BE Grad Program Guidelines

In collaboration with the UA College of Engineering, the Biosystems Engineering Department offers graduate work leading to Master of Science, Master of Engineering and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. 

See below for information on the following:
· Admissions
· MS Coursework
· Accelerated MS Criteria
· MS Coursework
· PhD Coursework/Dissertation
· Research Focus Areas

Focused on Feeding Nine Billion People

The options for study are endless in this highly flexible interdisciplinary degree program administered jointly by the College of Engineering.

Grad students in biosystems engineering are immersed in projects ranging from smart phone apps that detect salmonella to hydroponic growing systems and advanced machines for fertilizing crops, controlling weeds and irrigating fields. Hard at work in facilities such as the Lunar Greenhouse and wastewater treatment laboratory and using tools such as satellites, drones, nanotechnology and big-data science, our students and researchers are driven to find environmentally responsible ways to sustain more than nine billion people worldwide by 2050.


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Biosystems Engineering

“The support here has been outstanding. Biosystems engineering at the UA has provided me with a research opportunity to do exactly what I want to do.” J.L. Giovanna Hesley.

Research Focus Areas

  • Bioproducts
  • Controlled Environment
  • Food Safety
  • Mechanization and Automation
  • Remote Sensing and Precision Agriculture
  • Renewable Energy
  • Sensors and Controls
  • Water Resources and Irrigation Systems

See more on UA biosystems research >

Research Focus Areas


Please apply to the Biosystems Engineering graduate program online through the UA Graduate College.

Minimum Requirements

• Accelerated Master’s GPA 3.3 (Current UA students, please contact Dava Jondall for application code.)
• MS or ME GPA 3.0
• PhD GPA 3.3
• TOEFL scores: Internet Based 79; Computer Based 213, Paper Based 550
• GRE: Quantitative 151, Verbal 138, Analytical 3.0
• Three letters of recommendation
• Statement of purpose, including area of interest
• School and/or class ranking, if available
• Curriculum Vitae or resume


Important Deadlines

  • Domestic students must submit online applications by May 1 for summer or fall admission and September 30 for spring admission.
  • International students must submit online applications for summer and fall by February 1 and for spring by June 30 of the previous year.
Aerospace Engineering Degree

Master's Degrees

MS Coursework

  • Total units – 30
  • Experimental Design – three units
  • Statistics, Numerical Analysis or Mathematics/Modeling – three units
  • BE courses – 16 units, including two BE 601 and two BE 696A-002 (students who are presenting)
  • Thesis (BE 910 under faculty advisor’s section number) –  five units
  • Elective (per faculty advisor’s approval) – three units
  • BE 696A-001  –  required each semester a graduate student is not presenting

See information on Advisors and Thesis Committees.


Accelerated MS Criteria

The Accelerated Master’s Program, or AMP, is available only to UA biosystems engineering undergraduates who wish to complete their BS and MS degrees in agriculture and biosystems engineering in a total of five years.


  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3
  • Minimum of 75 units of undergraduate coursework, at least 12 completed in biosystems engineering at the UA
  • Undergraduate research experience preferred but not required


  • Submit online application to the Graduate College in early January of junior year.
  • Register during senior, or fourth, year to take a combination of undergraduate and graduate courses, which will count as electives for the BS degree and as core or elective courses for the MS.
  • Focus on graduate coursework and thesis or project in the fifth and final year.


• The AMP can be either thesis or non-thesis and follows the same requirements as the regular MS program.
• Admitted students select an advisor to guide research or development work toward completion of a thesis or non-thesis report.
• To receive elective credit for 400-level courses co-convened with 500-level courses, the 500 version must be taken.

For detailed information on admissions, degree and course requirements, tuition policies, and scholarship and fellowship criteria, please see UA AMP Academic Policies and Admission Requirements.

PhD Coursework/Dissertation

  • Total units – 63
  • Experimental Design  –  three units
  • Statistics, Numerical Analysis, or Mathematics/Modeling – nine units
  • BE courses  –  18 units, including two BE 601 and four BE696A-002 (students who are presenting) for non-BE MS students, two for BE MS students
  • BE693 under faculty sponsor’s section  –  one unit
  • Dissertation (ABE 920)  –  18 units
  • Elective  –  three to six units (per approval of advisor and depending on minor)
  • BE 696A-001  –  required each semester a graduate student is not presenting

Minors: BE PhD students must complete a minor. Candidates from non-engineering programs may be required to take additional undergraduate courses in Statics, Fluid Mechanics, Mechanics of Materials, and Thermodynamics.


Advisors and Committees

Master’s and PhD committees consist of three members, two of whom must be tenure or tenure-track UA faculty members from BE. The advisor serves as the chair of the committee.
Master’s students are required to select an academic advisor no later than the end of their second semester, PhD students no later than the end of the third semester.

BE encourages participation of industrial sponsors. Student employers may be approved by the Graduate College as special members of the committee and can serve as co-chairs.


Scientific Publication

All BE graduate students are required to submit a paper to a refereed scientific journal or receive committee approval for meeting the standard for publication (before the final thesis or dissertation).

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