Engineering Biology

Program Offerings

Offering type

The Program in Engineering Biology is designed for those highly motivated students who are interested in pursuing careers or graduate education in the areas of biotechnology or bioengineering. The interface between engineering and the life sciences is an area of dramatic growth and intellectual vigor. Innovations and new developments in this area require multidisciplinary approaches and an interdisciplinary understanding of engineering fundamentals as applied to living systems. For all students, the program offers a basic foundation in the language of living systems as well as an in-depth study of bioengineering fundamentals at multiple length scales.

Goals for Student Learning

The Program in Engineering Biology is purposefully designed to integrate the fundamentals of traditional engineering disciplines and modern biology to understand and manipulate living systems at multiple length scales, from the molecular to the cellular, tissue, organismal and ecosystem levels. Living systems have several attributes that distinguish them from nonliving physical systems. Our program trains students to analyze and solve the unique problems encountered by living systems using both an engineering and a biological perspective. The undergraduate certificate Program in Engineering Biology provides a strong foundation in the engineering of living systems.

Admission to the Program

Generally, any student majoring in the School of Engineering and Applied Science or majoring in chemistry, ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular biology, physics or neuroscience is qualified to participate in the program. All other majors are also welcome to apply.

A student planning to enroll in the program should submit an application. First-year students are encouraged to apply as early as possible to begin planning appropriate course sequences.

Program of Study

An engineering biology student will normally satisfy both program and departmental requirements. The program will be developed by the student and their departmental adviser in consultation with the special adviser in engineering biology. In some cases, courses taken under the program requirements may be applied toward the fulfillment of regular departmental requirements. The program requirements are as follows:

  1. One foundational course in molecular and cellular biology (MOL 214 or equivalent course) and one foundational course in computing (COS 126 or equivalent course).
  2. Three bioengineering courses, selected from the approved list available on the program website. These courses should provide a coherent training in an area of bioengineering, such as biotechnology, molecular or cellular engineering, neuro-engineering or systems biology. One of these courses must be from outside the student’s major, and at least one of these courses must not count as a departmental.
  3. One advanced life science course, selected from the approved list available on the program website. This course should provide additional insight into complex living systems and complement the bioengineering courses chosen by the student.
  4. Close collaboration with faculty is expected. Students are required to complete, with the grade of B- or better, at least one semester of independent work in an appropriate area of engineering biology. This independent work is coordinated with the student's department in order to satisfy departmental requirements for the senior thesis or senior independent research.

Program students are expected to demonstrate strong academic performance. To qualify for the engineering biology certificate upon graduation, a minimum grade average of B- in the program courses is required. Program courses may not be taken on a pass/D/fail basis.

Additional information can be obtained at the Program in Engineering Biology website.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in engineering biology upon graduation.


  • Director

    • Celeste M. Nelson
  • Executive Committee

    • Mark P. Brynildsen, Chemical and Biological Eng
    • Daniel J. Cohen, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
    • A. James Link, Chemical and Biological Eng
    • Celeste M. Nelson, Chemical and Biological Eng
    • Z. Jason Ren, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Kaushik Sengupta, Electrical & Comp Engineering
    • Mona Singh, Computer Science
    • Corina E. Tarnita, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
    • Jared E. Toettcher, Molecular Biology

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.