Prerequisites and General Education

The University requires a comprehensive set of General Education requirements. In addition, the Accreditation Organization for Engineering (ABET) requires that our curricula include courses in mathematics, science, communication skills, humanities, social sciences, analysis, and design. ABET’s criteria is intended to broaden the student’s liberal education through the development of understanding in depth.

The required courses for the biomedical engineering degree satisfy certain categories of the Penn State General Education requirements such as the Natural Sciences and Quantification. The Writing/Speaking requirements are satisfied by prescribed courses including ENGL 015, ENGL 030, CAS 100A, CAS 100B, ENGL 202C, and our writing-intensive course BME 450W. There are four categories of General Education elective courses for biomedical engineering students: Arts; Humanities; Social Sciences; and Health and Physical Activity

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Electives

General Education courses in the Arts are denoted by the “GA” after the course number. Humanities general education courses are divided into literature, history and culture, language and philosophy and will have a “GH” after the course number. General Education courses in the Social and Behavioral Sciences are denoted by “GS” after the course number. These notations can be found in the University Bulletin and in the Schedule of Courses.

There are 15 credits of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences courses to complete in addition to 3 credits of Social Sciences specified as Economics. All engineering students must take a 3-credit economics course. Students may select from ECON 102 or ECON 104 and it will count towards your Social and Behavioral Science General Education requirement. All students must also take 3 credits each of US Culture denoted by (US) and International Culture (IL). Students may use a study abroad program to fulfill the IL requirement. Generally, it is best to use your GA, GH, or GS courses to fulfill US/IL requirements.

Health and Physical Activity Electives

All students must take 3 credits in Health and Physical Activity. These courses are labeled “GHA” and may be found using the “Additional Search” criteria option in the Schedule of Courses.

General Education Plans

Plan I (6-6-6)

  • Two courses in the Arts
  • Two courses in the Humanities
  • Two courses in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

Plan II (9-6-3)

  • Three courses in one category (Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences)
  • Two courses in the second category
  • One course in the third category

Students wishing to pursue a 9-6-3 sequence must notify the department of their intention. So that we have record of your plan and to ensure your audit is updated, submit the request on the College of Engineering’s e-Petition system. If you use the form, it does not require an adviser’s signature, however, a copy will be kept in your student file. Forms can also be obtained from the Undergraduate Assistant in Room 206 Hallowell.

Note: Three credits of a foreign language taken at the 12th credit level (level III at Penn State, e.g. SPAN 003), or higher, may be used as a course in any of the Arts, Humanities, or Social Science categories, but the foreign language course cannot be the only course in that category. The student must submit the request on the College of Engineering’s e-Petition system and indicate the category in which the language is to be used.



The Department of Biomedical Engineering administers the undergraduate major in biomedical engineering, and is a part of the university-wide Intercollege Graduate Degree Program, offering both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bioengineering. 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