Hints on Selecting the Thesis or Course-Based Degree Option (and a Focus Area)

The Thesis vs. Course-Based Degree Option

  • The Thesis Option is intended for students who come into the program who have already firmly decided that they wish to pursue a research thesis, which typically requires two full years to complete the M.S.E. degree.
  • Thesis Option students typically have already sought out a research laboratory to sponsor their research by the time they enter the program (research is allowed in any laboratory at Johns Hopkins provided that it has a Biomedical Engineering component).
  • Thesis Option students have a reduced course load (8 courses instead of 10), which allows them to devote more effort to research, even in Year 1.
  • Thesis Option students are not required to select a Focus Area (instead course selection is expected to complement their research project).
  • Students potentially interested in research (but not 100% sure), or who have not been able to arrange a 2-year research position in advance, are encouraged to consider taking the Applied Research & Grant Methodology course sequence, which provides flexibility to either graduate after the first year OR continue in the program in the second year as a thesis student.

Selection of a Focus Area

  • Focus Areas are intended to provide a student with specialized knowledge in specific facet of biomedical engineering
  • Focus Areas are typically selected on a student’s interests; in some cases a Focus Area will closely align with a student’s professional goals. In other cases, a Focus Area is selected based on a student’s scientific curiosity; this is especially the case when a student intends to pursue further graduate or professional studies and would be well-qualified by any of the areas
  • Focus Areas typically have flexibility (e.g., if you feel that you’d benefit from the inclusion of a relevant course that we do not currently have listed in a Focus Area that’d you otherwise find attractive, let your advisor or the M.S.E. administrators know).
  • The AI in Medicine focus area is intended specifically for medical students, residents, and clinical fellows. Other students interested in this area should consider Biomedical Data Science, Computational Medicine, or one of our other focus areas intended for those with an engineering background.