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).