Jun 27, 2022  
Graduate Catalog | 2018-2019 
Graduate Catalog | 2018-2019 Previous Edition

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.

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.

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.


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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