Biomechanics is a broad field directed at applying the principles of engineering mechanics, across multiple length scales, to the study of biology and medicine. Topics in biomechanics range from understanding the role of stress in cytoskeleton dynamics as related to cell growth, migration, and adhesion to establishing patient-specific modeling techniques to predict in vivo biomechanical loading environments. The University of Utah has faculty conducting biomechanics research in areas such as: molecular biomechanics, cellular biophysics, cell mechanotransduction, computational biomechanics, hemodynamics, mechanobiology, medical device design, soft tissue mechanics (arteries, cartilage, ligaments), ocular biomechanics, orthopedic biomechanics, cardiovascular biomechanics, tissue engineering, and traumatic brain injury. Given the broad range of biomechanics research at the University of Utah, with faculty spanning numerous departments there exist ample collaborative opportunities and interdisciplinary projects with faculty in the John and Marcia Price College of Engineering, College of Science, Huntsman Cancer Institute, School of Medicine, and the Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute. The Biomechanics track aims to provide students with a strong quantitative foundation in engineering mechanics, physiology, and medicine that will serve them equally well for careers in both academia or industry.

Example Sub-fields:

  • Molecular, Cell, Tissue, Organ and System Level Biomechanics
  • Biosolids, Biofluids, and Biofluid-solid Interactions
  • Biophysics
  • Computational Biomechanics
  • Mechanobiology

Masters Students

M.S. students within the Biomechanics track must successfully complete the Biomechanics Track Core Courses and at least one additional course from the list of Biomechanics Track Elective Courses (shown below). Please note that some of the courses are offered every other year and plan accordingly.

Ph.D. Students

Ph.D. Qualifying Exam

The purpose of the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam is to ensure students are competent in the theoretical and conceptual fundamentals of biomechanics before undertaking intensive research in their selected field of study. Ph.D. Students in the Biomechanics track are expected to be proficient in the following topics: index and direct notation, finite deformation kinematics, concepts of stress and strain, linear elasticity, material behavior of biological materials, hyperelasticity, mixture theory, and fluid mechanics. These topics are covered in Biomechanics I and II courses, so much of the Qualifying Exam material will come from these courses. Additional information on the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam can be obtained by contacting the track advisor. Students should take Ph.D. Qualifying Exam following completion of the second year of study.

Program of Study

The Program of Study is a list created by the student and the supervisory committee of all courses to be completed by the student as part of the requirements for the Ph.D. The Program of Study requires formal approval by the student’s advisor, Dissertation Supervisory Committee, and Director of Graduate Studies.  In addition to the biomedical engineering graduate core curriculum, the Program of Study for students in the Biomechanics track includes the Biomechanics Core Courses and Elective Courses that support the student’s area of research.

Life-Science Fundamentals

In addition to the standard guidelines for their Life-Science Fundamentals, students are advised to take the following course to satisfy the life-science fundamentals requirement’s cell & molecular biology credits.

  • BME 6303 – Cell and Tissue Engineering: Stem Cells in Tissue Engineering

Biomechanics Track Fundamentals

Completion of these core courses and proficiency in the course content are required to pass the written Ph.D. Qualifying exam and the Ph.D. proposal, which includes an oral qualifying exam.

Mandated: 3 of 3 required

  • BME 5250 – Biomechanics II*
  • BME 6480 – Biomechanics Research (3x)
  • BME 7210 – Computational Biomechanics

*If students are not already familiar with the material covered in Biomechanics I from their undergraduate studies, they will be required to audit BME 4250 (Biomechanics I) prior to enrolling in BME 5250 (Biomechanics II)

Selected: 1 of 3 required

  • BME 6302 – Biomaterials II
  • BME 6401 – Medical Imaging Systems
  • BME 6440 – Neural Engineering

Biomechanics Track Elective Courses

Optimal course selection will depend on a student’s project, thesis, dissertation, or area of interest. Where appropriate, students should choose courses that provide both the scientific background and the technical skills required to carry out their research. A typical set of elective courses would include approximately six specialized courses in addition to the Track Fundamentals. Some example courses that have been included in the programs of study are provided below, organized by the parent department. The specific set of courses, over and above the track fundamentals, should be selected on an individual basis to maximize expertise in the area most closely related to the student’s interest. 

Department of Biomedical Engineering

  • BME 6002 – Molecular Biophysics
  • BME 6304 – Introduction to Polymers and Biopolymers
  • BME 6305 – Cell and Tissue Engineering
  • BME 6500 – Mathematics of Imaging
  • BME 6702 – Introduction to Image-based Modeling

School of Computing

  • CS 6210 – Advanced Scientific Computing I

Department of Mathematics

  • MATH 5610 – Introduction to Numerical Analysis I
  • MATH 5620 – Introduction to Numerical Analysis II
  • MATH 6420 – Partial Differential Equations
  • MATH 6610 – Analysis of Numerical Methods I
  • MATH 6620 – Analysis of Numerical Methods II
  • MATH 6830 – Mathematical Biology I

Department of Mechanical Engineering

  • ME EN 6510 – Introduction to Finite Elements
  • ME EN 6520 – Introduction to Continuum Mechanics
  • ME EN 6700 – Intermediate Fluid Dynamics
  • ME EN 6720 – Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • ME EN 7540 – Advanced Finite Elements
  • ME EN 7525 – Inelasticity



Questions regarding the Biomechanics Track should be directed to Professor Jeff Weiss.