Similarities and differences in undergraduate biomedical engineering curricula in the United States

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Employers, textbook publishers, and existing and emerging educational programs in biomedical engineering and bioengineering continue to be interested in the degree to which the undergraduate curricula of degree granting programs are similar for undergraduates in these fields, and what the similarities are. Several years ago, the VaNTH Engineering Research Center in Bioengineering Educational Technologies compiled information about required courses at 40 of the 43 programs that were ABET-accredited in bioengineering or biomedical engineering at the end of 2004, as well as 31 programs that were not accredited at that time. While these data have been presented in several forums, there has not been a publication on this topic. In the interest of providing data that can be used by different constituencies, as well as a snapshot of the curriculum at a particular point to which changes can be compared, the data from that project are presented here in full. The results from the 2004 sample concerned courses beyond freshman math, physics and chemistry, which tend to be common across engineering majors, to focus on the courses required specifically for the biomedical engineering degree. Mechanics, physiology and design were the subjects required most frequently, at 90% or more of the accredited programs. Other subjects required by 75% or more of the accredited programs were other areas of biology, circuit analysis, computing, statistics, materials, and instrumentation. Several more topics were required by more than half of the programs. There was more variation in the amount of curricular time devoted to different subjects than in the topics that were required. In comparing accredited and non-accredited programs, mechanics, thermodynamics, and materials were required more frequently at accredited programs, while computing and organic chemistry were required by a larger percentage of the non-accredited programs. Normalizing all programs to a credit-hour basis showed that beyond required courses, the median number of credit hours left for specialization or elective courses was 12, and this did not differ between accredited and non-accredited programs. Overall these results showed a high degree of similarity in the required courses across all biomedical engineering programs. The 2013 requirements at sixteen of the programs assessed earlier have been evaluated to determine shifts in the curriculum. While there have been changes in individual programs, the summary statistics reveal few overall shifts in the courses required, reinforcing the relevance of the larger 2004 dataset, and indicating stability in the BME curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Event121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 18 2014


Other121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityIndianapolis, IN

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Similarities and differences in undergraduate biomedical engineering curricula in the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this