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Guide to BME: Freshman

Guides to BME List

Biomedical engineering (BME) has been said to be one of the most challenging majors UW has to offer, according to the UW Medical School. As is the case with most majors, BME requires that students go through an application process consisting of a written essay and an assessment of current curricular standing. A range of 45-50 students are admitted every fall semester, with nearly half of that number being accepted in the spring. Due to the competitive nature of the BME program, the average first semester GPA of an applicant ranges from 3.4-3.8.

Ideally, freshmen should apply in the second semester of their first year. Before applying, ensure you have completed the GCR requirements outlined in the curriculum flowcharts. These are the general engineering, Math, Comm A, Statics, and Chemistry requirements. You will not be admitted to the department until these are fulfilled.

The application deadline is in early May, right around the last day of classes. The application process consists of two components: academic standing and the application essay. The admission committee reviews the overall academic standing of the applicant. If the applicant is in good academic standing, his or her an essay describing his or her interest in biomedical engineering will be reviewed. The emphasis placed on the quality of the essay is increasing every year. Writing a convincing essay will provide you with a stronger essay. BMES hosts essay writing workshops a couple weeks before the essay is due. Students will receive notice of admission to BME in June or July.

Students that are not admitted after their freshman year can apply again in the fall semester of the following year. Admittance at this point would place students into the program in the spring semester of their second year. The application process remains competitive in the spring, though persistence in applying is valued.

About a third of students graduating from biomedical engineering enter medical school, another third enter graduate school for a Masters and/or PhD, and the final third enter industry. The curriculum of the major satisfies all pre-med requirements. Although if you are interested medical school, see the Medical School Guide to BME for a thorough walk-through of how best to prepare found here.

The following will help guide you through your first year in college, should you consider applying to biomedical engineering. Good luck!

In the Beginning

If you are interested in BME, you should first browse through the BME website. Peruse the website to get a general feel of what BME is all about. Look at the courses, the curriculum, and the research carried out by BME faculty. If it wonít compromise your studies, consider obtaining a research or lab position on campus. Involvement in cutting edge research not only forces you to learn more and explore the field, it is also a staple to many graduating studentsí resumes, something that is keenly acknowledged by employers and medical school admittance panels.


Consider getting involved in the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). Although itís not required, the admissions committee for BME will consider whether or not youíve been active in BMES. The first BMES meeting typically falls on the second Wednesday of each semester. You can learn a lot about BME by talking with members of BMES. Also, the officers of BMES are typically upperclassmen in BME who will be willing to help you with any questions or concerns you might have with BME. These people are quite affable and they know what it is like to be a freshman faced with so many choices. Feel free to check out the BMES website for information on meetings, events, etc.

Also, feel free to e-mail any officer with your questions; their e-mail addresses can be found here.

Although itís rather difficult for freshmen to land a summer internship, set your sights high and gain job search experience by exploring the career fair. Engineering Career Services (ECS website) holds a career fair in the second or third week of each semester. Building a network of contacts in the industry is very advantageous for future job searching.

Also, consider visiting the UW Student Job Center (UW Student Job Center website) to look for lab positions. Oftentimes students who work in labs eventually receive their own research projects.

Medical schools take into heavy consideration how you spend your summers. It will be to your advantage to obtain an internship, research position, or lab position early on. For more information regarding pre-health advising, visit the Pre-health website.


In November you will be required to attend a BME freshman advising session. You will not be able to register for spring classes until you do so.

You will also be registering for your classes in November. Several BME class flow charts (as mentioned above with link) are available on the BME website, differing based on overall direction (ie. Med-School, Grad-school, Biocore, etc.) You may want to consider taking the Biocore sequence (Biocore website). Applications for Biocore are due in early spring; the Biocore sequence begins in the fall semester every year.

Years to Come

As a BME student, you will be required to work on real life BME related problems, interacting with a client to achieve a desired end product. Every BME student takes a design course each semester for three years. To learn more about design courses, visit the BME website or talk to a BME student. You will also be expected to specialize in one of the following fields: Bioinstrumentation, Medical Imaging, Biomaterials, Health Factors, or Biomechanics. Again, to learn more about these specializations, visit this link found on the BME website.

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