Course Requirements

The following core curriculum is required for students entering the graduate program with an undergraduate degree in a physical science or a traditional engineering discipline and who have not had training in the life sciences and/or biomedical engineering. Students who have taken substantially similar courses as undergraduates, students with BS degrees in Biomedical Engineering, for example, may select approved alternate courses to fulfill these requirements. Substitute courses must be chosen with the guidance and approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. The program of study must ultimately be approved by the research supervisory committee. To view more details, please see our Graduate Handbook.

Track Specialization Fundamentals

Graduate students with a documented background in the life sciences must take a minimum of 6 credit hours of advanced life science courses (6000 level), including at least 3 credits of systems physiology coursework and 3 credits of cell-and-molecular biology coursework. Approved courses for each category are listed below.

Approved Systems Physiology Courses

  • BME 6000 – Systems Physiology: Cardia, Respiratory & Renal (Spring, 4 credits)
  • BME 6430 – Systems Neuroscience (Spring, 4 credits)

Approved Cell or Molecular Biology Courses

  • BME 6303 – Cell and Tissue Engineering (Fall, 3 credits)
  • NEUSC 6040 – Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (Fall, 4 credits)

Additional Approved Life Science Courses

  • BME 6002 – Molecular Biophysics (Fall, 3 credits)
  • BME 6003 – Cell Electrophysiology & Biophysics (Fall, 3 credits)
  • BME 6230 – Functional Anatomy for Engineers (3 credits)
  • BME 6305 – Cell & Tissue Engineering: Organ Design (Fall, 3 credits)
  • BME 6460 – Electrophysiology  & Bioelectricity of Tissues (3 credits)

Scientific Presentations (5 credit hours for PhD students, 1 credit hour for MS students)

  • Mandatory for all first year graduate students
    • BME 6090 – Department Seminar (Fall, 0.5 credit)
    • BME 6090 – Department Seminar (Spring, 0.5 credit)
  • Mandatory for second year PhD graduate students
    • BME 7070 – Proposal Writing & Presentations I (Spring of second year, 2 credits)
    • BME 7071 – Proposal Writing & Presentations II (Fall of third year, 2 credits)


The biomedical engineering core courses build upon prerequisite material introduced in undergraduate biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. Students are expected to be familiar with the material covered in the following textbooks prior to enrolling in graduate biomedical engineering program:


Neil A. Campbell, Jane B. Reece. Benjamin Cummings. 2005. ISBN 9780805371468.

Essential Cell Biology, Second Edition.

B. Alberts et al., Garland Science, 2003. ISBN 9780815334811.

Fundamentals of Physics Extended, 8th Edition.

David Halliday, Robert Resnick, Jearl Walker. Wiley, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-471-75801-3.

Elementary Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems, 8th Edition.

William E. Boyce and Richard C. Diprima. Wiley, 2004. ISBN 978-0-471-43338-5.

Introduction to Applied Mathematics.

Gilbert Strang. Wellesley-Cambridge Press, 1986. ISBN 09614088 04.

Chemistry for Today: General, Organic and Biochemistry, 6th Edition.

Spencer L. L. Seager, Michael R. Slabaugh. Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 2008. ISBN:9780495112822

Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach, 5/E.

Dee Unglaub Silverthorn, Benjamin Cummings, 2010. ISBN 0321559398.

Statistics for Life Sciences.

Jeffery A. Witmer and Myra L. Samuels. Prentice Hall, 2003. ISBN: 9780130413161

Students who are not familiar with this prerequisite material are strongly encouraged to study the textbooks and/or take appropriate undergraduate courses prior to enrolling in the graduate program. Additional information is avialble through consultation with one of the departmental graduate advisors.

Prerequisites vary by course. Introductory molecular cell biology, physiology, physics, organic chemistry, differential equations and linear algebra are prerequisites for some courses. Students deficient in one or more of these areas should consult with their departmental track advisor and individual course instructors to determine an appropriate course of action.

Course Substitution Guidelines

Students with BS in Physical Sciences / Traditional Engineering

Students entering the program with a B.S. in the physical sciences (physics, chemistry, mathematics) or traditional engineering (electrical, chemical, computer, materials, mechanical) often have little training in the life sciences. Independent self study and/or prerequisite coursework may be required prior to enrolling in the Physiology Fundamentals core courses. Students in this category should take three courses in the Physiology Fundamentals (9 cr rather than 6 cr). It is rare for advisors to approve core curriculum substitutions for students in this group.

Students with BS in Bioengineering or Biomedical Engineering

Students entering the program with a B.S. in biomedical engineering or biomedical engineering often have completed introductory courses similar to the Physiology Fundamentals and the Biomedical Engineering Fundamentals core. These students must choose approved alternate life science and engineering courses to fulfill the core credit hour requirements. Considerable flexibility will be allowed in choosing alternate courses to fit the student’s background and research interests. Students with a Biomedical Engineering B.S. from the University of Utah must substitute an approved life science course for Bioen 6050. Based their undergraduate coursework they also may substitute approved advanced elective 6000+ engineering courses for the Biomedical Engineering Fundamentals requirement.

Students with BS in Life Sciences / Biology

Students entering the program with a B.S. in biology or another life science sometimes have little training in physics, mathematics and engineering. Independent self study and/or prerequisite coursework should be considered before enrolling in the Biomedical Engineering Fundamentals core courses. Students in this category should take at least three of the Biomedical Engineering Fundamentals core courses (9 cr rather than 6 cr).