Master of Science
Ideal Preparation for a Career or Doctoral Study
The Duke BME Master of Science (MS) degree provides a solid foundation of rigorous training and research experience to propel your career developing new biomedical technologies.
The MS is an engineering degree comprising technical coursework and a thesis or project in a chosen discipline.
"The skills I developed at Duke have enabled me to head several innovative projects, even as an early career professional."
Jasmine RoddEy MS'15
Global Safety Senior Assoc., Amgen
Read jasmine's story
Master of Science students are also eligible to enhance their degrees through training in our certificate programs.
Your faculty advisors provide mentorship and Duke offers career services – preparing you to seek a career in industry or enter a doctoral program.
Degree requirements, detailed below, include:
- 30 course credits
- BME seminars
- Thesis or project
Application deadline: January 15
The MS program provides outstanding career support to its students. Our career services include:
- Academic job search strategy sessions
- Non-academic job search strategy sessions for industry and governmental positions
- Resume review and critiques
- Interview skills training for international students
Our Master of Science students complete 30 course credits, attend special seminars and complete a thesis or project. Biology is integrated into your experience through a life sciences requirement, and the advanced mathematics requirement will provide you training in the analysis and manipulation of data.
Detailed Degree Requirements
- 30 course credits (To see important details, click the Course Requirement Notes below)
- Customized study plan developed in collaboration with adviser
- One semester of BME seminar (Fall only)
- Thesis, project, or assessment of qualifications
- Thesis defense (See details on thesis prep and defense)
- No more than two undergraduate classes at the 300 or 400 level can be applied to the MS degree and a minimum of a B must be earned for them to count. Undergraduate courses at the 200 level and lower may be taken, but cannot be used to fulfill degree requirements. The only exceptions to this rule are for courses listed under approved life science electives and approved advanced math courses.
- Students may take up to 3 credits of independent study (BME 791) for a project or in lieu of research credits for an MS thesis.
- Students may take 3 credits of Master of Engineering, Master of Engineering Management or other business/management courses as an elective.
- Other elective courses must be selected from Engineering, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, mathematics or Computer Science.
New matriculants must take one semester of BME seminar by registering for BME 703S (Fall only). In this seminar, MS students are exposed to current topics in applied engineering management and entrepreneurship.
Non-thesis MS students complete their degree by presenting a lab/course research project to their committee either as an oral exam or poster presentation.
The project is an opportunity for students to practice effective research strategies. Projects must be related to biomedical engineering and approved by the student's adviser. The formulation of the project plan is a collaborative, mentored experience. Successful project plans are those in which students can do the following:
- State a research problem in a chosen area of study and demonstrate the value of the solution to the research problem;
- Apply sound research methods/tools to problems in an area of study and describe the methods/tools effectively;
- Analyze/interpret research data;
- Draw valid conclusions from data and make a convincing case for the contribution of those conclusions in advancing knowledge within that area; and
- Communicate their research clearly and professionally in both written and oral forms appropriate to the field.
MS students engaged in research are encouraged to prepare and defend a thesis.
The Master's Thesis should follow the format defined in the Graduate School's Guide for Preparation of Theses and Dissertations, and should include the following items:
- An abstract with objectives and clearly stated unique contributions,
- A survey and discussion/synthesis of pertinent literature,
- Discussions of the completed research tasks, including theory development, data collection, analysis, and documentation, and
- A set of conclusions that emphasize new theoretical, modeling, or experimental contributions; or novel applications of existing theories.
The quality of the Master’s Thesis should allow the material to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Learn more information on the master's thesis from Duke's Graduate School website.
Upon the completion of the written thesis, the student must defend it orally. The thesis adviser must approve the thesis for the defense before its final submission to the faculty committee. In a letter to the Graduate School, the adviser will indicate that the thesis is ready for defense. The student is responsible for asking the DGSA/DMSA to announce the thesis defense. The defense takes place no less than one week after the student has submitted the thesis to the Graduate School and has presented copies to the faculty committee members. The oral presentation is a public event. The faculty committee generally meets with the candidate in a closed meeting following the open oral presentation. During the defense, the faculty committee may question the student on both the content of the thesis and the student's course work.
The possible outcomes of the Master's Examination are:
- The student passes. A majority of supporting votes are required, in addition to the approval of the Advisor.
- The student fails. Re-examination might be permitted upon the recommendation of the Advisor and the approval of the Director of Master's Studies.
Master of Science (MS) students may choose to enhance their degrees by completing the certificate programs we offer:
- Certificate in Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering – integrating activities in engineering, the life sciences, and medicine
- Certificate in Photonics – providing training in photonics as a path to research and technology development
The Pratt School of Engineering requires a minimum GPA of 3.2 from an undergraduate program. A minimum TOEFL score of 90 on the Internet-based test is also required. Average scores of recently admitted applicants were:
- GRE Quantitative: 164
- GRE Verbal: 161
- UGPA: 3.5
Cost of Attendance
Master of Science program tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year was $25,740 per semester taken at the university. Rates are subject to change each year. Tuition typically increases by no more than 4 percent per academic year.
Financial Aid and Fellowships
Because many master's degrees are professional degrees rather than research degrees, most students pay their own tuition costs. Many students use student loans and believe there will be an excellent return on investment.
In certain circumstances, we provide limited financial aid to Master of Science (MS) students.
Detailed Financial Aid Info
For MS, limited financial aid is available to highly qualified candidates through academic scholarships with an emphasis on increasing diversity within our master's degree programs.
Underrepresented minorities may receive up to 50 percent per year in tuition scholarship through our Diversity Scholarships. Additionally, up to $10,000 per year may be allocated for the student to gain experience in a research setting under the direction of a principal investigator (PI).
Externally Funded Scholarships
For MS students, we also offer support to recipients of select competitive externally funded scholarships, such as:
- National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellowships
- Fulbright Scholar Program
Some departments will occasionally provide some reduced-tuition assistance, but most of Pratt’s masters students pay through a combination of loans and their own money.
Also see Duke Graduate School Master Student Financial Aid web page.
Stafford Loan Program
U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens are able to borrow through the Federal Stafford Loan Program. Applicants for assistance through this program must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which may be completed online at fafsa.ed.gov. When completing the online form students will be asked for Duke's Title IV Code; it is 002920.
Maximum eligibility under the Stafford Subsidized Loan Program is $8,500 per year. In addition students may borrow up to $12,000 more per year under the Stafford Unsubsidized Loan Program. For further information on the FAFSA and the U.S. Department of Education's Stafford Loan Program, please call (800) 433-3243.
International applicants are not eligible for Federal loans; however, many international students take out loans in their home countries, and some U.S. banks may offer loans to international students for study in the United States. Duke University maintains information on lenders for citizens, permanent residents, and non-US citizens.
While enrolled in the program, many students work in a variety of places, such as campus libraries and various departments within Duke. Teaching assistantships are available in various departments, and some departments have research assistantships as well.
These positions are paid an hourly rate, and most students work between 10 to 20 hours per week. Positions are generally posted and filled just a week or two before classes begin each semester.