Academic Programs Catalog

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Graduate Study

The Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering offers the programs listed below:

Master of Science
    biosystems engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
    biosystems engineering

Study for the department's master's and doctoral degree programs is administered by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Students who are enrolled in Master of Science degree programs in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering may elect a Specialization in Food Safety.  For additional information, refer to the statement on the specialization in the College of Veterinary Medicine section of this catalog.



Biosystems Engineering - Master of Science

Biosystems engineers apply the basic sciences, mathematics, engineering sciences, and technology to design sustainable solutions to problems with a critical biological component. Biosystems engineers work to ensure an adequate and safe food supply while efficiently utilizing natural resources and protecting the environment. Specific application areas include food and biomass production systems, food processing systems, processing systems for utilization and conversion of biological products, water and waste management systems, natural resource and environmental protection, and a range of other biological challenges that require engineering expertise.

The department offers both Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs with majors in biosystems engineering.

Master of Science

The Master of Science degree program in biosystems engineering is designed to prepare graduates for advanced career opportunities that require disciplinary expertise beyond that available in the Bachelor of Science degree. The program is available under Plan A (thesis) and Plan B (without thesis). Plan A introduces the student to research methods, and the student is expected to execute, analyze, and publish an original research project under the guidance of an advisor. Plan B is suited for those who do not plan a research-related career, but desire additional skills and knowledge obtained through advanced course work.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

To be considered for admission to the Master of Science degree program in biosystems engineering, an applicant must take the Graduate Record Examination General Test and have the scores sent to the department.

Regular Status.  Admission to the master's degree program in biosystems engineering with regular status may be granted by the department, subject to the availability of resources and to the approval of the dean, upon consideration of the likelihood that the applicant will be able to complete a master's degree program successfully. To be admitted to the master's program in biosystems engineering, an applicant must have:

  1. A grade–point average not lower than 3.00 for the final two years of the undergraduate program, or standing in the upper quarter of the graduating class in the student's major.
  2. A bachelor’s degree, either:
    1. from an accredited program in engineering, or
    2. from a related science-oriented program in which the applicant has shown very high academic  achievement, as certified by the department.

An applicant without an engineering degree must demonstrate the abilities and experience necessary to succeed in the core courses, Biosystems Engineering 815, 825, and 835. The student must complete, previously, or within the master’s program, a significant engineering design experience.

Provisional Status.  Admission to the master's degree program in biosystems engineering with provisional status may be granted by the department, subject to the approval of the dean:

  1. To an applicant qualified for regular admission except that collateral courses are deemed necessary, or
  2. To an applicant whose record is incomplete.

If collateral courses are required, the minimum acceptable grades and the semesters by which those courses must be completed will be specified on the admission form.  Biosystems Engineering 490 and 890 may not be used to satisfy collateral course requirements. 

The provisional status will be changed to regular status when the conditions specified on the admission form have been met, as certified by the department and approved by the dean.

Registration as a Professional Engineer

Students who wish to satisfy the requirements of the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers should consult with the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering.

Program Filing

The student's program of study must be approved before the student completes 6 credits of graduate work in order for the student to continue to enroll in the master's degree program.

The subject matter and instructor must be specified for every independent study, special problems, or selected topics course that is included in the student's approved program of study.

Modification of Program

After the Plan A or Plan B option has been selected by the student and approved, the student may not pursue the other option without approval of the department.

The following changes are not permitted in a student's approved program of study:

  1. Adding or deleting a course for which a grade has already been assigned under any of the three grading systems (numerical, Pass–No Grade, or Credit–No Credit).
  2. Adding or deleting a course for which grading was postponed by the use of the DF–Deferred marker.
  3. Adding or deleting a course which the student dropped after the middle of the semester and for which “W” or “N” or “0.0" was designated.
  4. Adding or deleting a course during the final semester of enrollment in the master's degree program.

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Biosystems Engineering

The program is available under both Plan A (with thesis) and Plan B (without thesis). The student's program of study must be developed in consultation with the major professor, must be approved by the department, and must meet the requirements specified below:

               
Requirements for Both Plan A and Plan B:  
The student must complete:  
1. A total of 30 credits in 400–, 800–, and 900–level courses.  At least 20 of the 30 credits must be in 800–900 level courses. Not more than 4 credits of Biosystems Engineering 890 may be counted toward the requirements for the degree under Plan A. Not more than 6 credits of Biosystems Engineering 890 may be counted toward the requirements for the degree under Plan B.  
2. All of the following courses:  
  BE 815 Experimentation and Instrumentation in Biosystems Engineering 3
  BE 820 Research Methods in Biosystems Engineering 1
  BE 835 Modeling Methods in Biosystems Engineering 3
  BE 892 Biosystems Engineering Seminar 1
Additional Requirements for Plan A:  
The student must:  
1. Complete the following course:  
  BE 899 Master's Thesis Research 6
  Not more than 8 credits of Biosystems Engineering 899 may be counted toward the requirements for the degree under Plan A.  
2. Pass a final oral examination over the written thesis administered by the department and conducted by three regular university faculty members, at least two of which must be Biosystems Engineering faculty.  
3. Provide to the major professor and to the department a hard–bound copy of the thesis made from the original unbound manuscript submitted to the Office of The Graduate School.  Arrangement for delivery of the copies shall be made when the original manuscript is submitted to the Office of The Graduate School.  
Additional Requirements for Plan B:  
The student must:  
Pass the final examination administered by the department over the course work in the student's approved program of study.  The examination may include both a written and an oral component.  It is the student's responsibility to obtain detailed information about this examination from the department.  


Academic Standards

  1. Grades.  The student must earn a grade of 2.0 or higher in each course in the approved program of study.  The student must repeat any course in the approved program for which the grade earned was below 2.0.
  2. Cumulative Grade–Point Average.  The student must maintain a cumulative grade–point average of at least 3.00 in the courses in the approved program of study.
  3. Probational Status.  A student is placed on probational status if the student's cumulative grade–point average for the courses in the approved program of study is below 3.00.  A student in probational status is not allowed to carry more than 7 credits per semester or to enroll in any course the primary focus of which is independent study.
  4. Retention In and Dismissal From the Program.
    1. Cumulative Grade–Point Average.  Should a student's cumulative grade–point average fall below 3.00 after having completed 16 or more credits in courses in the approved program of study, the student may be enrolled in probational status in the master's degree program for one additional semester.  If at the end of the additional semester the student's cumulative grade–point average is 3.00 or higher, the student may continue to enroll in the master's degree program.  If at the end of the additional semester the student's cumulative grade–point average is still below 3.00, the student will be dismissed from the program.
    2. Academic Progress and Professional Potential.  Each student's academic progress and professional potential are evaluated by March 15 of each year.  A student who in the judgment of the faculty is making satisfactory academic progress and has professional potential may continue to enroll in the master's degree program. A student who in the judgment of the faculty is not making satisfactory academic progress or lacks professional potential will be dismissed from the program.

Transfer Credits

As a member of the Michigan Coalition for Engineering Education (MCEE), Michigan State University will accept up to one less than half of the course credits required for the Master of Science degree program in Biosystems Engineering in transfer from other MCEE member institutions provided that (1) the student earned a grade of at least 3.0, or the equivalent, in the related courses; (2) the credits were not earned in research or thesis courses; and (3) the related courses are acceptable to the department.

For information about transfer credits from institutions that are not members of the MCEE, refer to the statement on MASTER'S PROGRAMS, Transfer Credits, in the Graduate Education section of this catalog.



Biosystems Engineering - Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biosystems Engineering is designed to prepare graduates for advanced careers that require demonstrated research skills and comprehensive knowledge of the discipline. The program is suitable only for those students who have shown outstanding ability and potential in the field, either by high quality work in a Master of Science degree or by exceptional achievement in a Bachelor of Science degree and additional technical and professional accomplishments. During teaching and training experiences, the student is expected to demonstrate in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of the discipline and skills essential to the dissemination of that knowledge. Additionally, the student must be able to plan, conduct, manage, and publish independent, original research via the dissertation and peer-reviewed manuscripts.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

To be considered for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in biosystems engineering, an applicant must take the Graduate Record Examination General Test and have the scores sent to the department.

Regular Status.  Admission to the doctoral degree program in biosystems engineering with regular status may be granted by the department, subject to the availability of resources and to the approval of the dean.

To be admitted to the doctoral program in biosystems engineering, an applicant should have a master's degree and must:

  1. Have either a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering or a master's degree in engineering.
  2. Demonstrate evidence of ability and resolution to complete a doctoral program, as attested by the department upon review of the applicant's academic record, test scores, experience, reference statements, professional qualifications, proposed studies, and other relevant information.

Admission to the doctoral program without a master's degree, or the equivalent thereof, requires special approval by the department and the dean.

Provisional Status.  Admission to the doctoral degree program in biosystems engineering with provisional status may be granted by the department, subject to the approval of the dean:

  1. To an applicant qualified for regular admission except that collateral courses are deemed necessary, or
  2. To an applicant whose record is incomplete.

A student who is admitted to the Doctor of Philosophy degree program without a Master of Science degree in engineering may be required to complete collateral courses, in addition to the courses that are required for the doctoral degree. If collateral courses are required, they will be specified on the admission form.   Biosystems Engineering 490 and 890 may not be used to satisfy collateral course requirements.

The provisional status will be changed to regular status when the conditions specified on the admission form have been met, as determined by the department and approved by the dean.

Guidance Committee

The student's guidance committee consists of at least four regular faculty members and is appointed by the department chairperson in consultation with the student and the appropriate faculty members, and with the approval of the dean.  At least two members of the guidance committee shall be from the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and at least one member shall be from a different department preferably in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources or the College of Engineering.  The chairperson of the guidance committee will be appointed by the department chairperson after consultation with the student and the person recommended to chair the committee.

Guidance Committee Report

The student's program of study shall be submitted for approval to the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering and to the dean by no later than the end of the student's second semester of enrollment in the doctoral program. The subject matter and instructor must be specified for every independent study, special problems, or selected topics course that is included in the student's approved program of study.

The student's program of study must be approved in order for the student to continue to enroll in the doctoral degree program beyond the second semester.

Modification of Program

The following changes are not permitted in a student's approved program of study:

  1. Adding or deleting a course for which a grade has already been assigned under any of the three grading systems (numerical, Pass–No Grade, or Credit–No Credit).
  2. Adding or deleting a course for which grading was postponed by the use of the DF–Deferred marker.
  3. Adding or deleting a course which the student dropped after the middle of the semester and for which “W” or “N” or “0.0" was designated.
  4. Adding or deleting a course during the final semester of enrollment in the doctoral degree program.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Biosystems Engineering

The student must:

               
1. Complete a minimum of 24 credits in Biosystems Engineering 999.  
2. Complete a minimum of 38 additional credits (excluding Biosystems Engineering 899) beyond the bachelor's degree, in courses at the 400–, 800–, and 900–level including:  
  a. All of the following courses:  
    BE 815 Experimentation and Instrumentation in Biosystems Engineering 3
    BE 820 Research Methods in Biosystems Engineering 1
    BE 835 Modeling Methods in Biosystems Engineering 3
    BE 892 Biosystems Engineering Seminar 1
  b. Additional course work approved by the student's guidance committee, based on the student's prior academic background in relation to the selected area of study and research.  
3. Pass the doctoral comprehensive examination within five years of the date of first enrollment and at least six months prior to the final oral examination in defense of the dissertation. The examination may be retaken once. It is the student's responsibility to obtain detailed information about this examination from the department.  
4. Pass the examination in defense of the dissertation. The examination may be retaken once.  
5. Provide to the major professor and to the department a hard–bound copy of the dissertation made from the original unbound manuscript submitted to the Office of The Graduate School. Arrangements for delivery of the copies shall be made when the original manuscript is submitted to the Office of The Graduate School.  

Academic Standards

  1. Grades.  The student must earn a grade of 2.0 or higher in each course in the approved guidance committee report, including collateral courses and courses accepted in transfer.  The student must repeat any course on the approved program for which the grade earned was below 2.0.
  2. Cumulative Grade–Point Average. The student must maintain a cumulative grade–point average of at least 3.00 in courses in the approved guidance committee report, with the exception of collateral courses and courses accepted in transfer.
  3. Deferred Grades. A student may accumulate no more than three deferred grades (identified by the DF–Deferred marker) in courses other than independent study.
  4. Probational Status.  A student is placed on probational status if either or both of the following conditions apply.
    1. The student's cumulative grade–point average for the courses in the approved guidance committee report is below 3.00.
    2. The student has accumulated more than three deferred grades (identified by the DF–Deferred marker) in courses other than those courses the primary focus of which is independent study

      A student in probational status is not allowed to carry more than 7 credits per semester or to enroll in any course the primary focus of which is independent study.
  5. Retention In and Dismissal From the Program.
    1. Cumulative Grade–point Average.  Should a student's cumulative grade–point average fall below 3.00 after having completed half of the courses in the approved guidance committee report, the student may be enrolled in probational status in the doctoral degree program for one additional semester.  If at the end of the additional semester the student's cumulative grade–point average is 3.00 or higher, the student may continue to enroll in the doctoral degree program.  If at the end of the additional semester the student's cumulative grade–point average is still below 3.00, the student will be dismissed from the program.
    2. Deferred Grades.  Should a student accumulate more than three deferred grades (identified by the DF–Deferred marker) in courses other than independent study, the student may be enrolled on probational status in the doctoral degree program for one additional semester.  If at the end of the additional semester the student has no more than three deferred grades, the student may continue to enroll in the doctoral degree program.  If at the end of the additional semester the student still has more than three deferred grades, the student will be dismissed from the program.
    3. Academic Progress and Professional Potential.  Each student's academic progress and professional potential are evaluated spring semester of each year.  A student who in the judgment of the faculty is making satisfactory academic progress and has professional potential may continue to enroll in the doctoral degree program. A student who in the judgment of the faculty is not making satisfactory academic progress or lacks professional potential will be dismissed from the program.