BCB Ph.D. Program Requirements


​Program Requirements:

  • Didactic Curriculum: In consultation with their Academic Advisor and/or Program Director, students must take an appropriate selection of Gateway Courses. For example, an incoming student with a Computer Science background would be expected to take 8100 and 8101, but not 8111 and 8112. All students must complete the Core Courses prior to taking the Qualifying Examination. Many additional Elective Courses are available, but are not explicitly required.

Gateway Courses

  • BINF 8100 Biological Basis of Bioinformatics
  • BINF 8101 Energy and Interaction in Biological Modeling
  • BINF 8111/8111L Bioinformatics Programming I/ Bioinformatics Programming I Lab

Core Courses

  • BINF 8112/8112L Bioinformatics Programming II/Bioinformatics Programming II Lab
  • BINF 8200/8200L Statistics for Bioinformatics/Statistics for Bioinformatics Lab
  • BINF 8201/8201L Molecular Sequence Analysis/Molecular Sequence Analysis Lab
  • BINF 8202/8202L Computational Structural Biology/Computational Structural Biology Lab


  • Research Rotations: Each Ph.D. student must complete two Research Rotations, each worth two credits towards their degree, within the first year. Each Research Rotation provides a semester of faculty supervised research experience to supplement regular course offerings.  A different faculty member must supervise each Research Rotation. At the end of each rotation, the student must prepare and deliver a formal presentation of the findings for the faculty and their peers.


  • Select an Advisor: After two semesters of Research Rotation, students must make an advisor selection. This is done by the beginning of the third semester. 


  • Qualifying Exam: Prior to defining a research topic area, students are required to take a Qualifying Examination to demonstrate proficiency in bioinformatics and computational biology, as well as competence in the fundamentals common to the field, such as molecular biology, biochemistry, programming and statistics. The Qualifying Examination must be passed prior to the fifth semester of residence.  The Qualifying Examination is composed of both a written and oral examination.  Each student must pass all sections in order to advance; failure to pass requires that the student attempt the failed sections the following semester. Two attempts of the Qualifying Examination are also permitted; passed sections carry forward from the first attempt to the second.


  • Written Portion: The written component will have three sections that emphasize material covered in the Core Courses listed above.  This portion of the exam will be graded numerically.
  • Oral Portion: After passing the written sections, students must pass an oral exam over the same and related topics

Students who do not pass both sections of the Qualifying Examination will be dismissed from the program.


  • Dissertation Committee: After passing the Qualifying Examination, the student must set up a Dissertation Committee of at least four graduate faculty members, which must include at least three BCB Ph.D. faculty members and one member appointed by the Graduate School.


  • Dissertation Proposal and Ph.D. Candidacy: Each student must present and defend a Ph.D. Dissertation Research Proposal after passing the Qualifying Examination and within ten semesters of entering the Program. The proposal must address a significant, original and substantive piece of research. The proposal must include sufficient preliminary data and a timeline such that the Dissertation Committee can assess its feasibility.


  • Dissertation: Each student must complete a well-designed original research contribution, as agreed upon by the student and Dissertation Committee at the Dissertation Proposal. The Ph.D. Dissertation is a written document describing the research and its results, and their context in the sub-discipline. The Dissertation Defense is a public presentation of the findings of the research, with any novel methods that may have been developed to support the conclusions.