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Admission and Q&A

There are many career opportunities for biomedical engineers in both industry and academia. In industry, biomedical engineers may function in a wide range of capacities: to design instruments, devices, and software; to bring together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures or to conduct research needed to solve clinical problems. UK-BME graduates are employed by companies such as NASA, GE, Siemens, Biomet, Encore, Ethicon and Bausch and Lomb. UK-BME graduates also have continued their education through medical school or continued engineering degrees. For more information, please see Career Opportunities.

Absolutely! The suggested undergraduate courses are highly dependent on the area of biomedical engineering in which you are interested (the lab you want to work in), but biology is not a prerequisite for applying to the biomedical engineering program.

The prerequisite for admission is completion of a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited undergraduate engineering program or equivalent. Students often find that prior experience with physiology helps with the physiology core course (PGY-412G). PGY-206, or equivalent, may help students better understand the material covered in the PGY-412G course. Other undergraduate courses may be beneficial to specific biomedical specialties. Discuss these courses with your future graduate advisor or the director of graduate studies on an individual basis.

Yes. Physiology is a defining course for biomedical engineers. This course, more than any other, separates a biomedical engineer from his/her traditional engineering counterpart. Anxiety about taking a physiology course is common for students who are currently enrolled in traditional engineering programs. Although BME graduate students often find this course challenging, they survive. The important concepts for your area of expertise will be reiterated throughout your BME core and elective courses and in your research.

Research Assistant (RA) positions are available and are awarded on a competitive basis. Discuss funding options with individual professors to see what opportunities are available. Unfortunately, because the UK-BME program does not have an undergraduate curriculum, teaching assistant positions are not currently available.

The F. Joseph Halcomb III, M.D. Department of Biomedical Engineering offers traditional and Professional M.S. degrees, the Ph.D. degree and an undergraduate minor. UK-BME has University Scholars program agreements with three departments within the College of Engineering. These programs enable students to earn both B.S. and M.S. degrees with a lower number of total credits required.

More information can be found here.

While the UK-BME has a historical tie with medical centers and strong collaborations with other health centers at UK, the BME program is an engineering program in the College of Engineering.

Although grades and GPA serve as an indicator of a student’s undergraduate performance and graduate potential, they are not the only consideration for admission to the graduate program. Discuss your undergraduate grades and experiences with the director of graduate studies or a faculty member of interest on an individual basis before counting yourself out!

Although it is an imperfect test, the GRE is one of many considerations used to assign financial awards. However, the BME faculty realize that standardized test scores do not necessarily reflect the potential of a BME student. Discuss your test scores with the director of graduate studies or with your professor of choice on an individual basis.

We can provide what you want in an education! As Tom Friedman tells in his 2017 book “Thank you for being late,” a recent Gallup poll found no difference in long-term career outcomes with respect to type of institution attended, but how you got your education mattered most. “Successful students had one or more teachers who were mentors and took a real interest in their aspirations…, who encouraged their goals and dreams…, who cared about them as a person.”

At UK, personal caring and mentoring is ingrained in our culture! This is what propelled Dr. Joseph Halcomb, our benefactor and a former UK BME program trainee in the 1970s, to lead a successful career as an industry leader, innovator, entrepreneur and venture partner. He did it by pursuing his passion, sparked by the personal nurturing he received from Professors James F. Lafferty and Charles F. Knapp, in combining engineering and medicine. Dr. Halcomb is now giving it back with his generous gift and his wish: “What I want to see more than anything else is that students in the biomedical engineering program make a difference in patients’ lives.”

Moreover, UK has a unique physical and intellectual infrastructure that enables us to better serve you. UK is one of the few universities in the nation where the College of Engineering is within short walking distances from the Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Health Sciences, Public Health, Nursing, as well as the Colleges of Design, Communication, Business, Law, Arts and Sciences, Fine Arts, Agriculture, etc.

Why does this matter to you? It matters because it provides a must-have transdisciplinary learning environment for you to develop critical skills necessary to thrive post-graduation in the real world as it shifts toward building human assets as the engine for economic development. These skills include the ability to communicate empathetically with people from all walks of life; the ability to prototype, build, test, and refine your engineering designs to meet the users’ needs; and the ability to frame right problems to solve (rather than solving the problems defined by others).

We strive to foster a strong sense of belonging among our students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty and staff by creating a collegial and friendly working environment in which people with diverse backgrounds can flourish and build life-long friendships.

There are a few steps that we recommend for you to follow:

Browse our department web pages

First, browse the remainder of the UK-BME and BMES web pages and get a better feel for the research program and academic curriculum. Familiarize yourself with the people associated with the BME and try to focus your search on a few labs of interest. Contact the faculty members in charge of these labs for more information on current projects and funding opportunities.

Visit the BME

If it is convenient for you to visit the BME, contact us ( or 859-257-8101) to schedule a visit. This can be an invaluable opportunity to meet the faculty, staff, and students of the UK-BME and see where you feel most comfortable.

Still want More?

If you are a UK undergraduate or are in the Lexington area, consider: (1) pursuing the BME minor; (2) taking a BME course as a senior level elective; (3) taking an independent study in biomedical engineering with a faculty member of interest (again as an undergraduate elective); or (4) discussing possibilities of working as an undergraduate research assistant with a faculty member of interest. Discuss these options with a given faculty member on an individual basis or contact the Director of Graduate Studies for more information

There is no set limit for the number of students that we admit into our program every semester. As the text below about the “Process used to offer admission and financial support” explains, the number of students whom we admit varies from semester to semester depending on the openings that are available in individual faculty member's groups.

Applicants without an undergraduate degree in engineering are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Click here to download guidelines for applicants without an engineering undergraduate degree.

No. Exceptionally qualified individuals can be admitted directly into the Ph.D. program without having to have completed an M.S. degree first.

Our M.S. and Ph.D. programs are research intensive; therefore, the duration within which these degrees can be completed can vary considerably and largely depends upon the productivity of the students. In general, we expect our students to complete M.S. degrees in about two years and Ph.D. degrees in about four to five years. As stated before, these durations are very difficult to predict because of our programs’ heavy emphasis on original research so prospective applicants should use these durations as general estimates and not guaranteed timeframes.

No. Please see the following text about the “Process used to offer admission and financial support”.

No. All applicants who are candidates for admission are automatically considered for a research assistantship,..

No. Admission and financial support are two separate processes. It is possible to be admitted into our program without an offer of financial support.

It is possible but not guaranteed. Admitted students should contact their prospective advisors to obtain further information about this question.

It is difficult to provide assessment of an applicant's chances of securing admission with or without financial assistance in our program because of the way our admission process works. See the section below for more information.

Process used to offer admission and financial support 

Each incoming student must have at least one faculty member who is willing to serve as an advisor for that student. If no faculty member agrees to advise a particular applicant, either because they have no openings, or there is not a good match between the applicants’ background and the faculty member’s research or if the applicant does not have competitive academic background and scores, the applicant is not offered admission. Therefore, we often refuse admission to good students because there is no faculty member who has an opening for them in their group.

The range of GPAs and GRE scores of students who are admitted into the program varies a bit, primarily because we consider all aspects of an application when making a decision rather than just these two scores. However, admission into our program is competitive and we select only those with excellent academic background.

Regarding financial assistance, we do not have teaching assistantships, only research assistantships. Decisions regarding research assistantships are made by individual faculty members who use their research funds to support students. Given the variability in research funding, information regarding financial assistance is provided by individual faculty members based on their evaluation of an application and their availability of funds.

Please visit The Graduate School web site, for details about the application process. The Graduate School requires an application and fee, official transcripts, official GRE scores and official TOEFL scores.

In addition, we require a statement of purpose describing your reasons for wanting to pursue graduate education in biomedical engineering, and letters of recommendations from three (3) faculty members who are familiar with your academic record. We prefer that the letters be from faculty who are in your academic area, however, letters from professionals in industry or other fields who can comment on your professional accomplishments and potential as a graduate student and researcher will be acceptable. We do not have a specific form or particular format for these letters, but the letters should comment on your past accomplishments and potential as a graduate student and researcher.

In your statement of purpose, please also indicate which area(s) of biomedical engineering interests you most. You may refer to our website here to determine the areas of research of our current faculty. We will use information about your areas of interests in determining which faculty would review your application.