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Apply to the PhD Program

The Department of Biomedical Engineering is uniquely positioned within the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Whiting School of Engineering, giving our students access to top clinicians, researchers, and engineers. Our students are passionate about discovery and innovation, with a demonstrated trajectory of laboratory experience, and maturing knowledge of biology, engineering, and science.

The following statistics are for the matriculating class of 2019

  • 526
    Students applied to the BME PhD program
  • 45%
    Of the applications were from non-US students
  • 87
    Students were offered admission

Admitted students come from many backgrounds and majors, and not all were undergraduate engineering majors. However, all have demonstrated a strong quantitative training. The median GPA is typically ~3.8, but we operate a holistic review process and have no minimum GPA or GRE thresholds for review. Don’t think that one bad grade or a tough semester stands in your way. We review the whole application and evaluate the potential of the person who wrote it, not just a set of numerical metrics.

Two students sit with a professor at a table with a laptop.

Recruiting and Program Information

We generally recruit students in seven broad areas:

  • Biomedical Data Science
  • Computational Medicine
  • Genomics & Systems Biology
  • Imaging & Medical Devices
  • Immunoengineering
  • Neuroengineering
  • Translational Cell & Tissue Engineering

That doesn’t mean you have to fit into one of these areas; much of the best research comes from interdisciplinary work. These areas will help you review which faculty members might be best suited to be your research mentors, and will form part of the community you join when you matriculate.

In their first year, students have the option to take many of the same courses as medical students, such as human anatomy, neuroscience, and immunology. Students also take advanced engineering and science courses. Students who apply to our program should have a strong background in quantitative sciences – e.g. engineering, physics, mathematics or applied math, as well as sufficient experience in chemistry and biology. Applicants with a strong background in biological sciences who also demonstrate ability and potential in quantitative sciences are also encouraged to apply. Students who receive a rotation offer are free to choose from almost any research lab in the university. To facilitate this process, students do two or more rotations during their first year and typically choose a lab by the end of the summer of their first year. Students who receive an offer to work with specific laboratories forego the rotation process and get into their thesis research from day one.

The admission process is led by committees organized by the seven focus areas listed above. Applicants should specify in which area (or areas) they are most interested, and describe the kind of research they foresee. Faculty in each area vote and rank the applicants in the initial selection round, and the final pool of applicants is ranked and voted on by the entire faculty.

Accepted students will receive a full fellowship, which includes a yearly stipend, full tuition, matriculation fee, and individual medical and dental insurance.

BME Application Assistance Program

The BME Application Assistance Program (BMEAAP) is a student-run initiative that supports prospective applicants by pairing them with current graduate students who are available to review application materials and answer questions about the BME program. This initiative aims to encourage applications from motivated students who identify with groups that are historically disadvantaged or underrepresented within STEM, or those who come from non-traditional academic backgrounds and may lack support in their pursuit of higher education. Diversity of background, thought, and of life experience is essential in cultivating a vibrant scientific community. Participation in the AAP is strictly voluntary and will not be a factor in admissions decisions. Information provided to AAP members is confidential and will not be shared with the Johns Hopkins BME Graduate Admissions Committee. The BMEAAP application cycle will open in September and conclude a couple of weeks before the December 1st deadline.

Learn more about the Application Assistance Program


The deadline for applications will be December 1, 2020.

Applications should be complete when submitted. In order to be considered a complete application we must have:

  • Official transcripts from each college or university attended. We no longer require applicants to submit official transcripts to OGSA via mail or electronically. Applicants may upload transcripts to the online application for review. Applicants who receive an offer or accept an offer of admission are required to submit official transcripts to OGSA via mail or electronically to [email protected]  
  • Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores or MCAT scores, which can be arranged through the Office of Graduate Affairs. The GRE code for applying to graduate programs at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine is 5316. The BME PhD program does not rely heavily on the GRE exam in making admissions or financial aid decisions. Research experience, course grades, and recommendations carry more weight. 
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty members who are acquainted with you and your academic work. These letters should be sealed and include comments on your aptitude and promise for independent research.
  • A typewritten personal statement (one page maximum) indicating the basis of your interest in graduate study and your career objectives. Include discussion of any research experience you have had. Also mention here which faculty members you would be most interested in working with and why.
  • TOEFL scores (for foreign students only; official copy)

Updated GRE Policy for 2021 admissions (applies to applications due December 1st, 2020)

Due to test accessibility issues caused by COVID-19, the JHU BME department has decided to make the GRE exam optional for the 2021 application season. Students may choose to submit GRE scores as part of their application if they have already taken the exam, and if so the scores will be reviewed as part of the holistic review process. If a student does not submit GRE scores, this will not be taken as a negative factor in the holistic review, and students will not be asked why they did not supply a GRE score. Indeed, we expect that many admitted students this year will not have GRE scores in their applications.

Course Prerequisites for Applicants

  • One year of college-level biology (may include quantitative biology or physiology)
  • One semester of organic chemistry is required for students interested in the Immunoengineering or Translational Cell & Tissue Engineering research areas
  • Sufficient mathematical training, typically including differential equations or other relevant mathematical preparation

If you are interested in applying and do not have the prerequisite courses, you may want to submit your application with an explanatory note indicating that, if accepted, you will make arrangements to take the prerequisites before matriculation. In the past, applicants have taken the prerequisites at their present schools, local community colleges, etc. Courses taken at any accredited college or university are acceptable.

Degree Requirements

Each applicant must have received a BA or BS degree or its equivalent prior to matriculation. A master’s degree is not required for admission to our program.

Application Process


The PhD program admissions committee will not consider any application until it is complete. Applicants may check the status of their application by logging into their online account.


The admissions committee will review completed applications and invite selected applicants to come to Johns Hopkins for a personal interview with faculty. Applicants who are residents of North America must come for an interview to be considered for admission. For residents outside of North America, for whom such a trip is not possible, a Skype or telephone interview will be conducted. Final admissions decisions will be made from the pool of interviewed applicants. Interview invitations will be sent out to applicants via email by the third Monday in January, or earlier if feasible. Videoconference interviews may be conducted, and personal interviews will be conducted on campus in February and March.


Applicants will be notified via email by late March with the outcome of their application. A full offer of admission to the program will include a yearly stipend, full tuition, matriculation fee, and individual medical and dental insurance. This applies to every accepted applicant, regardless of citizenship or national origin unless the applicant receives a conditional acceptance. Those offered admission will be asked to communicate their decision as soon as possible. In any case, we must have the applicant’s decision by April 15.

Read the Johns Hopkins University privacy statement here.