BSE - Graduate Programs FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Graduate Programs

1. What is needed to complete my application?

a. Online application for admission
b. $50 application fee
c. Official GRE scores
d. One set of official transcripts from all institutions previously attended
e. Three letters of recommendation from professionals qualified to evaluate your potential in graduate studies
f. International applicants must provide an official TOEFL or IELTS score
g. Letter of interest

2. What should be included in the letter of interest?

Your letter of interest should include a description of your goals in pursuing a graduate degree.  Include the degree and major you are interested in pursuing and the area of specialization within the major that is of the most interest to you.  Please indicate if you have been in communication with a faculty member in the Department regarding graduate education.  Inclusion of a short vita (two pages) is helpful.

3. Where should I send my letters of reference and my letter of interest?

You will submit your letter of interest through the admissions software when you apply online. You will also enter the names and contact information for your three references, and the Department will contact your references directly for their letters.

4. Who should provide letters of recommendation?

You should have three professionals provide letters of recommendation. These individuals should be familiar with your past academic history as well as your potential to complete a graduate program.

5. What are the minimum requirements for admission?

All applicants must take the GRE. The recommendation on minimum GRE scores is that students achieve at least a 75 percentile score in the quantitative and an average score of at least 50 percentile in all three categories (verbal, quantitative, and analytical).
Applicants whose native language is not English must present one of the following as proof of English proficiency: (1) An official TOEFL score of at least 79 or an official IELTS score of at least 6.5. (2) A degree (bachelor's or higher) received from an institution at which English is the official language of instruction.

6. I took the GRE (or TOEFL) several years ago. Do I need to retake it?

The Graduate Committee will determine whether GRE scores are recent enough to accept. TOEFL scores are good for two years from the test date.

7. What is the deadline for application for admission?

While there is no set deadline for applicants, it is recommended that international applicants submit a complete file no later than 180 days prior to the first day of classes. Domestic students should submit a complete file no later than 90 days prior to the start of classes.

8. Can I take a course without seeking a degree?

Students who are interested in taking courses but are not yet ready to begin a degree program should apply for nondegree postbaccalaureate admission.  Use the same application as in seeking a degree.  Nondegree students intending to apply courses toward a degree program at a later date should consult the Department before enrolling.

9. How long will it take to receive a decision on my application?

Once your application file is complete, please allow six to eight weeks for a decision to be reached. You will be notified once a decision is made.

10. What types of graduate programs do you offer?

The Department of Biological Systems Engineering offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science with a major in Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering or Mechanized Systems Management. The Department also participates in the interdepartmental Master of Science degree with a major in Environmental Engineering and the Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering (unified Engineering program).

Graduate study may be directed toward agricultural power and machinery systems, bioenergy, soil and water conservation, irrigation system design, ground and surface water management, ecological engineering, water quality, plant environment, bioprocessing, animal well-being, risk assessment, environmental engineering, animal waste management, solid and hazardous waste management, materials handling and processing systems, food process engineering, monitoring and controlling biological systems, decision support systems, precision agriculture, geographic information systems, biomedical engineering and other areas of engineering science and design.

11. What areas are the faculty currently researching?

The most current and informative description of our faculty members and their research programs can be found at Please contact faculty members directly to learn more about their programs and the potential of working on their teams.

12. Where can I find additional information on application procedures?

a. UNL Office of Graduate Studies

b. Office of Graduate Studies
1100 Seaton Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0619
1-800-742-8800 (Toll-free in U.S. and Canada only)

For more information on the Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering graduate program, please contact:

Dr. Mark Wilkins, Graduate Program Coordinator
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
211 L. W. Chase Hall
Lincoln, NE 68583-0726
fax 402-472-6338

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