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M.S. Biomedical Engineering

MS Biomedical Engineering, Thesis Track

The Thesis Track is the traditional path toward a Masters in Biomedical Engineering.  Typically Thesis students work on an individual project or a well-defined aspect of a larger project under the direct mentorship of one of our tenured or tenure-track faculty; therefore, to ensure matriculation into the Thesis Track, applicants are encouraged to identify and explore research project opportunities with our tenured or tenure-track Faculty, see the Faculty webpages for research descriptions and contact information.  MS candidates who matriculate into the Thesis Track, become part of a research group that is focused on a particular faculty’s research area. Both current Cal Poly students and external applicants are encouraged to contact and/or meet with potential advisors to explore research opportunities before applying to the MS program.  

For more information on how to apply:

Current Cal Poly Students or External Applicant.

MS Biomedical Engineering, Project Track

The Project Track in Biomedical Engineering for a Masters in Biomedical Engineering was launched in Fall 2018. MS Projects can be staffed by multiple MS students, usually 2 to 3 students.  This track is designed to provide MS students a team research experience on an industry relevant project. Projects can be sponsored by both Industry and tenure/tenure-track Faculty. Industry sponsored projects receive technical mentoring by an industry representative with a faculty members assistance.  All industry sponsored projects launch in the Fall quarter of the academic year with a duration approximately a calendar year.  For industry sponsored projects, students are required to take a specialized 2 unit courses, BMED 591, where MS students are matched with a project, begin interaction with an industry customer, and develop a customer based project plan. Faculty sponsored projects follow a similar format as Industry sponsored projects but may be launched in any given quarter.  Applicants interested in this track should identify their interests either on the application cover sheet or in the personal statement.  For more information contact the Biomedical Engineering, Graduate Coordinator. This track does not require identification of a Faculty advisor prior to the application process. 

For more information on how to apply:

Current Cal Poly Students or External Applicant.

MS Biomedical Engineering, Specialization in Regenerative Medicine

The specialization in Regenerative Medicine is a unique program in that students gain a background at the interface between Biomedical Engineering and Stem-Cell Biology and is associated with the California Initiative for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).  Applicants who are selected and matriculated into this program receive one year of coursework and a project experience to prepare and maximize student education and value in a subsequent paid 9 month internship at a partner Institution that is an active participant in the Regenerative Medicine consortium. This program prepares students for careers in regenerative medicine and related fields. Specifically, our graduates are prepared for immediate employment in regenerative medicine, biotechnology, or medical technology companies, as well as research specialists/laboratory managers at universities or research institutes. Program graduates are also well-prepared to matriculate into bioengineering doctoral programs or graduate programs in the health professions.  

For more information on, visit the Regenerative Medicine Program Website. 

Non-Engineering Applicants

Is your undergraduate degree in a non-Engineering field? Eligibility: Students who are not in an undergraduate Engineer program should have successfully completed the Department approved pre-requisites before applying to the MS program. Please note that as a graduate student, you can take only 12 units beyond the required 45 units. Also note that the “approved pre-requisites” have pre-requisites. These pre-requisites are typically offered at local community colleges.

General Guidelines for Graduate Applicants for Non-Engineering Majors:

Non-Engineering applicants to the BMED MS program should have the following background:

  • †Strength of Materials, CE 204
  • †Circuit Theory, EE 201
  • †ME Dynamics, ME 212
  • Anatomy and Physiology, ZOO 331 or 332 (Not required for Biology, Kinesiology and Physiology majors)

For external applicants: The above list is subject to modification based on the applicant's transcripts.

†Please note that the Engineering courses listed above have pre-requisites, see Cal Poly Catalog.

FAQ's - Blended BS & MS Program (Applicants currently enrolled at Cal Poly SLO)

When should I apply?  If you are interested in applying to the Blended MS program, you should apply two quarters before you are scheduled to graduate with your BS degree. (If you are applying in the quarter you graduate, please notify the Graduate Coordinator and the Department office.)

Blended applications are due the second full week of instruction of each quarter.

For the MS Project Track: Company sponsored projects start each Fall quarter. To optimize the time to degree, students applying to the MS Project Track are encourage to apply in Winter and Spring.

What are the typical qualifications?  Typically, applicants with a GPA ≥  3.0 are admitted to the program.

What can I do to enhance my chances of getting into the MS Program?  BMED Faculty members can give their recommendations to the admissions committee; therefore, if you know the kind of research you’d like to do, it is to your advantage to join and help in a faculty research group. Some call this “Shadowing” in a research group. This applies to both the Thesis and Project tracks.

Do I need to take the GRE?  The GRE is not required for the Blended Program applicants.

For the Working Formal Study Plan “WFSP” what classes do I select?  The department graduate programs website has a downloadable partially filled out WFSP, which is consistent with the 2019 catalog for both the Thesis and Project tracks. For the WFSP, 50% or more must be approved 500 level courses, the remainder being 400 level courses. You can double count 8.0 between undergraduate and graduate requirements. If you’ve taken 400 or 500 level units that you have not used to fulfill undergraduate requirements, you can use them on your Formal Study Plan.

What are double count units?  You can count up to 8.0 units of 400 or 500 level courses that fulfill undergraduate requirements on your Formal Study Plan; hence, the units are double counted for both the undergraduate and graduate programs.

What if I took a 400 or 500 level course that I did not use to fulfill undergraduate requirements? Can I use those units on my Formal Study Plan?  Yes, you can include up to 12 units as long as 60% of your total units on your Formal Study Plan are approved 500 level courses. See page 25 of the Graduate Handbook. 

What is the Post Baccalaureate Change of Objective (PBCO) Form?  It is the form, if admitted, that the Administration/Records uses to change your status from undergraduate to graduate. The form can be downloaded from the GradEd website.

Important: You need to run your undergraduate Degree Progress (DPR) Report upon submitting this form. (You will lose access to your DPR report once you have achieved graduate status.)

On the Post Baccalaureate Change of Objective form, I am asked about (or write) what quarter and year I would like to become a graduate student.  It appears as:

“I request that this change take effect starting: __________________________________(specify quarter and year) “

  • What do I put for quarter and year?  The ‘quarter and year’ you enter in this form should be the quarter that you need to or want to be a full time graduate student, i.e., have graduate student status at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
  • Please note: i) as a blended program applicant, you cannot graduate with your Bachelor’s degree before becoming a graduate student; ii) if you have financial aid as an undergraduate student, you will lose it when you become a graduate student and must re-apply as a graduate student; and iii) the cost per unit as a graduate student is $31 higher versus an undergraduate student.
  • If you are applying for the Blended Program in your last quarter as an undergraduate student, please notify the Graduate Coordinator and the Department Office.  If you apply in your last quarter in residence as an undergraduate and are admitted into the Blended Program, your paperwork must be expedited to ensure that you do not graduate with your BS degree and you are able to register as a graduate student for the following quarter.

For the personal statement, is there guidance?  The personal statement should be a page to a page and half and contain three main paragraphs. Paragraph one: why did you get into Biomedical Engineering? Paragraph two: while taking course work (or working in a research group) what did you most enjoy and/or excel in? If your overall GPA is not high, what is your GPA for your last 90 units?  You can include that information in this paragraph. Paragraph three: what research are you interested in? List the relevant faculty that you’ve talked to about joining their group. Note: if you list a faculty member, please make sure you have discussed research opportunities and possibly secured a project.

What’s the eForm? Blended Programs Application Approval Form (E-Form)

For Winter ’19 and Spring ‘19, use the following email address on the E-form:

What is the Project Track?  The project track are MS level projects sponsored by both Industry and Faculty. Projects involve teams of ~3 MS students. Team members periodically interact directly with the sponsor. Industry projects start each Fall quarter and are selected/assigned in BMED 591. Faculty sponsored projects may start in any given quarter during the academic year.

What’s the typical duration for a Thesis?  Theses generally take ~1.25 to 1.5 yrs.

What’s the typical duration for a Project?  Typically Project durations are designed for one calendar year, i.e., work through a summer.

How can I check on what courses will be offered in what quarter?  The proposed courses for the Academic Year are posted on the BMED website under “student services.”

Do I need to get signatures on my application materials?  During the application process, only the applicant needs to sign the application forms. The application package with all of the forms should be turned into the department office for evaluation and signature.

After I’m in the program, how do I go about getting the appropriate signatures?  After you are in the program, please turn in all forms to the Department office for routing for signature.  Alternatively, you can use faculty office hours. At times, your graduate forms are time-sensitive. Please make sure that you hand them directly to the Department office or to the appropriate faculty member in person for signature. Documents slid under a door or handed off outside of office hours may be delayed or even lost.

What happens if I apply and later have an opportunity outside of Cal Poly that I would like to pursue?  If you have a new opportunity that you’d like to pursue, you need to file a Post Baccalaureate Change of Objective form.  For this one page form, select “Add” BS BMED and “Drop” MS BMED. Turn all forms in to the BMED Department office for faculty and administration signatures.

Is there financial assistance for Graduate Students?  There are a variety of funding opportunities offered or assisted through Graduate Education. Additionally, you can talk with the Department office or directly with the faculty member responsible for the course to get on the list of available Instructional Student Assistants, ISAs.

Can I walk at graduation as an undergraduate after entering the Blended Program?  Once you’ve transitioned from undergraduate to graduate status, your official commencement will be for your MS degree. If you would like to petition to walk as an undergraduate, you need to fill out the commencement petition form at the commencement office.

FAQ's - Graduate Program (Applicants not currently enrolled at Cal Poly SLO)

Where and how do I apply?  You apply at Cal State Apply:

Is the GRE required?  Yes, the GRE is required.

What are the typical GRE scores?  The typical GRE scores are the following:

  • Quantitative Reasoning > 159
  • Verbal Reasoning > 150

What is the typical GPA for those who are admitted to the program?  Typically, applicants with a GPA ≥  3.0.

I would like to do a Thesis. How do I find a Thesis project and advisor?  Before arriving at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, please see the department faculty web page and communicate with faculty who match your interests.

  • If you have an occasion to be in the area, you are welcome to visit on campus and meet with potential advisors.
  • If you’ve been admitted and you are on campus, you should meet with faculty members and secure a project by the second quarter in residence.

I was admitted into the Project track but I want a Thesis project. How does this work?  Because we do not have a recruitment day on campus, applicants admitted to the Biomedical Engineering program are admitted into the Project track by default. After you arrive and have had some time to interact with the faculty, you may change to a Thesis project with a Thesis advisor.

What is the Project Track? How is it different from the Thesis Track?  

  • The Thesis track requires a commitment from a Thesis advisor. The Thesis project is typically an individual effort. The culminating experience requires a Thesis document and a Thesis defense with a Thesis committee. In general, Theses are published through the University Library.
  • The Project track is usually a team of three MS students. There are company sponsored projects that are matched with MS student interests each Fall quarter through BMED 591. Each student writes up and defends their contribution to a Project committee. Projects can be proprietary and require a non-disclosure agreement with a company; therefore, Project reports are not published through the University Library.

What’s the typical duration for a Thesis?  Theses generally take ~1.25 to 1.5 yrs.

What’s the typical duration for a Project?  Typically Project durations are designed for one calendar year, i.e., work through a summer.

How can I check on what courses will be offered in what quarter?  The proposed courses for the Academic Year are posted on the BMED website under “student services.”

Are there Funding opportunities?  There are a variety of funding opportunities offered or assisted through Graduate Education.  Additionally, you can talk with the department office or directly with the faculty member responsible for the course to get on the list of available Instructional Student Assistants, ISAs.

Learn more about graduate student services.

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