Pitt | Swanson Engineering
BioE UG Program Description

In keeping with the two-fold mission of the Department of Bioengineering to

  • provide a high quality engineering education to both undergraduate and graduate students, and
  • be a leader in research in specific areas encompassed by Bioengineering
the Bioengineering undergraduate curriculum has the objective to prepare students to achieve their post-baccalaureate goal of :
  1. an industrial career in bioengineering or related field;
  2. graduate school (MS and PhD programs related to bioengineering); or
  3. professional school (Medical, Dental, Health Related, Business, and Law).
To achieve their particular goal(s), students are :
  1. provided with a broad knowledge of the technical and social principles of bioengineering as well as a focused education in one track area within bioengineering, and
  2. prepared through educational experiences beyond the classroom that deepen their understanding of the technical and non-technical issues in bioengineering process and design.
The Bioengineering undergraduate curriculum has seven pedagogical components with options for dual degrees, minors, and certificates. SEE ONE POSSIBLE, FOUR-YEAR, SEMESTER-BY-SEMESTER SEQUENCE THROUGH THE CURRICULUM. Bioengineering students can monitor their own progression through the curriculum using the DEGREE PROGRESS WORKSHEET.

We require that students master basic mathematical skills in analytical geometry, calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and statistics as preparation for mastery of bioengineering applications. The basic math courses include :

  • MATH 0220 (4 credits) : Analytical Geometry and Calculus 1
  • MATH 0230 (4 credits) : Analytical Geometry and Calculus 2
  • MATH 0240 (4 credits) : Analytical Geometry and Calculus 3
  • Differential Equations (3 credits)
    • Either MATH 0290 (Differential Equations)
    • or MATH 1270 (Ordinary Differential Equations 1)
  • Linear Algebra (3 credits)
    • Either MATH 0280 (Introduction to Matrices & Linear Algebra)
    • or MATH 1180 (Linear Algebra 1)
    • or MATH 1185 (Honors Linear Algebra)
  • BIOENG 1000 (Statistics for Bioengineering)

    Current MATH course descriptions can be found at the UNIVERSITY COURSE DESCRIPTIONS web site.

Students interested in a MATH Minor should consider taking MATH 1270 instead of MATH 0290 and either MATH 1180 or MATH 1185 instead of MATH 0280. See GET A MINOR for more information.

Engineering practice is frequently described as "applied science". In addition to knowledge of and ability to use basic physics and chemistry, bioengineers need to be conversant with and able to use concepts of biology and physiology. Because of the importance of cellular processes in bioengineering applications, we have developed our own (required) 2-course sequence in cell and molecular biology.
      We DO NOT accept general biology (BIOSC 0150 and 0160) as meeting the cell biology requirement or as advanced engineering/science electives.

  • Two semesters of calculus-based physics
    • First semester :
      • PHYS 0174 (4 credits)
      • or PHYS 0475 (4 credits)
    • Second semester :
      • PHYS 0175 (4 credits)
      • or PHYS 0476 (4 credits)
  • Two semesters of introductory chemistry
    • First semester :
      • CHEM 0110 (4 credits)
      • or CHEM 0410 (3 credits)
      • or CHEM 0710 (4 credits)
      • or CHEM 0760 (3 credits)
      • or CHEM 0960 (3 credits)
    • Second semester :
      • CHEM 0120 (4 credits)
      • or CHEM 0420 (3 credits)
      • or CHEM 0720 (4 credits)
      • or CHEM 0770 (3 credits)
      • or CHEM 0970 (3 credits)
    •       NOTE: CHEM 0410/CHEM 0420 also requires CHEM 0430 (Lab, 1 credit)
  • Two semesters of cell and molecular biology
    • First semester : BIOENG 1070 (3 credits) : Introductory Cell Biology 1 (Fall) 
    • Second semester :
      • BIOENG 1071 (3 credits) : Introductory Cell Biology 2 (Spring)
      • or BIOENG 1072 (3 credits) : Honors Introductory Cell Biology 2 (Spring)
  • Biology lab : BIOSC 0050 or BIOSC 0057 or BIOSC 0058 or BIOSC 0060 or BIOSC 0067 (1 credit)
          We accept Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) credits for BIOSC 0050.
          See ADVANCED STANDING for more information.
  • Human Physiology
    • BIOSC 1250
    • or NROSCI 1250
    • or BIOSC 1070
    • or NROSCI 1070
          NOTE : The two semester sequence NUR 0012 (lecture)/NUR 0002 (lab) and NUR 0013 (lecture)/NUR 0003 (lab) can be used to satisfy the human physiology requirement plus an advanced engineering/science elective - but both semesters are required to satisfy the Human Physiology requirement.
          NOTE : BIOSC 1080 (6 cr - offered summer semester only) can be used to satisfy the Human Physiology requirement plus an advanced engineering/science elective.

    Current PHYS, CHEM, BIOSC and NROSCI course descriptions can be found at UNIVERSITY COURSE DESCRIPTIONS.

The Swanson School of Engineering (SSoE) requires all undergraduates to complete at least six humanities and social science (Hum/SS) elective courses from the SSoE APPROVED HUM/SS ELECTIVES LIST in order to satisfy SSoE and ABET accreditation requirements for breadth and depth. Complete rules for breadth and depth can be found at the Approved Electives webpage.
      While only approved humanities and social science courses can be used to satisfy the Hum/SS requirements for the Bioengineering degree, the approved list is not static!! New courses are added frequently. If you wish to take a course not on the approved list, you need to make a request to the Undergraduate Coordinator BEFORE taking the course. Fill out the HUM/SS APPROVAL REQUEST FORM and e-mail it to the Undergraduate Coordinator, who will seek approval from Engineering Administration and let you know whether the course has been approved. Please do not request a class from a department which is not on the approved list (e.g., Administration of Justice, Business, etc).
      The Department of Bioengineering feels that ethics is such an integral part of societal practice of bioengineering that we have developed our own bioethics course,
        BIOENG 1241 (3 credits) : Social, Political, and Ethical Issues in Bioengineering (Fall & Spring) 
that emphasizes the fact that we practice bioengineering in the real world and that we need to be aware of the broad societal impact of doing so. BIOENG 1241 is a REQUIRED course for all bioengineering undergraduate students. Because of the strong humanities and social science basis, BIOENG 1241 is acceptable as one of the required six Hum/SS electives. Thus bioengineering undergraduates need at least five additional Hum/SS elective courses drawn from the School's list of approved courses.

The SSoE breadth and depth rules for Hum/SS electives, for the purposes of the Bioengineering program, are interpreted as: students must have at least two courses from the same department (both cannot have an "*" designation) to satisfy the depth requirement; and, students must have courses from at least three different departments (in addition to BIOENG 1241) to satisfy the breadth requirement.

The UNIVERSITY COURSE DESCRIPTIONS web site has current information about Hum/SS course offerings. Please note that SAS courses cross-listed with CGS that are designated as self-paced (self), online (www) or hybrid online (hybrid) are not acceptable for fulfilling the humanities/social science requirement.

Note : Students may use an ENGR study abroad experience, such as the Plus3 program, either as an Advanced Engineering/Science elective or as a Hum/SS elective.

"W" requirement : All students must have a "W"riting course, designated as such in their academic record, in order to satisfy graduation requirements. The "W" can be satisfied by a course in any department. However, most students choose to take a three-credit course in the humanities/social sciences. A one-credit "W" addition to a three credit course is also acceptable. A two-credit "W" course satisfies the "W" requirement, but cannot be used to satisfy a course requirement. Listings of "W" courses can be found at the UNIVERSITY COURSE DESCRIPTIONS web site.
      Note: ENGCMP 0400 (Written Professional Communication) satisfies the "W" requirement, but is not an acceptable Hum/SS elective.

The basic engineering courses include :

  • Freshman Engineering - first semester (3 credits)
    • ENGR 0011
    • ENGR 0015
    • or ENGR 0711
      NOTE: Transfer students can substitute any engineering course for the ENGR 0011/ENGR 0015/ENGR 0711 requirement.
  • Freshman Engineering - second semester (3 credits)
    • ENGR 0012
    • or ENGR 0016
          NOTE: Students who take ENGR 0016 must also take ENGCMP 0200.
    • or ENGR 0712
    • or ENGR 0716
  • ENGR 0135 (3 credits) : Statics and Mechanics of Materials 1

The common Freshman courses, ENGR 0011/ENGR 0711 and ENGR 0012/ENGR 0016/ENGR 0712/ENGR 0716 are integrated with the Freshman math, physics, and chemistry courses with the specific goals of (1) introducing students to fundamentals of engineering common to all engineering disciplines, (2) providing an overview of how engineers integrate math, physics, chemistry, and communications into solving practical problems of interest to society, and (3) providing a rigorous foundation in design of computer programs to solve engineering problems.
      ENGR 0135 is a basic course in statics and mechanics of materials that applies concepts from physics in understanding the effect of external forces acting on particles and deformable bodies with emphasis on how material responses to external forces impact engineering choices of appropriate materials to use to meet design specifications.

In keeping with the Department of Bioengineering philosophy that bioengineers draw from all engineering disciplines in the practice of bioengineering and that, therefore, bioengineers should be conversant with and able to employ the basic skills of the various engineering disciplines, the Bioengineering Core consists of

  • BIOENG 1210 (3 credits) : Biothermodynamics (Spring)
        or BIOENG 1211 (3 credits) : Honors Biothermodynamics (Spring)
  • BIOENG 1220 (3 credits) : Biotransport Phenomena (Fall)
  • BIOENG 1310 (3 credits) : Bioinstrumentation (Spring)
  • BIOENG 1320 (3 credits) : Biosignals and Systems (Fall)
  • Choice of a Biosignals applications course selected from :
    • BIOENG 1255 (4 credits) : Dynamic Systems: A Physiological Perspective (Fall)
    • BIOENG 1580 (4 credits) : Biomedical Applications of Signal Processing (Spring)
    • BIOENG 1680 (4 credits) : Biomedical Applications of Control (Spring)
  • BIOENG 1630 (3 credits) : Biomechanics 1 (Spring)
  • BIOENG 1002 (3 credits) : Intramural Internship (Fall & Spring)
  • BIOENG 1150 (3 credits) : Biomethods (Spring)
  • Imaging Course (3 credits) selected from :
    • BIOENG 1005 : RF Medical Devices (Fall)
    • BIOENG 1330 : Biomedical Imaging (Fall)
    • BIOENG 1383 : Biomedical Optical Microscopy (Spring)
    • BIOENG 2385 : Engineering Medical Devices for Quantitative Image Analysis & Visualization (Spring)
    • BIOENG 2505 : Multi-Modal Biomedical Imaging Technologies (Fall)
    • BIOENG 2630 : Methods In Medical Image Analysis (Spring)
    • PSY 1471 : Mapping Brain Connectivity
    • CMU BioSc 03-315 : Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Neuroscience (Spring)
    • CMU BioSc 03-534 : Biological Imaging and Fluorescence Spectroscopy (Spring)
    • CMU Biomed 42-431 : Intro to Biomedical Imaging and Image Analysis (Fall)
    • CMU Biomed 42-640 : Computational Bio-Modeling and Visualization (Spring)
    • CMU Biomed 42-672 : Fundamentals of Biomedical Imaging and Image Analysis (Spring)
    • CMU Biomed 42-698P : Introduction to Biophotonics
    • CMU Psych 85-429 : Cognitive Brain Imaging (Spring)
  • BIOENG 1160 (3 credits) : Senior Design 1 (Fall)
  • BIOENG 1161 (3 credits) : Senior Design 2 (Spring)
  • BIOENG 1085 (0 credits / 6 required) : Seminar (Fall & Spring)

The Bioengineering Core has been designed to provide students with exposure to the basic engineering disciplines that bioengineers use in preparation for being a functional member of a multidisciplinary team working to creatively solve biomedical problems.

      BIOENG 1210 and 1220 provide knowledge and applications in thermal/fluid engineering which are important in design and operation of cellular engineering and tissue culture applications and artificial organs technology.

      BIOENG 1310 and 1320 provide fundamental knowledge and applications in electrical engineering that are required for data acquisition, signal processing, imaging, and systems control. BIOENG 1255 (biological insights through mathematical modeling), 1580 (biological insights through signal processing in general), and 1680 (applications in biological control systems) are more in-depth application of concepts presented in 1310 and 1320.

      BIOENG 1630, coupled with ENGR 0135, provides knowledge and applications that are required to model and design solutions in such diverse areas as motion and balance, prosthetics design, and soft tissue mechanics.

      Both BIOENG 1002 and 1150 are laboratory, research-based courses that focus on communications skills: BIOENG 1002 on preparation and public presentation of research; BIOENG 1150 on analysis and written communication.

      Imaging is an integral skill in bioengineering. Several choices are offered to help meet individual needs of students in designing a curriculum relevant to their interests and course of study. While any of the listed courses satisfy the imaging requirement, students are encouraged to seek advisor input with respect to which course might be best for their particular interests. Students can petition the Undergraduate Coordinator to have a new imaging course placed on the list of acceptable courses.

      Senior Design (BIOENG 1160 & 1161) is a unique two-semester capstone sequence that challenges teams of students to develop and implement practical solutions to real problems.

      Finally, BIOENG 1085 is used both as a vehicle for communication between the department and students and to provide diverse perspectives on the professional practice of bioengineering.

While the Bioengineering Core was designed to provide students with exposure to the basic engineering disciplines that bioengineers use in preparation for being a functional member of a multidisciplinary team working to creatively solve biomedical problems, the Bioengineering Tracks offer students an opportunity to focus in greater depth on an area of bioengineering practice relevant to their interests. Students are encouraged to design their own curriculum, within the constraints of the track, to prepare them for their post-graduate goals. The department offers four tracks :

Each track consists of six courses split between track requirements and track electives. Track requirements are courses that the track coordinator and associated track faculty deem essential knowledge for professional practice in the track. Track electives (drawn from a restricted list of courses) offer an opportunity either to explore the track broadly or to focus more narrowly in an area of interest to the student.
      As part of planning for post-graduate goals and the advising process, all students are required to develop a comprehensive electives plan (CEP) that details how their choices of track electives and advanced engineering/science electives will help them achieve their individual goals.

      Note : because of the large number of bioengineering students interested in careers in the health sciences (medical doctor, osteopathic doctor, nurse practitioner, physical therapist) post-graduation, CHEM 0310 (Organic Chemistry 1) and CHEM 0320 (Organic Chemistry 2) are accepted track electives in all tracks.

      Note : CHEM 0320 (Organic Chemistry 2) is a prerequisite for BIOENG 1620 (Introduction to Tissue Engineering) and BIOENG 1810 (Biomaterials and Biocompatability). Students who want to take those courses need to take the CHEM 0310/0320 sequence prior to doing so.

      Note : particular minors (see GET A MINOR) are easier to obtain through specific tracks. The key to obtaining a minor that will aid the student in fulfilling post-graduate goals is to start planning early.

Students are required to take two advanced engineering or science elective courses, as developed in their comprehensive electives plan (CEP), that complement their track electives and will help them meet their post-graduate goals.
      Advanced engineering/science elective means that if the student has already taken a course in a discipline, the advanced engineering/science elective must be at a more advanced level (depth), i.e., not a course that is a prerequisite for a course already taken, or cover a different aspect of the discipline (breadth).

    Note : The UNIVERSITY CATALOG states "Students may not earn credit for courses that substantially duplicate the content of other courses for which they have already received credit." Other departments offer courses that substantially duplicate content in some BIOENG courses (which focus on engineering applications in biology, physiology, and medicine). Known courses under this prohibition that students cannot use for an advanced engineering or science elective include:
      ECE/CoE 0031 & MEMS 0031 (duplicates BIOENG 1310)
      ENGR 0145 (duplicates BIOENG 1630)
      ENGR 1010 (duplicates BIOENG 1002 & 1150)
      MEMS 0051 (duplicates BIOENG 1210)
      ECE/CoE 1552 & MEMS 1014 (duplicates BIOENG 1320)

    Note : Students MAY NOT use any natural science course (ASTRON, BIOSC, CHEM, GEOL, NROSCI, PHYS) with a course number less than 0100 or described as "for students not majoring in the physical sciences" to satisfy an Advanced Engineering/Science requirement.

    Note : Students may use an ENGR study abroad experience, such as the Plus3 program, either as an Advanced Engineering/Science elective or as a humanities/social science elective.

    Note : Students who successfully complete three co-op rotations can also apply that experience to satisfy one of the electives; MPE students can use three co-op rotations to satisfy a track elective. See the BIOENGINEERING UNDERGRADUATE GUIDEBOOK for details.

    Note : All bioengineering students must have a minimum of four (4) engineering courses (any department) out of the eight (8) elective courses (six (6) track courses and two (2) advanced engineering/science courses).

We encourage our students to take full advantage of University of Pittsburgh resources and educational opportunities. Many of our students seek a DUAL DEGREE that augments the bioengineering experience; sometimes another engineering degree, sometimes a degree in Arts & Sciences. Almost all obtain MINORS AND CERTIFICATES that add value to their education and distinguish them as they move forward in their careers. Planning for minors and certificates is a part of developing the comprehensive electives plan (CEP) and needs to start as early as the sophomore year; perhaps, even, the freshman year!