Earning a Master's in Biomedical Engineering Online

According to the American Society for Engineering Education, master's degree conferment increased 9% between 2015 and 2017. As more students pursue STEM degrees, the field has become more competitive, and learners need an advanced education to stand out from the crowd. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7% increase in demand for engineering occupations and an 18% increase in demand for healthcare workers. Biomedical engineering combines the fields of medicine and engineering, putting biomedical engineers at the forefront of two leading industries.

This guide lists the best biomedical engineering online master's programs, evaluates salary and job potential, and describes what courses to expect in a biomedical engineering degree.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Biomedical Engineering?

Many different people decide to pursue an online master's degree in biomedical engineering, including students fresh from an undergraduate program, professionals looking for career advancement, and learners contemplating a specialization. Both students and professionals can use this guide to understand the standard curriculum, admission requirements, and job prospects for an online master's in biomedical engineering degree.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Biomedical Engineering?

Pursuing Specialization

Many programs encourage students to select a concentration in a highly specialized field such as bioelectrics or biomechanics. This unique knowledge makes the student a valuable job candidate and may lead to more job offers. Specialization courses build upon the knowledge learned in the general curriculum, and students usually use elective credits to fulfil concentration requirements. Some schools also allow students to obtain certificates after completing certain specialization courses. Alternately, students may choose to pursue a more general track and take electives in areas of interest.

Career Advancement Opportunities

The engineering industry is a highly technical field, and workers need an advanced background in science and math to satisfy job requirements. Therefore, workers with a graduate-level degree tend to receive more opportunities and higher salaries. Some graduates decide to start their own companies or work as consultants for major corporations.

Online Learning Technology

Technology continues to revolutionize the way we access education, and more schools than ever deliver programs completely online. Through distance learning, students can view or listen to course lectures, interact with classmates, and complete their assignments using the online learning management system. This technology helps students advance their computer skills and literacy.

Prerequisites for Online Biomedical Engineering Programs

In this section, readers can learn about the basic admissions requirements for a master's in biomedical engineering program. Most online biomedical engineering master's programs require applicants to hold an undergraduate or graduate degree in a STEM field such as biomedical, chemical, or mechanical engineering. Some programs also accept students with medical, legal, and other degrees. However, specific requirements vary by school.

  • Work Experience: For online biomedical engineering master's programs, the admissions department takes an applicant's scientific and medical work or research experience into consideration. Schools ask applicants to submit a recent copy of their resume along with recommendation letters from former employers and work colleagues. Although most programs do not require previous work experience, relevant research or training can help a candidate stand out.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Some schools require applicants to submit official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) test scores. Schools may waive this requirement for applicants with an undergraduate degree or significant work experience in the field.
  • Coursework: Students pursuing a biomedical engineering master's online need previous coursework in math and science. Many admissions offices look for undergraduate coursework in linear algebra, biology, chemistry, and calculus. The school may make exceptions for certain candidates; however, these students must take prerequisite courses while enrolled or before starting the program.
  • Recommendations: Programs usually request two or three letters of recommendation from people that students know and work with. Usually, these letters of recommendation come from advisers, teachers, and supervisors. Schools use letters to gain a better understanding of the applicant's work ethic.
  • Essays: Applicants often must submit a statement of purpose or personal statement. These statements, usually about 500 words, describe students' academic background, their reasons for pursuing a graduate degree, and how they intend to use the degree after graduation.
  • Interviews: Interview requirements largely depend on the school. Typically, schools only interview Ph.D. candidates, but colleges may decide to interview graduate applicants depending on the competitiveness of the program. The interviewee meets with members of the admissions office and the program department. Interviews may occur on campus or online.
  • International Students: International applicants must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in order to apply for an online master's degree in biomedical engineering in the U.S. The test, administered by the Educational Testing Service, evaluates the student's English proficiency. Schools may also require international students to complete all relevant prerequisite courses before applying to the program.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Biomedical Engineering?

The average biomedical engineer makes more than $88,000 per year. Engineers work in a variety of organizations, including healthcare, government, and research facilities. Due to the complex nature of the job, many companies prefer biomedical engineering candidates with a graduate degree. Exact salaries and job opportunities vary depending on location.

Traditional Careers for Biomedical Engineering Master's Graduates

Career Stats Description

Biomedical Engineer

Median Pay: $88,040

Job Growth: 7%

Biomedical engineers create healthcare equipment such as implants, genetic modification technology, and assistive devices. Using advanced technology, many of these engineers design artificial limbs and organs for patients suffering from limb or organ loss. They also create and maintain software used in medical devices.

Ideal for: Individuals that want to use science to help others improve their health and quality of life.

Quality Engineer, Medical Devices

Median Pay: $71,294

Job Growth: 7%

Quality engineers test medical devices for safety and efficiency. They work closely with teams of biomedical engineers and other production staffers to design and implement tests throughout the product's lifecycle. With the help of other scientists, quality engineers create guidelines for production standards in order to improve quality and minimize risks.

Ideal for: Individuals that like creating, testing, researching, and upgrading products.

Product Development Engineer

Median Pay: $71,520

Job Growth: 7%

Product development engineers focus on the mechanical design of a product. They start by creating a model and use 3D software to bring that model to life. Product developers then work with other engineers to outline a production strategy. Product development engineers also list the materials needed to create the product and identify potential buyers.

Ideal for: Individuals that like to brainstorm new inventions.

Rehabilitation Engineer

Median Pay: $63,238

Job Growth: 7%

Rehabilitation engineers conceptualize and create devices that help disabled individuals communicate, hear, see, and mobilize. With these devices, individuals can perform daily activities that may not otherwise be possible. Additionally, rehabilitation engineers formulate technological solutions to improve medical devices and create better techniques for using them.

Ideal for: Individuals interested in using technology to help disabled individuals lead productive lives.

Non-Traditional Careers for Biomedical Engineering Master's Graduates

Career Stats Description

Technical Writer

Median Pay: $70,930

Job Growth: 11%

Technical writers simplify complex information, making it easier for people to read and understand. The technology sector uses technical writers to communicate product information to consumers in the form of how-to manuals and guides. In addition to writing manuals, technical writers may create illustrations to demonstrate product usage.

Ideal for: People that enjoy writing and creating materials for public consumption.

Exercise Physiologist

Median Pay: $49,090

Job Growth: 13%

Exercise physiologists work with patients suffering from chronic illnesses and debilitating conditions. Before creating an exercise regimen, exercise physiologists use medical devices to conduct tests on patients and determine their current fitness capability. These tests examine the patient's heart rate and oxygen intake. Exercise physiologists also review the patient's medical history to identify any medical risks.

Ideal for: Individuals with a strong interest in health and fitness.

Occupational Therapist

Median Pay: $83,200

Job Growth: 24%

Occupational therapists tailor treatment plans to the needs of permanently disabled or chronically ill patients. They teach patients how to use medical equipment, such as hearing aids and leg braces, to perform everyday activities. These therapists work with patients in their homes, healthcare facilities, and schools.

Ideal for: Innovative individuals with advanced knowledge of medical devices.

Postsecondary Teacher (Engineering)

Median Pay: $76,000

Job Growth: 15%

Postsecondary teachers instruct students at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. They develop syllabi, learning outcomes, objectives, and assignments. Postsecondary teachers also counsel students by helping them with completing their assignments, selecting courses, and choosing a career path.

Ideal for: People that enjoy working with and offering support to others.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale, 2017-2018

Paying for an Online Master's in Biomedical Engineering

Tuition costs for biomedical engineering programs tend to be high due to the advanced technological nature of the coursework. Financial aid workers assist students by suggesting loan and scholarship options, enrolling learners in a payment plan, or helping to find alternative funding sources. Students in need of tuition assistance should do their own research and find private organizations that award scholarships to STEM majors. Many associations give scholarships to students from underrepresented groups such as minorities and women.

Tuition Timelines

The path to an online biomedical engineering degree depends on the student. The following section explains part-time, full-time, and accelerated pathways and gives examples of each.

Part-Time Path

Part-time enrollees take a smaller number of courses each semester to accommodate their busy schedules. They usually pay per credit or course and take longer to graduate from the program.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: University of Southern California
Total Credits Required: 28
Summary: The master of science in biomedical engineering program requires the completion of 28 units. Part-time students complete the program in 2.5-3.5 years. Full-time students fulfill program requirements in two years or less, but it takes part-time students more than two years to graduate. USC delivers courses in a hybrid format that combines online coursework with in-class meetings.

Full-Time Path

The full-time pathway benefits students with significant time to dedicate to coursework. These learners may focus exclusively on school, or may also work part-time. Full-time students usually graduate in one or two years, depending on the structure of the program.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Columbia University
Total Credits Required: 30
Summary: Full-time students can finish Columbia's online biomedical engineering master's program in 2-2.5 years, depending on course load each semester. Although some schools charge full-time students based on semester, Columbia bases tuition rates on number of credits. The program totals about $64,600, including tuition and fees.

Accelerated Path

Accelerated pathways help students that want to graduate from an online biomedical engineering master's program in less than two years. Several of these programs follow a dual-degree format, allowing students to graduate with a bachelor's and master's degree in five years. Other schools offer standalone accelerated options.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: University of California, Riverside
Total Credits Required: 36
Summary: Instead of traditional semesters, many accelerated programs use the quarter system. Students at UCR, for example, can graduate in as few as four quarters, the equivalent of 13 months. Students in accelerated programs often pay per credit or per course. At UCR, this equates to about $30,000 for the entire program. Students financially benefit from accelerated programs in two ways. First, they can quickly finish school and advance to a higher-paying position. Second, the shorter time frame allows students to avoid paying rising tuition rates from year to year.

Subject-Specific Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships

The following scholarship list may help students find sources to fund their education. Many scholarships require students to demonstrate financial need, academic achievement, and/or community involvement.

What to Expect from a Master's Level Online Biomedical Engineering Program

It typically takes online master's degree in biomedical engineering students one or two years to graduate. Exact completion times depend on the learner's enrollment status, degree plan (thesis, non-thesis, accelerated), and prerequisite coursework. As students advance through the program, they encounter different milestones, such as completing a research project or sending the first draft of their thesis to an instructor for review. Online students in hybrid programs must balance virtual coursework with on-site requirements such as course labs. To help students stay on track, schools enlist faculty advisers who assist students throughout the program.

Major Milestones

  1. Admission Application - One year to eight months before enrollment

    Prospective students submit a portfolio of their transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements, an application form, and fees.

  2. Research and Projects - During the first or second year

    Enrollees work closely with their peers and course instructors to conduct research through labs, school-sponsored programs, and independent initiatives.

  3. Thesis - Final semester

    Degree candidates start working on their master's thesis during the first year of the program, but they do not present it until their final semester before graduation. Students use the material learned throughout the program to support their original research.

  4. Concentration - Throughout the program

    Students that want to attain expert knowledge in a specialized area such as data science may select a concentration during the first year of the program. Learners take at least three courses in their specialty, and some schools offer even more. Certain programs offer certification.

  5. Advisement - Before final semester

    Prospective graduates meet with a faculty adviser before registering for their last semester in order to ensure completion of all degree requirements. Sometimes, these advisers also discuss career options.


The following curriculum describes a few common courses in a biomedical engineering master's program. However, each school offers its own unique focus areas, electives, and core courses.

Principles of Biomedical Engineering

In this course, students learn the purpose of biomedical engineering and its importance in medical science. Learners also investigate how medical scientists research cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and neurological disorders.

Molecular Biotechnology

Learners explore the application of laboratory techniques and theories in molecular biotechnology. Students research cell culture, bioethics, bioinformatics, cell biology, immunology, and protein purification. The course also covers molecular biology.

Anatomy, Physiology, and Biophysics

Human anatomy and biology establish the foundation of biomedical engineering. Students take this course in order to understand how the human body works, including how it handles injury and fights disease.

Tissue Engineering

This course closely examines the human body and its tissues, specifically how blood interacts with artificial devices. Students read and analyze literature about tissue engineering and common implants.

Protein Engineering

This class focuses on protein functions and structure. Learners may use genetic, biochemical, and chemical properties to create proteins that can thrive in high-temperature and non-aqueous environments.

Requirements to Practice

Biomedical engineering students often benefit from pursuing certification. A certificate in a specialized area shows an individual's dedication to the field and commitment to upholding industry standards. For most specializations, applicants need an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degree. Certification committees also require years of work experience. A certificate does not guarantee a job, but it may help candidates attract employers.

  • Certified Biomedical Auditor: The American Society of Quality administers the certified biomedical auditor certification for professionals who understand the standards, regulations, and directives for auditing and reporting on a biomedical system. Both members and nonmembers may apply. Applicants take a 145-question multiple-choice exam during a four-hour session.
  • Biomedical Imaging Equipment Technician: The Electronics Technicians Association offers certification to technicians that handle imaging equipment. Applicants get two hours to take the 100-question exam and must score 75 or higher to pass.
  • Public Health Laboratory Director: Applicants need four years of clinical laboratory experience in human testing to apply for this credential. Candidates also need to pass general knowledge and public health microbiology tests.
  • Bioanalyst Clinical Laboratory Director: The American Board of Bioanalysis offers this certification to applicants with a doctoral degree, four years of clinical laboratory experience testing human specimens, and two years of supervisory experience.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Students in the biomedical engineering field can join a professional organization in order to meet possible mentors, future employers, and industry advocates. Many organizations maintain student chapters and offer special access to scholarships and educational programs. Professional organizations also host annual conferences and networking events to connect members from different chapters. Students can use career boards to find job opportunities and internships.

  • American Society for Engineering Education: ASEE is comprised of 50 divisions that cater to various engineering disciplines. The biomedical engineering division coordinates workshops and discussions for its members. It also distributes the educator award to exceptional teachers.
  • American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering: This nonprofit organization contains a college of fellows, a group of 2,000 bioengineers from the government, academia, and other industries. Fellows include recipients of the Nobel Prize and the Presidential Medal of Science.
  • Biomedical Engineering Society: BMES supervises 145 students chapters that educate and mentor future biomedical engineers. Students receive discounts for tickets to BMES events and awards for their bioengineering achievements.
  • Institute for Biomedical Engineers: IBE works to implement professional standards and technical development within the biological engineering industry. Members gain access to educational materials, the career center, and institute events.
  • International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering: IFMBE unites members of the worldwide medical and biological engineering community. The federation champions technology research, development, and application. Members gain access to IFMBE publications, events, and awards.
  • Biomat.net: Biomat.net shares news, data, and communication from biomedical engineers, scientists, researchers, academics, government officials, and the general public. The site also posts book reviews and information on biomedical events.
  • BioSpace: Established in 1985, Biospace publishes life sciences news and analysis. The site hosts a job board and resume database for employers and job-seekers.
  • Advanced Medical Technology Association: AdvaMed is a trade association that lobbies for medical technology. AdvaMed promotes policies regarding ethical standards, product approvals, and reimbursements. The association accepts individual members and entire organizations.
  • Global Health Observatory Data repository: Maintained by the World Health Organization, this repository contains statistics on global healthcare issues, including infant mortality rates, communicable diseases, substance abuse, and road traffic injuries.
  • World Health Organization: A global organization, WHO supports medical doctors, epidemiologists, scientists, and other health specialists in their research efforts and initiatives. WHO also provides biomedical engineers with training resources.