By the Numbers
- About 480 undergraduates
- 25 core faculty, and about 8 other joint or affiliated faculty, plus 3 lecturers
- About 190 PhD students
- Two one-year professional master’s programs, about 100 students together
- US News ranking: undergrad program ranked 7th in US, PhD program ranked 4th.
- We receive over 2000 applications for freshman admission every year, with an entering class of about 100
Can I still schedule a visit to campus?
Please check the College of Engineering’s page to find out to find out about engineering tours, or Berkeley Visitor Services. Virtual online tours are available.
Can I talk to you about my application for admission?
The department is not involved in individual admissions decisions. Applications for undergraduate admissions are handled by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
I was admitted to another major/department/college. Can I change to bioengineering?
It is possible to change majors to bioengineering from another major in engineering or elsewhere on campus. Students need to have been attending Berkeley for an entire semester before they are able to change majors. There is no advantage to applying to Berkeley in a different major and planning to change majors to bioengineering after arrival. This is not a back door into the program. Change of major is not guaranteed and we do not recommend planning it in advance.
What’s housing like at Berkeley?
Please visit Cal Housing to learn more.
What is the curriculum like?
The first two years are mostly foundation classes in bio, chemistry, math, physics, engineering. The first year is fairly standard between all concentrations. There are several BioE courses for 1st and 2nd year students, including 25 and 26 – seminars on BioE research and industry; BioE 10 – an introduction to bioengineering and medicine; and BioE 11 – Engineering Molecules 1. By 3rd and 4th year students are able to specialize in their area of interest and take many bioengineering courses. Learn more on our website and check out the BioE Major Map for a year-by-year plan.
Do I need to pick my concentration now?
First years do NOT need to pick a concentration immediately, but if they are very interested in one area or pre-med they should consult with their advisor to see what courses are recommended for them. They should pick a concentration in their second year.
Can I double major with something else?
In addition to our joint major with Materials Science & Engineering, simultaneous majors with other departments are possible, but students need to start early to plan out courses so they will graduate on time.
How large are BioE classes?
Overall average for BioE undergraduate courses is 50. Lower division lectures in other departments may be over 100, but large classes always include smaller discussion sections. Upper division BioE class size average is 36.
Will I be taught by graduate students?
Our faculty always teach our classes, not graduate students. Faculty hold weekly office hours for further help; graduate student instructors may run discussion sections and labs for more small group help.
How do I know which classes to take?
There is a lot of assistance available to plan your course of student. Every student has three advisers available to help them: their faculty adviser, BioE department adviser, and Engineering Student Services adviser. For 1st-year admits, you’ll receive help during orientation. It may help to student our curriculum information, concentrations, and sample schedules online beforehand.
Biomedical Devices, Biomedical Imaging, Cell and Tissue Engineering, Synthetic & Computational Biology
It is very difficult to get into classes at Berkeley?
Not if you plan accordingly! Keep in mind that many intro-level classes (such as Math, Chemistry, Physics) can be tricky to get into. But students manage, and there is a lot of advice available from other students. If you experience issues with enrolling into any BioE classes, reach out to Marisela, who can help troubleshoot (sorry, BioE courses only!)
I’m interested going to medical school. Is BioE a good major for that?
Many bioengineers plan to apply to medical school, and we have quite a few alumni who are successful doctors or clinical researchers. The most popular concentration for premeds is Cell & Tissue Engineering. Students should keep an eye on medical school requirements and select the recommended courses.
Do a lot of students drop out of BioE? Do you make students compete to stay in the major?
Bioengineering does not make students compete or reapply to remain in the program. We do not lose a significant number of students to major change, transfer, or withdrawal between admission and graduation. There is always a certain amount of in and out due to personal issues and the nature of young adults finding the path that works for them, which is to be expected, but bioengineering tends to be a popular major for students to stay in their entire time or change majors to, rather than away from.
What is it like in BioE? Is it cutthroat and competitive?
BioE students tend to be collaborative, cooperative, and enthusiastic. Most of our students are involved in some sort of extracurricular activity. The department faculty are known for being approachable, and our department is very strongly committed to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion. Everyone is welcome in bioengineering, and we’re working together to improve our world.
Will I get to do research outside of class? How soon can I start?
All students are required to do at least one semester of intensive design work, either through the capstone course (BioE 192), other project-oriented courses, or laboratory research. Most of our students do some extracurricular research in addition to the requirement, many do extensive research over a period of years. 89% of senior students surveyed have done extracurricular research. There are many opportunities for undergrads to get in the lab. Some are defined programs, but students also approach faculty directly to arrange to work in their labs, or do summer research at other institutions. It is not necessary or recommended to start research Freshman year.
What about after graduation? Will I be able to get a job?
Our students do very well after graduating. According to the annual Career Destinations Survey, 48% of our surveyed graduating seniors had already secured full-time jobs at graduation, and 34% had secured admission to graduate or medical school. According to our own survey, 55% of seniors plan to work immediately after graduation, 25% plan to go directly to graduate school, and 9% plan to go directly to medical school. It is popular to work for a year or two before starting graduate school. Anecdotally, our alumni are very successful; we have many in leadership positions in industry, managing their own startups, practicing medicine, and who are faculty at leading universities.
Why aren’t you ABET accredited?
ABET is a traditional engineering organization, which requires a narrow program of courses to allow them to benchmark a standardized set of skills. Bioengineering is a very interdisciplinary and diverse major, and we prefer to allow our students to specialize in their areas of interest.
Is ABET accreditation important?
Not in BioE. Bioengineering is a very diverse field with a range of relevant skills that would be difficult to standardize. The quality and reputation of the school are much more important, and Berkeley certainly has that. Many top programs, such as MIT and Stanford, are not accredited. There is no certification exam for BioE as there is for Civil Engineering. Our students have not had trouble finding employment or graduate school admission due to ABET.