Prospective Undergraduate

Frequently asked questions about the undergraduate program:

For any other questions about BE or undergraduate life, please contact the BE Undergraduate Academic Office :


Phone: (617) 452-2465

What is Biological Engineering?

Biological Engineering is at the forefront of a new engineering discipline. BE is the discipline of study where engineering principles in design, synthesis, and analysis are applied to biology on the molecular and cellular level. In essence, the synthesis of the life sciences with engineering principles allows us to understand how biological systems and processes work, and guides us in the development of new technologies, materials, and systems for many different applications.

What is the difference between Biological Engineering and Biomedical Engineering?

The main difference between Biological Engineering and Biomedical Engineering is in scope. BME is focused on using engineering principles for medical problems. BE, on the other hand, uses these engineering principles on the molecular and cellular level for a wide variety of applications - not solely in medicine. Many faculty members are engineering biology for applications in the fields of energy, the environment, and microbial systems.

How do I get into MIT?

The MIT Admissions Office determines admittance to MIT; specific departments do not play a role in undergraduate admissions and do not make any recommendations. More information on MIT Admissions can be found at

As a freshman applicant, do I apply to MIT or to BE?

You do not apply to BE as a freshman applicant; if you are interested in attending the Institute, you need to apply to MIT through the central admission office. As an incoming freshman you will enter the Institute undeclared and then you can select your course of study (major) after you arrive.

Do I need to apply to have BE as my major?

There is no application process to be in BE. You simply declare your major at the end of your first year. More information about declaring your major can be found at

Can I visit the department?

If you would like to visit the department while you are on campus, please contact the BE Academic Office, Undergraduate Programs a few days prior to your arrival.

What type of research takes place in BE?

There are many different types of cutting-edge research being performed in BE. Groundbreaking research happens regularly in BE in all of our research areas from synthetic biology and molecular therapeutics to biomechanics and biomaterials. An overview of our current research can be found in the Research Section. More in depth descriptions of specific projects can be found on the faculty’s individual pages and laboratory sites.

Can I intern in BE as a high school student?

Currently, the department does not run any programs for high school students doing research. However, there are many summer programs that are affiliated with MIT that may be intriguing for high school students interested in research. The MIT Admissions Office has more information about summer programs for high school students.

What classes do students take in BE?

There is a diverse array of classes you can take while you are in BE that cover topics like computational modeling of signal pathways and analyzing tissue engineering processes. For a sampling of what actual BE courses are like, check out the BE section of OpenCourseWare.

What is the average day like for a BE undergraduate?

More information about BE undergraduate life can be found in the following interview with Melina Tsitsiklis.

What do you do with a BE degree?

Our young department now has over 200 graduates. Our trends so far show that half of BE alumni decide to continue their education by attending top graduate and medical schools, while ten percent decide to move directly into industry and use their knowledge gained at MIT to work at new startups and established pharmaceutical companies. Twenty percent of BE alumni decide to use the analytical skills they have gained in BE in consulting and financial investments. Truly, a background in Biological Engineering keeps many doors open for future careers. The MIT Global Education & Career Development Office has more information on the career resources for undergraduates.