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Course Requirements

Graduate students will complete 2 core courses, supplemented with 4 additional electives. Aside from core classes, the choice of timing as to when to take each course is up to the individual student.

  1. Fall Core: 20.420,
  2. Spring Core: 20.440
  3. BE Restricted Elective (one of): 20.201, 20.405, 20.410, 20.415, 20.430, 20.450, 20.463, 20.490
  4. BE Unrestricted Elective: Any Course XX subject
  5. Engineering/Science Elective
  6. Science & Biology Elective

Graduate Students are generally expected to receive a grade of “B” or higher in any subject taken to satisfy a Departmental Requirement, grades below “B” are normally considered to be unacceptable as a measure of progress towards degree objectives.

It is assumed that incoming students have the undergraduate background necessary to tackle the core subjects. If biochemistry and/or cell biology have not been previously taken, it/they must be taken as remedial undergraduate subjects (7.05 or 5.07 for biochemistry, 7.06 for cell biology) before taking the graduate-level subject. Students deficient in background may wish to take appropriate undergraduate subjects concurrently with the two core subjects in the first two semesters. If you are in doubt about your preparation for the core subjects, consult your academic advisor.

Elective Subjects (4 required)

To enhance depth and breadth, the core subjects are supplemented by electives in science and /or engineering. The student chooses four elective subjects in consultation with the advisor. Advanced subjects other than those enumerated in the lists below are acceptable upon approval by advisor and Course XX Graduate Program Chair. The goal is to find MIT subjects that best fit a student’s thesis research project and career objectives.

Please note: an elective subject is a 9-12 unit subject, if a subject is 6 units, students must take an ADDITIONAL 6-unit subject in order to count towards a 12-unit elective. Elective subjects must be letter graded; no P/D/F subject will be accepted as part of the program requirements.

1. Biological Engineering Restricted — one subject
To provide breadth in biological engineering, at least one graduate-level course beyond the Core Classes must be selected from the following group:

  • 20.201 Mechanisms of Drug Actions
  • 20.405 Principles of Synthetic Biology
  • 20.410 Molecular/Cell Tissue Biomechanics
  • 20.415 Physical Biology
  • 20.430 Fields, Forces, and Flows in Biological Systems
  • 20.450 Molecular and Cellular Pathophysiology
  • 20.463 Biomaterials Science and Engineering
  • 20.490 Computational & Systems Biology

2. Biological Engineering Unrestricted Elective — one Course 20 subject
One graduate level Course 20 subject

3. Engineering/Science — one subject
To provide breadth in engineering or science, at least one graduate-level subject approved by the BE Graduate Committee Chair or Co-Chair must be selected.

4. Science & Biological Science — one Course 7 subject
To provide a firm foundation in modern biology, the student will be expected to have biochemistry and cell biology as prerequisites and then select one graduate-level subjects in biological science.

Research Progress Report (20.950/THG)

Evaluation of a student’s research performance is assisted by the Research Progress report, which is sent to all students registered for either 20.950 Research and 20.THG Thesis late in each regular semester (fall and spring). The Report is a questionnaire, which serves as an opportunity for both parties to get a better sense of progress on research project, the student’s development, and the student/supervisor working relationship, as well as to plan for future progress. The student and supervisor may wish to fill out the questionnaires independently and then meet to discuss them; this approach has the advantage of promoting a more open discussion between the parties and helps reveal any underlying misconceptions that may exist.

After discussion of the questionnaire the supervisor will assign a grade of J (satisfactory) or U (unsatisfactory) for the student’s registered for 20.THG thesis or a letter grade for students registered for 20.950 Research that semester. Both the student and the advisor must sign the form. The student is responsible for returning the signed form to the Academic Office (Room 16-267) or a grade will not be reported for that semester.

Students who are graduating/defending their thesis do not need to fill out this form.

Minor Requirement for the Doctorate

There is no Institute requirement of a minor for the doctoral degree. At this time the BE Department does not have an official minor requirement. A student interested in pursuing a minor along with the doctoral degree must discuss with and gain approval of their research supervisor(s).

The Graduate Program Committee Chair must then approve the proposed program. A program of study should be approved before it is embarked on, and therefore should be proposed early in a student’s doctoral program. Changes in a program must be approved through a “revised” minor proposal submitted to the Chair of the Graduate Committee. The student’s research supervisor must sign and approve therevised minor proposal. (See Form in Appendix)

The program of study that constitutes a minor must be well separated from the student’s Academic Program subjects and thesis research area. Normally this means that the subjects are taken outside the Department, in a field not directly related to science and engineering.

The subjects taken to satisfy the Minor Requirement must be at an advanced level. It is recommended that two related graduate level courses be taken (24 units). Minor Programs composed of one graduate level and one advanced undergraduate level course (24 units), or three advanced undergraduate courses (33 units), that were not used to obtain a bachelors or masters degree, may also be acceptable. An exception is a minor in a beginning language sequence where two 9-unit G subjects would most likely be approved.

Proposal for a Minor Program

Students must submit a Request for Minor Approval Form outlining the proposed Minor Program to the Graduate Program Committee for approval. The form must include:

  1. A description of the student’s prior work in the proposed area if any;
  2. An explicit demonstration that the proposed program fulfills all of the requirements for the Minor Program;
  3. Attached copies of the catalogue descriptions of all subjects included on the form;
  4. An endorsement of the proposal by the student’s research supervisor stating the program is coherent and distinct from both the student’s thesis research and the field in which the student has taken the Oral Examination.

Subjects Taken Outside MIT

Students with demonstrated professional competence (for instance, a graduate degree) in a field separate from Biological Engineering may petition the Graduate Program Committee to use that experience to satisfy the Minor Requirement. Units and subject level requirement are the same as for subjects taken within MIT.