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Biomechanical Engineering FAQ

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What exactly is biomechanical engineering?

In short, biomechanical engineering is the combined use of mechanical engineering principals and biological knowledge to better understand how these areas intersect and how they can be used together to potentially improve peoples’ quality of life.

How is biomechanical engineering different than biomedical engineering?  Is Stanford a good place to study BME?

At other colleges, biomechanical engineering is sometimes considered a subset of biomedical engineering. Stanford does not have a biomedical engineering major for undergraduates. Rather, each subset of biomedical engineering is considered its own major. The biomechanical engineering major combines mechanical engineering and biology while the biomedical computation major combines computer science and biology. Alternatively, Stanford offers individually designed majors (IDMs) where you can determine your own engineering curriculum in a way that will allow you to study your specific interests. All in all, Stanford is a great place to study biomechanical engineering. Stanford has earned its great reputation as an engineering school. The professors are experts in their fields, the classes are taught at a high level, and the student community is highly motivated and supportive.

What type of classes do biomechanical engineering students take?

Biomechanical engineering undergraduates at Stanford take classes from a variety of disciplines. Like all engineers, they must fulfill math requirements and science requirements. This means that they must obtain a set number of units in math and must also take either a year of chemistry and a quarter of physics or vice versa. Students in BME need a good background in biology and therefore must complete two quarters of the Biology or Human Biology core and a biology lab class. They also have a solid background in mechanical engineering by completing many core ME classes. Finally, BME students can choose between several ME and BME depth classes to focus in on areas that they are especially interested in. Please refer to the BME Program Sheet in the Stanford Undergraduate Engineering Handbook to see a comprehensive list of classes required for BME students.

How do I declare a BME major?

First, go online and print the BME program sheet from the engineering handbook. Email the undergraduate coordinator to set up an appointment. He or she will help you with the rest of the process. If you want to get a jump start, fill in the program sheet with the classes that you have taken so far and go online and print an unofficial transcript. You will also need to write a half page statement of purpose explaining your interest in BME, the classes you have taken or intend to take, and your future plans. After meeting with the undergraduate coordinator, you should contact a faculty member and ask them to be your advisor. You will need to meet with them and have them sign your filled-out program sheet. Finally, you will turn in the signed program sheet, the unofficial transcript and the statement of purpose to the ME Student Services Office.

What future career paths are open to BME students?

BME students have a variety of career goals. Although the major is not usually recommended as a terminal degree, some students begin working in industry as engineers immediately following graduation in areas such as medical device design. Others choose to use their quantitative and problem-solving skills in areas such as consulting or finance. Most students intend to continue their studies post-college. Some choose to pursue a coterminal master’s degree in BME or BioE. The BME undergrad curriculum fulfills many premed requirements, so many students attend medical school following graduation. Alternatively, law school and business school are less traditional but equally viable options. The BME curriculum provides quantitative skills and technological knowledge that are valuable in many different careers.

I have more questions about the program and would like to speak to a student; whom can I contact?

If you have more questions about the program, please contact the BME undergraduate student coordinator at


I'm interested in grad school, where do I start?

This quick reading by Rob Candler, a Stanford ME alumnus, might help answer many of your questions:


How do admissions work? What degrees are offered?

Please refer to Admissions and the Biomechanical Engineering degrees web page, which provide lots of useful information. You may also want to read the  ME Graduate Handbook (SUNetID required), which has detailed degree requirements.

Whom should I contact about setting up a visit?

Please see the Visits entry on the ME Academics & Admissions FAQ page.