Fifty Years of Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Education

Robert A. Linsenmeier*, Ann Saterbak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Undergraduate education in biomedical engineering (BME) and bioengineering (BioE) has been in place for more than 50 years. It has been important in shaping the field as a whole. The early undergraduate programs developed shortly after BME graduate programs, as universities sought to capitalize on the interest of students and the practical advantages of having BME departments that could control their own resources and curriculum. Unlike other engineering fields, BME did not rely initially on a market for graduates in industry, although BME graduates subsequently have found many opportunities. BME undergraduate programs exploded in the 2000s with funding from the Whitaker Foundation and resources from other agencies such as the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. The number of programs appears to be reaching a plateau, with 118 accredited programs in the United States at present. We show that there is a core of material that most undergraduates are expected to know, which is different from the knowledge base of other engineers not only in terms of biology, but in the breadth of engineering. We also review the role of important organizations and conferences in the growth of BME, special features of BME education, first placements of BME graduates, and a few challenges to address in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1590-1615
Number of pages26
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Bioengineering curriculum
  • Bioengineering education
  • Bioengineering history
  • Biomedical engineering curriculum
  • Biomedical engineering education
  • Biomedical engineering history
  • Curriculum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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