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MSBE Thesis

The Master of Science in Bioengineering Degree requires the completion of required coursework and the successful defense of a research-based thesis. Students entering the M.S. program are required to complete the thesis for award of the degree. The M.S. degree may be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis (see Time Limits for degrees).

Students who are admitted to the M.S. thesis program and elect to pursue the Ph.D. degree must reapply to the College of Graduate Studies for the Ph.D. degree. Students admitted to the Ph.D. program may complete the M.S. thesis en route to the Ph.D. or may opt to bypass the writing of the M.S. thesis. Students who successfully defend the M.S. thesis and the Ph.D dissertation will be granted degrees of M.S. and Ph.D, while students that elect to bypass the M.S. thesis will be awarded only the Ph.D. degree. Students who are considering a change in terminal degree from M.S. to Ph.D. must discuss these two options with their research advisor and the Graduate Director. Any request regarding the change of the terminal degree must be approved by the faculty advisor and the Graduate Committee.

Basic Coursework Requirements

minimum of 30 semester hours of approved graduate coursework is required for a Master of Science in Bioengineering (MSBE) Thesis degree. All coursework must be approved by the student's advisor (or the Graduate Director if the permanent advisor has not been selected). Each student must meet the following minimum general coursework requirements:

  • Register and attend the weekly Bioengineering Department seminar. Registration and attendance is mandatory every semester.
  • Complete 12 hours of Bioengineering core coursework.
  • Complete 3 hours of coursework to satisfy the mathematics requirement.
  • Complete 6 hours of elective coursework as approved by the advisor to support the research area.
  • Complete 9 hours of Bioengineering M.S. thesis research.


Bioengineering can be broadly classified into the three areas, or subdisciplines, of biomechanics, bioelectronics, and bioprocessing. Much of the important and exciting research in bioengineering is currently occurring at the interface of these areas. Employment opportunities for M.S. graduates are greatest for students trained in one of the subdisciplines with at least familiarity for the other two subdisciplines. As such, we have designed our M.S. curriculum so that students will have proficiency in all three subdisciplines of bioengineering. Elective coursework may be selected to support one or more subdisciplines as needed for completion of the thesis research.

The M.S. coursework and thesis requirements for a full-time student should take approximately 2 years to complete. The curriculum requirements for the M.S. thesis degree are summarized in Table 1. Coursework must be selected to satisfy the hour requirements for each category.

Table 1: Thesis M.S. in Bioengineering (MSBE) curriculum requirements. The MSBE thesis degree requires a minimum of 30 credit hours distributed among several categories. Courses should be selected that are relevant to the area of research while satisfying the minimum hour requirements within each category.

Category and Courses Credit Hours
    BIOE 5200 Physiology for Bioengineers 
        or BIOE 6100 Computational Physiology 
    BIOE 5260 Medical Imaging Systems I 
    BIOE 6520 Orthopaedic Biomechanics 
    BIOE 6310 Biochemical Engineering Principles
12 hours
    MIME 6000 Advanced Engineering Mathematics I
3 hours
    no more than 3 hrs Special Topics courses
6 hours
BIOE 6960 Thesis Research 9 hours
BIOE 5930 Bioengineering Seminar ---
Total (minimum) 30 hours

The vast majority of students entering the program with a B.S. in Bioengineering will require no remedial coursework. However, students entering with a B.S. degree from another engineering discipline or from the basic sciences may require remedial coursework. Students with non-engineering B.S. degrees may have to complete as many as five (5) prerequisite or remedial courses before registering for the BIOE core courses. Table 2 provides the prerequisite courses that are needed for completion of the core M.S. coursework.

Table 2: Prerequisite courses for the MSBE core courses.

Biomechanics Core Course: BIOE 6520 Orthopaedic Biomechanics
    prerequisites: CIVE 1150 Engineering Mechanics: Statics 
MIME 2300 Engineering Dynamics 
BIOE 4110/5780 Advanced Biomechanics or equivalent
Bioelectrical Core Course: BIOE 5260 Medical Imaging Systems I
    prerequisites: EECS 2300 Electric Circuits
Bioprocessing Core Course: BIOE 6310 Biochemical Engineering Principles
    prerequisites: graduate standing
Physiology Core Course: BIOE 6100 Computational Physiology
    prerequisites: BIOE 4100/5200 Physiology for Bioengineers or equivalent 
MIME 6000 Advanced Engineering Mathematics I
Mathematics Core Course: MIME 6000 Advanced Engineering Mathematics I
    prerequisites: MATH 2860 Elementary Differential Equations or equivalent

Graduate BIOE courses are rotated so that approximately 6-8 courses are offered yearly. In addition to graduate Bioengineering courses, students may take graduate level courses in other departments and colleges to satisfy the elective credit requirements as well as to gain knowledge needed for the completion of a thesis degree. A sample curriculum for the M.S. degree is given in Table 3.

Table 3: Sample curriculum for the MSBE thesis degree. Elective and pre-requisite coursework as well as total thesis hours will vary for each student.

Course Semester Category
Fall 1 Spr 1 Sum 1 Fall 2 Spr 2
BIOE 5200 Physiology for Bioengineers 3         Core
BIOE 5260 Medical Imaging Systems I 3         Core
BIOE 6520 Orthopaedic Biomechanics         3 Core
BIOE 6310 Biochemical Engineering Principles   3       Core
MIME 6000 Advanced Engineering Mathematics I 3         Math
BIOE 5780 Advanced Biomechanics       3   Elective
BIOE 5/6XXX or other graduate-level course   3       Elective
BIOE 6960 Thesis Research   3 9 6 6 Research
BIOE 5930 Bioengineering Seminar R* R*   R* R*  
Total hours 9 9 9 9 9 30+
* Seminar is a no credit course offered Fall and Spring semesters.

UT Plan of Study

All MS students must file a Plan of Study with the College of Graduate Studies by the beginning of their second year in the program. A student's Plan of Study should be completed in consultation with the faculty advisor. The plan of study must be TYPED and include ONLY those courses that count toward the 30 hrs required for the degree, even if additional coursework hours are completed. Students are responsible for selecting approved courses that satisfy the curriculum requirements as outlined in Table 1. For each semester, hours listed must be totaled. Future courses should be entered with the expected term to be taken and no grade entered. Completed Plans of Study should be saved electronically in case modifications are required. Completed Plans of Study should be submitted to the Graduate Program Director for approval by September 15. Modifications to an approved Plan of Study must be submitted on a Plan of Study modification form or, if substantial, on a new Plan of Study form to the Graduate Program Director.

M.S. Thesis Committee

After the student is matched with a faculty advisor, the faculty advisor and the student will select an M.S. thesis committee. Students are encouraged to select a thesis committee as early as possible. The thesis committee is composed of at least 3 members of which 2 must be full-time faculty members from the Department of Bioengineering.  If the third member is not a full-time faculty member in the department, he/she must at least be a member of the UT Graduate Faculty.  The student's advisor serves as the committee chair unless the advisor is not a full member of the UT Graduate Faculty. The faculty advisor has the final authority and responsibility for guiding the research as appropriate. Other committee members are selected to provide additional guidance and direction for the research project. Students are encouraged to consult with committee members and other members of the faculty as needed during the course of their research.


Prior to initiating thesis research, each student must complete and file a GRAD Form with the College of Graduate Studies. Students must complete this form and receive the required approvals prior to beginning any research for a thesis involving humans, animals, radiation, or biohazardous substances. Federal regulations do not allow retroactive approval. Completion of the GRAD Form indicates that a student's committee has approved both a topic and an approach for the research, and is aware of federal requirements for institutional review of research methods. This form must be signed by the student, research advisor, and thesis committee members.

M.S. Thesis and Thesis Defense

The semester in which a student is expected to complete and defend the thesis, the student must be registered for at least 1 credit hour. In addition, the student must file an Application for Graduation form with the College of Graduate Studies.

When the student's research is essentially completed to the satisfaction of the faculty advisor, the student will prepare a final draft of the thesis. Students should obtain guidelines regarding thesis preparation from the College of Graduate Studies and download the College of Engineering-specific cover page from the College web site. The thesis should be submitted to the faculty advisor for critical review and evaluation. After the faculty advisor has reviewed the draft thesis, recommended changes, and approved the final text of the document, the student will submit a copy of the thesis to each member of the thesis committee. The thesis committee members must be given at least two weeks for the review of the thesis before the thesis defense. The student must coordinate with all of the thesis committee members in scheduling a date and time for the thesis defense. All members of the thesis committee must be present at the thesis defense. The student is responsible for reserving the BIOE conference room or other room for the thesis defense. Reservations for the BIOE conference room are made on a first-come, first-serve basis, so reservations should be made at least two weeks in advance of the defense.

The thesis defense is an open and announced public presentation by the student. Announcement of the thesis defense is a formal procedure and is a requirement for the defense. A BIOE Announcement of Thesis/Dissertation form must be completed and submitted to the BIOE Secretary and the College of Engineering Office of Graduate Studies at least two (2) weeks prior to the scheduled defense. In a situation where intellectual property disclosure is an issue, the thesis defense can be closed to the public by request of the faculty advisor. The announcement of thesis defense is still filed, but with the notation that the defense is closed to the public.

The student must bring the completed BIOE M.S. Thesis Defense Approval form to the defense to be signed by the committee members following a successful defense. The thesis defense itself typically consists of a 30 minute formal oral presentation by the student, followed by open and closed sessions for questions. In the open question session, all guests attending the defense are invited to ask questions. Following the open question period, all guests will be asked to leave and the committee and student will remain for a closed question period. After all of the committee members have questioned the student in private, the student will be dismissed from the room so the committee can deliberate. The committee will discuss the student's thesis and come to a decision by vote as to whether or not the student has successfully defended the thesis. If the student passes the thesis defense, a grade will be assigned to the thesis research. If the student does not pass the thesis defense, then the thesis committee, in consultation with the Graduate Director, will decide a course of future action.

A student who successfully passes the thesis defense may be required to change or modify the thesis as requested by members of the thesis committee and the advisor. These corrections must be made by the student and approved by the research advisor. The unbound original and a copy of the final thesis must be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies. The student must check with the COGS to ensure that the corrected thesis is received by the graduation deadline for the semester of the defense. In addition, electronic copies of the final thesis must be given to the Department (one for the advisor and one for the Department library). 

Time Limit

The M.S. degree may be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis. However, students must complete all the requirements for the M.S. degree within six (6)years from the initial date of registration as a graduate student in the Department.

M.S. Forms Check Sheet

Over the course of the M.S. thesis, several milestones must be achieved. These milestones are typically documented with a specific University or Department form. The specific milestones, forms, and the times for submission of these forms are summarized in Table 4.

Table 4: M.S. Thesis Forms Check Sheet. The forms listed below must be completed and filed by the appropriate due dates as part of the MSBE degree requirements. All forms are available on-line.

Form Due date Return to
BIOE Advisor Selection End of 1st semester of enrollment Graduate Program Director
UT Plan of Study for the MS Degree September 15 of the 2nd academic year Graduate Program Director
GRAD form After advisor selection, prior to initiation of research involving humans, animals, radiation, or biohazardous materials Graduate Program Director
UT Application for Graduation Beginning of final semester; check the Registrar's website for specific dates College of Graduate Studies
Announcement of Thesis/Dissertation At least two weeks prior to thesis defense BIOE Secretary
College of Engineering MS Thesis Cover Page Attach to front of completed thesis
M.S. Thesis Defense Approval Bring to the thesis defense BIOE Secretary
BIOE Graduate Exit Interview Form Upon completion of thesis degree requirements BIOE Secretary

M.S. Graduation

Students must apply for graduation using the UT Application for Graduation form. This form must be filed with the Graduate School at or before the beginning of the semester during which the degree requirements are expected to complete.

To receive the MSBE thesis degree, a student must:

  • Satisfy the coursework requirements summarized in Table 1.
  • Maintain a 3.0/4.0 GPA in all coursework (see Grade Requirements for Graduation).
  • Submit all appropriate degree forms according to Table 4.
  • Write and successfully defend the M.S. thesis and make any corrections as required.
  • Submit the unbound original and one copy of the M.S. thesis to the College of Graduate Studies by the graduation deadline for the semester of the defense. Each copy of the thesis must include an original signed College of Engineering M.S. thesis cover page.
  • Have all PR and IN grades removed from the transcript. The College of Engineering Graduate Office must see a copy of the final thesis before grade change forms will be processed. A copy of the College of Graduate Studies cover page, COE cover page and abstract will be made for the College files to verify that the thesis has been completed.
  • Show evidence that results from the research have been submitted for either publication or presentation at a conference.
  • Submit an electronic copy of the thesis the faculty advisor.
  • Submit two electronic copies of the M.S. thesis to the Bioengineering Department: one for the department library and one for the research advisor.
  • Additional requirements as documented by the College of Graduate Studies.
Last Updated: 5/4/18