BEE Graduate Programs

The Biological & Ecological Engineering (BEE) Department mission is to achieve national and international recognition as a center of excellence for integrated research and education in the programs broadly defined as Ecological Engineering, Biological Engineering, and Water Resources Engineering while maintaining strong outreach links to the agricultural and natural resources communities.

The Biological & Ecological Engineering department offers BEE programs leading to M.S., M.Eng, and Ph.D. degrees in Engineering.

What is Biological & Ecological Engineering?

The objective of the department's graduate degree programs are to serve as the interface between life sciences and engineering. Biological & Ecological Engineering is the application of engineering and life-science principles and problem-solving techniques to the optimum use and sustainability of biological resources. The curriculum is engineering-based with strong emphasis on the life sciences.

Courses focus on biological systems modeling, theoretical and applied aspects of bioconversion and bioseparation processes, regional hydrologic analysis, groundwater systems, irrigation, water resource optimization, remote sensing, image analysis, and instrumentation. 

Research topics in Biological and Ecological engineering encompass biofuels production, metabolic engineering, microbial fuel cells, biohydrogen production, agrivoltaics, waste and waste water treatment, modeling and control of biological systems, biofuel systems analysis using techno-economic models and life cycle assessment.  Several of the research topics under Water Resources Engineering* are also applicable to BEE.

*Water Resource Engineering at OSU is an interdisciplinary program separate from BEE, with advisors in the BEE department. If you want to study WRE, you must apply to the Water Resources Graduate Program's Water Resources Engineering focus NOT Biological and Ecological Engineering, unless you are seeking a dual degree experience.

BEE Mission Statement

The Department of Biological & Ecological Engineering (BEE) mission statement states: Our mission is to achieve national and international recognition as a center of excellence for integrated research and education in the programs broadly defined as Ecological Engineering, Biological Engineering, and Water Resources Engineering while maintaining strong outreach links to the agricultural and natural resources communities. Our stakeholders will include environmental and ecological consulting firms, ecotechnology providers, entrepreneurial enterprises building new 21st century biology and ecology based industries, public resource management agencies, and stakeholders in the state with interests in these focus areas.

Our educational mission is to balance innovative undergraduate and graduate programs taking advantage of our unique strengths, and a relevant outreach program that takes advantage of emerging technology to deliver information to a broad clientele on adoption and use of sustainable engineering technology. Our department will produce ecological engineering graduates that are work-ready and entrepreneurial systems thinkers capable of contributing to the future prosperity and sustainable future of the State of Oregon and the global community.

Frequently Asked Questions

We appreciate your interest in our program and we hope you decide to join us!

You will find detailed information about the application process, deadlines and university requirements on the Graduate Admissions site.  Please follow the directions on that OSU webpage if you decide to submit a formal application. The department application deadline for a domestic student is the same as the university requirement and that is no later than one month before the desired starting term – an international student is required to submit an application three months before the desired starting term.  For both domestic and international students, an early application will increase your chances of finding an advisor and financial support.

Our policy is that students can be accepted into the program at any time during the year and it is possible that support from sponsored research can become available throughout the year.  Most students begin this program Fall Term and there are advantages with an early application in terms of assistantships and finding an advisor. However, we recommend that students applying for Fall Term have their application packets completed by December 15th of the year prior, for FULL consideration.  If you decide to apply any other time, it is in your best interest to find an advisor before submitting your application.  You can submit an application after that date but opportunities for being accepted are greater at that time.

Undergraduate Fundamentals

  • One year, Calculus  Equivalent : MTH 251,252, (306 or 254)
  • Applied Differential Equations  Equivalent: MTH 256
  • One year, University-level Physics  Equivalent: PH 211,212,213
  • One year, Chemistry for engineering majors Equivalent: CH 201, 202, 205, 211, 212
  • As of 2020, the GRE requirement has been waived. 
  • Three letters of recommendation - These are submitted using the online application system. The application system will request the email addresses of 3 people to serve as references. OSU will then send each person a request for a recommendation. Their responses will then be returned directly to OSU and added to your application.
  • Academic transcripts from each institution you attended - These can be submitted as unofficial copies using the uploading portion of the online application, unofficial copies emailed to the department, or official copies sent from the institution to the department or the Graduate School. Unofficial copies are acceptable for evaluation purposes, but official copies will be requested by the Graduate School if you are offered admission.
  • A Statement of Objectives is required. We ask that you answer these questions:
    • Briefly describe your experience conducting research and your research interests the Biological & Ecological Engineering program.

    • Briefly describe your experiences in which you exercised leadership, and what you have learned from these leadership experiences.

    • Briefly describe your characteristics (learning style, personal strengths, etc.) and your ability to persevere in challenging circumstances. 

    • Describe your thoughts on and efforts to contribute to social justice, equity, and inclusion. 

    • List the names of two or three professors you would like to work with, the reasons why you are interested in working with them, and note which of these professors you have communicated with.  

Yes. We cannot accept a student unless one of our faculty member’s volunteers to serve as their advisor.  Potential students are encouraged to contact any faculty that they feel would be good match based on personal interests and long-term goals.   This personal contact may be willing to advise or suggest another advisor. Conversely, be aware that blanket emailing all faculty is not a good idea.  Choose the faculty *you* wish to work with and why you want to work with them in order to maximize impact and impressions. Contact information for our faculty members, along with their research details, can be found on our directory.

After submitting your application, it is *highly* recommended that you stay in touch with OSU throughout the process so that you can confirm when your material were received and that faculty are still able to bring you on board. 

The interdisciplinary Water Resources Graduate Program (WRGP) at Oregon State University awards M.S. and Ph.D. degrees and brings together faculty and students from six colleges and multiple departments, including the Biological & Ecological Engineering department.  The degrees are designed to allow flexibility in coursework, while insuring an outstanding foundation and specialization in your area of interest.

The Program includes core requirements for all students with additional work concentrated in specific degree programs in Water Resources Engineering, Water Resources Science, or Water Resources Policy and Management. Students will draw from a set of existing OSU courses covering engineering approaches, watershed processes, and/or water resources management and policy.  Prospective students should visit the WRGP website for more information.

Research topics in Water Resources Engineering* include use of simulation modeling to support ecohydraulic decision support, application of remote sensing and GIS to water resource management, regional hydrologic modeling, optimum irrigation management, non-point source pollution management, constructed wetlands water treatment, and groundwater quality. The department is home to the NSF-funded, developing and supporting new methods in environmental monitoring.  Departmental field campaigns are ongoing on six continents, with a strong emphasis on applied research.

MS and M.Eng programs are very different and are designed for students with different career goals. While MS programs have significant research component (Minimum 30 credits towards Thesis) the M.Eng (non-thesis option) is primarily based on courses and a project (Minimum 6 credits). M.Eng degrees are generally considered as terminal degrees (student does not plan to pursue advanced degrees such as PhD after the completion of the program) as most of the PhD programs require students with significant research experience at master's level. Although the requirements for both MS and M.Eng programs are similar, there are greater number of applicants for MS programs and hence the qualified applicants have higher scores compared to those admitted for M.Eng program. Since the MS program involves significant research, there is a greater likelihood of obtaining GRA positions in a MS program compared to M.Eng program. While M.Eng students are also eligible for both GRA and GTA positions, they are less likely to obtain them in comparison to MS students.

BEE courses can be found here. On this list, 500 and 600 level courses are graduate level.

OSU's full course directory can be found here.

Reach out to Dr. Adam Ward (BEE Department Head), or submit a Request for Information form.