Ph.D. Program Overview & Requirements

A. Admissions
The program has the following prerequisites: mathematics through intermediate calculus, linear algebra and discrete mathematics, demonstrated programming skill, and at least one undergraduate course in chemistry and in molecular biology. Exceptional strengths in one area may compensate for limited background in other areas, but some proficiency across the disciplines must be evident for admission.  

Students wishing to join the CCMB graduate program will address their applications to the Graduate School. Each applicant must specify a home department from among those participating in the Center. The Graduate School will forward the applications to the CCMB for evaluation.  

Admissions are decided in a two-step process. The primary evaluation will be carried out by a CCMB Admission Committee including representatives from each of the participating departments. These representatives will act as liaisons to the Graduate Admission Committees of the respective departments for the final applicant evaluation (conflicting evaluations will be resolved in conference). Issuance of admission offers will be coordinated by the CCMB. Admitted students will commit to fulfilling the requirements listed below. This program is designed to foster interdisciplinary exchanges between graduate students, and thus every effort will be made to select a cohort that is diverse in racial, cultural, and economic background.  

Recognizing the broad interest on the Brown campus in the application of sophisticated algorithmic expertise and statistical sciences to the analysis of high-throughput data, molecular biology and genetics, inference of high-dimensional variables, and the relevant computer sciences, we emphasize that all courses designed for this program and other related academic activities will be open to all graduate students at Brown.

B. Advising
Students in this program must achieve mastery in three areas — computational science, molecular biology, and probability and statistical inference — through a common core of studies that spans and integrates these areas. Admitted students are expected to have an academic background commensurate with that of our Computational Biology undergraduate degree, established in 1996 and widely recognized in the computational biology community. As the program is interdisciplinary, we expect to admit students with diverse backgrounds. Matriculating students will be consulted by a CCMB committee to recommend a personalized training program by the first week of September in their first year.


C. Course Requirements
Each student should complete six courses by the end of their second year, meeting the following criteria.

 1) Four computational biology graduate courses from the list below. These courses must include at least one from each of the three areas: Biology, Computer Science, and Applied Mathematics & Biostatistics.  At most one course can be at the 1000-level. However, note that some 1000-level courses can be taken for 2000-level credit in accordance with the guidelines of the instructor.

 2)  Two additional graduate (2000-level) courses selected by the student in consultation with his/her advisor. 

Computational Biology Courses


BIOL 1410: Evolutionary Genetics

BIOL 1465: Human Genomics

BIOL 1430: Computational Theory of Molecular Evolution:

BIOL 2030: Foundations for Advanced Study in the Life Sciences (double credit course)

Other 2000-level course in MCB, EEB, or MPPB

Computer Science

Computational Molecular Biology: CSCI 1810

Algorithmic Foundations of Computational Biology:

CSCI 1820

Medical Bioinformatics:

CSCI 2820

Topics in Computational Biology: CSCI 2950

Applied Mathematics & Biostatistics

Inference in Genomics and Molecular Biology: APMA 1080/2080

APMA 2820P: Inference in Molecular Biology II

PHP 2620: Statistical Methods in Bioinformatics

Additional Course Requirements for Specialized Tracks:

At least two 2000-level courses.

 D. Further Requirements
In addition to coursework, students will enhance their interdisciplinary training through additional requirements:
- Students will complete eight-week rotations in a minimum of two laboratories within 24 months of admission to the program. One of these rotations must take place with an advisor outside the student’s home department.
-  Students will complete a project during their rotations and present its results in a public seminar to members of the Center and all others who may be interested.

 - Students will prepare a preliminary research presentation and defend it under the evaluation of a committee by the beginning of the third academic year (usually within 24 months of entering).

 Admission to candidacy will be conditioned on positive evaluation of course work, laboratory rotations, and the research presentation.

 In addition:
- Students will serve as graduate teaching assistants for two semesters during the course of study, generally after the first 18 months of their program.
- Students will have at least one faculty member from each of the three component discipline areas on their dissertation committees and at least two members from the home department.
- Students will be expected to organize and participate in the student-run colloquia.

 After admission to candidacy, students will conduct supervised research to be presented to a thesis committee no earlier than six months before the planned date for the defense of the doctoral dissertation.

 Students will prepare a dissertation and defend it in a formal presentation to CCMB faculty and the home department.

 Upon successful completion of these requirements, students will be awarded a PhD in Computational Molecular Biology.