BAE Graduate Students Have Many Opportunities at UC Davis

Graduate Degrees

The Graduate Program in Biological Systems Engineering offers the following graduate degrees:

Doctoral Degrees

There are two paths open to students seeking education beyond a master's degree: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Biological Systems Engineering and Doctor of Engineering (D. Engr) in Biological Systems Engineering. Students may also opt for a Designated Ph.D Emphasis in Biotechnology or Native American Studies.

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Biological Systems Engineering

  • The Ph.D program in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering emphasizes the science or research features of engineering. Completion of this program is intended to provide students with the ability to assist in the furtherance of the fundamental knowledge of engineering biological systems. Those students entering the program with a bachelor's of science should expect it to take 5 years. For students with a master's degree, the typical program length is 4 years. In addition to the course work, the program culminates in a written and oral examination as well as a dissertation.

  • Doctor of Engineering (D.Engr) in Biological Systems Engineering

  • The Doctor of Engineering program emphasizes design, analysis, economics, management, and labor. The program is intended to assist students in their pursuit of becoming professional engineers. The course requirements academically equivalent to the Ph.D program but emphasize the professional aspects of engineering rather than research. The student prepares for a Qualifying Examination in a major field and one or two minor fields. Typically, the program features a wider range of subject rather than the subject specificity of the Ph.D program. As a consequence, the Doctor of Engineering candidate is not expected to probe into a single field of learning as deeply as the Ph.D. candidate. Minor fields should include courses outside engineering such as bioscience, business management, economics, sociology, and others. Students should expect to complete the program within 5 years.

Designated Emphases

During the doctoral program, students have the opportunity to also apply for a designated emphasis. A designated emphasis (DE) is an interdisciplinary specialization, such as a new method of inquiry or an important field of application, which is relevant to two or more existing doctoral degree programs. The Graduate Program in Biological Systems Engineering offers two designated emphases.

  • Biotechnology

  • The designated emphasis in Biotechnology provides a very effective multidisciplinary biotechnology concentration, which includes exposure to bioethics, business and legal aspects of biotechnology as well as a 3-6 month internship in a biotechnology company or research laboratory in another college or national laboratory. Dr. Kjelstrom, the Program Coordinator assists the students in locating internships, preparation of a strong cover letter and curriculum vitae, and the development of professional skills related to the business environment.

    Program Chair: Email Abhaya Dandekar

    Visit the Graduate Studies website for more information about a Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology.

  • Native American Studies

  • The designated emphasis in Native American Studies focuses hemispherically upon the indigenous peoples of the Americans, that is, upon the peoples, nations, tribes, and communities whose ancestors have lived in North, Central and South America from earliest times. This unique hemispheric approach includes attention to the increasing dislocation and diaspora of indigenous people throughout the Americas, and calls upon the authority of Native intelligence (Native voices, Native texts) in all its forms and manifestations to address the issues that concern Native peoples, including the creative strategies for continuance they have developed over the centuries.

    Program Chair: Email Justin Spence

    Visit the Graduate Studies website for more information about a Designated Emphasis in Native American Studies.

Master Degrees

There are three options for master's degrees in Biological Systems Engineering within the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering: Master of Science (M.S.) Plan I - Thesis Option,  Master of Science (M.S.) Plan II - Comprehensive Exam Option and Master of Engineering (M.Eng.).

  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Biological Systems Engineering Plan I - Thesis Option
  • The Plan I M.S. is designed for people who wish to further their fundamental knowledge of engineering. This plan emphasizes the science and research features of engineering. The work students complete in this plan will culminate in a research based thesis that is reviewed by a thesis committee.
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Biological Systems Engineering Plan II - Comprehensive Exam Option
  • The Plan II M.S. is designed for those who want to strengthen their preparation either for the job marked for for further professional education. This option is well suited to highly qualified students who plan to pursue further graduate education and reduce overall time to graduate degree. However, without the research based thesis, funding your master's degree as a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) is rare. Plan II students are still eligible for a limited number of TA positions within and outside the department. Additionally, this plan will culminate in an Oral Comprehensive Examination given before three faculty members.
  • Master of Engineering (M.Eng.)
  • The M.Eng program emphasizes design, analysis, economics, management, and labor. It prepares students with training useful for professional engineers. Work will culminate in a written report based on a project as well as an oral comprehensive exam before a committee of three faculty members.

Integrated Degree

The integrated BS and MS degree program for Biological Systems Engineers allows students to save time transitioning seamlessly to the master's degree program upon completion of their bachelor's degree. After the completion of a bachelor's degree the time to completion of a master's degree, under Plan I (Thesis) is 18 months and under Plan II (Comprehensive Examination) is 12 months. This compares to the regular master's degree program expected timeline of 24 months for Plan I and 18 months for Plan II. The program is competitive and rigorous standards are set to ensure students' eventual success.

UC Davis General Catalog

General Catalog Biological Systems Engineering Graduate Program

Graduate Program Degree Requirements

GBSE Degree Requirements (Approved 23 May 2022)

EBS Graduate Courses

EBS Graduate Courses