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Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineering (BME) is the application of methods and concepts in engineering, science and technology to solve problems in medicine and health care. Biomedical engineers develop and design biomedical devices, systems, and processes for fundamental discovery as well as clinical translation in medicine. Our curriculum combines math, science, engineering, design, and a broader education in the liberal arts to prepare biomedical engineers who will advance human health.

Course Work/Recently Offered Courses

The Vanderbilt biomedical engineering program is a pioneer in its field, offering the bachelor of engineering degree in biomedical engineering since 1968. The program was one of the first of its kind and remains one of the most well respected programs nationally. The undergraduate program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET (

The undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering (BME) requires a total of 127 credit hours which includes 12 hours of BME electives, 12 hours of technical electives, 6 hours of open electives and 18 hours of liberal arts electives in addition to core science and engineering courses. The 12 hours of BME electives gives each student the chance to dig deep into an area at the cutting edge of BME. Electives may include biophotonics, imaging, tissue engineering, bioMEMS, nanobiotechnology, and many other topics.  Within the BME core, each student will engage in a multidisciplinary capstone senior design project, which culminates in a school wide design presentation shortly before commencement.

In addition to a BME major, students may elect to double major in a variety of disciplines within Engineering (such as electrical or chemical engineering) as well as in any of the three other undergraduate schools. Students may also choose to combine some of their elective hours to pursue a minor in engineering management, sciences, humanities or the social sciences. The BME program facilitates completion of all pre-medical requirements without any course overload. Alternatively graduates may pursue advanced degrees in BME or other programs or seek jobs in industry with the support of the Center for Student Professional Development.

Honors program

With approval of the Honors Program Director, junior and senior students in biomedical engineering who have achieved a minimum quality point ratio of 3.5 may be accepted into the undergraduate honors program. Students in the program take at least six credit hours of graduate BME courses, which can be counted toward the 127-hour undergraduate degree requirements or for graduate school credit. They also complete a two semester-long research project, with a related report and presentation.  Maintaining a quality point ratio of 3.0 and an overall 3.5 GPA earns the designation of an honors graduate.

Undergraduate Research

An established BME department and the immediate proximity of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, a top research institution and principal referral center for physicians and patients throughout the region, provide a tremendous wealth of opportunities for student involvement in BME research. Students can seek out research opportunities at any point in their undergraduate career beginning in the freshman year on a voluntary basis. However, this involvement can occur through elective courses only in their junior or senior year.

Other Special Opportunities

Internships: Internships are possible with a wide variety of employers both on and off campus. During the school year, employment is often available in on-campus laboratories. The Vanderbilt Center for Student Professional Development has a summer intern program in which students work for different companies.  Additional opportunities for students can be found through individual pursuit of research laboratories, hospitals and other corporations.  Such experiences strengthen the understanding of concepts learned in the classroom, teach valuable workplace skills, and provide insight into future career options.

Study Abroad: BME students can take engineering courses abroad during the academic year at ten universities on four continents, and that number keeps growing. With proper advance planning, it requires no extra time to graduate. Financial aid still applies and credits and grades transfer back to VU. Study abroad may also be arranged during the summer or Maymester through a variety of programs. Details may be found through Global Education Office (GEO). During the past five years, 76 BME students have taken advantage of this opportunity at universities around the world including Ireland, Germany, Brazil, and Singapore, among others.

Fits with Pre-med Requirements: The undergraduate program in biomedical engineering is designed so that students can easily complete the requirements for medical school admission and at the same time receive an engineering education that can lead to a stimulating career in Biomedical Engineering. The courses required for medical school admission fit within the BME curriculum without any overload. Over the past five years, our students have had a 79% acceptance rate to medical school.

After Vanderbilt

Each year, VU BME graduates 50-70 Bachelors of Engineering in BME, including several double majors.  Roughly half of our graduates enter the job market, taking positions with employers focused on medical equipment, medical computing, biomedical imaging, regulatory affairs, biomedical research, software, other engineering, and teaching as well as government and military service. About 25% of our graduates choose to go on to graduate or professional school, most in biomedical engineering with a few in management (MBA), law, other engineering, or life science programs. About 25% of our graduates attend medical school.

Our students receive excellent job offers, go to prestigious graduate schools, and attend top medical schools. Some of the places our students have gone to include:  Baker Hughes, Carnegie Foundation, Cerner, Clearview Healthcare Partners, Dexco Polymers, Epic, Huron Consulting, Invivolink, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Manhattan Associates, National Instruments, Qgenda, St. Jude Medical, Texas Instruments, Vanderbilt, UC Los Angeles, Texas A&M , Cornell, Clemson, U Sheffield, U Southern California, U Alabama, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences Medical School, Medical University of South Carolina, Baylor College of Medicine, U Missouri, Saint Louis U, New York University Medical School and Harvard.


BME is home to 32 primary faculty and more than 40 secondary faculty, each with the Vanderbilt educational and research mission at heart. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, many of our primary faculty lead active research groups. 

The Advanced Therapeutics Laboratory, the Combinatorial Biomaterials and Biointerface Laboratory, and the Laboratory of Bionanotechnology and Nanomedicine work to develop novel materials technologies, including the development of an extracellular matrix-mimetic biomaterial scaffold, synthesis of a nanoparticle that incorporates virus-like functionalities, and molecular engineering of diagnostic probes.

The newly formed Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering brings together investigators in medical imaging, computational modeling, robotics and various other fields who develop engineering tools to aid surgical care such as guiding brain tumor surgery through image guidance, providing surgeons with real-time information during surgery. The Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS) is a leading center for research and training in all aspects of biomedical imaging. The Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education and the Merryman Mechanobiology Laboratory advance the scientific knowledge of cellular stimuli, their effects, and the instrumentation that makes such studies possible. The Vanderbilt Biophotonics Center brings together investigators in various disciplines to solve problems in medicine using light. Understanding the functions of the human body with the wave of a wand has been a fantasy of science fiction writers for decades. BME makes science fiction closer to reality.

Contact Information

Anita Mahadevan-Jansen Ph.D.
Orrin H. Ingram Professor of Engineering
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Suite 200, Keck FEL Center
VU Station B #351631
Nashville, TN 37235-1631
Phone: (615) 343-4787
Fax: (615) 343-7919

Biomedical Engineering Website