Requirements & Curriculum Overview

Terminal M.S. Requirements:

Students can be admitted for a terminal M.S. degree in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics with the goal of gaining competency in three core areas: (1) computational biology and biomedical informatics, (2) biomedical sciences, (3) informatics (including computer science, statistics, and applied mathematics). This is a two-year program. Students must complete nine courses, including at least three graduate courses in CBB, two graduate courses in the biological sciences, two graduate courses in areas of informatics, and two additional courses in any of the three core areas. In addition, M.S. students must take a one-term graduate seminar on research ethics and attend a CBB seminar series.
Terminal M.S. degree students are also expected to complete an M.S. project, write a research paper describing it, and defend the project in a seminar where they present the project and answer questions about the project as well as breadth knowledge of their coursework and track of study. The paper is evaluated by the student’s research supervisor and a second reader from the CBB faculty. Students are expected to identify a faculty member to supervise the M.S. project by the end of the first year or early in the second year. Part-time study in this program is possible, but the degree must be completed within five years. Part-time students are expected to start the M.S. project after they have taken half of the required courses.

A en route Master’s degree may also be obtained by a CBB Ph.D. student who is en route to obtaining a PhD degree or who leaves Yale prior to receiving a PhD degree. Such students must (1) complete two years (four terms) of study in the Ph.D. program (2) complete the required course work for the Ph.D. program with an average grade of High Pass or higher, with ten required course credits taken at Yale including three successful research rotations and (3) meet the Graduate School’s Honors requirement of at least two Honors grades to earn the Master’s degree.

Ph.D. Requirements:

This section outlines the current CBB curriculum, and other requirements for the Ph.D. degree. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the field, we anticipate that the students will be extremely heterogeneous in their background and training. As a result, the co-directors are willing to meet with students to help them individually tailor the curriculum to their background and interests. The emphasis will be on gaining competency in three broad “core areas”:

  • Computational biology and biomedical informatics
  • Biological sciences (e.g., genetics, immunobiology, cell biology, etc.)
  • Informatics (e.g., computer science, data science, statistics, applied mathematics, etc.)

Completion of the curriculum will typically take 4 semesters, depending in part on the prior training of the student. Since students may have very different prior training in biology and computing, the courses taken may vary considerably. In addition, students will spend a significant amount of time during this period doing intensive research rotations in faculty laboratories and attending relevant lectures and seminars.

Specifically, we expect that all students will:

  • Complete at least ten credits through specific courses as follows:
    • Three required graduate courses in computational biology and biomedical informatics
    • Two graduate courses in the biological sciences
    • Two graduate courses in areas of informatics
    • Two additional courses in any of the three core areas (which may be undergraduate courses with approval)
    • One year-long graduate course that consists of three lab rotations taken over the fall and spring semesters of the first year (graded as Pass or Fail)
    • Any additional courses required to satisfy areas of minimum expected competency
  • Take a half-semester graduate seminar on research ethics in the 1st and 4th years (graded as credit or non-credit)
  • Participate in the CBB/BIDS seminar series
  • Serve as a teaching assistant in two semester courses

Students will typically take 2 courses each semester and 3 research rotations during the first year. Students are expected to find a dissertation adviser (or co-advisers) by the end of the first year. In the summer after the first year, students will start working in the laboratory of their chosen Ph.D. supervisor. Students must pass a qualifying examination normally given at the end of the second year or the beginning of the third year. There is no language requirement.

Students may be able to waive some course requirements based on graduate coursework completed at other universities where they have been enrolled as a graduate student. Courses must be equivalent to Yale graduate courses, and the Graduate School usually sets a maximum limit of three courses that can be waived.