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Graduate Certificate in Bioengineering

Introduction and Rationale

The graduate certificate in bioengineering is designed to formalize the training of students specializing in the engineering analysis of living systems. Over the past decade, Princeton faculty have developed new courses that address the design and control of living systems at multiple scales, from single molecules, to cells, tissues, and organisms. Taken together, these classes provide a coherent educational framework that can take the place of a missing graduate program in bioengineering. The graduate certificate program in bioengineering is intended to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of Ph.D. students in engineering and the natural sciences who have gone beyond the requirements of their own degree programs to acquire training in bioengineering.

The certificate is based on core graduate courses, a research seminar, and graduate research. The bioengineering core classes can be taken as graduate electives, in partial fulfillment of the course requirements in home departments.

Certificate Requirements

To earn the certificate, students must complete three requirements: (A) take for credit and pass three core courses, one each from a thematic area within bioengineering, defined below; (B) complete a thesis in the area of engineering analysis of biological systems; (C) attend the bioengineering seminar series and present a seminar on their research.

These requirements are described in more detail as follows:

Bioengineering Core Courses

The core curriculum provides rigorous training in the engineering analysis of biological molecules and networks, cells, tissues, organs, and organisms. Students are required to take one course in each of the thematic areas (“molecules”, “cells”, “tissues and organs”) for a total of three courses. This requirement is designed to guarantee that all students, regardless of their thesis area, have a solid foundation in the engineering analysis of living systems at multiple scales.


  • CBE 538 / MOL 538 Biomolecular Engineering
  • CBE 567 Metabolic Engineering
  • MOL 515 / PHY 570 / EEB 517 / CHM 517 Method and Logic in Quantitative Biology
  • CBE 518 / ENE 518 Fundamentals of Biofuels


  • CBE 533 Introduction to the Mechanics and Dynamics of Soft Living Matter
  • PHY 412 Biological Physics
  • MAE 566 Biomechanics and Biomaterials: From Cells to Organisms

Tissues and Organs:

  • CBE 540 Physical Basis of Human Disease
  • QCB 511 / CBE 511 Modeling Tools for Cell and Developmental Biology
  • CBE 539 / MOL 539 Quantitative Physiology
  • ELE / NEU / PSY 480 fMRI Decoding: Reading Minds Using Brain Scans
  • NEU / MOL / PSY 404 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience

Research Seminar

Students are required to attend the biweekly BioEngineering Colloquium, which serves as a venue for reporting current results and discussing the integration of different research approaches to the analysis and design of living systems. Students will be required to give a research presentation at this colloquium before completing their FPO. This requirement will teach students how to communicate their research to a broad audience of bioengineers, as well as interact with students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty investigating problems at multiple scales.


Graduate research should be conducted under the supervision of one of the participating faculty (see below). The main requirements are quantitative experiments, rigorous data analysis, and/or mathematical and computational modeling of biological processes. The research topic should be approved by the program director.

Faculty Advisors in the Program

An increasing number of faculty in engineering and the natural sciences are conducting research involving the engineering analysis of living systems. Below we list the faculty who we expect will serve as potential advisors for Ph.D. students obtaining the certificate. This list is not exhaustive and is expected to evolve over time.

Program Director

  • Celeste M. Nelson, Chemical & Biological Engineering

Key Faculty Participants

  • Robert H. Austin, Physics
  • José L. Avalos, Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Clifford P. Brangwynne, Chemical & Biological Engineering
  • Mark P. Brynildsen, Chemical & Biological Engineering
  • Rebecca Burdine, Molecular Biology
  • Daniel J. Cohen, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Jason Fleischer, Electrical Engineering
  • Claire F. Gmachl, Electrical Engineering
  • Michael Hecht, Chemistry
  • A. James Link, Chemical & Biological Engineering
  • Tom Muir, Chemistry
  • Sabine Petry, Molecular Biology
  • Robert K. Prud’homme, Chemical & Biological Engineering
  • Joshua Rabinowitz, Chemistry
  • Joshua Shaevitz, Physics
  • Stanislav Y. Shvartsman, Chemical & Biological Engineering
  • Howard A. Stone, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • James C. Sturm, Electrical Engineering
  • Jared E. Toettcher, Molecular Biology

Administration of the Program

The graduate certificate in bioengineering is currently administered by the department of Chemical & Biological Engineering (CBE). The CBE department will appoint a program director each year who will work to advertise the program, identify Ph.D. students who are on track to earn the certificate, and ensure that these students understand the requirements and how to meet them. Upon completion of the requirements, the program director will recommend the student to the CBE graduate committee, which must give final approval to award the certificate.

Contact Information

Celeste M. Nelson, Program Director