UW Bioengineering Undergraduate Program

Bioengineering undergraduate students with gadgets made in lab

Personal attention in small classes. A culture of collaboration. Research conducted alongside renowned faculty. UW Bioengineering undergraduate students receive the tools, opportunities and experiences necessary to take on medical challenges, work in today’s multidisciplinary teams, and improve lives.

The UW Bioengineering undergraduate program is known for its:

  • Excellence – consistently ranks in the nation’s top biomedical engineering undergraduate programs by US News and World Report
  • Strength in core fundamentals – a foundation for success
  • Real-world focus – teamwork, communication skills, problem-solving skills, systems analysis, interdisciplinary projects, emphasis on leadership and creativity
  • Hands on research – students complete research capstone mentored by research or clinical faculty
  • Culture of community – a supportive, collaborative environment among both students and faculty
  • Quality of students – Goldwater, Luce and Rhodes Scholars; multiple awards from NASA Space Grant and NSF; more than 100 Mary Gates Scholars; multiple awards in UW business plan competitions
  • Accredited by ABET

About the Program

A strong peer group is a hallmark of UW Bioengineering. Our undergraduate program fosters a close community of talented, dedicated students who are passionate about engineering better health and better health care. Our junior-level lectures enroll 50-55 students, labs have 15-20 students, and senior elective courses typically enroll between 24-40 students. Because of our smaller size and our cohort structure, each year students form a tight-knit, mutually supportive and mutually challenging group. Faculty and staff get to know students as individuals.

Our students enjoy day and night access to our building, teaching labs, computer labs and student den, as well as open collaborative spaces on each floor designed to foster conversation and exchange of ideas.

UW Bioengineering undergraduate students help shape their educational experience and participate on the department’s Curriculum Committee, Student Affairs Committee and the Chair’s Student Advisory Board. We pride ourselves on openness and responsiveness to student concerns.

Bioengineering at UW is the right major for students excited about performing cutting-edge research. All UW Bioengineering undergraduate students conduct research as part of their required senior capstone, and most begin conducting research well before then, either on a volunteer basis or for academic credit through BIOEN 499. Students can even start doing research as early as freshman year.

The senior capstone project is the culmination of the UW Bioengineering undergraduate educational experience. Seniors work in faculty laboratories to conduct individual research and design projects related to real medical problems. At UW, our capstone projects involve both research (a requirement of our faculty) and a culminating design experience (a requirement of our faculty and our accrediting agency).

Students have two options for completing the capstone requirement:

1. Individual Design Project: a year-long individual research and design project (BIOEN 402) that takes place in one of our faculty labs.

Examples of past individual research and design (BIOEN 402) projects include:

  • A hydrogel to deliver otoprotective agents to the cochlea
  • A brain-machine interface for restoring voluntary movement
  • Ultrasound elastography techniques to image traumatic brain injury

2. Individual Research and Team-based Project: a two-quarter individual research project (BIOEN 403), conducted in a faculty laboratory, plus a two quarter design-and build course (BIOEN 404-405), in which students design solutions to novel clinical problems in small teams. Some team design projects are conducted in industry settings.

Examples of past individual research projects (BIOEN 403) include:

  • A mathematical model to evaluate the effectiveness of home-based counseling and testing on HIV prevalence in South Africa
  • A method for using Carbon-13 to track macrophages injected in mice hearts
  • Synergistic effects of Artemisinin and low frequency magnetic fields on cancer cells

Examples of past team-based projects (BIOEN 404-405) include:

  • Improved surgical tools for laparoscopic surgery
  • Enhancements to CPR-training manikins
  • An instrumented environment to test the visual acuity of mice undergoing a new retinal therapy

To learn more, see the Capstone Help File.

The UW Bioengineering undergraduate curriculum provides strength in core fundamentals and a foundation for success. From BioE Problem Solving to the Senior Capstone Project, the coursework brings a real-world focus on teamwork, leadership and creativity.

Students also complete one of the following concentrations:

  • Molecular and Materials Bioengineering concentration
  • Cells, Tissue and Systems Bioengineering concentration
  • Diagnostics and Therapeutic Instruments concentration
  • Option in Nano and Molecular Engineering

Learn more about our curriculum:
Major prerequisites
Required courses
Required courses – option in Nano and Molecular Engineering
Sample 4 year schedule
Sample 4 year schedule – premed
Course Syllabi

Admissions

The normal admission point is at the end of the freshman year, via Early Admission. However, Bioengineering also admits a small number (12-15) of entering freshmen directly into the major through Direct Admission. We also offer Upper Admission for transfers and other students who wish to apply during their sophomore year.

Learn more about UW Bioengineering undergraduate program admissions.

Information sessions

Prospective students should attend an information session before requesting an individual appointment. Information sessions are led by Bioengineering advising staff and students. The first 45 minutes of the session covers the curriculum, admission, and research and other opportunities. The last half-hour is reserved to answer individual schedule and application questions. Students are advised to bring a copy of their current transcript if they have questions for the Academic Counselor.

High school students are welcome to attend information sessions but should note that the sessions are designed with college freshmen in mind.

Want to arrange a visit?

Prospective students are encouraged to visit UW Bioengineering. High school students and their families may want to attend one of our scheduled information sessions. It is also possible to arrange an appointment with one of the Academic Counselors by emailing bioeng@uw.edu. Visitors are encouraged to give at least two weeks’ advance notice.

For more information about visiting UW Bioengineering, please review our Admissions page.