First-Year Exploration

Currently enrolled Harvard College students are encouraged to explore their potential interests in Bioengineering (or Biomedical Engineering) by meeting with with Linsey Moyer (Assisstant Director of Undergraduate Studies, Biomedical Engineering).

The sample schedules below are provided as an example of a typical first two-years for a preconcentrator interested in bioengineering.  These samples provide one specific example of a course progression, however, students may decide on an alternate path. We strongly recommend that students interested in engineering begin taking mathematics in their first semester and plan to complete their math, chemistry, and physics requirements within the first two years. Leading up to a declaration of one of the bioengineering options during the sophomore year, students will work with their concentration advisers to construct an individual degree program that matches their specific interests within bioengineering while simultaneously fulfilling all of the concentration requirements.

First-Year Fall

Foundational Math 



First-Year Spring

Foundational Math


(LS 1b)

Sophomore Fall

ES 53

Foundational Math (if needed)


Sophomore Spring

Foundational Math (if needed)

Physics (if needed)

Engineering course

Once bioengineering students have established a foundation in the prerequisite math and scinece courses, they can take many exciting upper-level electives. While these courses are typically taken in the junior and senior years, some students with advanced preparation in math and science begin taking the 100-level courses during their sophomore year. Students will take courses in systems modeling (ES 53 and 110) to better understand and mathematically model non-linear, complex biological systems; thermodynamics (ES 181, ES 112 or MCB 199) to appreciate the basic driving forces underlying biological and chemical systems; the fundamental processes of heat and mass transport (ES 123) that often control the rates of system changes; and molecular to tissue level engineering of biological systems (ES 121, 125 or 221). 

Tips for Bio/BME students:

  • Most Bio/BME students take ES 53 in sophomore fall, though some take the course in fall of first year
  • While not strictly required for the SB program, many premed SB students take LS 1b (beyond concentration requirements)

Frequently asked questions

Where do I start?
  • Start taking math (according to placement) and science in your first year
  • Talk to a concentration advisor (ADUS) in any of our fields to chat about your options

  • Take one of our introductory courses 

  • Join a SEAS club (HCES, EWB, HURC, etc...)

What math should I start in?

Students should start math freshman fall according to their placement (i.e., start at Math Ma, 1a, 1b, or Math/AM 21a) and continue each semester until completion of the 21a/b series, which is required of all students. SB students starting in Math 1b and beyond will need to take additional advanced math courses beyond foundational math.

What’s the difference between Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) and Bachelor of Science (S.B.)?
  • SB: 20 courses, engineering design courses, including individual capstone design project in ES100 (this is a required thesis), ABET-accredited (for professional licensure)
  • AB: 14-16 courses, more flexible requirements, can do research thesis, can do joint concentration
How can I get involved in research?
  • Term-time: SEAS labs welcome undergraduates to work on research projects during the term

    • Can do research for credit with an ES 91r

  • During summer: Students regularly join SEAS labs with funding through PRISE, HCRP, HUCE

    • Many students participate in research at other universities through NSF REU programs

What kinds of internships can I do?
  • Research internships are available through SEAS and national labs. See above.

  • Industry internships are available and can be found by attending SEAS career fairs or talking to the SEAS Experiential Learning Director, Keith Karasek (