Doctoral Program Admissions

This program is designed to train students for careers in academia, government, or industry where research is fundamental. The curriculum prepares students for the field’s rapidly-changing character by developing the intellectual capacities necessary for research excellence.

How to Apply

All applications for the PhD program must be completed online. Visit the application page to create a login and account to begin the application process. You will receive a PIN and Password so that you can return to work on your application over several sessions before submission and check the status of your application at any time. Your confidential information is transmitted through a secure server. For a list of the required items, please visit the Penn Engineering graduate admissions page.

When To Apply

Applications must be submitted by December 15 for admission the following year. For full consideration for fellowships and other awards, all materials must be received by this date.

Prerequisite Requirements

Academic prerequisite requirements for the degree are an undergraduate degree in an engineering subject or an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution with a physical science, natural science or math major.

Standardized Test Requirements

The GRE: The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is required for admission to both the master’s and PhD graduate programs in bioengineering. Reporting code for the GRE is 2888.

Average GRE test scores of admitted students reported for fall 2018 admissions were 161 (verbal), 165 (quantitative) and 4.6 (analytical writing) The average GPA is 3.8 on a 4.0 scale.

The TOEFL: If your native language is not English, you must complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test with a score above 600 written test) or 250 (computer-based test) or 100 (internet-based test). You must submit a TOEFL score unless you have spent three years attending a college or university in the United States of America. The reporting code for the TOEFL is:

  • SEAS institution code: #2888

To waive this requirement, by the time of matriculation, the candidate must have graduated from a program in the United States or in a country in which English is recognized as the official language or from an institution where the medium of instruction is English. A request is not needed; the requirement will be waived after your application and necessary materials are reviewed by the Graduate Admissions Office upon submission of a completed application.  For more information go to:

You will find additional information on these tests from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Test score reporting should be completed only through ETS, as only official scores received from ETS will be considered.

Fellowships and Support

The Department encourages all students to apply for graduate training fellowships during their graduate studies. Students who apply for and receive fellowships prior to matriculating to Penn gain tremendous flexibility in choosing a lab for research. Fellowships are available from several sources and can allow student s to focus on a specific cross-disciplinary area, such as the NIBIB-HHMI Interfaces Program at Penn, geared toward Ph.D. training in Biomedical Imag ing Sciences. More information on fellowships and support can be found here.

Application Evaluation Process

How we evaluate applications:

A Bioengineering faculty committee reviews each application for merit. When a completed application is received, it is evaluated promptly by our Bioengineering faculty committee. Admittance is based on an estimate of the applicant’s ability to successfully complete our graduate program and on the compatibility of student interests with our programs and research. When an admissions decision is reached, the applicant will be notified directly through the online application system. Please note that admission decisions cannot be revealed over the telephone.

What we look at:

We consider the whole student, including undergraduate and graduate transcripts, program of study, standardized test scores (GRE), recommendation letters, research experiences, and the candidate’s personal statement.


Admission is competitive, and we are proud of the diverse academic, cultural, and national backgrounds of each incoming class.


Because this is an engineering research-oriented program, we suggest students submit letters of recommendation from research and independent-study supervisors, if possible, especially in engineering or applied science-related areas.

Fellowship and assistantship awards:

Awards are announced by the respective chairman of the graduate group for Ph.D. candidates after on-campus interviews with prospective mentors. These interviews are by invitation only, after careful evaluation of the student’s application.

After You Apply

Tracking Your Application

Track your application online.

We cannot respond to individual inquiries. We will contact you if materials are missing.

Campus Interviews

After reviewing applications, we invite about 15 percent of applicants to campus in February and March. If you are invited for an interview, you will be notified via email in January.

In 2016-17, 65 students out of 483 were invited to interview and 59 received offers of admission (of whom 29 accepted).

Campus Visit

By invitation only, you will be scheduled for a three-day visit, occurring on a Thursday through a Saturday. This visit is arranged by the department, and includes travel to and from Philadelphia, lodging, and meals. See a sample visit itinerary.

We strongly ask you to respond to Kathleen Venit as quickly as possible upon invitation.

When selecting an interview date, please note “exception” dates for recruiting faculty, as we cannot schedule return visits.

We regret that we cannot honor unauthorized requests for reimbursement.

Financial Support and Awards

For the 2009-2010 academic year new students received a $27,540-stipend, full tuition, and healthcare coverage.  We expect full funding to continue throughout your doctoral training.

For additional information, please visit our fellowships and awards page.