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Online Master's Programs in Biomedical Engineering

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Updated on: 01/07/2019

A master's in biomedical engineering combines an interest in engineering principles with scientific medical knowledge. Biomedical engineers use technical skills to design, test, create, maintain, and assess medical products and procedures for a wide range of health problems. For example, biomedical engineers create the products and processes needed to perform hip and knee replacement surgeries, which help people live healthier, happier lives.

Students with a bachelor's in biomedical engineering or wanting a career change can benefit from earning a master's, as an advanced degree can help qualify graduates for management positions and also command higher salaries. Biomedical engineers with a master's degree earn a median salary of $87,000, with the top earners making $135,00 a year or more.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master's in Biomedical Engineering Program?

Students in online master's in biomedical engineering programs combine the principles of engineering with medical knowledge to create devices, equipment, software, and computer systems used in healthcare. They learn communication, analytical, math, problem solving, and a variety of technical skills. A typical online master's degree in biomedical engineering program takes about two years of full-time study to complete. Part-time learners usually spend three to four years earning their online master's degrees in biological engineering. Students usually must earn around 30 credits to graduate.

Online master's in biomedical engineering programs typically offer greater flexibility, so students with work and family responsibilities looking to further their careers often prefer them. Students coming straight from their undergraduate education who know they want to work in positions that require a master's in biomedical engineering may prefer an on-campus program.

What Common Courses Are Offered in a Master's in Biomedical Engineering Program?

Each master's in biomedical engineering program is unique, so the courses available vary. Most programs require learners complete a series of foundational courses before embarking on electives and concentration courses, if applicable. Many programs also offer biomedical engineering internship or practicum opportunities. Students can consult a sample curriculum below.

Biomedical Systems Analysis

This hands-on course explores linear and time invariant biological and engineered systems. Students learn how to approach and understand these types of systems, as well as predict and manipulate system behavior.

Regenerative Engineering Principles and Technologies

Students receive a foundational overview of cellular, molecular, and tissue regenerative engineering. The course also explores issues like embryonic stem cells, gene recombination, gene editing, epigenetic modulations, biological mediations of gene transfer, and somatic stem cells.

Introduction to Biomedical Signals and Electrical Circuits

Learners get hands-on experience with signal processing, electrical circuit analysis, and electronics in the context of biomedical engineering. The course covers topics such as resistive circuits, EKG principle, op-amp, nodal and loop analysis, and circuit analysis.

Quantitative Systems Physiology

Students familiarize themselves with the mammalian nervous system and study it using quantitative and engineering methods in this course. Quantitative systems physiology focuses on sensors and motor systems, the nervous system in a diseased state, basic principles of neuroanatomy, and plasticity.

Mechanics of Biological Tissues

An introduction to constitutive modeling and continuum mechanics for soft biological tissues, mechanics of biological tissues covers topics like viscoelasticity, nonlinear elasticity, poroelasticity, and structure-function relationships. Students learn how to estimate material coefficients, determine boundary conditions, and identify mechanical properties of soft tissues.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

Most online master's in biomedical engineering programs require students to complete a final project that demonstrates knowledge and skills gained over the course of the program. Usually, the project involves identifying a current problem in the field of biomedical engineering and coming up with possible solutions. Some online master's programs offer a thesis and a non-thesis option. Students who choose the thesis option typically complete about six credits of thesis work, research and write a thesis, and orally defend it. Students who choose a non-thesis track typically take six additional credits of coursework.

What Specializations Are Available in a Master's in Biomedical Engineering Program?

Many online master's in biomedical engineering programs offer areas of specialization, which let students zoom in on a particular area of interest. Some common specializations include applied bioengineering, neuroengineering, global medical innovation, biomedical data science, and computational medicine. Students can find descriptions of some sample specializations below.

Global Medical Innovation

Designed for students who plan to work for public, private, or nonprofit groups in the global medical technology field, a global medical innovation specialization focuses on how to develop effective medical devices. This specialization takes a teamwork-based approach, encouraging learners to collaborate with one another.

Applied Bioengineering

An applied bioengineering specialization places a heavy emphasis on real-world experience, allowing students to design a curriculum to fit their career goals. Applied bioengineering frequently requires students to complete professional development credits. Learners often go on to pursue further study in the field, entering Ph.D. programs in biomedical engineering.

Neuroengineering

A neuroengineering concentration includes courses like models of the neuron, neuro data design, and theoretical neuroscience. Learners discover how to use engineering tools with nervous system functions, as well as how new engineering technologies can screen, rehabilitate, diagnose, repair, and regenerate said functions.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Biomedical Engineering Degree?

Earning a master's in biomedical engineering can lead to a variety of cutting-edge career paths that combine technology and science. Most biomedical engineering graduates pursue a career in biomedical engineering. Some enter related fields of engineering, like clinical and manufacturing engineering. With experience, work as an engineering manager or supervisor is available to graduates. Please note that earning a degree in this field does not guarantee eligibility for the following careers, and some of these careers may require extra licensure or certification in addition to a master's in biomedical engineering.

Biomedical Engineers

Biomedical engineers create and design medical devices, equipment, software, and computer systems, incorporating both engineering skills and scientific medical knowledge. They work in hospitals, universities, research facilities, and in manufacturing. These engineers may design, maintain, and evaluate biomedical equipment, conduct research, train clinicians in how to use medical equipment, write reports, and present research. Biomedical engineers need a bachelor's at minimum, but some positions require a master's degree.

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers often supervise and hire staff, set schedules, create budgets, manage projects, assess the work of staff members, and create detailed plans for engineering and architectural firms. They typically need at least a bachelor's in engineering, but many employers prefer to hire job candidates with a master's, as graduates with an advanced degree demonstrate extensive experience and an advanced understanding of engineering principles.

Clinical Engineer, Medical Devices

Clinical engineers who work in the medical device industry maintain medical devices to make sure they work properly. They must ensure medical devices comply with organizational standards and governmental regulations. Duties also include technical assistance, training to the people in the healthcare system who use the medical devices, and keeping track of when devices need maintenance or are recalled by manufacturers. They need at least a bachelor's degree, but employers usually prefer candidates who hold a master's degree in a related field.

Manufacturing Engineer

Manufacturing engineers develop new ways of designing and creating industrial items such as automobiles, building materials, furniture, and consumer electronics. Sometimes they help companies decide how to choose new types of machinery or change processes for building. They conduct research to identify new techniques and technology, find ways improve worker safety, and write training manuals. They need at least a bachelor's, although those who hold a master's can find better compensation and more advanced job opportunities.

Biomedical Engineer Supervisor

Biomedical engineer supervisors manage biomedical engineering projects and staff, requiring advanced biomedical engineering knowledge. They hold responsibility for overseeing projects and processes, hire and supervise staff, hold trainings, perform annual reviews, create budgets, and assess staff work. Supervisors need at least a bachelor's degree and usually several years of experience. Some employers prefer the expertise that comes from hiring applicants with a master's degree.

Biomedical Engineering Associations and Organizations

Joining a professional biomedical engineering organization benefits both students and working professionals. Some opportunities for members of these types of groups include networking events, journal and magazine subscriptions, career services, continuing education credits, and discounted registration fees for conferences. Many biomedical engineering groups offer discounts to students and early career professionals.

Biomedical Engineering Society

The BMES represents more than 7,000 professionals in the fields of bioengineering and biomedical engineering. Members get access to the group's annual meeting, career fair, e-bulletin, searchable member directory, and job board.

American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

Representing biological and medical engineering professionals, AIMBE offers a variety of resources to biological and medical engineering students, including policy resources, a separate website, and a timeline of innovation in the field.

American Society for Engineering Education, Biomedical Engineering Division

A special interest group for biomedical engineers, members of ASEE can join BME and actively participate in its work. It offers workshops, panel discussions, paper sessions, and a newsletter.

American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Bioengineering Division

The bioengineering division of ASME focuses on applying mechanical engineering knowledge to improve biomechanical systems. More than 200 members belong to this special interest group that includes technical, administrative, and executive committees.

Institute of Biological Engineering

IBE promotes interest in inquiry in biological engineering. Membership benefits include networking opportunities, subscription to an e-newsletter, registration discounts on IBE events, and access to a career center.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Biomedical Engineering?

With a master's degree in biomedical engineering, several specialized career paths open to graduates. Most graduates of biomedical engineering programs pursue engineering careers specializing in biomedical, clinical, or manufacturing engineering. Individuals with extensive experience take on management and supervisory roles as engineering supervisors. Earning a degree in biomedical engineering does not guarantee one of these positions, but it definitely improves the chances of finding success in these career paths.

Job Title Lowest 10% Earned Annually Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Earned Annually Job Growth 2016-2026
Biomedical Engineers Less than $52,070 $88,040 More than $142,610 +7%
Architectural and Engineering Managers Less than $88,050 $137,720 More than $208,000 +6%
Materials Engineers Less than $50,080 $94,610 More than $149,860 +2%
Industrial Engineers Less than $55,230 $85,880 More than $130,930 +10%
Health and Safety Engineers Less than $51,820 $88,510 More than $139,630 +9%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

The BLS predicts a 7% increase in job growth for the biomedical engineering field, about as fast as average for all occupations. New technologies and applications of said technologies in the medical field may increase demand of biomedical engineering professionals. Individuals of all ages should familiarize themselves with biomedical solutions to health problems and may seek biomedical devices and procedures, requiring skilled workers.

Earning an advanced degree can impact the average salary received by professionals. Generally speaking, individuals who hold a master's degree make more money than those with a bachelor's alone. Biomedical engineers with a bachelor's degree make a median salary of $70,000, while those with a master's earn upwards of $87,000 a year.

Online Master's in Biomedical Engineering Program Accreditation

When choosing an online school, regional accreditation signifies the institution met educational quality standards agreed upon by an accrediting agency. If you attend a school without regional accreditation, transferring academic credit and qualifying for federal financial aid increases in difficulty.

Separate, programmatic accreditation affects individual programs and also indicates a higher level of quality. Online master's in biomedical engineering programs receive field-specific accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The EAC of ABET provides accreditation to bachelor's and master's engineering programs. Many employers prefer to hire employees with a degree from an ABET-accredited program. If you plan to get a license or certification, an ABET-accredited degree may be required.

How to Pay for a Master's in Biomedical Engineering Degree

Many students find paying for their degrees stressful, as the cost of higher education continues to go up each year. Luckily, a variety of ways to help pay for an online master's in biomedical engineering exist. Many learners take advantage of federal financial aid like student loans, grants, and work-study. Professional organizations and universities also often offer scholarships, and grants for students.

  • Federal Financial Aid

    Every biomedical engineering master's student should apply for federal financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Department of Education distributes grants, work study funding, and loans to graduate students.

  • Program Fellowships

    Many master's in biomedical engineering programs provide fellowships to incoming and current students. Program fellowships may cover the entire cost of tuition and student fees for a set period of time. The University of Texas at Austin offers numerous engineering fellowships to graduate students in the Cockrell School of Engineering.

  • Assistantships

    Many graduate programs in biomedical engineering hire master's students to work as research or teaching assistants. In exchange for this work, schools often offer full or partial tuition remission and sometimes a living stipend as well. For example, the Johns Hopkins biomedical engineering programs includes partial tuition remission to students who work as teaching assistants.

  • Program Grants

    Some master's in biomedical engineering programs fund research experiences for students with grants. The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Institute of Technology makes available at least three different grant training programs for graduate students in biomedical engineering.