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Completing both bachelor of science (BS) and master of science (MS) degrees in biomedical engineering in as little as five years is a significant way to accelerate your career. Candidates with an MS degree are valuable hiring prospects in industry and are well-positioned for doctoral study or professional school.
Planning for the MS degree during the BS phase
Undergraduate students who are interested in the MS degree should begin research toward an MS thesis while they are still undergraduates. UIC’s program is structured to make this possible. Students can lay the groundwork by enrolling in BME 398 Undergraduate Research or BME 396/397 Senior Design I and II, or by pursuing research-relevant internships or activities. Aligning senior-year coursework and internships with research can set the stage completing a master’s thesis in only one additional academic year.
The department strongly recommends that students talk to faculty advisors and the director of graduate studies as early as possible about how undergraduate projects or activities might translate into an eventual master’s thesis.
Undergraduate students who are interested in the MS degree should aim to take up to 14 hours of graduate-level courses—listed at the 400 or 500 level—during their senior year, as they also complete their BS requirements. These courses cannot be used to fulfill degree requirements of the BS and are beyond what is needed for the BS. You cannot count a course for both the BS and the MS.
This is because the MS in Biomedical Engineering requires 28 credit hours of coursework for the thesis track (or 36 credit hours for the non-thesis track), of which 12 hours must be at the 500 level. Undergraduate students who complete graduate-level courses in their senior year can transfer up to 14 credit hours toward their MS degree. This leaves approximately 22 master’s-level credit hours (approximately six courses) to complete during the MS program. These remaining courses can be completed in one year.
Applying for the MS program
Current undergraduate students follow the standard admissions process for the MS in Biomedical Engineering (deadline: February 15). Full details are available on our graduate admissions page, but briefly, the admissions requirements include:
- A complete MS application to the graduate admissions office
- Three letters of recommendation sent to the graduate admissions office or directly to the biomedical engineering department
- Personal statement sent to the biomedical engineering department
Important notes for interested students
It is your responsibility to approach the faculty advisor of your undergraduate research project and ask about the potential for MS thesis research. Your advisor will be able to provide guidance on whether your research topic is challenging enough for the master’s level and how you may want to shape or adjust your research plan.
Participation in MS thesis research is dependent on satisfactory performance in undergraduate research. You and your faculty advisor should develop a formal list of expectations for your undergraduate research (for example, deliverables, reporting responsibilities, expectations for background knowledge) that can be used to document and evaluate your performance. This can be to your advantage in MS admissions.
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