Program Description, M.S. in Computational Biology
The M.S. in Computational Biology program has a low student-to-faculty ratio to ensure that each student receives individual attention and advising. Together with the M.S. Program Advising Committee, each students designs a unique schedule of research and coursework to address specific needs and goals. Students may attend the Departmental Research Seminar and participate in the weekly Graduate Research Seminar (Journal Club), series that comprise a variety of presentations by outsides scientists, Carnegie Mellon faculty and students, permitting a penetrating look at varied scientific disciplines and contemporary investigative approaches. Students also attend various informal seminars whose topics range from scientific integrity and ethics to professional development.
Orientation & The Elizabeth Jones Annual Retreat
Matriculating students arrive at the Carnegie Mellon campus in August to attend the University-wide orientation. The week before classes start, the Department of Biological Sciences holds its orientation, which includes research presentations, course advising, building and campus tours, safety training and ethics discussions.
At the end of the first week of classes, the Department of Biological Sciences gathers for an offsite retreat. Students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty discuss their research and enjoy recreational activities in a relaxed, pastoral setting. During this retreat, new graduate students become well acquainted with the department and research interests of each laboratory. Faculty members and senior graduate students present informal talks, while other students present posters.
To receive the M.S. in Computational Biology degree, all students must take and successfully complete three Core Courses (which must be completed with an average grade of B).
- Computational Genomics and Molecular Biology 03-711
- Computational Methods for Biological Modeling and Simulation 03-712
- Choice of 02-730, 02-710, or another with the permission of the M.S. Advising Committee.
In the event that a course is cancelled, one of equivalent material and degree of difficulty may be substituted with permission of the M.S. Advising Committee.
In addition, students must add electives of their choice, earning a minimum of 99 units (including the Core Courses) required to graduate.
- A minimum of 36 units must be earned in graduate-level courses (700 level or above; 10-601 and 09-560 are also acceptable).
- A maximum of 27 units may be in undergraduate courses, which must be at the 200 level or above, and may not include a course equivalent to one previously required to complete a degree at another institution.
- Subject to the approval of the M.S. Advising Committee, relevant courses in other departments or at the University of Pittsburgh (through cross registration) may be taken for credit toward the 99 unit total.
- No grade lower than C shall be used for credit. The average grade of 99 units must be at least B.
Students taking summer courses pay tuition unless it is paid for by either their advisor or another source.
Each semester, all students are encouraged to register for and attend the weekly departmental Research Seminar (Graduate Seminar 03-750; 1 unit). Graduate students are strongly urged to meet the speakers to broaden their knowledge of cutting-edge biological science and to make useful contacts; the faculty host can arrange individual or small group meetings for interested students.
Graduate Research Seminar (Journal Club)
Each semester, all students may register for and attend the weekly departmental Journal Club (Graduate Research Seminar 03-755; 3 units) during which faculty members and doctoral students give 25-minute presentations. M.S. students taking this course for credit must prepare and submit reports describing the presentations.
Students who are interested in research can take 03-700 (M.S. Research). Up to 12 units may be taken to gain some research experience; these will count toward the 99-unit total. In order for more than 12 units of 03-700 to count toward the 99-unit total, the student must write a thesis document or paper for publication and present it in a public forum. Typically, students contact faculty directly to learn about available research opportunities. It is strongly advised that students wait until their second semester to begin research. M.S. students are not eligible for research assistantships.
Students who are interested in doing an internship (or research outside of Carnegie Mellon) can take 03-601, Computational Biology Internship, for credit; the units will vary according to the time commitment. International students who secure paid internships outside of Carnegie Mellon must register for both 03-601 and Curricular Practical Training (CPT). The Office of International Education (OIE) oversees CPT registration. Students will need the offer letter spelling out dates of employment, hours to be worked, and wages or stipend (if any). Note that, during the summer, tuition for 03-601 will not be assessed.
It is advisable to contact the Assistant Head during the late fall to begin seeking and preparing for an internship (i.e. resumes, cover letters and making contacts).
Employment During the Academic Year
Students are allowed to work for wages on projects separate from their research-for-credit projects (03-700), provided academic progress is not compromised. For students who desire to earn wages, there are limited employment opportunities in faculty research groups; students are responsible for seeking out such opportunities. It is strongly advised that students wait until their second semester to begin work.
The number of hours worked will not exceed 12 hours per week; the pay scale will ordinarily range from $10 to $16 per hour.
M.S. students are not eligible for research or teaching assistantships.