BME program(Subtrack Tissue Engineering) - USC vs Brown vs U Penn

I am looking at Bio Medical Engineering program(Subtrack Tissue Engineering) at USC, Brown and U Penn

We are from California and will be applying UC’s. My son is a national merit semifinalist so leaning more towards to USC. Our school has a limit on how many colleges I apply and hence trying to see how would I rate this schools and rank them so that I can reduce my list.

I am aware the Brown has open curriculum program. We have visited there and I know that the dorms are too old. Traveling from CA to RI will take 1 day. My older child is doing his PhD in Neuroscience in Brown, he just started his journey. Here is the Brwon BME program page - BME Courses | Center for Biomedical Engineering

UPenn probably does not has BME but has Bio Engineering - I am not able to see it on their website Undergraduate

USC is in CA so travel is easy, he may get merit scholarship, but I heard the admission officer say during a local visit that scholarship is only guaranteed if we apply early, we are applying REA to another school which is his top choice so cannot depend on scholarship. Biomedical Engineering – USC Viterbi | Undergraduate Admission


Why are you limited to the # of schools you apply and how can they enforce it? It’s your future - perhaps I’m misspeaking but if you want to apply to more schools to ensure you have a proper range of safety, target, and reach - you should do so. These three schools you mentioned are likely reaches…for all.

What type of statistics/ECs, etc. does your son have?

Travel to any of the three schools will be reasonable.

You seem to have a good grasp of the situation.

What is it you are asking?

I’m looking at your previous thread here: BME Program college selection(sub track tissue engineering)

Is your son now considering USC, Brown, and UPenn for the reach section of his list? Are the colleges in the other thread still on the list?

How many colleges does your son’s school allow him to apply to, in total?

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Our school limits to total 13 applications(12+1 UC application , 1 UC will allow us to pick all colleges ), basically quality over quantity.

He is a soccer player at school(Varsity from Sophomore but due to Covid not much games were happening) and at competitive level at a club outside the school. He is interested in D3 schools and hence has some D3 in the list. Chance of getting recruited for D1 at this stage is impossible so if we he gets into D1 then will play club soccer.

Has been working at community lab for Bio projects on gene editing since 7th grade , again due to Covid has lost 2 years.

Has been volunteering at JW house

Has been TA for Math and History class at school.

Academically weighted is 4.36 and unweighted is 3.97.
(Our school limits of honors/AP courses, they have been limiting it because of online learning and they have not released the 2023 profile but we checked with counsellor on rigor of his course work and his grade and she said he has at the highest level of course work and in terms of grade, we got a congratulation letter from Principal last summer for his grades)


  1. California Institute of Technology - will be doing REA as coach is supporting the application, already did a Pre-read step in summer and admission office has looked at the draft application and had asked to apply REA

2.Johns Hopkins University
3.Massachusetts Institute of Technology
4.Duke University
5.Stanford University
6.University of Pennsylvania
7.Brown University
8.Georgia Tech


9.Case Western Reserve University


10.Franklin and Marshall College
11.University of Wisconsin-Madison
12.University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus

I am trying to look at the quality and sub-track level and finding it hard to see if I should put USC back in the list and remove U-Penn/Brown. These are other shortlisted colleges.

Tufts University
Washington University in St Louis
University of Southern California


I’m not surprised that you are finding it difficult to find information on tissue engineering at the undergrad level. Usually that specialization doesn’t happen until grad school.

If it were my student, I’d have them looking up the grad level research in that area and then having them reach out to the professors to see if it would be possible to work in their labs or if the school allows undergrads to take grad level classes.

But…lots can change during the college years and your child may find another area of interest. I personally wouldn’t get too bogged down about the subtract.

My D was “sure” she wanted to do a biological/agricultural concentration of chemical engineering when she was in HS. She ended up doing advanced polymers and materials after getting more exposure during college and through her co-op.

Just an unrelated note - I had to read your post twice because your use of “I” and “we” made it sound like you were the student and not the parent.

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When I see your list - I only see Pitt and depending on need F&M - as safeties. I can’t tell if F&M is need blind or not from their website but the college transitions site shows them as need aware. If this is the case, if you have huge need they can reject you. I assume you don’t.

I would put Wisconsin as a safety. However, many have told me I’m wrong and showed me evidence to disprove me. Therefore, I would suggest UW is a target - an expensive target.

The rest of your list could be considered reaches - including CWRU - unless you demonstrate a lot of interest.

I suggest adding another target - like a Rochester and another safety to your list - unless you are good with Pitt if all else fails.

Again, F&M - the coach reached out but it’s likely your son won’t become an engineer at the undergrad level because few leave in the 3/2 programs and if he does, he’ll take another year but lose a year of soccer.

Good luck.

PS - please update this chain and not start another.

My advice would be to drop Case. Great school but acceptance rate is probably 25% and they used to place a high emphasis on demonstrated interest. Would it be an upgrade over Pitt, UW, or a UC? Probably not. Especially if you got into an Honors program.

Also, you have F&M on your list. It’s a 3/2 program. The affiliated schools are Case, WUSTL, and RIT or Rochester if I remember. It also has a competitive admit process with Columbia. Basically you’re getting a chance at 3 or 4 top schools by going to F&M. I look at that application as an additional 3-4 bonus applications.

Drop Case, add USC or Tufts and use F&M as a future possible at WUSTL, Case or Columbia. Apply to all the others on your list. Good luck.

Personally, I’m not a fan of 3/2 programs. Alternatively, you could drop F&M and add WUSTL or USC and call it done. Any way you count the cards you’re going to leave off at least one or two schools.

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I like Case for this student. Great program, world class hospitals nearby for research, and I think it is a match for this student. Acceptance rate closer to 30%. Yes, they do want to see demonstrated interest but there are ways to do that without coming to campus since the OP is in CA.

I would consider adding Rochester to the list.

I’m not a fan of the 3/2 programs. One, it adds an extra year of unnecessary cost, and two, most students don’t end up doing it.


F&M is not easy to get to… you need to look at airport access, not just distance/mileage.

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If Pitt is his safety he should apply soon. Pitt is rolling admissions and even very high stats kids get waitlisted if they apply too late.


Just to add that Pitt has already begun to accept students. If you’re interested I would apply this week. If you wait a few more weeks it’s probably not a safety.


Just to point out that 5 years from now the field might look very different- so encourage your son not to get overly focused on Bio Medical Engineering as the only route in. He’d be collaborating with geneticists (so maybe a bio degree with a focus on genetics), materials scientists (so chemistry), statisticians (so a degree in applied math), etc.

Bio Med is the trendy degree right now, but the folks actually DOING the science come from a wide range of disciplines- a trend which is likely to accelerate as the field matures. Just as the whole “artificial limb” or “medical wearables” fields began with a narrow focus, they now encompass professionals from a wide range of backgrounds including cog sci and psychology, informatics and applied math, mechanical engineering, design, supply chain management, health policy, and particularly in wearables- cyber.

I worry when I see a kid already mapping out a career at the age of 17 if it’s in a field which is changing monthly! I just met a young man (first job out of a college- at a very cool startup in the device field) with a “plain vanilla” ME degree. I asked him how they found him- turns out all the early hires were MD’s, PhD’s in bio med… but nobody knew how to develop a quality control protocol for production, or how to evaluate error rates across populations or large datasets. Enter the mechanical engineers! Honestly- such a cool company, VC’s are throwing money at them. But you can’t create groundbreaking interventions with just one discipline…


Yes its airport access is not good, it had a small plane of 12 people. They assigned passenger seats based on passenger weight. We visited that school as our school counsellor wanted us to look at it because of Bio engineering and D3 combination, school counsellor have a relation with college admission officers and had hinted that F&M would consider kids from our school . Till date no kid has applied or has gone to this school so we will be the first to apply and the counsellor is having a high confidence for this school.

I’m really struggling trying to understand how F&M fits into your strategy. It’s a small college that’s out of the way with a 3/2 engineering program. Your S may or may not play D3 soccer. Coaches come and go so your S could get there and have a new, unknown coach. No kid from your school has ever applied…maybe there’s a reason? The fact that your counselor has a relationship with the AO should not be a reason to apply.

Is your S ok with spending 3 years at F&M and then at least another two at a new university? Basically he’s starting over with a new set of classmates and friends. I don’t see this as an enjoyable experience for your son unless there’s more information.

We did a soccer camp and coach has indicated that he is in the second tier so there is a chance if the tier 1 students dont take the offer then my son has a chance, he like the coach and his playing style and hence that is on the list. But because the coach is not committed yet we are not planning any early application for this college. Yes 3+2 program is something we have talked about, because he is also playing soccer, I am ok with him having some additional time.

The challenge is in your younger age your body can handle the sports activities better and I want to try every possible route for him to play the sport , we are trying to convince him for club sport but he is still not ready to accept it and hence we are trying to keep the colleges on the list where there is a slight possibility of him getting to play on his soccer.

We know it takes time to accept the reality and move on, hopefully by the time the results come he may change his mind and settle with club soccer.

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You should add Michigan too

It’s not a balanced list. Far too many reaches including the last 3 and far too few targets/safeties. Also, I would not over emphasize the national merit piece. Schools are looking less and less at scores and more at other factors. My kid had 1580 and lots of rejections. And was Captain of many things (sports and leadership). Tons of awards in multiple areas (some nat’l/internatl). Nothing is a given anymore.

I agree with others that it’s going to be really narrow to find tissue engineering. Better a solid BME course.
I think keeping the sports component in the mix is important. That might mean he ends up at an LAC in something like bio instead of BME.

Ohio State offers a tissue engineering track for BME. BME Domain Expertise | Biomedical Engineering

Engineering there is an FYE program, engineering students take introductory classes and once pre-reqs to apply for major are completed the student lists 3 majors in preference and the applications are reviewed for acceptance into the major. BME has been one of the more competitive majors in the past usually requiring a 3.5 or higher for one of the 100-110 seats.


If he wants to continue playing soccer competitively maybe replace the D1 schools with D3 schools? He could try to walk-on D3 schools.

Georgia Tech, Stanford, Duke replace with WUSTL, CMU, Case, Emory, RPI, RIT, Rochester, WPI or even UTDallas.

U Chicago is a D3 school, you may add it to your list. Per the UW GPA and profile you mentioned for your S, I think 2-3 UCs acceptances are more likely in your case. That’s your safety list, IMO. With that said, I don’t know why you have more safe colleges on your list, since your school has a limit on the # of colleges a student can apply to. USC is a great school, I would add USC to your list. They give half tuition to NMF students and a full scholarship to selected students through interview. IMO, you can focus on your Reach and Super Reach list (including USC), hoping that your S will make it to a couple from it. Good luck.