Biological Engineering - MS, PhD

College of Engineering

About This Degree

Biological engineering is an emerging discipline that combines science and engineering principles.

The department is research intensive and focuses on the application of research to solve current problems. Faculty members have expertise in the following broad areas: health and medicine, the environment, and renewable energy. Research ranges from developing biodiesel and bioplastics from algae to developing non-invasive bionanotechnologies that could help detect health problems before they progress to terminal diseases.

Faculty members in the department are nationally recognized. The department is even home to a USTAR professor. USTAR positions are funded by an initiative from the state of Utah aimed at bringing in the best researchers to address issues that solve current problems and can lead to economic development in the state. 

Students may study in the following areas:

  • Bioenergy Engineering: This focuses on the development and production of biofuels from algae and from other microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi. This area also includes thermochemical conversion of biomass into bio-oil.
  • Bioprocess Engineering: Students in bioprocess engineering study bioreactor design, operation, monitoring, and control for industrial, medical, and environmental applications.
  • Bioproducts Engineering: This involves the research, design, and development of microbe-based products, such as bioplastics, bioenergy chemicals, and health-related chemicals.
  • Biomedical Engineering: Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering principles and techniques to the medical field. Biomedical engineers may be involved with developing artificial organs or working with prostheses, instrumentation, health care delivery systems, etc. This field is expected to be the fastest growing occupation through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Synthetic Biomanufacturing: Students in synthetic bio-manufacturing study the development of genetic engineering tools and platforms for production and scale-up of microbial-based new products.
  • Bioenvironmental Systems Management: This is concerned with the reuse of municipal and industrial byproducts and microbial remediation for the protection of public health and the environment.


Concurrent Bachelor’s/Master’s Program:

The department also offers a concurrent bachelor’s/master’s program, which allows USU engineering students to begin taking graduate classes during their senior year as an undergraduate and to complete requirements for both the bachelor's degree and the master’s degree concurrently over two years.


At a Glance

College: College of Engineering

Department: Biological Engineering Department

USU Locations:

  • Logan campus

Program Requirements

Career And Outcomes

Career Opportunities

With a graduate degree in biological engineering, graduates can work in a wide variety of critical fields, including:

  • Development and production of alternative fuels
  • National security
  • Product development and manufacturing
  • Health and medicine
  • Academia
  • Industry
  • Law
  • Sales
  • Research

Employers of biological engineers include:

  • Energy companies
  • Chemical companies
  • Engineering companies
  • Equipment and systems manufacturers
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • National Security/defense organizations
  • Academia
  • Municipalities

Job Outlook



Lauren Shanley

Graduate Program Coordinator
Office: ENGR 402H
Phone: (435) 797-1041

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Admission Requirements

Students without an undergraduate degree in biological engineering must complete makeup courses. For students with degrees in biology or chemistry, makeup work in engineering is required, and for students with degrees in another area of engineering, biology and chemistry courses will be required. An individual makeup course plan for each student will be decided upon by the Biological Engineering Department and shared with students before they begin their coursework.

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 75th percentile on the Quantitative portion and score at or above the 40th percentile on the Verbal portion of the GRE
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation
  • Provide statement of purpose

International students have additional admissions requirements.


The biological engineering graduate program has rolling admission, meaning the department will continue to consider and accept applications until the program is full. The time it takes to process an application is primarily dependent on the speed with which the School of Graduate Studies receives letters of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores. For most students, this process may take six to eight weeks. Applicants should plan accordingly.

Program Requirements

PhD Qualifying Exams:

All PhD students must participate in a dissertation proposal with their faculty committee before they can proceed with their dissertation. Students meet with their committee and present their proposed research and discuss the findings they expect. The committee will ask the student questions and then decide if the student may proceed with their dissertation.

Plan Options

Students can receive the MS by pursuing one of two options:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.
  • The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or creative work of art and is expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards as a thesis.

Financial Aid

A variety of funding opportunities are available on the graduate school website.

Take The Next Step

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