Bioinformatics &
Computational Biology

Program Overview

Modern biology is being greatly enriched by an infusion of ideas from computational and mathematical fields, including computer science, information science, mathematics, operations research and statistics. In turn, biological problems are motivating innovations in these computational sciences. There is a high demand for scientists who can bridge these disciplines. The goal of the Curriculum in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology is to train such scientists through a rigorous and balanced curriculum that transcends traditional departmental boundaries.


Required: BCB720 (2 credits) plus five 1 credit modules: BCB712, 715, 716, 717, 722.

Electives: Electives are required for in depth training in a particular area of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology.  Elective are chosen from courses offered by various other departments, and also BCB. Please see for more information.


Written Exam:  The written exam will be given at the end of the first year (May). The exam is designed to test the material covered in the 7 BCB modules. The exam requires students to apply various methods and analytical tools learned in the modules to specific biological problems.  Students are assigned a reading list of 10-15 research papers and a list of key analytical skills that should have been acquired from core coursework. These lists are released two weeks prior to the exam date. The exam itself is administered in a common room over the course of two days, four hours each day. Exams are graded either pass or fail. Students who do not pass have the option to take the exam again the following year. Students who do not pass on a second attempt do not proceed to Ph. D. candidacy.


Oral Defense:  The oral exam must be taken before the end of the third academic year. Students are expected to submit a 15-page proposal to their respective thesis committees based upon their dissertation research project.  Students are then required to defend their proposals during an oral exam before their committee.  The specific format and content of these oral exams are dictated by the thesis committees and moderated by committee chairs.  Students who fail have the option to take the exam again at a later date under terms and conditions set by their committees.