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Pre-Bio Major for Bioengineering?

theaznguy808theaznguy808 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
edited April 2013 in College Admissions

I got accepted into UMiami (with scholarship) and into UCSB (without). Money is not a huge issue. I was rejected from USC but plan to appeal (although I doubt that I will get in).

I want to go to Miami because they have a Bioengineering major, which is what I want to major in - however, I'd rather go to UCSB because it is closer to home (Hawaii) and for other personal reasons. However, UCSB does not offer bioengineering and I was admitted into the College of Arts and Sciences, so no engineering for me.

Would it be better for me to attend Miami for the Bioengineering major? I plan to go to a grad school for Bioengineering, so I don't know if doing Biology will put me at a disadvantage or if a Biology major would not be a good fit for my future plan. The idea of double majoring is welcome to me; I'm not sure how the whole "creating a major" thing is, especially at UCSB.
Post edited by theaznguy808 on

Replies to: Pre-Bio Major for Bioengineering?

  • WuLabsWuTecHWuLabsWuTecH Posts: 88Registered User Junior Member
    IF you want to major in Bioengineering, you need to go to a school that offers that major! Simple as that!
  • theaznguy808theaznguy808 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    Okay, well, say If I want to do Bioengineering in grad school - will studying Biology / Molecular Biology put me at a disadvantage, compared to studying Bioengineering somewhere?
  • WuLabsWuTecHWuLabsWuTecH Posts: 88Registered User Junior Member
    Yes, it would put you at a severe disadvantage assuming you'd get in at all.

    If you have a passion for Bio or Molecular Bio, then double major in it or minor in it, but what I never understand is why people go to a school that can't prepare them for something they want to do, or choose a major that is not helpful in their eventual goal. If one were to really like music and wanted to major in it, that is perfectly OK, but if the goal is to eventually go to grad school for physics, you would think that you'd want to major in something physics related right?

    The only things that I would say a major doesn't matter as much for are the professional schools--medicine, law, optometry, vet med, business etc. That is because they teach you all you need to know in those programs (for the most part) and your choice of major has minimal effect since you are not expected to be building upon knowledge you already have.
  • theaznguy808theaznguy808 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    I see, and partially agree with you. However, I was reading another thread:

    "Someone who has majored in Biology or Chemistry and goes for BME as a graduate student already has this knowledge. They know about molecular biology, genetics, organic chemistry, etc. The graduate degree does not have to spend time on the "basics." If BME was an undergrad degree at Virginia Tech, it would probably be a 5-6 year degree like Architecture. It would also have to spend time on core classes in the fields of Biology and Chemistry. In order to do effective research in BME, you need to have this knowledge already mastered. It would take at least 2-3 years of just Bio/Chem courses just to get to the point where you could start doing the engineering part of the major. It is just too complex for an undergrad degree.

    I don't know why other colleges are offering BME as undergrad. I don't think it is very productive to train someone in BME in 4 years and send them out looking for a job in research. If I was an employer and knew that Virginia Tech was doing their program as graduate and another college was offering it as 4 year undergrad, I would definitely pick Virginia Tech. "

    It doesn't seem like I'd be at a terrible disadvantage, if any. What are your thoughts on that?

  • WuLabsWuTecHWuLabsWuTecH Posts: 88Registered User Junior Member
    It depends on how the program is run. There are some very good BME programs and some that aren't as good. But there are two basic schools of thought--the generalist and the specialist. Generalist schools give you all the background you need to get to graduate school. These are the ones that you are talking about when you say they aren't prepared to go out into the real world and start working as an engineer. They do a damn good job of giving you an overview of each of the disciplines and preparing you for grad school where you can specialize.

    The specialist type schools (like the one I went to) have you choose a track early on. I chose sophomore year to pursue biomechanics/tech. So most of my classes past this point were geared towards that. For example, while my cardiac class did teach the electrical and chemical physiology of the heart (since that knowledge is still crucial) the class focused the last 2/3 of the semester on the mechanical physics behind everything and how to interface technology with the heart (like EKG machines, pacemakers, etc). These are the students who might want to go on in their field for grad school, or might just go out directly into the field to work as engineers. They can also change "tracks" with relative ease, but they may have to brush up on the basics of what they are changing into. (For example, if I decided to go into tissue engineering, I'd have to brush up on some chemical engineering and transport but I still have most of the basic background.)

    Most specialist type schools (if not all) also offer a generalist track.

    To respond to that quote, ANYONE would pretty much take someone from a graduate program over an undergrad program if they had unlimited resources. I find the person you quoted to have a flawed sense of argument because we are comparing apples and oranges here. And the apple--the undergrad BME student-- can still turn into an orange (BME graduate degree), but at a lot less work than someone who has no engineering training before entering the graduate program.

    You have to remember that engineering is not like biology and chemistry where there are a lot of facts to remember. Engineering is about a way of thinking and learning to problem solve and apply critical thinking skills to a given situation. If you go into an engineering grad program at a later date, you WILL BE BEHIND everyone who already has mastered this.

    I think the fundamental question to ask yourself is, "If you know that you want to go into BME (or bioengineering as the case may be) why would you choose a major that is not BME?" If the answer is just that you like a topic very much, that's what second majors and minors are for, and there may be some merit in learning about what you love even if it makes for a harder path down the road. But if you have no good reason for doing it, then you might need to reevaluate your line of thinking.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 31,987Registered User Senior Member
    Look up graduate programs in BME to see what they want to see for undergraduates.

    You may want to consider majoring in physics or some other type of engineering (e.g. mechanical or chemical) with biology electives in preparation for BME graduate study. At the very least, you likely need to take the physics and math courses for physics and engineering majors, rather than the ones for biology majors.
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