This degree seeks to leverage the measurement, theory and manipulation of biomolecules and biological systems for addressing the next challenges in our world. Recent advancements in imaging, data processing and synthesis have enabled access to biological information previously limited to the imagination. Thus, modern biology serves as the foundation of this program for the development of new models, processes and technologies to advance human needs.

Students who enroll in this program will learn how biological components interact on many size scales, how to understand the interplay of different interactions and networks and how to form concrete models from complex data. Key discoveries are applied to the creation of complex synthetic architectures for mimicking cell-tissue interactions, programming metabolic and synthetic pathways to drive cell-mediated chemical production of fuels and chemicals, and developing smart, shape-shifting materials.

Core Courses

This course covers aspects of kinetics, transport and thermodynamics as they relate to interactions between biomolecules and cells. These core subjects will be introduced within concepts common to cell biology, protein/genetic engineering and signaling, among others.

This course explores how to describe signaling and regulation networks present at the cell and tissue level. Topics include gene expression, stem cell differentiation, homeostasis and others.

We also have numerous electives in various areas of molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, physics, computer science, chemical engineering, etc. Examples include: Biological Interactions of Biomaterials, Advanced Statistical Analysis, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Engineering of Biochemicals, Biophysics of Cells and Tissues and others.


Our faculty offers expertise and specialization in a number of exciting biological engineering fields:


In biomedical engineering, the focus starts with a medical problem, followed by the development of new technologies to address that problem. Our intent is to design a program that will address the future of human needs, from medicine to sustainability. We start from principles of biology with a quantitative focus to develop an advanced understanding of the interplay between complex molecules, cells, tissues and systems, and from there build the next generation of technologies.

No, as this list simply shows the opportunities available for students in this program. Our department is quite collaborative and many students are jointly advised, both officially and unofficially.

Yes. If your application is in process we can redirect it to biological engineering.  If you have already started as a gradaute student in chemical engineering you may also switch over, noting that you will still have to take the core courses for biological engineering. However, the courses you have already taken may be used as engineering electives.

Yes. You will still have to take the chemical engineering core courses, but the biological engineering courses may apply as elective credits within the department.

Our program has several checkpoints to ensure that you are making progress in your Ph.D. After a preliminary exam in your second year, there are yearly meetings with your faculty committee. This culminates in a comprehensive exam, generally in your fourth year, followed by a Ph.D. defense at the end. It is our intention for each student to be able to graduate in five academic years, and usually this happens. Extensions may be granted if a student exceeds this time frame.

While this program is set up as a separate intellectual track, as a department we are mixed socially. Groups will contain students from both chemical engineering and biological engineering and social events will include everyone. Furthermore almost everyone works in the same research building so there are ample opportunities for interaction.

While engineering electives are required to increase your technical experience, they can be inside or outside the department. The chemical engineering department also offers a number of electives that are a biological in nature: metabolic engineering, biomaterials, protein engineering, biochemical engineering, etc.


We encourage applicants from all engineering disciplines, as well as from physics, mathematics, computer science, molecular and cell biology, biochemistry and chemistry majors. Additionally, unlike many bio-related engineering programs, there is no entrance interview required and we will waive the application fee for outstanding domestic and international applicants. Learn more about the ChBE graduate program and apply here.