University of Southern California

Viterbi School of Engineering

Biomedical Engineering

Degree Requirements

Undergraduate Program Educational Objectives

Graduates of the undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering are expected to attain the following objectives within a few years after graduation:

  • engage in a professional career in the biomedical or other related industries, or enroll in advanced graduate studies including medical school;
  • work in a technically competent manner to address challenges in engineering or their chosen professions, taking into consideration ethical and societal concerns;
  • work in multidisciplinary teams and communicate effectively with other engineers and professionals;
  • continue to develop their technical knowledge and professional skills, as evidenced by participation or leadership in relevant professional societies; continuing education; or attendance at relevant workshops, meetings or seminars.

Undergraduate Program Criteria

The program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering provides both breadth and depth across the range of engineering topics implied by the title. The program prepares graduates to have an understanding of biology and physiology; and the capability to apply advanced mathematics (including differential equations and statistics), science and engineering to solve the problems at the interface of engineering and biology. The curriculum prepares graduates with the ability to make measurements on and interpret data from living systems, addressing the problems associated with the interaction between living and non-living materials and systems.

Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering

The Department of Biomedical Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering. Additionally, there are three possible areas of emphasis within this biomedical engineering program major. These are biochemical engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. An area of emphasis appears in parenthesis after the primary major name on the transcript. The requirement for the degree is 128 units. A cumulative grade point average of C (2.0) is required in all upper division courses applied toward the major, regardless of the department in which the courses are taken.

See common requirements for undergraduate degrees.

Technical electives are to be selected from an approved list available in the department office.

composition/writing requirement Units
WRIT 150* Writing and Critical Reasoning — Thematic Approaches 4
WRIT 340 Advanced Writing 3
General Education units
General education* + 20
Pre-major requirements units
Math Requirement
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
MATH 126 Calculus II 4
MATH 226 Calculus III 4
MATH 245 Mathematics of Physics and Engineering I 4
Physics Requirement
PHYS 151L** Fundamentals of Physics I: Mechanics and Thermodynamics 4
PHYS 152L Fundamentals of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism 4
Chemistry Elective
CHEM 105aL** General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aL** Advanced General Chemistry 4
CHEM 105bL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115bL Advanced General Chemistry 4
Major requirements units
Biomedical Engineering
BME 101 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering 3
BME 210 Biomedical Computer Simulation Methods 3
BME 302L Medical Electronics 4
BME 402 Control and Communication in the Nervous System 3
BME 403 Physiological Systems 3
BME 405L Senior Projects: Measurements and Instrumentation 4
BME 410 Introduction to Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering 3
BME 423 Statistical Methods in Biomedical Engineering 3
BME 425 Basics of Biomedical Imaging 3
Biology
BISC 120L** General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution 4
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4
BISC 320L Molecular Biology 4
Chemistry
CHEM 322aLbL Organic Chemistry 4-4
Electrical Engineering
EE 150L Engineering Computational Methods 3
EE 202L Linear Circuits 4
EE 301L Linear Systems 4
Major Electives units
Technical electives 9
Total units: 128
*WRIT 150 is taken concurrently with GE Category VI.

**Satisfies GE Category III requirement.

+The university allows engineering majors to replace the GE Category IV with a second course in Categories I, II or VI.

Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Emphasis in Biochemical Engineering

The requirement for the degree with an emphasis in biochemical engineering is 132 units. A cumulative grade point average of C (2.0) is required in all upper division courses applied towards the major, regardless of the department in which the courses are taken. See General Education and additional common requirements for undergraduate degrees.

composition/writing requirement Units
WRIT 150* Writing and Critical Reasoning — Thematic Approaches 4
WRIT 340 Advanced Writing 3
General Education Units
General education* + 20
pre-major requirements Units
Math Requirement
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
MATH 126 Calculus II 4
MATH 226 Calculus III 4
MATH 245 Mathematics of Physics and Engineering I 4
Physics Requirement
PHYS 151L** Fundamentals of Physics I: Mechanics and Thermodynamics 4
PHYS 152L Fundamentals of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism 4
Chemistry Elective
CHEM 105aL** General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aL** Advanced General Chemistry 4
CHEM 105bL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115bL Advanced General Chemistry 4
major requirements Units
Biomedical Engineering
BME 101 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering 3
BME 210 Biomedical Computer Simulation Methods 3
BME 402 Control and Communication in the Nervous System 3
BME 403 Physiological Systems 3
BME 405L Senior Projects: Measurements and Instrumentation 4
BME 410 Introduction to Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering 3
BME 416 Development and Regulation of Medical Products 3
BME 423 Statistical Methods in Biomedical Engineering 3
Biology
BISC 120L** General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution 4
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4
BISC 320L Molecular Biology 4
BISC 330L Biochemistry 4
Chemistry
CHEM 322aLbL Organic Chemistry 4-4
Chemical Engineering
CHE 330 Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics 3
CHE 350 Introduction to Separation Processes 3
CHE 460L Chemical Process Dynamics and Control 3
CHE 489 Biochemical Engineering 3
Electrical Engineering
EE 150L Engineering Computational Methods 3
EE 202L Linear Circuits 4
Materials Science
MASC 310 Materials Behavior and Processing 3
Major electives units
Technical elective 2
Total units: 132
*GE Category VI is taken concurrently with WRIT 150.

**Satisfies GE Category III requirement.

+The university allows engineering majors to replace the GE Category IV with a second course in Categories I, II or VI.

Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Emphasis in Electrical Engineering

The requirement for the degree with an emphasis in electrical engineering is 133 units. A cumulative grade point average of C (2.0) is required in all upper division courses applied towards the major, regardless of the department in which the courses are taken. See common requirements for undergraduate degrees.

composition/writing requirement Units
WRIT 150* Writing and Critical Reasoning — Thematic Approaches 4
WRIT 340 Advanced Writing 3
General Education Units
General education* + 20
pre-major requirements Units
Math Requirement
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
MATH 126 Calculus II 4
MATH 226 Calculus III 4
MATH 245 Mathematics of Physics and Engineering I 4
MATH 445 Mathematics of Physics and Engineering II 4
Physics Requirement
PHYS 151L** Fundamentals of Physics I: Mechanics and Thermodynamics 4
PHYS 152L Fundamentals of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism 4
PHYS 153L Fundamentals of Physics III: Optics and Modern Physics 4
Chemistry Elective
CHEM 105aL** General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aL** Advanced General Chemistry 4
CHEM 105bL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115bL Advanced General Chemistry 4
major requirements Units
Biomedical Engineering
BME 101 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering 3
BME 210 Biomedical Computer Simulation Methods 3
BME 402 Control and Communication in the Nervous System 3
BME 403 Physiological Systems 3
BME 405L Senior Projects: Measurements and Instrumentation 4
BME 423 Statistical Methods in Biomedical Engineering 3
BME 425 Basics of Biomedical Imaging 3
Biology
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4
BISC 320L Molecular Biology 4
Chemistry
CHEM 322aL Organic Chemistry 4
Electrical Engineering
EE 101 Introduction to Digital Logic 3
EE 150L Engineering Computational Methods 3
EE 201L Introduction to Digital Circuits 4
EE 202L Linear Circuits 4
EE 301L Linear Systems 4
EE 338 Physical Electronics 3
EE 348L Electronic Circuits I 4
EE 357 Basic Organization of Computer Systems 3
Major electives units
Technical electives 4
Total units 133
*WRIT 150 is taken concurrently with GE Category VI.

**Satisfies GE Category III requirement.

+The university allows engineering majors to replace the GE Category IV with a second course in Categories I, II or VI.

Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Emphasis in Mechanical Engineering

The requirement for the degree with an emphasis in mechanical engineering is 132 units. A cumulative grade point average of C (2.0) is required in all upper division courses applied towards the major, regardless of the department in which the courses are taken. See common requirements for undergraduate degrees.

composition/writing requirement Units
WRIT 150* Writing and Critical Reasoning — Thematic Approaches 4
WRIT 340 Advanced Writing 3
General Education units
General education* + 20
Pre-major requirements units
Math Requirement
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
MATH 126 Calculus II 4
MATH 226 Calculus III 4
MATH 245 Mathematics of Physics and Engineering I 4
Physics Requirements
PHYS 151L** Fundamentals of Physics I: Mechanics and Thermodynamics 4
PHYS 152L Fundamentals of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism 4
PHYS 153L Fundamentals of Physics III: Optics and Modern Physics 4
Chemistry Elective
CHEM 105aL** General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aL** Advanced General Chemistry 4
CHEM 105bL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115bL Advanced General Chemistry 4
Major requirements units
Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
AME 201 Statics 3
AME 204 Strength of Materials 3
AME 301 Dynamics 3
AME 302 Design of Dynamic Systems 3
AME 308 Computer-Aided Analysis for Aero-Mechanical Design 3
AME 309 Dynamics of Fluids 4
Biomedical Engineering
BME 101 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering 3
BME 210 Biomedical Computer Simulation Methods 3
BME 402 Control and Communication in the Nervous System 3
BME 403 Physiological Systems 3
BME 404 Biomechanics 3
BME 405L Senior Projects: Measurements and Instrumentation 4
BME 423 Statistical Methods in Biomedical Engineering 3
Biology
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4
BISC 320L Molecular Biology 4
Chemistry
CHEM 322aL Organic Chemistry 4
Electric Engineering
EE 150L Engineering Computational Methods 3
EE 202L Linear Circuits 4
Materials Science
MASC 310 Materials Behavior and Processing 3
Major Electives units
Technical electives 6
Total units: 132
*WRIT 150 is taken concurrently with GE Category VI.

**Satisfies GE Category III requirement.

+The university allows engineering majors to replace the GE Category IV with a second course in Categories I, II or VI.

Minor in Craniofacial and Dental Technology

For a complete listing, see the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC.

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering

The Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering is awarded in strict conformity with the general requirements of the Viterbi School of Engineering. At least 28 approved units must be satisfactorily completed, of which at least 19 units must be at the 500 level or above. Four of these units may be thesis BME 594abz.

The master’s degree program provides students with a broad background, linking physiology with engineering science, necessary for entering interdisciplinary careers in medical technology or pursuing further graduate studies in a related field.

Required courses Units
BME 501 Advanced Topics in Biomedical Systems 4
BME 502 Advanced Studies of the Nervous System 4
BME 511 Physiological Control Systems 3
BME 513* Signal and Systems Analysis 3
BME 533 Seminar in Bioengineering 1
BME 594abz Master’s Thesis (2-2-0), or Technical Elective (4) 4
Electives Technical 9
28
*Students who have taken an advanced undergraduate or master’s level course in system and signal analysis may substitute BME 523 for BME 513 with departmental approval.

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering (Medical Imaging and Imaging Informatics)

Completion of the Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering (Medical Imaging and Imaging Informatics) requires that at least 29 approved units must be satisfactorily completed of which at least 19 units must be at the 500 level or above.

Required courses Units
BME 501 Advanced Topics in Biomedical Systems 4
BME 513 Signal and Systems Analysis 3
BME 525 Advanced Biomedical Imaging 3
BME 527 Integration of Medical Imaging Systems 3
BME 528 Medical Imaging Informatics 3
BME 535 Ultrasonic Imaging 3
EE 569 Introduction to Digital Image Processing 3
Electives Technical 7
29

Master of Science in Medical Device and Diagnostic Engineering

This program is designed to provide the knowledge and skills needed for the development of medical devices and diagnostic techniques, including aspects of medical product regulation and product development. The course of study requires successful completion of 28 units of course work and has been designed to be completed in three semesters of full-time study. Students in the program will complete a 19-unit core as well as selecting a 6-unit specialization (or “track”) and one elective from a list provided by the department.

Required courses Units
BME 501 Advanced Topics in Biomedical Systems, or
BME 502 Advanced Studies of the Nervous System 4
BME 513 Signal and Systems Analysis 3
BME 650 Biomedical Measurement and Instrumentation 3
MPTX 511 Introduction to Medical Product Regulation, or
BME 416 Development and Regulation of Medical Products 3
MPTX 515 Quality Systems and Standards, or
ISE 527 Quality Management for Engineers 3
ISE 545 Technology Development and Implementation 3
Technical elective 3
Complete 6 units from one track from the following lists: 6
Regulation Track
MPTX 513 Regulation of Medical Devices and Diagnostics 3
RSCI 527 Medical Product Safety 3
Medical Technology and Device Science Track
BME 535 Ultrasonic Imaging 3
BME 551 Introduction to Bio-MEMS and Nanotechnology 3
BME 552 Neural Implant Engineering 3
BME 620L Applied Electrophysiology 4
Product Development Track
ISE 515 Engineering Project Management 3
ISE 555 Invention and Technology Development 3
28
Technical Elective (one course)

Applicable courses include: AME 503, BME 511, BME 535, BME 551, ISE 507, ISE 508, ISE 544, MPTX 517, RSCI 528 and courses listed in alternate tracks to that chosen. Other courses may be applicable; please see an adviser for approval.

Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering

The objective of the Doctor of Philosophy is to produce independent investigators who can make original scholarly contributions and apply advanced engineering concepts and techniques to the understanding and solution of biomedical problems. This program is intended to prepare the student for a career in academic research and teaching, or as an independent investigator in industrial or government laboratories.

The requirements listed are special to this department and must be read in conjunction with the general requirements of the Graduate School.

This program is designed to be normally completed in four years of full-time work beyond the Bachelor of Science degree (including summers). The first two years are devoted primarily to formal course work and the last two to research. In view of the flexible program, each student is assigned an adviser who will guide him or her in the selection of courses. By the end of the third semester of graduate study the student must have completed the Ph.D. screening examination. Subsequently, he or she is required to make a tentative major field selection (e.g., biomedical imaging, signal processing, neural engineering) and pass a qualifying examination. In accordance with the requirements of the Graduate School, at least 60 units of credit beyond the Bachelor of Science degree are required, with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. Students are required to take BME 533, the graduate biomedical engineering seminar course, for three semesters during their studies.

Requirements for Admission

Bachelor of Science degree in engineering or a natural science, and satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examinations. Undergraduate work should include a basic course in biology, physics, organic chemistry, biochemistry, differential equations and digital computation. Students lacking any of these will be required to make up the deficiency during the first two years of graduate work.

Students who have completed all requirements for the Master of Science degree offered in this department may apply for admission to the Ph.D. program. In this case, all courses taken in the M.S. program may be applied toward the requirements of the doctoral degree.

Screening Examination Process

By the end of the third semester of graduate study, all students must have completed the screening examination process to determine whether or not they will be allowed to continue in the Doctor of Philosophy program. Those who fail will be dropped from the program, although they may be permitted to complete the additional requirements necessary to obtain the Master of Science degree.

Qualifying Exam Committee

During the third semester, the student must make a tentative major field selection as described above and form a qualifying exam committee. The latter administers the qualifying examination.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination will normally be taken during the fourth semester of full-time academic study. The examination requires the preparation of a comprehensive written research proposal that presents a research question, critically reviews the pertinent literature and outlines the proposed experimental, analytical and computational procedures required to answer the question. The proposal must be defended in an oral examination.

Graduate Certificate in Health, Technology and Engineering (HTE@USC)

Academic Director: Terry Sanger, M.D., Ph.D., Provost Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Neurology, Biokinesiology, and Physical Therapy

Administrative Director: George Tolomiczenko, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Neurology

This program offers current second-year USC Ph.D. engineering students and first-year M.D. students an opportunity to learn about and gain experience in medical device and process innovation. Through project-based and interdisciplinary collaboration, students will augment their current programs with a set of courses and lab experiences linking medical and engineering research groups. By applying design-informed approaches toward problem identification and solution prototyping, students will be involved in all the steps of medical device or process innovation from conception to commercialization. The program aims to create interdisciplinary, boundary-spanning, inventive entrepreneurs seeking early practical experience with device and method innovation in health care. Program participants will form bonds with a group of like-minded medical students and engineers who will be their mentors, colleagues and contacts as they advance in their careers.

The courses unique to the program include a seminar sequence (Topics in Health, Technology and Engineering), which must be taken during the first two years of involvement with the HTE@USC program, a case studies sequence taken during the second year and a research course to earn project-related credits:

courses Units
BME 566abcd Topics in Health, Technology and Engineering: 2-2-2-2
BME 567ab Case Studies in Health, Technology and Engineering 1-1
790 Research (in the student’s major department) 2-8

Other required courses that are part of the M.D. curriculum (Ph.D. students enroll in INTD course versions of the same courses open only to HTE students on CR/NC basis):

INTD 621ab Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) for HTE 3-3
INTD 622L Pre-clinical System Block for Health, Technology and Engineering 3-5

Candidates interested in applying should contact HTE@USC via email at hte@usc.edu.