What options do I have if I want an education in Biomedical Engineering at CSU?

Hi, my name is Sarah and I am a 4th year Engineering Ambassador at CSU, studying Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering.

Biomedical engineers are responsible for increasing the quality of healthcare, creating novel solutions to improve medicine, and bettering people’s lives. When I learned of biomedical engineering (BME), I knew immediately I wanted to pursue this as my career because I am passionate about helping people.  

But what if you were interested in another engineering discipline as well? What if you weren’t sure about biomedical engineering? At Colorado State University, you have many different options when deciding whether to pursue an education in biomedical engineering, and I am here to tell you about all of them. So get excited, because you’re going to know choices I didn’t know about when I decided to come to CSU! 

A student looks into a microscope

First and foremost, biomedical engineering is a newer degree that you see popping up in many institutions around the globe. CSU’s biomedical engineering major is ABET-accredited (something that’s very important) and has been implemented in CSU’s engineering school for more than 6 years now! Our biomedical engineers go on to do some amazing things, like work for giants in industry like Medtronic, Boston Scientific, and Proctor and Gamble, or continue their education to do research, like researching new cell therapies or developing bones regeneration methods. Whatever path you decide, CSU’s School of Biomedical Engineering is a great choice.  

Colorado State University essentially has 3 different pathways to choose from for biomedical engineering. These pathways include: a double-major in biomedical engineering and a partner engineering major, minor in biomedical engineering, and a master’s in biomedical engineering. I’ve outlined the differences and benefits of all of them below.  

Colorado State University essentially has 3 different pathways to choose from for biomedical engineering:

Biomedical Engineering and Partner Engineering Double-Major

The double-major pathway is by far the college of engineering’s most popular pathway for biomedical engineering. This pathway is a five-year program, where students choose a specific partner major to study alongside biomedical engineering.

The partner majors to choose from include chemical and biological engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. The point of this is to essentially help you narrow down your focus in the broad field of biotechnology. While this is not an exhaustive list of examples, usually students who choose a partner major of electrical engineering want to get into imagining and diagnostics, chemical and biological engineering for regenerative medicine and pharmaceuticals, and mechanical engineering for medical devices and prosthetics.

A student works on an electrical engineering project
A student works with chemicals under a fume hood
A student fits a prosthetic to a patient
Graphic - EE & BME
Graphic - CBE & BME
Graphic - ME & BME

Why:

  • The double-major pathway, in my opinion, is the best deal financially and timewise. Especially as someone who knew they wanted to do go into the medical device field, this decision was a “no-brainer” for me. 
  • What’s great about this program is that you get two full degrees: one full major in a different engineering discipline, and one full major in biomedical engineering. This makes you a very appealing candidate to any company because it shows you have expertise and work hard. Additionally, if you ever decide biomedical engineering isn’t for you after college, you have a full other engineering major you can find a job in! I suggest choosing this pathway if you know for sure you want to be a biomedical engineer. 

Why Not: 

  • Five years in engineering can be a lot of time at an institution and can also be a financial burden. It is not unheard of for students to take summer classes to finish this program in 4 years, but that is a more personal choice depending on what you want to do (and how much freedom you want in your summers. Check out our blog on summer classes here). Most students take five years, as this program is designed this way. 

In my opinion, if you are not totally set on biomedical engineering, you can always do the minor, or simply switch out of this major if you decide it’s not for you. 

Biomedical Engineering Interdisciplinary Minor

A stock image of a student in a lab coat giving a presentation

You can get a minor in Biomedical Engineering regardless of your major. This 21-credit minimum minor usually takes an extra semester to complete, but there is a chance that most of the required credits for your major can be double counted as technical electives required for the minor

All students pursuing the Biomedical Engineering undergraduate minor are required to take introductory courses in biomedical engineering, a physiology course, and an upper-division biomedical engineering course. The rest of the required credits include 6 credits in upper division bioscience electives and 5 credits in engineering upper division electives. Students who usually take this minor are majoring in non-engineering degrees, like Business Administration, Marketing, Finance, or Entrepreneurship, and know they want a career dealing with the medical industry. You can see more information at this link. 

Why: 

  • You are interested in pre-med. Many students majoring biomedical sciences, chemistry, or biology can take this minor, as it might help strengthen your application or count as some requirements for med school. 
  • You want to be involved in the biomedical device or bioscience industry, but do not want to be an engineer. The engineering background obtained by this minor could help you get a job with a biomedical device company. 
  • You simply want a more flexible education in biomedical engineering. Maybe you’re a full civil engineer at heart, but biomedical engineering also sounds interesting!

Why Not: 

  • This minor does not allow students to go into nearly the same depth of biomedical engineering as the double-major program does. So I suggest if you want to be a full biomedical engineer, do the double major program.  
  • This pathway may require you to complete a lot of prerequisites for the classes that non-engineers may have a hard time finding space for in their years at CSU.  

Integrated Degree Program Plus (IDP+) - A Master’s in Biomedical Engineering

A student pipetting

The Integrated Degree Program Plus (IDP+) is essentially an accelerated program that allows a student to complete a master’s degree in engineering within one year of graduating with their undergraduate engineering degree. In order to do this, the student usually completes upper division undergraduate classes that also count as graduate credits while in their senior year (double counting).  

Why: 

  • You know you want to do graduate school, and you are very passionate about biomedical engineering. It’s popular for students to receive an undergraduate degree in an engineering field other than biomedical engineering, and then complete their biomedical engineering masters in one year.  
  • This program usually requires the student to engage in a research lab as an undergraduate student. Research at CSU is a great way to figure out exactly what your passionate about in the realm of biomedicine.  
  • You can also receive a more in-depth education of BME at the graduate level. More than likely, you will begin double counting your technical electives as your graduate level courses, thus reducing your time in graduate school by a semester.

Why not: 

  • This requires more time in school, and you last couple of years in your undergrad might become a little busy while you prepare for the IDP+ program.  
  • Once you are accepted into the graduate programyour status changes from undergraduate to a graduate student, even before you’re a graduate. This means that tuition and fees increase, and a full-time student is taking 9 credits instead of 12 like undergrad. Scholarships are also commonly lost because of this status change. However, there are many opportunities to receive financial aid for graduate students through the college of engineering, so I wouldn’t let this be too impactful in your decision. 

Whatever you choose, you will do great!

Please keep in mind, all the pros and cons listed above are in my opinion. Also, if you start one pathway and realize it’s not for you, do not fret! Many of our students choose a different pathway once they’ve gotten a taste and realized it was not for themI advise to just choose what you are most passionate about and listen to your heart from there.  

I hope this blog helps you in your decision to become a biomedical engineer! Feel free to email us ambassadors at explore@engr.colostate.edu if you want to talk more in-depth! I would love to help out.  

Sarah Verderame, ambassador

Author: Sarah Verderame

Sarah is a fourth-year majoring in Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering at CSU. She is passionate about biomaterials, surgical equipment, and improving the lives of others through medical advancements. Sarah plans on working in the manufacturing side of biomedical device production after graduation.  

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the engineering ambassador team at explore@engr.colostate.edu!