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Degree Requirements

Students enrolled in the Biodesign Program will pursue an M.S. degree (non-thesis) in biomedical engineering and must complete a minimum of 30 total credits of graduate work:

  • Engineering (ENGR) credits: 9
  • Life Sciences (LS) credits: 3
  • Math (MATH) credits: 3
  • Elective (ELEC) credits: 6
  • Track (TRACK) credits: 6
  • Research/Report credits: 3

All non-thesis M.S. degrees require a final project and report.

The application is a three-part process.

  • Apply and be accepted for the Carilion Clinic Biodesign Program at Virginia Tech.
  • Following an interview and being placed in the program, complete an application for the School of Biomedical Engineering Sciences (SBES) through the Virginia Tech Graduate School (see below for BEAM specifics).  Acceptance into the program guarantees entrance into the Master's Program.
  • Confirm interview and acceptance through the Virginia Tech Master's Program and submit transcripts and other required documentation.

The priority deadline for Fall 2024 enrollment is January 1, 2024, for the Master of Biomedical Engineering application. To facilitate residency planning conversations, medical residents must submit their application by July 31st, 2023.

The following are the requirements for the Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering application: 

  • A GPA of 3.0 (3.5 or above is preferred) for students accepted into the program.
  • A TOEFL minimum score of 600 (paper-based), 250 (computer-based), and 100 (internet-based) is required for international students. IELTS may be used instead of a TOEFL test and preferably have a minimum score of Band 7.0.
  • Letters of recommendation, previous research experience, and program needs are heavily weighed.
  • A B.S. degree, preferably in engineering, from a recognized university.
One of Carilion Clinic’s six robots is docked to perform colorectal surgery at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Kristin McCoy (left), a minimally invasive surgery fellow, and Dr. David Salzberg, a bariatric surgeon, sit at the robot’s consoles. Dr. Salzberg, who performs the majority of his procedures robotically, uses dual consoles for training purposes.
Clinical staff assist with instruments for the robotic arms
TOEFL: (for international students only)
Institution Code: 5859  
Dept. Code: None  
Minimum score required*: 
  • Paper-based: 600  
  • Computer-based: 250   
  • Internet-based: 100

*Test scores must be at most two years from the date of application.

IELTS: (for international students only, can be used instead of TOEFL) 
Institution Code: 5859  
Dept. Code: None required  
Minimum score required: Band 7.0

For more information about TOEFL requirements and international applications in general, see SBES international students.

Three letters of reference are required and can be submitted through the Virginia Tech application system.

  • A resume is required to be uploaded into the Virginia Tech application system.
  • A statement of purpose must also be uploaded into the Virginia Tech application system and consist of a one- to two-page document stating the reasons for seeking graduate work at SBES and an explanation of research interests and professional goals.

The “supplemental” page of the application asks for research concentrations. Please enter Biodesign Program Track.

Before submitting a program of study, and no later than the end of the second academic semester, each student must form a mentorship/advisory committee to guide the student and their team through the project proposal, fabrication, and commercialization process. An advisory committee, which can include the same members as the mentorship committee, will also be formed at the end of the second academic semester to provide guidance and ensure the student meets the program milestones required to earn the degree.

MS Non-Thesis students are required to attend the SBES symposium each year but are not required to present a poster, oral presentation, or lightening talk.

Additional Biodesign Program requirements include meeting checkpoints for progress every semester, selecting committees, attending conferences, weekly meetings, and rural healthcare immersion.


Fall Semester First Year 



Spring Semester First Year 



BMES 5984: SS Biodesign Innovation Fundamentals 


BMES 5984: SS Biodesign Needs Assessment II 


BMES 5984: SS Biodesign Needs Assessment I 


BMES 5984: SS Social Determinants of Health 


BMES 5054: Quantitative Cell Physiology 


BMES 5054: Quantitative Organ System Physiology 






Fall Semester Second Year 



Spring Semester Second Year 



BMES 5154 Advanced Commercialization of BME Research 


BMES 5904 Project and Report 

Project and Report 








or Resident: transfer from medical degree 







Didactic Sessions

BMES 5054 Quantitative Cell Physiology (3 credits) Mathematical modeling, simulation, quantitative description of cell physiology and control. Numerical simulation of cellular physiologic processes including reaction kinetics, inhibition and cooperativity, passive transport, facilitated and carrier-mediate reaction kinetics. Cell resting membrane potential, and nerve and muscle tissue. Modeling neural cell processes, including voltage-gated channels, neurotransmitter kinetics, and postsynaptic cell membrane potentials.
BMES 5064 Quantitative Organ Systems (3 credits) Mathematical modeling, simulation, quantitative description of organ physiology and control. Numerical simulation of cardiovascular physiologic processes, including regulation of cardiac output, the baroreceptor - stroke volume model, venous return, and closed-loop control. Respiratory ventilation mechanics, gas exchange, pulmonary circulation, alveolar-capillary diffusion, and respiratory ventilation control. Nephron countercurrent mechanism and hemodialysis. Modeling of endocrine system functions. Corequisite: BMES 5044
BMES 5984 SS: Biodesign Innovation Fundamentals (3 credits) Medical technology development course that provides students with an intensive and practical introduction to the process of biodesign innovation. Analyze the perspectives of various stakeholders and existing technologies when identifying opportunities for new products or services. Application of biodesign fundamentals, including the identification and invention phases of development. Exploration of case studies related to how existing products achieved clinical translation and market adoption. Focus on working in transdisciplinary teams of engineering, medical, and business professionals and comparing of different settings, such as rural and global. (3H, 3C) Prerequisites: N/A
BMES 5044 Engineering Mathematics (3 credits) Introduction to numerical solutions of partial differential equations using the finite element method in one-, two-, and three-dimensions with direct relevance to chemical engineering, biological systems engineering and biomedical engineering and sciences. Partial and ordinary differential equations using finite differences, model parameter sensitivity analysis, optimization, and data analysis. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing. 
BMES 5615/ 5616 Statistics in Research (3 credits) 5615: Concepts in statistical inference, including basic probability, estimation, and test of hypothesis, point and interval estimation and inferences; categorical data analysis; simple linear regression; and one-way analysis of variance. 5616: Multiple linear regression; multi-way classification analysis of variance; randomized block designs; nested designs; and analysis of covariance. One year of Calculus. CMS.
BMES 5074 Biomedical Research Design (3 credits) Design and analysis of research in the biomedical engineering fields. Ethical considerations. Experimental planning. Implementation of data collection plans. Statistical data analysis and interpretation of statistical results. Design and execution of clinical trials. Deployment of epidemiological studies. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing.
BMES 5984 SS: Social Determinants of Health (3 credits)
BMES 5154G Advanced Commercialization of Biomedical Engineering Research (3 credits) Commercialization process applied to translational research. Regulatory aspects of biomedical engineering products and technologies (e.g., devices, diagnostics, drugs, biologics). Intellectual property, technology transfer processes, clinical trial design, commercialization of university research and modeling of development costs (e.g., cash flow and revenue projections). Small business startup approaches. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing. 
ENGE 5304 Graduate Student Success in Multicultural Environments (1 credit) Socialization to the graduate student environment. Strategies for entering an effective mentee-mentor relationship. Virginia Tech's diversity and inclusion values. Focus on strategies for (1) facilitating clear communication with advisors, peers, or undergraduate mentees; (2) working within a culturally diverse environment; and (3) upholding ethical research practices. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in the College of Engineering. Pass/Fail only.
BMES 5004 BME Ethics and Professional Development (1 credit) Socialization to the graduate student environment. Strategies for professional development and ethical standards in Biomedical Engineering. Virginia Tech’s ethical and academic values. Graduate Honor Code, including plagiarism and scholarly citations. Ethical standards in academics. Ethical standards in biomedical research and reporting misconduct. Scientific communication across boundaries. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in BME. Pass/Fail only.
BMES 5944 Seminar (1 credit) must be taken every semester 
Life Science Course Options:
BMES 5184/618 - Injury Physiology (3 credits) Introduction to the physiology of injury. Focus on the pathophysiology, mechanisms, and outcomes of injury in humans. Explores injury physiology at the organ, tissue, and cellular level. Topics include the physiology of injury to the peripheral and central nervous systems, the musculoskeletal system, the pulmonary system, the abdomen, and the eye. Includes the injury physiology of adults and the special populations of children, pregnant females, and older people. Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Corequisite: BMES 5054
BMES 5024/602 - Biomedical Engineering and Human Disease (3 credits) Comprehensive overview of a variety of human diseases including, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, and cancer, designed primarily for graduate students majoring in engineering and other related areas who have a long-term academic and professional goal in the field of biomedical engineering and life sciences. Introduction to state-of-the-art biomedical engineering approaches used to study early detection/diagnosis, treatment and prevention of human disease. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
Courses Meeting Life Science Requirement (Virginia Tech campus): 
Courses outside SBES meeting the life science requirement on the 5000 and 6000 level courses only from the following departments but cannot include seminars, research credits, or professional development courses, e.g., BIOL 5154.
APSC 5604 – Writing Effective Fellowship Grant Applications (3 credits) Typical requirements, content, and structure of predoctoral fellowship grants and how the grant review process works. Critical review and effective presentation of research grants. The course combines lectures with a discussion of example grants. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
BMES 5984 - SS: Functional Anatomy for Engineers
BMVS 5284 – Cellular Pathology - This course presents the mechanisms involved in the cellular reaction to injury, inflammation, tissue repair and regeneration, circulatory disturbances (thrombosis, embolism, infarction, hemorrhage, edema, congestion, shock) and neoplasia and other alterations of cell growth. Emphasis will be placed upon disease processes at the cellular and tissue levels 
GBCB 5424 – Computational Cell Biology (3 credits) This course presents the mechanisms involved in the cellular reaction to injury, inflammation, tissue repair and regeneration, circulatory disturbances (thrombosis, embolism, infarction, hemorrhage, edema, congestion, shock) and neoplasia and other alterations of cell growth. Emphasis will be placed on disease processes at the cellular and tissue levels. Prerequisite: MATH 5515
GBCB 5515 – Mathematical Modeling of Biological Systems (3 credits) Introduction to mathematical techniques for modeling and simulation, parameter identification and analysis of biological systems. Emphasis on theoretical and practical issues and computation methods with concrete applications. Suitable for students from the mathematical and life sciences with a basic foundation in multivariate calculus and ordinary differential equations. 5515: Continuous models and methods. 5516: Discrete models and methods.
Cross-listed: MATH 5515
GBCB 5874 – Problem-Solving in Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology (3 credits) Research practicum in genetics, bioinformatics, and computational biology. Emphasis on the multidisciplinary and collaborative nature of genetics, bioinformatics and computational biology research. Exposure to the scientific method, the nature of research tools, strategies for publishing, and opportunities for research careers in genetics, bioinformatics, and computational biology. Permission required. 
HNFE 5164 - Molecular Diet and Cancer (3 credits) Molecular and genetic/epigenetic factors in human cancer development. Cellular and molecular targets of the diet or specific nutrients in cancer prevention. Interaction of diet, obesity, and body weight on cancer. Dietary strategies targeting the tumor microenvironment and systemic contributors to tumor progression. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing.
HNFE 5474 - Human Exercise Testing: Physiology and Biomechanics (3 credits) Mechanisms for acute and chronic physiological adaptations to exercise and muscle contraction. Interactions between physiology and biomechanics as it pertains to research outcomes. Principles of exercise and biomechanics testing for research purposes, safety considerations, factors that affect test results, and criteria to terminate tests. Research study design and methodology for specific research goals. Pre-participation screening and risk classification for exercise and biomechanics testing. Assessment of body composition, endurance, strength, power, fatigue, and flexibility. Interpretation of exercise tests. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
HNFE 5214 – Physical Activity and Health (3 credits) Practical applications of interventions for health promotion, disease prevention, and treatment in diverse adult populations. Implications of sedentary behavior. Physiological adaptations to exercise and physical activity, and fitness training principles. Exercise is Medicine initiative principles and health behavior change theories. Health assessment, exercise testing, and prescription. Historical evaluation and application of guidelines for healthy and diseased populations. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
NEUR 5034G– Advanced Diseases of Nervous System (3 credits Common brain and Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders ranging from trauma to autism. Genetic, molecules and cellular changes in disease. Therapeutic implications and development of novel drugs. Challenges in drug discovery and implementation of personalized medicine. Ethical issues regarding genetic findings. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing. 
NEUR 5024– Neuroanatomy and Systems Neuroscience System (3 credits) Anatomy and function of the human central and peripheral nervous system, including the gross and microscopic structures of major neural circuits that govern motor and sensory systems, autonomic function, memory, emotion, motivation and attention. Diseases and disorders associated with brain region malfunction. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing.
NEUR 5514G– Advanced Neuroimmunology System (3 credits) Immune system and various roles in psychiatric and neurological disorders. Details of cell type, functions and signaling of the peripheral and central immune and sympathetic nervous systems. Cross-talk between the brain and immune system across the blood-brain barrier and circumventricular organs. Treatment options for autoimmune diseases and psychopathy. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing.
NEUR 5914– Drug Development in Neuroscience (3 credits) Current approaches and pitfalls for developing therapeutics for treating disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). Theoretical issues and practical applications targeting identification, high-throughput screening, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, preclinical testing, clinical trials, and the FDA approval process. Ethical implications for drug development and testing. Prerequisite: Graduate Standing.
PSYC 5344 - Cognitive Psychology (3 credits) Survey of theoretical and empirical issues in cognitive psychology, including information processing models, attention, memory, problem-solving, knowledge, reasoning, neurocognition and intelligence. Historical and current approaches will be considered. 
TBMH - Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health - Any 5000-level or higher course with some exceptions*
VM - Veterinary Medicine - Any 5000-level or higher course with some exceptions*

Procedural Exposure

Immersive Course Descriptions
BMES 5984 SS: Clinical Needs Assessment I (3 credits) Apply principles of Biodesign to conduct a broad needs assessment in various clinical settings. Collaborate in transdisciplinary healthcare teams and develop contextual inquiry methods, documentation and communication skills. Clinical immersion to identify the needs of different stakeholders, such as patients, providers, and payers. Understand the underlying physiology of various disease states and explore stakeholder behaviors, the environment, and the social structure around device use. Synthesize design opportunities to pursue future research and development (R&D) projects. (3H, 3C). Corequisite: SS: BMES5984 – Biodesign Fundamentals
BMES 5984 SS: Clinical Needs Assessment II (3 credits) Learn and apply human factors engineering principles to conduct focused explorations of user needs in targeted clinical settings. Collaborate in transdisciplinary healthcare teams and develop task analysis, usability studies, documentation and communication skills. Identify laboratories and technical experts in related research and development (R&D) areas to assess the technical feasibility of potential solutions. Refine and prioritize identified design opportunities. Determine fundamental design requirements based on stakeholder values. Create a product development plan for a design opportunity well-suited to improve healthcare (3H, 3C). Prerequisite: FS: BMES5964 - Clinical Needs Assessment I

The Carilion Clinic Biodesign Program at Virginia Tech consists of two years of traditional didactic classroom learning, immersive experiential teaching, worldly observation and hands-on instruction in biodesign principles.  

The program requires specific criteria outside a formalized class schedule to gain the most out of the Biodesign Program. These include participation and leading symposium, weekly "lab" meetings, rural clinical observation and report, panel discussions, advisory meetings and conference attendance.

Students will be expected to attend several events with our regional partners, including conferences, workshops, and symposia. The Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC) keeps an updated schedule of events, including those such as RAMP Demo Day, Tech & Toast and Beer & Biotech.