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BE Advised

The place to go for undergraduate advising in biological engineering

Graduation Requirements

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(Degree requirements apply to students matriculating in the fall semester of 2015 or later. Students matriculating before the fall semester of 2015 can either follow the old curriculum or the new curriculum below.)

A student earning a Bachelor of Science degree in the Biological Engineering Program must complete the following academic requirements. A minimum of 126 credit hours of courses is required.

Topics Credits
1 Mathematics 16
2 Physics 8
3 Chemistry 7
4 Biological Sciences 15
5 Written Expression  6
6 Liberal Studies  18
7 Computer Programming  4
8 Engineering Distribution and Field Courses  46
8a Required Courses (7-8 Credits)
8b Required Biological Engineering Core Courses (22-24 credits)
8c Biological Engineering Focus Area Electives
9 Advisor Approved Electives 6
  Total 126

Additional Requirements

  • Technical Communications course
  • Capstone Design course
  • Laboratory course
  • Physical Education course
  • Lab Safety Training


  • All courses must be taken for letter grade (i.e., not S/U grade) except for Liberal Studies and Approved Electives
  • Only 1 D allowed in categories 1-4, 7 and 8.  If you receive more than 1 D, you will have to take one of the courses over or add a different course in the category passed with a grade better than D+.
  • Courses numbered 10XX, such as PHYS 1012 or ENGRG 1091, 1092, do not count toward graduation requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Do I follow the previous curriculum or the current?
A1: Students matriculating in 2015 or later have to follow the new curriculum.
Q2: Is this curriculum for College of Engineering enrolled students or for students enrolled in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences?
A2: The university has only one undergraduate curriculum in Biological Engineering. The curriculum above is that one; it is jointly administered by the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Q3: Is this curriculum accredited?
A3: Yes, this curriculum is accredited by ABET.
Q4: Is this curriculum the same as Biomedical Engineering?
A4: No.
Q5: I entered BEE through CALS. Do I have to take a course satisfying the diversity requirement?
A5: No, you’re not held to that requirement, but we encourage you to seek out courses with the (D) label as you plan your liberal studies.  The diversity courses will open your eyes to new ways of learning and new human experiences. Just by being born on Earth, you’re a member of a huge human family — and as an educated member of that family, you should know more about the history, culture, struggles, and aspirations of your brothers and sisters in other places, life styles and circumstances.
Q6: I’m now majoring in another program at Cornell and I think I’d rather study Biological Engineering. What’s my next move?
A6: You’re already at the right website.  Start by making some notes on why you want to be in Biological Engineering and your main questions about the program and what you want to do after graduation. Draft a list of the courses you’re missing and the ones you might want to take in your first semester of the program. Then send an email to the BE student services group: Prof. Jean Hunter, Director of Undergraduate Studies, or Ms. Brenda Marchewka, Student Services Coordinator.  Be aware that unless you’ve been taking courses closely compatible with our program, joining after your third term may make it difficult to complete all the graduation requirements in 4 or even 4.5 years.

If you will have to transfer into CALS to join our program, see CALS Student Services to access the online application and instructions on completing it.  If you are thinking of transferring from another Engineering major, check with Engineering Advising.
Q7: I need to drop a course and would like to take it in the summer to catch up with my classmates. Is there financial aid for this?
A7: Yes, there is limited financial aid for courses taken in Cornell summer session. Consult Financial Aid or the DPE Office if you are in the Engineering College. Beware, the application deadlines are early (late February, early March), and your advisor may have to approve your application.  There is no financial aid for courses taken elsewhere and transferred in to Cornell.
Q8. The new and old curriculums naturally look very similar, and some of the minute details may have slipped past me. Can you summarize the main differences between the old and new curriculums for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors?
A8. The new curriculum adds three additional core courses: BEE 3600, 3400 and 4500. All students must take biochemistry as one of their upper level bio courses (because it is a prereq for BEE 3600). The concentration areas are eliminated. They are replaced in a general way by 7 focus areas, each with a set of approved courses. Your major approved technical electives must be taken from courses listed in the 7 focus areas, but you won’t need to commit to a focus area as you did to a concentration. You may still use up to 4 credits of TA/project team/research/independent study as major approved technical elective credits. For more details, read the fine print.
Q9. Do I need to satisfy CALS graduation requirements if I double major in CALS?
A9. Yes. A double major requires you to satisfy all of the degree requirements for both of your majors. So a second major in CALS will require you to take a Diversity course (typically in your liberal studies distribution or as an approved elective) and to complete 55 credits of CALS courses (which may overlap with your BE core requirements).
Q10. I need to submit a petition for my engineering class. Do I submit it to CALS Student Services, Engineering Advising, or the BEE Department?
A10. Petitions are submitted to the administrative unit which created the requirement you are trying to modify through your petition. Some examples:

  • BE premeds using PHYS 2208 instead of PHYS 2213: College of Engineering
  • Petition to use a liberal studies as a Cornell course not on the approved list: College of Engineering
  • Petition to remain a full time student at less than 12 credits, add or drop a course after the deadline, or take a health leave or voluntary leave from Cornell: either CALS or CoE depending on which you are officially enrolled in
  • Petition to satisfy the BE engineering lab requirement by documented practical experience or by a transfer or study abroad course: BEE department
  • Petition to substitute a non-Engineering statistics course plus extra Engineering credits for the Engineering Statistics requirement: College of Engineering
  • Petition to use a course not now listed in a focus area or concentration, to count toward that focus area or concentration: BEE department
  • Petition to use ENGL 2800 or anticipated transfer credit to fulfill the requirement for one Freshman Writing Seminar: The Knight Institute
  • Petitions concerning substitutions for BE program core courses: BEE department

Q11. Does the change in curriculum affect the degree we receive? 
A11.  No, it does not.
Q12. Are we to choose only one concentration?
A12. In the “old curriculum”, yes, you must choose only one concentration. In the new curriculum (2015 and later matriculants), you may select your technical electives from any of the focus areas.
Q13. Is this curriculum deemed easier or harder than the previous curriculum? 
A13. About the same difficulty on average, but more structured.
Q14. What is the typical number of credit hours a student has at graduation?
A14. Although a minimum of 126 credit hours of courses is required, a student typically ends up taking a few more credits. For example, see here the total credits at graduation for the BEE class of 2015.

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