Biomedical Specialized Masters Programs: What are They and How do They Meet the Needs of Employers?

Sabriya Stukes, Eliot Bethke, Michael J. O’Donnell, Jennifer R. Amos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Undergraduate biomedical engineering programs are better preparing students to enter industry; however, some positions and sectors expect students to enter with a higher level degree. As an alternative to research-focused graduate programs, Specialized Master’s Programs (SMPs) cater to students with a variety of educational backgrounds and focus on applying translational science, business, and engineering approaches to creating sustainable healthcare and medical technology solutions. Despite specific industry calls for more professional programs, little has been written about how well existing programs meet the needs of industry. Representatives of three different SMPs came together to study how skills and topics covered in these programs align with the health technology industry and how the perspectives of alumni of SMPs align with the goals of these programs. Several workshops were held at academic conferences, and multiple surveys were distributed to program faculty, alumni, and representatives from industry. Responses to these surveys show that alumni and faculty of SMPs are in strong agreement about the purpose and value of these programs. Industry indicated that general skills such as communication and teamwork were more important than specialized topics, such as prototyping and regulatory environments. Presenting industry perspectives on the importance, scarcity, and training of skills provides a more detailed picture of what SMPs can offer. Students and SMP faculty would benefit from having a more direct perspective from industry employers who might hire SMP graduates. There may be opportunities for SMPs and other programs to highlight existing content that is well aligned with industry within their curricula without the need for additional curriculum development.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-301
Number of pages11
JournalBiomedical Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Master’s program
  • Career competency
  • Graduate education
  • Industry
  • Health innovation


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