Master of Science (MS)
Ideal preparation for industry and research careers, or doctoral study
The 30-credit Duke Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering provides a unique combination of opportunities:
- A respected and highly-ranked graduate degree program
- A flexible curriculum with choice of concentration, and the option of thesis or non-thesis
- Access to graduate certificate programs in high-demand career areas
- Dedicated career support
- A track record of positive career outcomes
"The skills I developed at Duke have enabled me to head several innovative projects, even as an early career professional."
Jasmine Roddey, MS
Global Safety Senior Associate, AMGEN
30 course credits, with an option of thesis
- Life Science course—3 credits
- Advanced Mathematics course—3 credits
- BME courses—12 credits
- Additional 12 credits through either:
- Thesis Option—6 elective course credits and 6 independent study credits, or
- Non-Thesis Option —12 elective course credits
Aligned with faculty research
- Bioelectric Engineering
- Biomechanics and Mechanobiology
- Biomedical Imaging and Biophotonics
- Biosensors and Bioinstrumentation
- Biotechnology (Plus: certificate option)
- Computational Modeling of Biological Systems
- Drug and Gene Delivery
- Health Data Science
- Immune Engineering
- Medical Device Design (Plus: certificate option)
- Neural Engineering
- Synthetic and Systems Biology
- Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
This chart shows a sample curriculum for a Duke BME Master of Science (MS) student that has chosen the Drug and Gene Delivery Concentration:
- Undergraduate courses may be taken, but cannot be used to fulfill degree requirements
- Students may take up to 6 credits of independent study (BME 791 and BME 792) as electives for a project in the same lab 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, Computer Science, or related disciplines
Non-thesis MS students complete their degree by taking a milestone exam in one of the three formats.
- Oral poster presentation on a research or design project conducted at Duke
- Submission of a proposal on a new research project, based on materials learned at Duke
- Comprehensive oral exam on technical knowledge learned at Duke
The projects and research proposal 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, experimental design, materials and methods used, results from the study, and disussion, 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 publishable 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 advisor 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 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. An 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.
Customize your degree with a certificate:
The minimum undergraduate GPA is 3.2. For international students, a minimum TOEFL score of 90 on the internet-based test is also required. GRE is optional. The scores of TOEFL and undergraduate GPA of recently admitted applicants were*:
- TOEFL: 104 - 114
- UGPA: 3.3 - 3.7
* Mid-50% range
Cost of Attendance
For complete cost of attendance details, visit The Graduate School at Duke website »
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.
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 students 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 some 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 our master's students pay through a combination of loans and their own money.
Also, see Duke Graduate School Master Student Financial Aid webpage.
While enrolled in the program, many students work in a variety of places, such as campus libraries and various departments within Duke. Teaching assistantships and grader jobs are available in various departments, and some faculty members 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 before classes begin each semester.