Bachelor of Science

Completing a B.S. in Biological Engineering will prepare you for a variety of careers in traditional as well as emerging biotech fields. Graduates have accepted engineering positions such as designing process equipment and systems for biological production and treatment, or implementing site preparation for construction or bioremediation of environmental contamination. They are prepared to help engineer systems to develop renewable sources of energy, and to improve the value of natural products produced in Hawaii for food and therapeutic applications. Increasing numbers of graduates from BE are meeting demands from growing biotech industries in Hawaii, for example for the production of systems for culturing human tissues for medical replacement and for screening, extracting, and producing antibiotics and other pharmaceutical compounds from Hawaii's unique natural biota. Many Bioengineers are employed with forward thinking institutions like NASA that are interested in engineering self-sustaining habitable environments in space as well as on Earth.

A degree in Biological Engineering prepares students for graduate school, not only in Biological Engineering but also in Medicine, Law, and Business which all value the versatility and analytical rigor of the field. Graduates also fill vital research and regulatory needs of state and federal governments to preserve and enhance the value of our natural resources.

The introductory part of the Biological Engineering curriculum is similar to other engineering fields, e.g., calculus, physics, chemistry, and computer programming. Students in Biological Engineering take additional courses in biological sciences such as biology, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. During the latter part of the program, students take basic engineering courses such as mechanics and thermodynamics as well as Biological Engineering courses with emphasis given to solving practical engineering problems involving biological systems. The mission of the Biological Engineering Program is to provide students a unique opportunity to study the fundamentals of engineering and biology and the application of engineering to biological systems. To fulfill this mission the BE Program has three educational objectives, each associated with several outcomes:

  1. Graduates enter professional careers where they apply fundamental engineering concepts to solve real-world problems;

    a. The graduate has the ability to solve problems involving differential equations.

    b. The graduate has the ability to solve physics problems involving mechanics, electromagnetics, and optics; chemistry problems involving inorganic and organic chemistry; problems involving general and micro-biology.

    c. The graduate has the ability to solve engineering problems related to statics, dynamics, fluid mechanics, and thermodynamics.

  2. Graduates serve the needs of the society by designing, manufacturing, evaluating, and/or operating systems in which living organisms or biological products are a significant component, and;

    d. The graduate has the ability to design a system, component, or process in which biology plays a significant role.

    e. The graduate has the ability to design and conduct experiments to gather information for engineering designs.

    f. The graduate has the ability to use modern engineering techniques, skills, and tools to define, formulate, and solve engineering problems.

  3. Graduates contribute to their communities by continuing to engage in professional development, ethical decision making, and thoughtful discourse on contemporary issues.

    g. The graduate has the ability to function effectively on multi-disciplinary teams.

    h. The graduate has the ability to identify professional and ethical responsibilities when practicing engineering.

    i. The graduate has the ability to communicate effectively in large and small groups.

    j. The graduate has the background to understand the impact of engineering solutions on the surrounding context.

    k. The graduate recognizes the need to engage in life-long learning through participation in professional conferences, workshops, and courses, and by reading and writing in the relevant literature.

    l. The graduate has the ability to intelligently discuss contemporary issues.

The Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering is the only undergraduate degree offered by the program. Students benefit from small class size and one-on-one interactions with faculty. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).


General Education Core Requirements including the following:
ECON 120, ECON 130, or ECON 131
Social Science (One DS course outside of ECON)
Two courses on Global and Multicultural Perspectives (e.g., HIST 151 & 152)
Arts, Humanities, and Literature; (two courses DH/DA/DL from different categories)
BIOL 171 and 171L
CHEM 162, 162L, 272, and 272L
ENG 100, 100A, 101/101L, or ELI 100
MATH 241, 242, 243, and 244 (calculus)
PHYS 170, 170L, 272, and 272L

Focus Requirements:
One course with focus on Ethics
One course with focus on Hawaiian, Asian, or Pacific issues
Five courses with writing intensive focus
(Focus courses may also be used to fulfill other general education or major requirements)

College requirements:
NREM 310 (statistics)

Basic Engineering requirements:
EE 160 and 211 (engr. programming and circuit analysis)
CE 270, 271(mechanics: statics and dynamics)
CE 320 or ME 322 (fluid mechanics)
ME 311 (thermodynamics)
Engineering mathematics elective (MATH 302, 307, 311, ME 360, or CEE 417)

Biological Engineering requirements:
BIOL 172 and 172L or MICR 351 and 351L and a biology elective (BIOL 275/275L, MICR 351/351L, or MICR 485/485L)
BE 260, 350, 350L, 373, 481, and 482
At least 15 credit hours from the following technical electives: BE 405, BE 411, BE 420, BE 421, BE 431, BE 437, BE 440, BE 460, or CEE 355

Students must complete a cumulative total of at least 128 credit hours and take (but not necessarily pass) the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering exam in the semester they intend to graduate

To find out how to apply for undergraduate study at the University of Hawaii, visit:

top of page