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How to Apply

Application Process

Applications to the biomedical engineering graduate programs are accepted online only through the Penn State Graduate School’s  Online Application Portal. 

The following are required items that must be uploaded as part of the Graduate School application: 

Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement

  • Each graduate degree includes additional instructions listed below.


  • Provide a traditional resume describing your educational and professional history including research, work, volunteer, and other pertinent experience. 

Letters of Recommendation

  • Three letters are required for the Ph.D. program, while only two letters are required for the M.S. program. Ideally, choose individuals that are able to speak to important attributes mentioned in your personal statement (see additional program information below).
  • The references you list in the online application will be given directions for submitting their letters. 
  • We will accept letters by mail in a sealed and signed envelope if your references choose not to submit their letters online.
  • Be sure to inform your letter writers that they must submit their letters by the application deadline. 

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores for international students only 

  • All international applicants (except for those from the list of exempt countries) must take and officially submit scores for the TOEFL or the IELTS.  
  • A minimum overall score of 80 on the TOEFL is required, with a minimum score of 19 on the speaking section. 
  • A minimum score of 6.5 on the IELTS is required.
  • Exception - international applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirements if they received a bachelor's or master's degree from a college or university in the United States. 
  • Penn State's institution code is 2660. A department code is not required. 
  • Applicants who do not meet the minimum requirements will be considered for admission on a provisional basis and required to take an English speaking course. 
  • TOEFL scores are to be sent to Penn State electronically via the Graduate School Online Application. Applicants should send hard copy scores directly from the IELTS testing agency to Penn State’s Graduate School at: 

    The Pennsylvania State University 
    Graduate Enrollment Services 
    114 Kern Building 
    University Park, PA 16802 


  • A copy of your official transcripts from all institutions attended, both undergraduate and graduate should be uploaded. 
  • Current Penn State students do not need to upload transcripts.
  • Unofficial transcripts are allowed until final official transcripts are available.


The Penn State Department of Biomedical Engineering accepts graduate applications on a continuous, rolling basis. However, to ensure timely consideration within the main applicant pool, be sure to submit your application by the deadline of December 1 for fall enrollment the following calendar year for the Ph.D. program. For the M.S. programs the deadlines are June 15 for fall and November 15 for spring.  

Application Fee Waivers

BME does not have funds for Application Fee Waivers. See below if applicable.

Application fee waivers are available for prospective students who engage with the Center for Engineering Outreach & Inclusion or central College of Engineering graduate recruitment programming. If you believe you qualify for a fee waiver, please send an email to to begin a fee waiver approval request.


Applications completed by the posted December deadline will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee, and decisions will be mailed in early February (see additional details specific to the Ph.D. program below). Applications completed after the December deadline will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and applicants will be notified if openings remain. M.S. applications will be reviewed within a month of their deadlines. 

When an application is approved by the Admissions Committee, the following occurs through different Penn State offices. 

  • A letter of recommended acceptance is sent to applicants by electronic mail. An admission recommendation is also forwarded to the Penn State Graduate School by the Department of Biomedical Engineering. 
  • The Graduate School must approve the Department's recommendation of acceptance. If approved, applicants will be notified by the Graduate School. 
  • International applicants will then be notified by the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS), which will issue an I-20 form. Any questions regarding visas, I-20, etc., must be directed to the OISS Office. The Department of Biomedical Engineering is unable to assist with international student visas. 
  • All applicants are considered for research or teaching assistantships and applicable fellowships. Applicants will be notified by the Department of any assistantship offers or fellowships at the time of admission. 

The Admissions Committee carefully reviews each application and discusses the potential of each applicant. As such, the decisions of the Admissions Committee are final and not subject to further review.

Doctoral Program Additional Information

Holistic Admissions

The Department of Biomedical Engineering is proud to utilize a holistic admissions process to review applicants to our Ph.D. Program. This process is designed to recruit top candidates who will excel in graduate-level research from a wide diversity of identities, backgrounds, and perspectives. Rather than focus on simplistic metrics, such as the GRE and GPA, our admissions process seeks candidates who demonstrate key attributes that we believe are essential to successfully completing a Ph.D. degree in biomedical engineering. Importantly, we evaluate each applicant based on the entirety of their life experiences, whether in the classroom, laboratory, office, or personal life. Additionally, we prioritize student potential and recognize that a Ph.D. degree is a training experience in which students grow and learn to become professional scientists. Therefore, candidates who have experienced obstacles accessing research or advanced training (but still possess the personal attributes predictive of success) are not at a disadvantage in the admissions process and will be supported once enrolled in our Ph.D. program. Furthermore, we prioritize applicants that are committed to advancing science such that it addresses the needs of all members of society, including those historically marginalized in the United States. These efforts are consistent with our own commitment of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within science and engineering. 

Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement

As mentioned above, we are interested in seven key attributes in our doctoral students. Therefore, please make sure that you provide a response to each of the following prompts within your personal statement. Note that the examples you provide for each attribute may be directly related to research/classwork or other experiences within your personal life. Additionally, the same experience could serve as an example for multiple attributes. This information will be a critical component of the Admissions Committee’s determination of each applicant’s suitability for our Ph.D. program.

  • Academic Preparation and Research Experience: Describe any prior research/project experience (including overall project goals and specific activities) and be sure to have at least one of your letters of recommendation come from a research/project supervisor who can speak about your performance. We also encourage you to explain any deficiencies in your academic preparation (e.g., poor grades) and how you have or will address these issues.
  • Research Interests: Describe (1) why you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D., (2) what your general research interests are, and (3) what aspects of your personal, educational, or professional experience led you to these interests. 
  • Self-Motivation: Highlight 1-2 experiences that demonstrate your level of self-motivation and initiative. 
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Highlight 1-2 experiences that demonstrate your level of independent problem-solving skills. 
  • Leadership: Highlight 1-2 experiences that demonstrate your leadership or management skills.
  • Resilience: Highlight 1-2 experiences that demonstrate your level of resilience and grit in the face of adversity.  
  • DEI: Describe your interests and prior experiences in supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within science, engineering, and/or medicine.

Recruitment Activities and Notification

Following an initial review of the applications submitted by the posted December deadline, a selection of the applicants will be requested to attend a virtual recruitment event in January to meet our faculty and students. Admissions decisions will be made based on the application material and virtual interviews. The decisions will be mailed in early February, and admitted applicants will be invited to visit Penn State’s campus in person. 

M.S. Program Additional Information

Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement

  • Write a brief essay of your educational and research background, your area(s) of interest for your graduate studies, your future career goals, and reasons for why you should be admitted to the Graduate School at Penn State.


The Department of Biomedical Engineering administers the bachelor of science, master of science, and doctorate degree programs in biomedical engineering. Our work combines traditional engineering principles with medicine and technology for the betterment of human health and society. 

Department of Biomedical Engineering

122 Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-863-6614