Biomedical Engineering (BME)
The interdisciplinary field of biomedical engineering (BME) combines elements of engineering (electronics, systems analysis, mechanics) with the life sciences (biology, physiology, biochemistry) to define and solve problems in biology and medicine.
Students choose this branch of engineering for the excitement of working with people and living systems, and for the opportunity to apply advanced technology to the complex problems of medical care.
The Student Perspective
Our students can get involved in research, internships, and student organizations related to their major. Hear from some current Viterbi students about their experiences.
“I'm studying Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Computer Programming. This combination helped me to secure my dream internship with Abbott Laboratories this summer!”Daniel DonchevBiomedical Engineering (Electrical) '19
“I'm an undergraduate research assistant at the USC Biomechanics Lab and volunteer at LA County Hospital. I also participated in the Tsinghua Research Exchange Program in Beijing, China.”Rhea ChoudhuryBiomedical Engineering '19
“Being involved in Project-in-a-Box through the Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering allowed me to expose elementary school students to interactive projects like prosthetic hands and heart catheters.”Sarah MilkowskiBiomedical Engineering, '19
Listen while you scroll!
BME Podcast Playlist
Check out all of our podcast episodes related to Biomedical Engineering. Whether it’s Dr. Stacey Finley discussing BME as a pre-med track for med school or the members of Associate Students of Biomedical Engineering talking about the ASBME Make-A-Thon, this playlist was made for you.
Viterbi Voices: The Podcast is your chance to hear stories about research, classes, student life, and more directly from our faculty, students, and other members of our engineering community. Click the link below to see the rest of our episodes!
Curriculum and Emphases
While many students choose a primary degree in Biomedical Engineering with no added specialization, we do offer the opportunity to deepen your education in three separate emphasis programs: Molecular & Cellular, Electrical, and Mechanical.
Students who choose a primary degree in biomedical engineering get to take a little bit of everything over their four years. They get a foundation in biomedical engineering principles to pursue many careers related to the field.Course Plan
Biomedical Engineering (Molecular & Cellular)
This emphasis combines biomedical engineering with the life sciences. You will take classes in areas like Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering. Systems Biology, Introduction to Bioengineering in Medicine, and Nanomedicine.Course Plan
Biomedical Engineering (Electrical)
The electrical emphasis in biomedical engineering is for students who are interested in the building of electronic biomedical devices and the effects of electrical stimulation. You’ll take courses in areas like Linear Circuits, Digital Logic, Electromagnetics and Digital Electronic Circuit Design.Course Plan
Biomedical Engineering (Mechanical)
The biomedical (mechanical) option is for students who are interested in the mechanics and dynamics of medical devices and biological systems. Your coursework will include areas like Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Biomechanics, Materials Behavior and Processing, and Fluid Mechanics.Course Plan
Medical School Preparation
The BME programs are easily adapted to include the prerequisites for most medical schools, while also providing applied technical training beyond the basic life sciences. USC Pre-Med students are supported throughout the medical school application process by the Pre-Health Advisement office. Many graduates go on to attend top medical, dental, and pharmacy schools around the country, including the USC Keck School of Medicine.
Students can participate in a variety of directed study courses or classroom projects at facilities such as the County-USC Medical Center, the Biomedical Simulations Resource Center, the Medical Ultrasonic Transducer Resource Center, Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, and Children’s Hospital-Los Angeles (CHLA).
The Biomedical Engineering department features stellar researchers and faculty with high quality facilities. A few research areas within the department include retinal prostheses, medical imaging, neural prostheses, biomedical photonics, cortical prostheses, sensory neurophsiology, ultrasonic imaging and much more! Students have the opportunity to be involved in research as early as freshman year.
We have a balance of programs - theoretical, computational, and experimental – which exemplify the Viterbi School’s approach to intensive and collaborative research.
Faculty will be teaching all of your classes and leading research projects as well. Your opportunities to build relationships with your faculty will begin immediately in your first year, both in the classroom and the lab. Check out a few highlighted professors with whom you may work in the future:
Dr. Megan L. McCain
Her research group develops 'Organ on Chips,' which are micro-scale, engineered mimics of human tissues that have applications in drug screening and personalized medicine. She was recently named one of MIT Technology Review's Top Innovators Under 35.
Dr. Brent Liu
He has expanded his research in designing a methodology for developing imaging-based electronic patient records (ePR) with built-in decision support in specific clinical applications to form a powerful and robust tool for longitudinal clinical research in specific disease types.
Your engineering undergraduate degree will prepare you for many career and academic opportunities. Whether you have always known “what you want to do when you grow up” or are hoping to find out, we are here to help you plan for your future beyond USC. We provide dedicated career services starting in your first year to help you find internships, co-ops, and full-time positions post graduation.
When you graduate with a degree in Biomedical Engineering, here are just a few of the future career paths that might lay before you.
- Build Advanced therapeutic and surgical devices
- Create safe implantable artificial materials
- Become physicians or pharmacists
- Conduct biomedical research
- Develop artificial organs
- Design prosthetics
- Improve medical imaging devices
Don't take our word for it. Ask some Viterbi alumni:
“I discovered my passion for sports medicine and biomechanics research at USC's Human Performance Lab. Now I work at Motus Global alongside professional athletes to test and improve their performance.”Gabriel GlasserB.S. Biomedical Engineering '16
“I recently received my MD from the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, and was accepted into the residency program in neurosurgery at UCLA!”Jasmine ThumB.S., M.S. Biomedical Engineering '12
“I am currently an Associate in Digital Health at Amgen where I work on assessing and piloting new technologies that can transform the patient experience in areas like Personalized Medicine.”Ruchie BhardwajB.S. Biomedical Engineering '16
We want students who like to work hard – both in and out of the classroom. Our students know that going to college is more than attending class and completing assignments. College is about making connections and joining a community of dedicated students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Our students want to work and play with people as interesting as they are, and we have a number of ways for you to do the same.
Your life can be designed how you like it. Get your hands dirty with 3D4E. Continue your passion for volunteering with Engineers Without Borders. Keep making art with Corpus Callosum. On this page, we have a few student organizations we think you might be interested in, but there are so many more you can get involved in!
Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering
Through academic, social, and corporate events, students gain clarity of their chosen field of study and the opportunities that being a BME major brings. Students are also able to get a foot in the corporate door at the annual ASBME corporate dinner, attended by USC alumni as well as other corporate representatives.
Engineers Without Borders
Students and professional mentors work together to deliver critical infrastructure projects to rural communities in developing countries. For each project, EWB collaborates with the local community members to design and implement sustainable engineering projects. They go as close as San Diego and as far as Guatemala!
Students design, 3D print, and assemble products like a 3D printed USC campus map, Settlers of Catan board, hydroponics system, and drones. They're most commonly known for Project Freehand, where they 3D print customizable 3D- printed prosthetic hands free of charge for children in need in the LA area.
Imagine yourself on campus.
Learn more about life at USC as an engineering student at Viterbi Voices:
More Engineering Disciplines
You just learned so much about Biomedical Engineering, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond this department, Viterbi has ten academic disciplines spread across eight departments to make up more than thirty major combinations. Take some time to explore all of your interests.