Skip to main content

Program Overview

The Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill & NC State University prepares graduate students for excellence in innovation, leadership and service by leveraging the full suite of academic, research and professional development resources available through our two powerhouse universities and the surrounding biotechnology industry in Research Triangle Park, NC. This uniquely enabling consortium, and the distinctively collaborative environment in which it thrives, enriches the training experiences of our graduate students in a manner that cannot be achieved elsewhere.

Prospective Ph.D. Student Opportunities

Graduate students reap the many benefits of our truly joint department, with full student privileges and access to resources across both UNC and NC State campuses. From selecting research advisers and dissertation projects to choosing committee members, from taking classes to competing for awards and recognitions, from accessing specialized equipment and facilities to receiving professional mentorship, our graduate students have two campuses worth of opportunities. These opportunities are easily exploited given the close proximity of the two campuses and the free and convenient BME shuttle bus that travels between them. While most students spend the majority of their time on a single campus, important extensions to the other are what make our graduate program exceptional.

The BME graduate experience is further strengthened by our state-of-the-art laboratory spaces that were custom designed to meet the specific needs of biomedical research. These spaces are strategically located on the medical campus at UNC and the engineering campus at NC State to readily support collaborations with clinical and basic science colleagues across both universities. In Chapel Hill, the BME department is housed in the newly renovated Mary Ellen Jones building, which sits adjacent to UNC Hospitals, the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. In Raleigh, BME is located on Centennial Campus, immediately adjacent to mechanical, electrical and computer and chemical engineering and nearby the Wilson College of Textiles. Moreover, Centennial Campus is home to numerous industry partners and is just down the street from the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Importantly, our graduate students are members of the diverse and vibrant communities of the Research Triangle, bounded by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, located in beautiful North Carolina. The 2.1 million inhabitants of the Research Triangle hail from a variety of states and countries. And they constitute one of the highest per capita concentrations of doctoral degree holders in the country. With its temperate climate, two hours drive to the beach and three hours to the mountains, and an affordable cost of living, it is little wonder the Research Triangle continues to grow.

  • 2 University CampusesUNC and NC State
  • 5 Research Areas
    • biomedical microdevices
    • medical imaging
    • pharmacoengineering
    • regenerative medicine
    • rehabilitation engineering
  • 54Faculty Members100Affiliated Faculty and Industry Partners
  • 100Doctoral Students480Undergraduates
  • $17.4 MillionExtramural Research Funding
  • 27,000 square feetResearch Lab Space

Highlights: BME by the Numbers

The UNC, NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering offers graduate students a wide spectrum of research areas from which to choose their doctoral research. These areas include biomedical microdevices, biomedical imaging, pharmacoengineering, regenerative medicine and rehabilitation engineering. With our faculty’s expertise and with numerous complementary research projects active across all of these fields, graduate students have ample opportunity to engage in the research that piques their interests and best supports their professional goals.

Interdisciplinary collaboration, the cornerstone of the modern biomedical engineering discipline, is well supported in our Joint Department and permeates graduate student training. For example, BME graduate students work hand-in-hand with clinical faculty to identify significant needs not met by existing technologies, establish experimental methods for developing new approaches, recruit study participants and interpret research outcomes in translation to clinical practice. Similarly, BME graduate students engage with basic science investigators to bridge knowledge gaps and enlighten thinking. Further, BME graduate students participate in research together with industry partners spanning established corporations to early-stage start-up companies. Such industrial partnerships bring academic research closer to commercialization and offer students valuable perspectives on how the market drives biomedical technology development. This collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to training powerfully, yet elegantly, broadens graduate student exposure to research cultures to prepare students for careers as independent investigators in both academics and industry.

According to a recent survey, 82% of our graduate students continue to work in the field of biomedical engineering, with most establishing careers in industry (46%) or academics (39%).
Many BME graduate students participate in highly specialized NIH-sponsored training programs with tailored curricula that blend input from experts across several disciplines. Moreover, BME students successfully compete for individual training grants from the NIH and NSF, securing for themselves both funding and prestige.

BME graduate students have tremendous flexibility to adjust their graduate student experiences in ways that best suit their personal scientific, professional and personal goals. For example, students may choose to match with a specific research laboratory and adviser in the first semester, or they may be able to rotate through different laboratories during the first year. Students may select a primary research adviser from within or outside the BME department on either the UNC or the NC State campus. Students may select classes from among those offered at UNC, NC State or through an inter-institutional course exchange program at Duke University. Industry internships that complement students’ dissertation research are possible, as are first-hand teaching experiences. Finally, students may participate in enrichment programs, such as writing support, teaching preparation and career counseling at both UNC and NC State.

Graduate Student Association

The BME Graduate Student Association is a student-run organization representing the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. Visit their website for BME news updates, details on upcoming GSA events, as well as various career resources.


Director of Graduate Studies
Matt Fisher, Ph.D.
(919) 515-5242

Graduate Program Coordinator
Vilma Berg
(919) 445-6051

MS MedTech Program Director
David Zaharoff
(919) 515-6757

MS MedTech Assistant Program Director
Matt Penny
(919) 524-4497