Biological Engineering

Department Head: Douglas A Lauffenburger | Email | Website

77 Massachusetts Ave. • 56-651 • Cambridge, MA 02139 • (617) 253-1712

MIT’s Biological Engineering Department is a leader in the emerging biology-based engineering discipline. Through the synthesis of engineering and molecular life sciences, our students learn to address the technological and environmental factors affecting biological systems and to create innovative technologies to benefit areas from human and environmental health to agriculture, manufacturing, and defense.

In collaboration with industry and government, BE researchers address a range of contemporary issues, including:

  • Biological and physiological transport phenomena
  • Biological imaging and functional measurement
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomolecular engineering and cell and tissue engineering
  • Computational biology and bioinformatics
  • Discovery, design, and delivery of molecular therapeutics
  • Genetic toxicology
  • Macromolecular biochemistry and biophysics
  • Metabolism of drugs and toxins
  • Microbial pathogenesis
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Biomechanics
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Molecular pharmacology
  • Genomics, proteomics, and glycomics


Students graduate prepared to develop innovative technologies for a range of human-health applications and to generate new biology-based paradigms for solving problems in non-biological applications of science and engineering. They find careers in medical diagnostic, therapeutic, and device industries, and in the agriculture, environment, materials, manufacturing, and defense sectors. Degree options include:

Master of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering

The five-year program emphasizes the fusion of engineering with modern molecular-to-genomic biology and leads to a bachelor’s degree in a science or engineering discipline and a Master of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering. Students are required to complete a thesis of original research, design, or development.

Master of Science and MBA

Leaders for Global Operations, a two-year dual-degree program, offers an SM in Biological Engineering (or one of six other engineering programs) and an MBA or SM from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Engineering

The five- to six-year program is for students seeking PhD thesis work involving the application of engineering principles to the solution of biological and biomedical problems. Students are required to participate as a teaching assistant for at least one term and defend a thesis based on original research.

Doctor of Philosophy in Computational and Systems Biology

The program is a collaborative effort among MIT’s Biology, Biological Engineering, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments. The curriculum emphasizes foundational material to enable students to become creators of future tools and technologies. In addition to coursework and a research thesis, students must pass a written and an oral qualifying examination in the second year.

An undergraduate degree prepares students for entry-level positions in the biotech, pharmaceutical, medical device fields and for further study at the graduate level in areas from medicine to law to financial analysis. Degree options include:

Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering

The program provides a strong foundation in biological and biochemical sciences integrated with engineering analysis and design. In addition to regular course work, students are required to complete a senior design project.