Prospective Graduate Students

Information for Prospective Graduate Students

Welcome! The Graduate Program in Biological Systems Engineering (GBSE) at UC Davis provides a setting in which students can become leaders in biological, agricultural and natural resources, and food engineering research. We are a highly-ranked program where students develop knowledge through partnerships with faculty, industry and other students in various areas of engineering. Our program values diversity and inclusion as integral components of academic excellence. Our students go on to successful careers in academia, industry, government agencies and non-governmental organizations. As a GBSE graduate student, you will make scholarly contributions to the field and after completing the program, be prepared and competitive for the diverse opportunities in a career in biotechnology, agriculture, and food sciences. 

The GBSE Program offers M. Engineering, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Biological Systems Engineering. We encourage you to find out more about specific degree requirements, but a summary of our degree options is below.

Master's Degree Options

There are three pathways to achieve an master's degree with GBSE:

  • MS Plan I – Thesis: The MS I pathway requires that, in addition to 30 units of graded coursework, students engage in substantial, independent research that culminates in the writing of a Thesis. The MS I degree pathway is for students who have a strong interest in gaining or expanding their research experience. The ability to participate in the MS I pathway requires guidance of a faculty member, known as a major professor or PI.
  • MS Plan II – Exam: The MS II pathway requires students take 36 units of graded coursework, predominately at the graduate level. Additionally, this plan will culminate in an Oral Comprehensive Examination given before three faculty members. The MS II pathway is for students who are interested in expanding their knowledge in their area of specialization. Students on the MS II pathway may, with the support of a faculty member, transfer to the MS I (thesis) pathway.
  • M. Eng - Project & Report: The M. Eng pathway requires students take 36 units of graded coursework, predominately at the graduate level. Work will culminate in a written report based on a project (developed in consultation with a faculty member) as well as an oral comprehensive exam before a committee of three faculty members. The M. Eng pathway emphasizes design, analysis, economics, management, and labor and prepares students for advance careers in industry as professional engineers. 
Doctoral Degree Options

The Ph.D. degree is for those students who have a major interest in developing deep knowledge of and performing independent, extensive research in their area of specialization, conducted in close collaboration with faculty. Students may apply directly to the Ph.D. program whether or not they have already obtained an MS degree, and many students start at UC Davis on the MS pathway and later transition to the Ph.D. program. Admission to the Ph.D. program is highly competitive, and requires the support of a faculty member. If you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. degree, it is recommended that you contact faculty members who have research interests that align with yours.

Graduate Designated Emphasis

Graduate Research in GBSE at UC Davis


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