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Biosystems Engineering Undergraduate Program

UK is the only university in Kentucky that offers biosystems engineering as an undergraduate major. Further, the biosystems engineering program includes more specialty areas than other similar departments across the country. This flexibility in the curriculum allows students to customize their technical electives to their future career goals. Undergraduate certificates are also available in power and energy as well as distillation, wine and brewing studies.

Download sample curricula for all areas of study.

Biosystems engineers are trained in biological, environmental and engineering sciences and challenged to improve the sustainability of production systems, decrease or eliminate environmental hazards and preserve natural resources.

Biosystems engineers devise practical, efficient solutions for producing, storing, transporting, processing and packaging biological and agricultural products. They solve problems related to systems, processes and machines that interact with humans, plants, animals, microorganisms and biological materials. They also develop solutions for responsible, alternative uses of biological products, byproducts and wastes and of our natural resources—soil, water, air and energy.

Below are our areas of study:


Prepares engineers to work in natural resource conservation and environmental quality enhancement. Engineers in this area study surface water hydrology, groundwater hydrology, sediment transport, water quality, chemical rate and transport, waste management, reclamation of disturbed lands, site remediation, irrigation and drainage.

Machine Systems

Prepares engineers to conceive and design power units, tillage, planting and harvesting systems, materials handling equipment and processing equipment. Production and processing of biological products rely heavily on the use of automated machinery. Engineers in this area work with fundamental concepts including system dynamics, kinetics, automated controls, machine design, kinematics, fluid power, soil dynamics, plant-machine interactions and digital electronics.

Controlled Environment

Involves the development and design of heating, cooling and ventilation systems for the control of indoor environments. Environmental control is an essential component of total confinement animal housing, greenhouse production, aquaculture and human housing. Engineers in this option study heat and mass transfer, physics of plant and animal environments, biometeorology, structural design, air quality, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning design.

Food and Bioprocessing

Involves the development of equipment and methods for efficient and ecologically sound manufacturing of food products (from the farm to the grocery) and biological commodities (such as proteins, enzymes, biofuels). Engineers in this area receive extensive training in microbiology, biochemical engineering, heat and mass transfer, enzyme kinetics and fermentation, storage of biological products and materials handling.


Allows students to complete an undergraduate degree in biosystems engineering that has been approved by the F. Joseph Halcomb III, M.D. Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Kentucky, which only offers graduate-level degrees. Undergraduates who have completed this option and are in good academic standing are encouraged to apply to the biomedical engineering graduate program at UK. For more information contact: Joseph Dvorak, Ph.D., P.E. Phone: (859) 257-5658; email: joe.dvorak@uky.edu.


An approved pre-vet curriculum in which the student may obtain a biosystems engineering degree and simultaneously fulfill the requirements for admission to veterinary school. For more information contact: Joseph Dvorak, Ph.D., P.E. Phone: (859) 257-5658; email: joe.dvorak@uky.edu.

Timeline & Requirements

The undergraduate biosystems engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012 - telephone: (410) 347-7700.

Click here to learn more about the curriculum and apply to our program.