Biomedical Engineering Major
biomedical engineering overview
A biomedical engineering major prepares you to work in the unique intersection where living systems and nonliving systems come together.
The natural world is an amazing, highly complex place that the biomedical engineering major will help you to understand. Perhaps equally amazing is the universe of approaches that human beings have identified—and are continuing to develop—to make our quality of life even better.
Studying biomedical engineering as an undergraduate at UIC will help you apply quantitative analysis and design to living systems and hybrid systems (which contain some living components). Many paths become open to you as a biomedical engineering major. Perhaps you want to become a bioengineer, designing smart replacements for tissue or bone, developing new tools for non-invasive medical imaging or diagnostics, or shaping molecules into revolutionary new drug therapies. Maybe you want to move on to medical school, dental school, graduate work in pharmacy, or law school with a focus on patent law.
No matter what part of biomedical engineering excites you the most, and whether you envision graduate school or industry work after graduation, the UIC biomedical engineering major will offer you solid preparation.
The major is outlined in detail in the course catalog; the information below provides an overview.
Biomedical engineering major requirements
Biomedical engineering majors complete coursework in four categories:
Nonengineering and general education courses
Nonengineering and general education courses provide you with a foundation in the sciences and make you a well-informed graduate in disciplines outside of biomedical engineering. You will take 67 to 68 credit hours in this area, including fundamental courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and math, as well as a range of “chart-your-own-path” classes in categories such as Understanding the Past and Exploring World Cultures. For details on general education requirements, please consult the course catalog.
Required engineering courses
Students earn 39 credit hours from engineering courses that all biomedical engineering majors must take. These courses—including Bioinstrumentation and Measurement, Biotransport, and Biostatistics—offer a thorough introduction to the field. For details on these requirements, please consult the course catalog.
Selective engineering courses
Students earn 13 to 16 credit hours in this group, which includes a course in computer science, a course in electrical and computer engineering, and three biomedical engineering electives. You have two or more choices in most of these categories. For an explanation of the options, see the course catalog.
Bioengineering concentration courses
Each student works with a faculty advisor to develop a slate of courses totaling 9 credits in one of the four biomedical engineering concentrations: bioinformatics, biomedical imaging, cell and tissue engineering, or neural engineering. Concentrations represent a specific research area or professional interest, a helpful distinguishing factor when you move on to graduate study or look for full-time jobs.
Biomedical engineering concentrations
As explained above, concentrations allow you to define an area of focus for your biomedical engineering major. The department offers four concentrations, each of which requires that you complete a specific collection of courses. The concentration options are:
Typical Concentration Area Elective courses for Bioinformatics
The bioinformatics concentration brings together computer science, statistics, and molecular biology to explain how genetics directly affect the function of all living things. Students pursuing this option begin its requirements with BME 480 Introduction to Bioinformatics, which focuses on using computers to analyze gene sequences and other forms of biological information. They also learn how to use bioinformatics tools in BME 481 Bioinformatics Laboratory, which offers rigorous hands-on experience.
Important: The courses listed below are typical of concentration area elective courses chosen by bioinformatics concentrators. This is NOT a complete list of appropriate courses. Specific course choices should be made in consultation with the advisor. Appropriate concentration area elective courses will provide depth in the discipline of bioinformatics and help to make the student competitive for the position or program that will be entered after the bachelor’s degree. Concentration area elective courses must comply with the guidelines listed on the concentration area elective form, available in the biomedical engineering department office or in the forms section of the student resources page. Be sure to use the concentration area elective form for the curriculum you are following.
Course # Course Name Relevance BIOE 407 Pattern Recognition I Methods for analyzing DNA and protein sequences BIOE 482 Introduction to Optimization Methods in Bioinformatics Optimization algorithms and modeling BIOE 483 Molecular Modeling in Bioinformatics Fundamentals of protein structure analysis and modeling BIOS 420 Genomics Computational Analysis of data in big data context BIOS 452 Biochemistry I Chemistry of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates and lipids BIOS 454 Biochemistry II Metabolism of amino acids, nucleic acids, proteins. Biosynthesis of macro-molecules and regulation of macro-molecular synthesis CS/MCS 401 Computer Algorithms I Foundations of algorithm and data structure CS 480 Database Systems Foundations of database and design STAT 401 Introduction to Probability Foundations of probability BIOE 402*/403*/
(*if not being used towards required/selective course requirement in the rubric) Regulatory requirements for biotechnology BIOE 494 Special Topics in Bioengineering.
Special courses offered on topics related to bioinformatics CHEM 232 or
Organic Chemistry I or II Structure, reactivity, and synthesis of organic molecules BIOE 398 Undergraduate Research.
Up to 3 hours
Research under the close supervision of a faculty member. Approval required.
Typical Concentration Area Elective courses for Biomedical Imaging
Biomedical imaging provides ways to see inside the human body: enhancing current methods, such as magnetic resonance, ultrasound, and nuclear imaging, as well as exploring the cutting edge. Required courses include BME 421 Biomedical Imaging, which delves into the engineering and scientific principles associated with x-ray, magnetic resonance, ultrasound, computed tomographic and nuclear imaging. In this concentration’s lab course, BME 423, students have the chance to practice acquiring and processing real biomedical imaging data. Students are also required to take more in-depth courses in magnetic resonance imaging, BME 422 and optical imaging, BME 470 or BME 471.
- BME 421 Biomedical Imaging. 3 credits. Taught in the fall semester. Introduction to engineering and scientific principles associated with X-ray, magnetic resonance, ultrasound, computed tomographic and nuclear imaging. Prerequisite(s): MATH 210 and PHYS 142.
- BIOE 423 Biomedical Imaging Laboratory. 2 credits. Taught in the spring semester. Acquisition and processing of biomedical imaging data. Relaxation time-based magnetic resonance imaging, motion sensitive magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, ultrasound, nuclear medicine imaging and optical imaging. Extensive computer use required. Prerequisite(s): Credit or concurrent registration in BIOE 421.
- BIOE 422 (taught Spring Semester) Magnetic Resonance Imaging. 3 hours. Fundamental principles of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) from a signal processing perspective. Focus on image acquisition, formation, and analysis. Prerequisite(s): BIOE 310 or ECE 310; and junior standing or above; or consent of the instructor.
- BIOE 470 (taught Fall Semester) Bio-Optics. 3 hours. In-depth study of optical imaging methods. Physical principles and instrumentation relevant to the use of light in biomedical research. Several current and developing clinical applications are explored. Prerequisite(s): PHYS 142.
BIOE 471 (taught Spring Semester) Optical Imaging. 3 hours. Fundamentals of light-matter interactions, geometric optics, nonlinear optics, ultra-fast lasers, photodetectors, light microscopy, super-resolution imaging, photoacoustic tomography, optical coherence tomography, functional optical imaging. Prerequisite(s): PHYS 142 and BIOS 100
Selective Courses. In addition to the 4 courses listed above, students may select one of the following courses to fulfill the CAE course requirement. Other courses not listed will be considered as substitutions on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the student’s academic advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
- BIOE 398 Undergraduate Research. Up to 3 hours. Research under the close supervision of a faculty member. Prerequisite(s): Consent of the instructor.
- BIOE 407 Pattern Recognition I. 3 hours. The design of automated systems for detection, recognition, classification and diagnosis. Parametric and nonparametric decision-making techniques. Applications in computerized medical and industrial image and waveform analysis. Prerequisite(s): ECE 341 or BIOE 339 or IE 342 or STAT 381.
- BIOE 470 Bio-Optics. 3 hours. In-depth study of optical imaging methods. (See description above)
- BIOE 471 Optical Imaging. 3 hours. (See description above)
- BIOE 494 Special Topics in Bioengineering. 1-4 hours. Special courses offered from time to time on specific biomedical imaging topics, such as magnetic resonance elastography.
- ECE 415 Image Analysis and Computer Vision I. 3 hours. Image formation, geometry and stereo. Two-dimensional image analysis by Fourier and other 2-D transforms. Image enhancement, color, image segmentation, compression, feature extraction, object recognition. Prerequisite(s): MATH 310.
Typical Concentration Area Elective courses for C&T Engineering
Cell and tissue engineers create and grow biological structures that can restore human function, such as insulin production, or stimulate the body to repair injuries by regenerating itself. This concentration begins with BIOE 455 Introduction to Cell and Tissue Engineering, in which students explore emerging trends and technologies in this field. In the lab course, BIOE 456, students learn all about polymer scaffold fabrication, microstamping biomolecules, cellular adhesion and proliferation assays, and immo/fluorescent tagging. (If you don’t know what all of that is right now, don’t worry—you will!)
Important: The courses listed below are typical of Concentration Area Elective (CAE) courses chosen by Cell & Tissue Engineering students. This is NOT a complete list of appropriate courses. Specific course choices should be made in consultation with the advisor. Appropriate CAE courses will provide depth in the discipline of Cell & Tissue Engineering and help to make the student competitive for the position or program that will be entered after the B.S. CAE courses must comply with the guidelines listed on the Concentration Area Elective form, available in the BioE office or under the Forms link on the BioE website. Be sure to use the CAE form for the curriculum you are following.
Cell and tissue engineering Table
Course # Course Name Relevance BIOE 402*/403*/
(*if not being used towards required/selective course requirement in the rubric) Regulatory requirements for tissue implant technology BIOE 415 Biomechanics Development of prostheses BIOE 421 Biomedical Imaging Functional imaging of tissue implants BIOE 470 Bio-Optics Imaging tissue construct and functions BIOE 472 Models of the Nervous System Models of neuroimplants and neural networks BIOS 484 Neuroscience I Neuroscience as an integrative discipline CHEM 232 or
Organic Chemistry I or II Structure, reactivity, and synthesis of organic molecules CHEM/BIOS 454 Biochemistry II Biosynthesis of macromolecules and regulation of macromolecular synthesis. BIOE 398 Undergraduate Research.
Up to 3 hours
Research under close supervision of a faculty member. Approval required. BIOE 494 Special Topics in Bioengineering.
Special courses offered on topics related to tissue engineering
Typical Concentration Area Elective courses for Neural Engineering
Neural engineering uses artificial bioelectric interfaces to create neuro-prosthetic devices such as cochlear implants, which are in use today, and a silicon retina, which is being developed. Students learn about modeling and design of neural engineering devices in BIOE 475 Neural Engineering I: Introduction to Hybrid Neural Systems. In the lab, students have the chance to work with animals as they get hands-on experience with computational and experimental models of engineered neural systems, especially neuroprostheses and biosensors.
Important: The courses listed below are typical of Concentration Area Elective (CAE) courses chosen by Bioinformatics students. This is NOT a complete list of appropriate courses. Specific course choices should be made in consultation with the advisor. Appropriate CAE courses will provide depth in the discipline of Bioinformatics and help to make the student competitive for the position or program that will be entered after the B.S. CAE courses must comply with the guidelines listed on the Concentration Area Elective form, available in the BioE office or under the Forms link on the BioE website. Be sure to use the CAE form for the curriculum you are following.
Neural Engineering Table
Course # Course Name Relevance BIOE 472 Models of the Nervous System Prerequisite for BIOE 475
(required for all Neural Engineering students)
(*if not being used towards required/selective course requirement in the rubric) Regulatory requirements for neural interface technology ME 250 Introduction to Engineering Design and Graphics Mechanical design of neural interface devices BIOE 407 Pattern Recognition I Analyzing neural signals BIOE 415 Biomechanics Development of neuromuscular prostheses BIOE 421 Biomedical Imaging Functional imaging of neural systems BIOE 452 Biocontrol Neuromuscular systems and neuromuscular prostheses BIOS 483 Neuroanatomy Neuroscience fundamentals - anatomical constraints on designing neural interfaces BIOS 485 Neuroscience II Neuroscience fundamentals - sensory and motor systems, learning, memory, pathology BIOS 489 Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory Traditional neural recording and neural stimulation techniques BIOS 486 Animal Behavior and Neuroethology Neuroscience fundamentals - neural control of behavior CHEM 232 or
Organic Chemistry I or II Structure, reactivity, and synthesis of organic molecules BIOE 494 Special Topics in Bioengineering.
Special courses offered on topics related to neural engineering BIOE 398 Undergraduate Research.
Up to 3 hours
Research under close supervision of a faculty member. Approval required.
BME students and alumni in their own words
Biomedical engineering ’21 | Chicago, IL
UIC advantage: I cannot stress enough how important it is to me that UIC is diverse. To be able to look into every field and find at least three people that look like you is a comforting feeling. UIC is not only diverse in ethnicity and race, but also in ideas and ways of thinking. There are also people who have a cause that they care so passionately about, and they are not afraid to show it and do something about it. These are what UIC does better than anywhere else.
Post-graduation plans: Because I am in the Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions honors program, after graduation I am hoping to embark on earning my graduate degree in biomedical engineering at UIC.
Favorite place in Chicago: Chinatown. I love to visit the different restaurants and enjoy the night walks as well.
Biomedical Engineering, BS ’21
Medical student, Carle Illinois College of Medicine
Talk about life as a medical student. Medical school is tough, but I find it intrinsically rewarding to work with patients in whatever way that I can. I’m always looking forward to learning and finding ways I can improve.
What positive change do you hope to create in the world? One research project I’m currently working on, in collaboration with the UIC College of Medicine Pathology Department and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is helping to develop infrared microscopes and AI algorithms that can be used to accurately predict the recurrence of cancer in prostate cancer patients. I hope that this work can eventually provide useful diagnostic results to clinicians.
Perks of studying in Chicago: The Illinois Medical District is the largest urban medical district in the nation. In addition, the UIC College of Medicine is the largest in the country. This, combined with the number of hospitals in the area, meant no shortage of opportunities. The food in Chicago was great as well.
Fun is fundamental: At least three times a week, I play some combination of soccer, basketball, and/or tennis. According to my peers, I’m a really good goalie. Back in the day, I used to be a top-100 chess player in the United States in my age group.
Biomedical engineering, BS ’21 | Woodridge, IL
Name one thing you think UIC does better than anywhere else: It allows such a vast diversity of cultures and ideas to mix and collaborate.
Engineering project/assignment you did that you’re most proud of: My current research in the MTM lab. I’m currently investigating the effects of a chemotherapy drug on a specific cancer cell type.
Favorite restaurant in Chicago: Jim’s Original. It has cheap and classic food.
Learn more about the biomedical engineering major
To explore the biomedical engineering major in greater detail, here are some key resources:
Program educational objectives: BME major
The biomedical engineering program at UIC is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.
As part of our accreditation process, ABET asks our department to capture the overall goals of the biomedical engineering program. These are called our educational program objectives. They are:
- Graduates will compete effectively and favorably with peers for positions in industry, professional school, or graduate programs, as dictated by the students’ broader goals while at UIC.
- Graduates will remain active contributors to the field of biomedical engineering through professional societies, service to scholarly or technical journals, alumni activities, mentoring, contributions to education or human resources, or other activities beyond the basic requirements of their occupation.
- Graduates will demonstrate leadership in their professions, as evidenced by scholarly and technical publication or other measure of professional productivity, including awards and honors, and advancement within the organizations in which they are employed, as appropriate to the individual career path.
Student outcomes: BME major
Another part of the ABET accreditation process requires the department to identify the specific knowledge and skills that students are intended to have when they complete their undergraduate education. These are called student outcomes.
Students graduating from the biomedical engineering program at UIC will have:
- an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
- an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
- an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
- an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
- an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
- an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
- an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies
- an ability to apply principles of engineering, biology, human physiology, chemistry, calculus-based physics, mathematics (through differential equations) and statistics
- an ability to solve biomedical engineering problems, including those associated with the interaction between living and non-living systems
- an ability to analyze, model, design and realize biomedical engineering devices, systems, components, or processes
- an ability to make measurements on and interpreting data from living systems
In the 2021-2022 academic year, 332 students are enrolled at UIC Engineering as biomedical engineering majors across all class years. The department graduated 67 biomedical engineering majors in the academic year ending August 2021. View historical enrollment and graduation data here.