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Welcome to the Field of Biological and Environmental Engineering, which is managed by the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University.

From our beginnings as one of the first departments of agricultural engineering in the country, and through our transition to a premier biological and environmental engineering department, our tradition of excellence has centered on training graduate students for leadership in the field. As a graduate student in our Department, you will be part of this extraordinary legacy.

We invite you to explore our program concentrations or browse our faculty profiles to see where you would fit into our team.  

The Field of Biological and Environmental Engineering offers programs for the following degrees:

  • Master of Engineering (M.Eng.)
  • Master of Professional Studies in Agriculture and Life Sciences (M.P.S.)
  • Master of Science (M.S.) 
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Graduate Degrees

Both Ph.D. and M.S. degree candidates are required to select at least one minor subject from outside the field. The M.S. and Ph.D. research degrees require submission of an acceptable thesis or dissertation.

The professional degree of Master of Engineering (Biological and Environmental) is intended primarily for students who plan to enter engineering practice. This program is intended to develop students' backgrounds in engineering design as well as to improve their fundamental engineering knowledge. Cornell's catalog has additional information. Graduate Study in Engineering and Applied Science has additional information.

The professional degree of Master of Professional Studies (Agriculture) is intended for those who want to further their training for practitioner-type work in agricultural technology and who do not intend to become involved in engineering design and research. In addition, the M.P.S. (Agriculture & Life Sciences) program has a Peace Corp option in which the student undertakes two semesters of academic work at Cornell and a Peace Corp assignment. For information and instructions on how to apply, check the M.P.S. (Agriculture and Life Sciences)/Peace Corps web site, or contact International Programs, B75 Mann Library, Ithaca, NY 14853; phone 607-255-3035; email


Biological and Environmental Engineering is a multi-faceted discipline that comprises many diverse subjects. To reflect this diversity, the department has the following areas of concentration:

  • Biological Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Bioenvironmental Engineering
  • Bioenergy & Integrated Energy Systems
  • Bioprocess Engineering
  • Ecohydrology
  • Food Engineering
  • Industrial Biotechnology
  • Nanobiotechnology
  • Sustainable Systems
  • Synthetic Biology

There is overlap among concentrations, with many projects done in a multidisciplinary manor.  Opportunities abound, such as the BEE Research Symposium held in the spring, that foster synergy and community among the students in the program.

A candidate for a research master's (M.S.) or doctoral degree (Ph.D.) is expected to:

Demonstrate mastery of knowledge in their chosen program of study and to make a contribution to the scholarship of the field (M.S.) or synthesize and create new knowledge, making an original and substantial contribution to the discipline (Ph.D.).

Demonstrate advanced research skills by synthesizing existing knowledge; identifying and accessing all sources of relevant information; applying and modifying existing research methodologies, techniques, and technical skills; and critically analyzing and evaluating one's own findings and those of others.

Demonstrate effective oral, written, and visual communication skills and the ability to listen, give, and receive feedback effectively.

Demonstrate a commitment to advancing the values of scholarship by keeping abreast of current advances within one's field and related areas and showing a commitment to personal, professional development through engagement in professional societies, publications, teaching, grantsmanship, collaborative inquiry, mentoring, and other knowledge transfer modes.

Information for candidate's for a masters in engineering degree (MEng) can be found here.

Information for candidates for a masters of professional study (M.P.S.) can be found here.