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Master's Program


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The M.S. degree is part of the BIG (Bioengineering Interdepartmental Graduate) Program and is ideal for professionals seeking greater depth in several areas of bioengineering or individuals with biological science degrees who wish to enhance their foundation for employment in the many biotechnology fields. A M.S. degree is not required to enter into the Ph.D. program.

The Master of Science degree requires a minimum of 36 quarter credits and may be completed in three to four academic quarters of full-time study. Both thesis and non-thesis options are offered for the M.S. degree program (Plan I, Thesis, and Plan II, Comprehensive Examination). Students must request permission to pursue a Master of Science in Bioengineering while simultaneously pursing a Ph.D. in a program other than Bioengineering. The normative time to complete the MS degree is two years. For more information on the requirements of either plan, please refer to the BIG student handbook.

Students must notify the Graduate Advisor of Enrolled Students (Dr. Hyle Park, hylepark@engr.ucr.edu) which of these two options they wish to pursue within their first quarter in the program. Any changes from one Plan to the other must be discussed with and approved by both the Graduate Advisor of Enrolled Students and the student's Research Advisor. 

Plan I (Research Thesis)
  • designed primarily for students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. 
  • at least 24 of the 36 units required must be graduate-level courses 
  • a maximum of 12 units from BIEN 297 and BIEN 299 may be used towards the 36 unit requirement 
  • a significant level of research is required 
  • students should begin research as soon as possible; this can be done by participating in research lab rotations during their first quarter of the program 
  • Thesis Defense:  Completion of a thesis has two components: submission of a written document approved by the thesis committee AND a passing of a thesis defense. 
Plan II (Comprehensive Exam) 
  • designed primarily for students who do not intend to pursue a Ph.D. 
  • normative time for completion is 1 year
  • at least 18 of the 36 units required must be graduate-level courses 
  • units from BIEN 297 and BIEN 299 may not be used towards the 18 unit requirement 
  • Written MS Exit Exam:  Students will take a comprehensive exam that is related to 1 of the 5 research focus area selected. Exams will be administered at the end of Spring Quarter. If a students fails the exam, they will be granted the opportunity to retake the exam prior to the start of the Fall Quarter. No more than 2 attempts to pass the exam are allowed.

Why BIG?

  • Broad range of critically important, contemporary bioengineering topics
  • Dedication to leadership training - graduates are continuously exposed to opportunities to interact with BIG faculty as well as many Colloquium speakers to ask questions without faculty presence
  • Emphasis on productivity in an energized welcoming environment has students working early and often with creative expression and presentations that focus on accountability
  • Strong faculty dedicated to a collaborative, sharing environment to maximize learning and innovation with flexible course structures that include non-clinical medical school courses at the UCR School of Medicine
  • Opportunities to interact with leading UC centers with cutting edge instrumentation including UCR Center for Plant Cell Biology (CEPCEB) and UCR Central Facility for Advanced Microscopy and Microanalysis as well as the potential to do collaborative cutting-edge medical research with institutions such as City of Hope, Loma Linda University’s School of Medicine and University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine.

How to Apply

Applications to the BIG M.S. program are accepted through the UC Riverside Graduate Division website for the Fall quarter only. The priority deadline for admission and fellowship consideration is January 5th. The deadline to apply for admission consideration only is June 1st for all applicants.

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In addition to the following requirements, all applicants must meet the general requirements of the UCR Graduate Council as set forth by the Graduate Division. Applicants will need to have completed coursework in chemistry, physics, math, biochemistry and biology, and engineering. Students without an undergraduate engineering degree should have excellent training in mathematics and the physical sciences. Specific recommendations for students without an undergraduate engineering degree are:

  • Two years of mathematics
  • One year of physics
  • One year of inorganic chemistry including lab
  • One year of organic chemistry including lab
  • One course in biochemistry
  • One course in molecular biology

Students with strong academic records may be admitted with limited coursework deficiencies, provided that these are satisfied by appropriate coursework taken during the first two years of graduate study.

Language Requirement

All international students whose first language is not English must satisfactorily complete the SPEAK test.

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