printing and copying costs, and increase efficiency in application handling and processing.

The paperless process benefits applicants by reducing or eliminating your photocopying costs, transcript request fees, and postage expenses. The application process is less confusing and more streamlined, allowing us to communicate more effectively with all applicants, so you receive your admissions decision as quickly as possible.

How many letters of recommendation can I submit?

You must submit at least three letters of recommendation. If you wish, you can submit up to four letters.

Do the letters of recommendation need to be from faculty? What if I’m currently working in industry?

Letters should be from faculty instructors and/or research supervisors from institutions where you attended class and/or performed research. If you’re presently enrolled in a graduate program, you must include a letter from your current advisor.

If you are currently working in industry, you can provide letters from your supervisor(s), but we would like at least one recommendation from academia if at all possible.

Final decisions and review process

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Who will evaluate my application? Is there an admissions committee, or do faculty hire graduate students directly into their labs?

There’s a BME Graduate Admissions Committee that makes all admissions decisions. The committee is comprised of the Director of Graduate Studies plus three or four other members of our Graduate Faculty. New committee members are appointed each academic year.

If there are specific members of our Graduate Faculty whose labs you’d like to join, you can certainly contact them to express your interest, but they aren’t able to admit students. We encourage students to meet and talk with faculty members whose research is of interest after students have been admitted.

How many students do you plan to admit next year?

We never know exactly how many students we’ll admit, as it depends on several factors that can change quite dramatically over the course of the admissions and recruiting season. In recent years we’ve admitted anywhere from 40 to 60 PhD students, and 30 to 75 MS students. Ranges include both funded and non-funded positions.

When can I expect to find out whether I’m admitted?

Our PhD application deadline is December 15. Top applicants will be invited for an online interview with a member of our admissions committee. Interview invitations may go out as early as mid-December or as late as mid-March. Final decisions may be communicated anytime between late December and mid-April.

Our MS application deadline is March 31. Most applicants will receive a decision by the end of April.

If I’m admitted, is it possible to defer my enrollment?

Contact bmengp@umn.edu for approval to defer enrollment. The Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program generally allows admitted students to defer their enrollment for up to one year. Offers of financial support may also be deferred up to one year.

More About Applying to the Graduate Program