BME Graduate Programs

Why choose UVA for your graduate training in biomedical engineering?

  • Your leadership style will evolve within a department renowned for collaboration, collegiality, and camaraderie.
  • Your research will have real world impact, because we have proven mechanisms for clinical translation and research commercialization, and we are co-located in a major regional medical center.
  • You will have a close relationship with your PI and other advisors, because our faculty are approachable, hands-on mentors.
  • UVA is making major institutional investments in our department, read about it here, here, and here.
  • BME is investing in our students' professional development, BME Going Pro and Tomorrow's Professor Today are two examples.
  • Charlottesville, Virginia offers an exceptional quality of life.

Why ’Hoos Love to Call Charlottesville Home

"The cultural scene here is way bigger than something a town of this size should have."

We start with a focus on biology.

Whether we are modeling or engineering cells and tissues, analyzing large datasets, developing new imaging technologies, or synthesizing novel biomaterials, the problem statement always starts with the biology underlying the system, therapy, or disease process.

Our co-location within the highly-ranked UVA School of Medicine and Health System uniquely positions us to influence the future of healthcare. Our culture values and rewards collaboration, initiative, and the translation of basic advances to achieve clinical and real world impact. In all that we do, we value and strive for diversity and inclusion.

  • Ph.D.

    Graduate school is a place to explore the boundaries of the possible and develop your scholarship potential to the highest level. This is the time to develop your independent thinking, seize the opportunity to interact with a wide range of talented student and faculty colleagues, enjoy the riches of the university environment, and be creative in everything you do. 

    All students (ME, MS and PhD) take a core of four 3-credit courses. Two of the core courses focus on quantitative biology; the other two focus on numerical methods, modeling, statistics, and signals and systems. An additional 12 credits of advanced graded coursework are chosen by the student to meet her individual goals.  

    Doctoral students also complete two Elective Educational Experiences (EEEs) to begin the process of life-long learning essential to a career in Biomedical Engineering. Each of these EEEs is the equivalent in effort to a three-credit course. EEEs can take a variety of forms, including:

    An online course offered through a MOOC such as Coursera.

    An intense two-week short course at an institution like Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

    An industry internship focusing on a specific skill, including the BME Going Pro internship.

    Another graduate course at UVA.


  • M.S.

    All students (ME, MS and PhD) take a core of four 3-credit courses. Two of the core courses focus on quantitative biology; the other two focus on numerical methods, modeling, statistics, and signals and systems.  An additional 12 credits of advanced graded coursework are chosen by the student to meet individual goals.  MS degree students take 6 credits of MS thesis research and defend a thesis.

  • BME-ME

    The Master of Engineering is a 30-graded-credit-hour, 15-month program beginning each fall. It has been carefully structured to take you step-by-step through the process of developing your own solution, either as an individual or part of a team, to a clinical challenge that you identify. It includes a series of required courses as well as a number of electives, both in BME and in other disciplines, that you can choose to support your project.

    If you are a biomedical engineer who has just finished your undergraduate degree or who has been in the field for a few years and want to apply your skills to developing products and processes in the private sector, this is the program for you.

    BME-ME Program

  • Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. with a BME Advisor

    The majority of PhD students in BME faculty members' labs apply to and eventually are awarded their degree by the School of Engineering and Applied Science.  But among our cohort are several students who are completing their PhD through the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program in the School of Medicine.  Some are in the Medical Scientist Training Program, and others are PhD-only students in Biomedical Sciences training programs.  There are differences in the degree requirements (i.e. Medicine/BIMS versus Engineering/BME).  For more information on becoming a BIMS student in a BME lab:

    BIMS at UVA

  • Research Areas
  • How to apply

    Application Process

    If you are interested in applying, forms and instructions for both domestic and international students are available on the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) website. Additional information helpful to applicants may also be found in our FAQ section. Applications and all supporting materials are due by December 15 for Fall matriculation. Please consider the following application tips when applying:

    1. Apply for the final degree you wish to obtain. If you want to pursue a Ph.D. at UVa, you should apply to the Ph.D. program. You do not need to complete an M.S. degree before beginning your Ph.D. studies with us.
    2. Be as specific as you can about what research areas and laboratories interest you. Telling us which professors and labs best match your interests helps us make sure the right people read your application.
    3. The primary difference between the M.S. and the M.E. is the depth of the research component. The M.E. requirements include coursework and a small research project, while the M.S. requirements include a more extensive research experience culminating in a thesis.

    The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is designed for students who wish to pursue research careers. Graduates of the PhD program are well-prepared for careers in academia, government, and industry.

    The Master of Science (MS) includes both coursework and research, culminating in a thesis. Graduates of the MS program typically pursue careers in industry or continue their research endeavors in a Ph.D. program.

    The Master of Engineering (ME) is a professional degree designed to strengthen the student’s competence in engineering primarily through additional coursework.

    The general requirements for admission to the Ph.D., M.S., or M.E. programs include a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, a completed application packet with short essay and letters of recommendation. GRE scores are optional. TOEFL scores are required for international students whose first language is not English. Qualified applicants who are deficient in certain prerequisites may be admitted with the expectation that they will remedy the deficiencies during the master's program. Prerequisite courses include introductory chemistry and biology, physics (two semesters based on calculus), mathematics through differential equations, and computer programming (Matlab, C++ or Java).

    We evaluate each application on its own merit recognizing that a diverse student body has diverse backgrounds. You may find it helpful to know that a typical entering class of graduate students has an average undergraduate GPA above 3.5 on a 4-point scale. For students whose first language is not English, TOEFL scores of 250 computer-based/600-paper based, IELTS scores of 7.0 or above or iBT scores of 90 to 100 are recommended.

    The Department of Biomedical Engineering announces GRE scores are optional for 2020 applicants. This policy aligns with our admissions philosophy of holistic review and supports UVA Engineering's and the School of Medicine's focus on access and diversity. GRE scores are an optional credential and as an applicant you may decide if you want to submit your scores as part of your application. If you have already taken the GREs and count them as reflective of your abilities, feel free to submit them. If you choose not to submit test scores, you will not be viewed negatively. Applications are evaluated as a total package. Each application is scoured for excellence and best fit via recommendation letters, research experience and interest, tenacity and curiosity, leadership abilities, and prior academic abilities.


    You will find the answers to many common questions on our FAQ page. If, after reviewing this page, you find that you have additional questions about our program, please contact us at

    For Graduate Admissions Questions, please contact:

    Craig Meyer
    Graduate Admissions Director
    Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Professional Development

Outside the Lab

  • M3 Lab

    The M3 Lab muscling it out at the Annual BME Tug-of-War.

  • BMES Annual Meeting

    UVA BME contingency at the BMES Society Annual Meeting.

  • BME at Basketball

    BMEs at the JPJ with CavMan.

Graduate Program Contacts

  • Shayn Peirce-Cottler, PhD

    Professor and Graduate Program Director

    Dr. Peirce-Cottler leads the faculty in setting the agenda for our graduate program.

    Faculty Profile
  • Kimberly Fitzhugh-Higgins

    Graduate Student Coordinator

    Kim helps BME grad students get the most out of their time at UVA. Contact her with nearly any question... but especially questions about program logistics, academic milestone, the application process, and the student experience:

  • Craig Meyer

    Professor and Director of Graduate Admissions

    Dr. Meyer sets the agenda for BME graduate student recruitment each spring.

    Faculty Profile