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    Sep 30, 2022  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biosystems Engineering Major, BS in Biosystems Engineering

Burk, Yoder

The Herbert College of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Tickle College of Engineering, offers a four-year curriculum leading to the Bachelor of Science in Biosystems Engineering. The curriculum is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.orgOverall goals of the program are emphasized in the educational objectives and program outcomes statements listed below. Program details are given in the showcase curricula and the individual course descriptions.

Career opportunities for graduates include the design, development, or management of practices that produce biofuels, minimize soil erosion, and conserve water resources and manage stormwater; biological waste treatment systems; safer machinery systems with lower environmental impact; and improved food and bio-processing systems. Employment opportunities are available in a wide variety of industries, government agencies, research and testing organizations, and educational and non-profit institutions.

The curriculum provides instruction in the analytical and design skills needed to solve engineering problems related to biological and agricultural systems. Comprehensive design of systems and their components is emphasized in the senior year. In addition to the standard biosystems engineering curriculum, a pre-professional concentration is available. The degree program has provisions for elective courses to be taken in specified subject areas. Proper scheduling of courses is very important since prerequisite requirements must be met. Students must consult with their advisors each semester to review their scheduling plan.

Students majoring in biosystems engineering are eligible to participate in the Engineering Cooperative Scholarship Program and other student activities in the Tickle College of Engineering. Biosystems engineering majors interested in the Engineering Cooperative Scholarship Program should consult with their faculty advisor or the head of the Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Department, 865-974-7266; e-mail

The biosystems engineering program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, provides an exceptional breadth of background in science and engineering, a strong emphasis on design throughout the curriculum, and a focused application of engineering principles to complex biological systems. The program enables its students to perform in a manner that reflects positively on the program and the institution’s reputation.

The Biosystems Engineering Program has ABET Program Educational Objectives that align with the objectives of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Graduates are prepared to:

  • Successfully apply engineering principles to complex biological systems, with principles grounded in improving ecological systems and water quality, sustainable food and fiber production and processing, renewable energy production and implementation, efficient mechanical designs and automation, innovative instrumentation and sensors, or related fields,
  • Continue developing as professionals and leaders in society, through professional involvement and/or post-graduate education, and
  • Incorporate a wide range of social and cultural issues and corresponding solutions into engineering and professional activities.

Student Outcomes

To achieve the program educational objectives listed above, a series of student outcomes have been adopted. These student outcomes provide specific measures to determine the degree of success in meeting each of the educational objectives. In order to be considered successful, at the time of graduation our students should demonstrate the following abilities:

  • an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  • an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  • an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  • an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  • an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  • an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  • an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies

One of the primary tools engineers bring to the solution of many problems is a mastery of mathematics, so mathematical competence is a critical component of an engineering education. In order to graduate with a major in biosystems engineering, students must display this competence by achieving an average GPA of at least 2.0 in the required mathematics courses. Students have the responsibility to work with their academic advisor to assure that they meet this requirement.

In order to provide students with the best advice concerning course selection, general academic success, and career choices, the programs within the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science require that all undergraduate students meet with their academic advisors every semester before registering for classes.

In keeping with the general Tickle College of Engineering requirement, all Biosystems Engineering undergraduate students are expected to have their own laptop computer. Please see the minimum computer requirements described at

Requirements for Admission, Readmission, and Transfer to the Program

Because the biosystems engineering program is accredited through the Tickle College of Engineering, students entering, being readmitted to, or transferring into the program must meet the conditions specified in the Tickle College of Engineering requirements found on the main Tickle College of Engineering page under the titles of College Admission Requirements , Readmission , and Transfer Students .

uTrack Requirements

Universal Tracking (uTrack) is an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA. uTrack requirements only affect full-time, degree-seeking students who first entered Fall 2013 or later. uTrack does not apply to transfer students who entered prior to Fall 2015.

Progression Policies and Requirements

Progression of students to departmental upper-division courses is competitive and is based on the space available in the department. Factors considered include overall grade point average, performance in selected lower-division courses, and evidence of satisfactory and orderly progress through the prescribed curriculum.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Biosystems Engineering – Biosystems Engineering Major

Term 1 Hours Milestone Notes
CHEM 122 * and CHEM 123 *, or CHEM 128  4 MATH 130  or higher or one Arts and Humanities*, Cultures and Civilizations*, or Social Sciences* Elective
EF 105   1  
EF 151 * or EF 157  4  
ENGL 101 * or ENGL 118  3  
3MATH 141 * or MATH 147  4  
Term 2
BSE 104   1 MATH 130  or higher
1Cultures and Civilizations Elective * 3  
EF 152 * or EF 158  4  
ENGL 102  3  
MATH 142 * or MATH 148  4  
ME 202   2  
Term 3
BSE 201 , BSE 221 , BSE 231   7 EF 151 * or PHYS 135 
MATH 241  or MATH 247   4  
ME 231 , ME 331   6  
Term 4
BIOL 160 * or BIOL 168  3 EF 152 * or EF 158 * or PHYS 136 
BSE 321   3  
ESS 210   4  
MATH 231   3  
ME 321   3  
Term 5
BSE 326   3 CBE 201  or COSC 102  or ME 202  or MSE 201  
BSE 351   3  
ENGL 360 * 3  
MATH 200   2  
PHIL 244  3  
STAT 251  or IE 200   3  
Term 6
BSE 411  or BSE 417 , BSE 426  or BSE 427 , BSE 431  or BSE 437 , BSE 451  or BSE 457   13 No milestones
2Technical Elective 3  
Term 7
AREC 201 * or ECON 201 * or ECON 207  4 Apply to graduate3
BSE 400 , BSE 404 *, BSE 444   8  
2Technical Elective 3  
Term 8
1Arts and Humanities Elective * 3 No milestones
BSE 402 , BSE 403   6  
1Cultures and Civilizations Elective * 3  
1Social Sciences Elective * 3  
TOTAL 129  
* Meets University General Education Requirement .
1 Chosen from the University General Education list  after consultation with advisor.
2 Technical electives are generally upper-division courses with substantial rigor in science, technology, engineering, or math. The following courses are pre-approved, but other courses suggested by a student may be approved by the advisor on a case-by-case basis. Note that some of these courses have required prerequisites and see individual course descriptions for specific information. BSE 525, BSE 543; CBE 481 ; CE 381 , CE 430 , CE 485 ; CHEM 260 , CHEM 360 CSAS 345 , CSAS 355 , CSAS 414 , CSAS 432 , CSAS 434 , CSAS 452 , CSAS 462 , CSAS 474 ; ENVE 511, ENVE 512, ENVE 513, ENVE 515, ENVE 516, ENVE 525, ENVE 526, ENVE 527, ENVE 530, ENVE 532, ENVE 533, ENVE 544, ENVE 558, ENVE 561, ENVE 574; ESS 334 ESS 424 , ESS 434 , ESS 442 , ESS 444 , ESS 454 ; GEOL 485 ; IE 304 MATH 300 , MATH 403 , MATH 411 , MATH 431 ; ME 363 , ME 366 , ME 391 , ME 405 , ME 451 , ME 466 .
3 A student initially placing into MATH 130  may take either MATH 130  (4 hours) + MATH 141 * (4 hours), or MATH 131  (3 hours) + MATH 132 * (3 hours) to qualify to move into MATH 142 *.
4 Graduation requirements: a) achieve at least a 2.0 GPA in all BSE courses; b) only one BSE course with a grade of D+ or D may be used towards graduation; c) no BSE course with a grade of D- or F may be used for graduation; d) achieve at least a 2.0 GPA in the required math courses.


Biosystems Engineering – Honors Concentration

In addition to satisfying the requirements for the biosystems engineering major, candidates for the honors biosystems engineering concentration must also complete the following requirements:

  • maintain an overall cumulative GPA of at least 3.4.
  • four 100- or 200-level honors courses (14 hours minimum, at least two courses must be from engineering fundamentals, physics, mathematics, chemistry, or biology).
  • complete at least two of BSE 417 , BSE 437 , or BSE 457 .
  • satisfy the Breadth Requirements for the Cook Grand Challenge Honors Program.


Biosystems Engineering Major – Five-Year BS-MS Program

The department offers especially qualified students a Five-Year BS/MS program with a BS degree (major in biosystems engineering) and an MS degree (major in biosystems engineering). The primary component of the program is that qualified students may take up to 6 hours of approved graduate courses for their senior undergraduate electives and have them count toward both their BS and MS degrees at the University of Tennessee. This program is designed for students who intend to complete their MS degree at the University of Tennessee, as other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit since they were used to satisfy requirements for the BS degree. Significant components of the program are as follows:

  • Students must have an overall GPA of 3.4 in required coursework. Conditional admission to the five-year program may be granted after completion of 65 hours of coursework meeting requirements of the BS degree, with at least 24 hours in technical courses required for the major. Full admission may be granted after the completion of 96 hours of required coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.4 and at least 30 hours of technical coursework required by the major. Approval of such coursework is decided on by the BSE Undergraduate Program Coordinator.
  • Admission must be approved by the department and the Graduate School. The approval process begins with application to the BSE Undergraduate Program Coordinator.
  • Students must at least be conditionally admitted to the program prior to taking courses that receive credit for both the BS and MS degrees. All courses taken for graduate credit must be approved by the BSE Graduate Program Director. Students admitted to the program must also request permission from the Graduate School to take approved courses for graduate credit, and must follow the normal procedure for admission to the Graduate School within the BSE program.
  • Students will not be eligible for assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate-level students in the Graduate School.