Multiple Career Pathways are available to assist you with your selection of BSE, engineering topics, and technical electives, depending on your ultimate career interests:

        For Students Graduating in 2015-2017

         For Students Graduating in 2018

These pathways are recommendations only to help you plan your courses in the correct order to meet pre-requisites.  These are not degree options.  To receive a B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering, you ultimately must meet the requirements listed on the checksheet for the year in which you will graduate. You may also develop a personalized selection of electives, but be sure to do so with help from your academic advisor, as some courses are only offered once per year and others have multiple, sequential pre-requisites.  

Virginia Tech has a wonderful Career Services Center to help you find internships, co-op positions, and full time employment. Consult the Career Advisors website for help in finding a BSE faculty member involved in a particular field you would like to explore as a potential career area.

Most colleges and departments have their own policies for "force-adding" or adding students to sections that do not appear to have open seats. For safety issues, no department is allowed to add more students than the maximum room capacity set by the fire marshal. Departments can only force-add students into the courses that their own department is teaching, so to request a force-add, you must approach the department teaching the course you want to add.

Note that force-adds are NOT performed for convenience, to place you in the same section as a friend, or to switch to a different instructor. It is our goal to keep enrollments in the various sections of a course as balanced as possible to avoid overcrowding and to improve the learning experience of all students in the class. Your request for a specific CRN may be denied if there is space available in other less crowded sections.  

If you need to force-add a course in BSE, please follow these instructions:

  • BSE 2484: For safety reasons, no force-adds will be allowed
  • BSE 3494: Class roster is determined by the Ware Lab. Please contact Ware Lab manager (Dewey Spangler, for more information.
  • All other BSE courses. Please complete this survey.
  • BIOL 1105/1106: Future BSE majors only: complete the above survey.

Checksheets define the requirements to earn a degree at Virginia Tech. Students must complete the requirements specified on the checksheet for the calendar year in which they are going to graduate. The checksheets also include the list of approved BSE, chemistry, engineering, and technical electives.

If the checksheet for the year in which you would graduate is not posted, the latest checksheet will give you a good idea of the requirements; typically, only minor changes occur from year to year.  For years prior to 2015, there are separate checksheets (see below) for the general BSE degree, the Bioprocess Engineering option, and the Land and Water Resources Engineering option. The options were discontinued starting with the class of 2015.

Draft for Students 

Draft for Students Graduating in 2019

Approved for Students Graduating in 2018

Approved for Students Graduating in 2017

Engineering students who are within 12 months of graduating are eligible to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam, which is offered multiple times per year. Passing the FE exam is the first step in becoming a licensed professional engineer. Some employers may require that their engineers become licensed, especially those who work with projects involving public safety. Application instructions can be found at:

Per the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), most states recognize the Engineer in Training (EIT) certificates from other states (which are awarded once you pass the FE exam and graduate from an accredited engineering curriculum).

If you are not sure if you will need to become licensed for your future career, we strongly recommend you to take the FE exam during your senior year. The exam is based on material from your undergraduate courses and BSE students have a very high pass rate (about 90% of our students pass the exam on their first attempt). If you wait until after you graduate to take the FE exam, it is likely that you will need to spend more time studying to prepare for the exam. That exam is now online only and is administered by an outside testing service. You can find more information on the exam at the following URLs:

Virginia Tech offers a 2 credit, online, pass/fail review course for the FE exam, ESM4404, Fundamentals of Professional Engineering, which is offered during the spring semester. These credits will NOT count towards your engineering degree, as the course duplicates material you should have learned in other courses.

To become a “registered professional engineer” (which means you can “stamp” design drawings, testify in court, and own your own consulting firm), students take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, work for a specified number of years as an Engineer in Training (EIT) and then take the Professional Engineering (PE) exam.  Assuming you pass both exams, you get to put “P.E.” after your name, be legally libel, and make more money.  Both exams are 8 hours. 

For many engineers, getting your PE is not a big deal and most people don’t bother.  It is a huge deal for Civil Engineers and the Watershed students in BSE.  It is less of a big deal for the small biological systems students, but we still encourage all of our students to take the FE exam, since it is a lot easier to take it right after you graduate than to take it five year after graduation.  Plus, it looks good on a resume.

It doesn't matter where you take the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam - it's the same test nationwide in each category.  Our students typically take the CE - Environmental Engineering, CE - Water Resources Engineering, Chemical Engineering, or Other - General tests.

It does matter where you take the PE (Professional Engineering) exam, but you have to have a certain number of years of work experience (as an Engineer-in-Training, or EIT) before you sit for the PE.


Priscilla Baker
Undergraduate Academic Advisor
307 Seitz Hall

Dr. Tess Thompson
Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate Studies
213 Seitz Hall
(540) 231-2454