Bioengineering (PhD)

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Program Leadership:
Duan Xu, PhD, Director, UCSF
Admissions Inquiries:
Rocío Sanchez, Graduate Program Adviser, UC Berkeley
Moriel Vandsburger, PhD, Executive Committee CoChair, UC Berkeley
Victoria Starrett, Program Coordinator, UCSF

Program Description

The UCSF-UC Berkeley Joint PhD Program in Bioengineering combines the outstanding resources and faculty in biomedical sciences at UCSF with the excellence in engineering, physical, and life sciences at UC Berkeley. Students in this highly interdisciplinary program learn to bring the methods of cutting-edge engineering to bear on some of the most pressing problems in biology and medicine.

Bioengineering is a young but rapidly evolving discipline. The UCSF-UCB Bioengineering program offers students unparalleled opportunities to do basic and applied bioengineering research in a wide variety of related fields, reflecting the strengths and breadth of program faculty across the two campuses and in multiple departments.


There are 160 core faculty members and 76 additional affiliate faculty members in the joint program. The Bioengineering program combines the research activities of faculty from more than 33 departments from all four professional schools at UCSF together with 14 departments from the College of Engineering at Berkeley, as well as several non-engineering departments there.

The Bioengineering program is a member of the Quantitative Biosciences Consortium (QBC) at UCSF.


  • Biomaterials, Cell and Tissue Engineering
  • Biomedical Imaging
  • BioMEMS and Nanotechnology
  • Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Genomics
  • Neural Systems Engineering and Vision Science
  • Systems and Synthetic Biology

The Bioengineering program's UCSF office is located at the Mission Bay campus.

The Bioengineering program is offered by the UCSF Graduate Division, administered by the UCSF schools of pharmacy and medicine and the UC Berkeley College of Engineering, and delivered by faculty members in the UCSF schools of pharmacy and medicine and the UC Berkeley College of Engineering.

Admission Requirements

All Admissions requirements are available on our website:

Entering students are expected to have a B.A. or B.S. in engineering, biology, or other science. Typically, this includes a two-year college mathematics sequence, a one-year sequence in each of physics, chemistry and computer science, and extensive upper-division work in either engineering or biology. The mathematical level should include calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra. Outstanding students who are lacking in some of these areas may be admitted with the condition that they complete any necessary undergraduate coursework while in the program.

Additional requirements include:

  1. The online application (via UC Berkeley)
  2. Emphasis of specialty area of study (first and second choice)
  3. Three letters of recommendation
  4. A completed recommendation waiver form (to be completed online)
  5. Unofficial transcripts (submitted online)
  6. Conversion of GPA (for international students only)
  7. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) official scores (for international students only)
  8. Application fee
  9. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) official scores (optional)

Applications that are incomplete by the time of review will not be competitive for admission. Making sure an application is complete is solely the responsibility of the applicant and should be done in a timely manner. 

The application process is entirely online. Please do not mail copies of the statement of purpose, GRE and TOEFL scores, publications, resumes, recommendation letters or transcripts. Any supplemental data, such as publications, resumes, and home pages, should be uploaded with your application. All applications must be submitted through the Berkeley campus’ online application site for graduate admissions. Please take care to ensure all email addresses, as well as your own email address, are entered correctly.

Learning Outcomes

The PhD in Bioengineering is granted jointly by Berkeley and UCSF, two of the top public universities in the world in engineering and health sciences. Our interdisciplinary program combines the outstanding resources in biomedical and clinical sciences at UCSF with the excellence in engineering, physical, and life sciences at Berkeley.

Administered by the Department of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley and the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at UCSF, all students in the program are simultaneously enrolled in the graduate divisions of both the San Francisco and Berkeley campuses and are free to take advantage of courses and research opportunities on both campuses. The program awards the PhD in Bioengineering degree from both campuses.

Students who complete the Bioengineering PhD will be able to

  1. Design, evaluate, execute and revise experiments and research methods in areas related to both advanced biology and engineering within their specific field of interest.
  2. Apply their knowledge to other scientific disciplines outside of their given research field.
  3. Defend their research results and author papers in distinguished scientific journals.
  4. Collaborate with other students, faculty and researchers in their specified field in order to produce tangible, quantifiable research results.
  5. Organize, schedule and instruct other researchers in their given field (teaching requirement).
  6. Present and communicate their research to a diverse variety of audiences.

Additional Information

Program Faculty

Career Outcomes