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Joint Biomedical Engineering students can earn course credit for academic research. The research must be BME-related and an engineering project, but the research advisor does not have to be a BME faculty member. Students can conduct research for general credit that will not count toward the degree but will show on the transcript and count toward the GPA (BME/BMME 295). Students may also conduct research that will count as a BME Specialty Elective (BME 495), or they can participate in a two-semester research experience (BME 491/BME 492 or BMME 691H/692H) to graduate with honors. Specifics for each option follow, but all require approval of a research proposal by the Undergraduate Research Committee and submitted by the below deadline:

Semester Deadline Decision date
Spring (for summer or fall enrollment) First Monday in April Before the first day of final exams
Summer* (for fall enrollment) Second Monday in July Before the first day of classes
Fall (for spring enrollment)                          Third Monday in October Before the first day of final exams

*Students who need to know if their application is approved for planning purposes, or who would like to be enrolled in the Summer, should choose the Spring deadline. Otherwise, there is no difference in the Spring and Summer deadlines.     

Considering doing undergraduate research and looking for more information? Check out the BME Undergraduate Research Guide!

Research for General Credit

BME/BMME 295 – Research in Biomedical Engineering

This course will appear on students’ transcripts and count toward the GPA, but it does not satisfy any BME graduation requirements. Students may take up to three credits total of BME/BMME 295. While this may be split among multiple semesters, typically, it is completed in one semester. Students are expected to complete three hours per week of research for each credit hour.

Approval standards for BME/BMME 295 are less rigorous than for BME 495 / BMME 495. For example, students can perform data collection with a graduate student but not necessarily analyze the data. Students often use BME/BMME 295 as an opportunity to gain valuable research experience before designing an independent project for BME 495 / BMME 495 in a later semester.

BME Specialty Elective

BME 495 / BMME 495 – Undergraduate Research in BME as a Specialty Elective

This course will appear on students’ transcripts and count toward the GPA, and it can count as a BME Specialization Elective. It must be taken for three credit hours, and students are expected to spend approximately nine hours per week on research. This course may only be taken once.
BME 495 / BMME 495 is independent research on a novel topic that builds upon engineering topics taught in junior- and senior-level courses. While students may be under the supervision of a faculty member or graduate student, they are expected to participate in experimental design, data collection and data analysis and interpretation. Prior work, either as BME/BMME 295 or informal research, can be incorporated into the project.

Senior Honors Thesis in Biomedical Engineering

BME 491/492 or BMME 691H/692H

A Senior Honors Thesis is a two-semester independent, original research project. This builds on skills learned in junior- and senior-level courses. If taken after BMME 295 or 495, it must be an original and substantially different idea and not just a modification or simple extension of a previous research project. 

Application Process

To apply for Research for General Credit (295) or BME Specialty Elective (495):

  1. Complete and sign the Independent Study Application.
    This includes contact information, project outcomes, a grading rubric, and a research proposal. Once complete, email the document to the BME Student Services Specialist at your home campus: NC State or UNC. Projects with a research advisor who is not a BME faculty member require a BME faculty member to serve as instructor of record. If the student is being paid to conduct research, an instructor of record different from the faculty mentor who will assess the work must be named.
  2. Students must identify an appropriate BME faculty mentor themselves; one will not be assigned. Tips on finding a faculty mentor here.
  3. The Undergraduate Research committee will review the application and contact the student with a decision or, frequently, a request for revisions. In some cases, a BME 495 / BMME 495 proposal may be approved as BME/BMME 295 if the committee does not feel the project is independent or rigorous enough for elective credit.
  4. Once approved, students will be enrolled by the Student Services Coordinator.

At the end of the semester, students must submit a written paper in the following format unless modified on the Undergrad Research for Credit form at the time of approval:

  1. 6-10 pages at 1.5 line spacing with 1-inch margins in Arial 11 font. You may exceed the page limit to account for large figures and references.
  2. Include Introduction, Methods, Results (with data in the form of figures/tables), Discussion and References.

Additionally, BME 295/495 students must give an oral presentation at an approved venue, such as:

Fall semester: Oral presentation at BME Graduate Seminar (Coulter Seminar Series) on the last Friday before reading days / finals.

Spring semester: Poster presentation at the UNC Celebration of Undergraduate Research or NC State OUR Undergraduate Research Symposium

Either semester: An appropriate regional or national conference, or Other (please specify).

Note: If intellectual property considerations prevent a public presentation, a “lab meeting” format for internal presentation is allowed.

Grades are due on the first day of final exams, so work should be submitted to the research advisor before that deadline to allow sufficient time for grading.

To apply for Senior Honors Thesis in Biomedical Engineering:

Honors application. Read more information on our Department Honors Program page. 


Director of Undergraduate Studies
Dr. Lianne Cartee
(919) 515-6726

Assoc. Director of Undergraduate Studies
Dr. Naji Husseini
(919) 966-1176

Primary UNC Student Services Contact
Theresa Jones
(919) 966-1176

NC State Student Services Coordinator
Kari Williams