Carnegie Mellon University

Curriculum overview

ms Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics (MSQBB): 2-semester program (90 units):

  • 03-701-A1 (6 units): Practical Computing for Biological Sciences (Fall, first half-semester)
  • 03-702-A2 (6 units): Data Analysis for Biological Sciences (Fall, second half-semester)
  • 03-604 (3 units): Professional Skills (Fall)
  • 02-601 (12 units): Programming for Scientists or 03-709 (12 units): Applied Cell & Molecular Biology (Fall)
  • 03-727 (12 units): Evolutionary Bioinformatics (Fall)
  • 03-713-mini (6 units): Bioinformatics Data Integration Practicum (Spring, half-semester)
  • Electives:

ms Quantitative Biology and Bioinformatics, Advanced study (MSQBBAs): 3-semester program (114 units):

  • 03-701-A1 (6 units): Practical Computing for Biological Sciences (first Fall, first half-semester)
  • 03-702-A2 (6 units): Data Analysis for Biological Sciences (first Fall, second half-semester)
  • 03-604 (3 units): Professional Skills (first Fall)
  • 02-601 (12 units): Programming for Scientists or 03-709 (12 units): Applied Cell & Molecular Biology (first Fall)
  • 03-727 (12 units): Evolutionary Bioinformatics (first Fall)
  • 03-713-mini (6 units): Bioinformatics Data Integration Practicum (Spring, half-semester)
  • 03-711 (12 units): Computational Genomics and Molecular Biology or 03-709 (12 units): Applied Cell & Molecular Biology (Second Fall)
  • Electives:

To see a 2-minute tutorial on how to view course offerings and descriptions, please go here (YouTube): https://youtu.be/B_4if2U8SSk

Before planning to take any courses from any department other than Biological Sciences, please consult with the academic advisor to discuss the pre-requisite knowledge required to take those courses.

Also note: classes from other departments, including the Computational Biology Department, are subject to availability of space for MSQBB and MSQBBAS students and also have pre-requisites. Unfortunately, pre-requisites are not always listed or are occasionally incorrect in the listings, please talk to the MSQBB/MSQBBAS academic advisor before planning to take courses from any department other than Biological Sciences.

Admitted students will choose either the MSQBB or MSQBBAS program in March/April for August start date. Inter-program transfer after matriculation requires special approval from program administration.

Fall semester (48-51 units):

  • 03-701-A1 (6 units): Practical Computing for Biological Sciences (half-semester)
  • 03-702-A2 (6 units): Data Analysis for Biological Sciences (half-semester)
  • 03-604 (3 units): Professional Skills
  • 02-601 (12 units): Programming for Scientists or 03-709 (12 units): Applied Cell & Molecular Biology
  • 03-727 (12 units): Evolutionary Bioinformatics
  • Biological Sciences graduate-level elective (9-12 units) or one of the following (subject to pre-requisites and availability):
    • Several Biological Sciences options including:
      • 03-642 (12 units): Graduate Molecular Biology
      • 03-709 (12 units): Applied Cell & Molecular Biology
      • 03-738 (6 units - first half): Synthetic Biology + 03-728 (6 units - second half): Genome Editing
      • 03-762 (12 units): Advanced Cellular Neuroscience
      • Other courses are available, please ask advisors about availability
    • 02-680 (9 units): Essential Mathematics and Statistics for Scientists (subject to space, availability, and prerequite knowledge - ask advisors)

Spring semester (39-51 units):

  • 03-713-mini (6 units): Bioinformatics Data Integration Practicum (half-semester)
  • Biological Sciences graduate-level electives (33-42 units) or one of the following (subject to pre-requisites and availability):
    • Several Biological Sciences options including:
      • 03-650 (12 units): Developmental Biology & Human Health
      • 03-791 (12 units): Advanced Microbiology
      • 03-737 (6 units - first half): Biosensors + 03-727 (6 units - second half): Protein drug discovery
      • 03-763 (12 units): Advanced Systems Neuroscience
      • 03-766 (12 units): Advanced Neuropharmacology
      • Other courses are available too, please ask advisors about availability
    • 02-604 (12 units): Fundamental Bioinformatics (subject to space & availability)
    • 09-563 (9 units): Quantitative Chemistry (subject to availability of space and required chemistry background)
    • Up to 12 units of research credit may also be done, interested students should work with program advisors to find a lab

At the end of the second semester, students who have completed requirements will graduate. F1 visa holders may apply for Optional Practical Training (bottom of this page), employment in the US is subject to all applicable US laws and university policies, foreign students should talk with the Office of International Education.

Fall semester of year 1 (39 units):

  • 03-701-A1 (6 units): Practical Computing for Biological Sciences (first half-semester)
  • 03-702-A2 (6 units): Data Analysis for Biological Sciences (second half-semester)
  • 03-604 (3 units): Professional Skills
  • 02-601 (12 units): Programming for Scientists or 03-709 (12 units): Applied Cell & Molecular Biology
  • 03-727 (12 units): Evolutionary Bioinformatics
  • Optional: Biological Sciences graduate-level elective (9-12 units) or one of the following (subject to pre-requisites and availability):
    • Several Biological Sciences options including:
      • 03-642 (12 units): Graduate Molecular Biology
      • 03-709 (12 units): Applied Cell & Molecular Biology (if not used to fill the requirement above)
      • 03-738 (6 units - first half): Synthetic Biology + 03-728 (6 units - second half): Genome Editing
      • 03-762 (12 units): Advanced Cellular Neuroscience
      • Other courses are available, please ask advisors about availability
    • 02-680 (9 units): Essential Mathematics and Statistics for Scientists (subject to space, availability, and prerequite knowledge - ask advisors)
    • 02-719 (12 units): Genomics & Epigenetics of the Brain (subject to space, availability, and prerequite knowledge - ask advisors)

Spring semester of year 1 (36 units):

  • 03-713-mini (6 units): Bioinformatics Data Integration Practicum (half-semester)
  • Biological Sciences graduate-level electives (30 units) or one of the following (subject to pre-requisites and availability):
    • Several Biological Sciences options including:
      • 03-650 (12 units): Developmental Biology & Human Health
      • 03-791 (12 units): Advanced Microbiology
      • 03-737 (6 units - first half): Biosensors + 03-727 (6 units - second half): Protein drug discovery
      • 03-763 (12 units): Advanced Systems Neuroscience
      • 03-766 (12 units): Advanced Neuropharmacology
      • Other courses are available too, please ask advisors about availability
    • 02-604 (12 units): Fundamental Bioinformatics (subject to space & availability)
    • 09-563 (9 units): Quantitative Chemistry (subject to availability of space and required chemistry background)
    • Up to 12 units of research credit may also be done, interested students should work with program advisors to find a lab

No summer work is required. Students may work at Carnegie Mellon over the summer per university guidelines. Students may also use their summer for non-academic pursuits.

Students may seek summer internships. The CMU Career & Professional Development Center provides substantial support in internship applications to interested students.

Our program does not guarantee internships to any students and internships are not required. Foreign students who find a summer internship may request Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization. Internships must be in quantitative biology and/or bioinformatics to qualify for CPT; foreign students should talk with the Office of International Education.

Fall semester of year 2 (39 units):

  • 03-711 (12 units): Computational Genomics and Molecular Biology or 03-709 (12 units): Applied Cell & Molecular Biology
  • Biological Sciences graduate-level elective (27 units) or one of the following (subject to pre-requisites and availability):
    • 02-719 (12 units): Genomics & Epigenetics of the Brain (subject to space & availability)
    • Up to 12 units of research credit may also be done, interested students should work with program advisors to find a lab
    • Other electives from the first Fall (above) are available, subject to any required pre-requisite knowledge and subject to availability of space. Please contact the academic advisor with questions and to discuss all courses you plan to take.

NOTE: in some rare situations, stuents starting the 3rd semester may have fewer than 36 units of credit required to graduate. Department and university policy requires that all MS student be full-time students, so they must take a minimum of 36 units per semester, so you may have to take other course that doesn't count toward your degree to maintain the 36-unit university-enrolled minimum. If you find yourself in this situation, consult with the academic advisor.

At the end of the third semester, students who have completed requirements will graduate. F1 visa holders may apply for Optional Practical Training (bottom of this page), employment in the US is subject to all applicable US laws and university policies, foreign students should talk with the Office of International Education.

Additional Curriculum Notes

Seminars

Each semester, all students are encouraged to and attend some or all of the weekly Department of Biological Sciences Research Seminars. 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. Students may also count up to 3 units of seminar (typically 1 semester) as depth coursework.

Research

Students who are interested in research for credit may take M.S. Thesis Research (03-699). The number of credits for this course will be determined by the faculty mentor. Students may take as many units of research as they want (up to 12 units per semester). However, only 12 units total may count toward depth electives. If the student plans to write an honors thesis, they may enroll in up to 12 units of M.S. Honors Thesis Research in the final semester, these 12 units may also count toward graduation.

Students should contact faculty from biology directly to learn about available research opportunities (or talk to the academic advisor). M.S. students are not eligible for research assistantships, but students can work or do research for an hourly pay within the limitations of number of hours and pay range. Students can not get course credit and an hourly wage for the same work.

Internships (only available to students in MSQBB - Advanced Study)

Students who are interested in doing an optional internship in industry or at a research lab not at CMU can take 03-600, Biology Internship, for 3 units of credit.

International students who secure paid internships outside of Carnegie Mellon must register for both 03-600 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).

It is advisable to contact the Assistant Department Head for Graduate Affairs during the fall semester to begin seeking and preparing for an internship (i.e. resumes, cover letters and making contacts) to improve your chances of finding an internship.