Oct 22, 2020  
Graduate Catalog | 2020-2021 
    
Graduate Catalog | 2020-2021

Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Ph.D.


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The Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) is granted for planning, execution, and defense of original research resulting in significant contributions to the discipline’s body of knowledge. Moreover, the BCB Ph.D. program also requires didactic coursework to prepare the student for research success. Student progress is primarily assessed by: (a) satisfactory coursework performance, (b) the Qualifying Examination, (c) the Dissertation Proposal, and (d) the Dissertation Defense. Courses and the Qualifying Examination are used to ensure that the student has sufficient breadth of knowledge. The Dissertation Proposal is used to ensure that the scope of dissertation research is important, that the plan is well thought out and that the student has sufficient skills and thoughtfulness needed for success. The Dissertation Defense is used to assess the outcomes of the dissertation research, and whether or not the plan agreed upon by the Dissertation Committee has been appropriately followed.

Admissions Requirements


The Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology admits students on a competitive basis. Preference is given to applicants with strong credentials and appropriate undergraduate and/or professional preparation.

  • A baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by an accepted accrediting body. Admission requirements for Bioinformatics track will include an adequate preparation in chemistry, biology, mathematics (preferably statistics), and computer science. Strong candidates may be allowed to make up deficiencies in some area at the discretion of the Bioinformatics admissions subcommittee.
  • Evidence of scholarly and creative activity, including publication list; awards; results in national or international contests related to information technology, and the like
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Excellent GRE scores
  • Three letters of reference from professionals working in the applicant’s field of interest that addresses the applicant’s previous experience and potential to do research
  • Personal statement. Please include answers to the following questions:

1. What area(s) of research in Bioinformatics and Genomics are you most interested in? Which faculty members in the department would you most like to work with in order to further pursue these areas? Please discuss at least 3 different faculty, but no more than five.

2. Why have you chosen to apply to this particular program? What are your career goals, and how will a degree from this program help you achieve those goals?

3. What kind of prior experience do you have that you feel has prepared you for graduate-level research? If you have done research as an undergraduate, please tell us about the questions you were aiming to answer, your role in the research project, and what the outcome was. If you have not done research as an undergraduate, tell us instead about other projects or work efforts that you led, and what you did to accomplish the project goals.

4. What kind of technical skills do you have that are most relevant to the Ph.D. program in Bioinformatics and Genomics?

5. What would you describe as your biggest personal strengths? How do you feel these strengths will increase your chance of success in a Ph.D. program?

GRE Waiver

The GRE can be waived if one of the following conditions are met:

  1. Applicant obtained, or will complete prior to enrollment, a M.S. degree from a college or university in the U.S. accredited by an accepted accrediting body, with a GPA of 3.2 or higher, in a STEM major related to Bioinformatics and Genomics
  2. Applicant obtained, or will complete prior to enrollment, a B.S. degree from a college or university in the U.S. accredited by an accepted accrediting body, with a GPA of 3.4 or higher, in a STEM major related to Bioinformatics and Genomics

Please note: a waiver of the GRE requirement does not constitute an offer of admission into the program.
 

Degree Requirements


The BCB program requires 72 credit hours in 8000-level BINF courses, or prior approved substitutions.  All students must complete two Research Rotations in the first year of the program; each provides a semester of faculty supervised research experience to supplement regular course offerings.  Students must complete the Core Courses prior to taking the Qualifying Exam.  In consultation with their Academic Advisor and/or Program Director, students frequently also take an appropriate selection of the Gateway Courses in order to be prepared for the Core Courses.  For example, an incoming student with a Computer Science background would be expected to take BINF 8100  and BINF 8101 , but not BINF 8111 .  All students must complete the Core Courses prior to taking the Qualifying Examination.  Each Ph.D. student must complete two Research Rotations in the first year.  Each Research Rotation provides a semester of faculty supervised research experience to supplement regular course offerings.  Graduate Research Seminar is taken every semester until the semester following advancement to candidacy.  Finally, many additional Elective Courses are available, but are not explicitly required.

Graduate Research Seminar


Research Hours


Responsible Conduct of Research


Select one of the following:

Elective Courses


Any graduate level BINF prefix course may be taken as a pre-approved elective. Other courses may be taken with department approval.

Degree Total = 72 Credit Hours


Qualifying Examination


Prior to defining a research topic, students are required to pass a Qualifying Examination to demonstrate proficiency in bioinformatics and computational biology, as well as competence in fundamentals common to the field. The Qualifying Examination must be passed prior to the fifth semester of residence. It is composed of both written and oral components that emphasize material covered in the Core Courses listed above.

Dissertation Proposal


Each student must present and defend a Ph.D. Dissertation Research Proposal within two semesters of passing the Qualifying Examination.  The Dissertation Proposal defense will be conducted by the student’s Dissertation Committee, and will be open to faculty and students. 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. The student must present the Dissertation and defend its findings publicly, and in a private session with the Dissertation Committee immediately thereafter.

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