Carnegie Mellon University

Welcome M.S. in Computational Biology Graduate Students

Congratulations on being accepted to the M.S. in Computational Biology program at Carnegie Mellon University! We are very pleased that you are joining us this fall. Use this monthly step-by- step instruction guide in order to prepare for your arrival.

Important Dates and Academic Calendar

University-Wide Graduate Student Orientation
August 14-16, 2017
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all students.

Placement Exams for 02-601 and 02-619
August 17, 2017
Programming Placement Exam (for 02-601) at 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (GHC 6501)
Algorithms & Data Structures Placement Exam (for 02-613) at 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. (GHC 6501)

International Graduate Student Orientation
Multiple opportunities available
MANDATORY for international students.

M.S. in Computational Biology Orientation
August 21-24, 2017
MANDATORY for all students.

The First Day of Classes
August 28, 2017

Academic calendar (2017-2018):

Step 1: May Checklist

Various forms need to be completed as soon as possible and returned to the Graduate Programs Office.

  • Transcript

If you graduated in fall 2016 or spring 2017, send your final transcript to:

Graduate Programs Office
Department of Biological Sciences
4400 Fifth Avenue Room 415
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

  • Andrew Account

Your Andrew User ID provides you with the ability to access the university's computing services such as Student Information Online, the computing clusters and your Andrew email account. You will also need your Andrew ID and password to submit your health history and immunization forms, enroll in student health insurance, and register for classes.

You should expect to receive an email from Computing Services with the subject line "Receive your Andrew userID". The email will contain a link for retrieving your Andrew userID and instructions for continuing the First Pass process to set your initial password.

To receive your Andrew userID and set your initial password:

    1. Follow the link in the email you receive from Computing Services (
      Note: The link is unique and can only be used once. Be sure to visit the web page before the expiration date stated in the email.
    2. Follow the on screen First Pass instructions to receive your Andrew userID. Write down your Andrew userID; you will only see it once and you will need it to set your password.
    3. Once you have received your Andrew userID, a confirmation page will be displayed.
    4. You will receive another email with instructions on how to set a permanent password. 

Your Andrew email account is your source for official and important Carnegie Mellon communications. Please check it frequently before you arrive on campus and during your academic career. If you choose to use an alternate email address (i.e., Hotmail, Gmail, etc.), then you should forward your Andrew email to your preferred email address to ensure that you receive all official university communications.

  • Health History and Immunization Information Forms

By June 30, students must complete the online Health History Forms and Immunization Requests from Health Services. You will need your Andrew userID (and password) to access the site. Select the HealthConnect button from their main page, which will take you to a secure site where you can enter your health and immunization information. The websites for the immunization requirements and student health insurance requirements are as follows:

Any questions regarding immunization requirements should be directed to

The 2017-2018 Health Guide e-booklet provides details on the university’s health requirements for new students, including immunization and health insurance information. The e-booklet will be ready by early May. The University Health Services website is current for summer semester students – please check back often for updates.

  • For International Students Only 

Students who are currently attending a school in the United States in F-1 visa status must request a transfer of the SEVIS record before the I-20 can be processed for Carnegie Mellon. 

    • · Access the “Transfer In Form” on, “Coming to Carnegie Mellon from within the U.S.” 
    • · Student shall complete section A. 
    • · Meet with the foreign student advisor/administrator at the school to determine a “release date”. 
    • · The administrator shall complete Section B. 
    • · Include the form when submitting the International Student Information Form packet. 
    • · The I-20 for Carnegie Mellon will be processed on or shortly after the “release date”. 

Students who are currently attending a school in the U.S. in J-1 visa status should email OIE for further instructions. 

The Office of International Education (OIE) at Carnegie Mellon University has partnered with University Express Mail Service (UEMS) for the shipment of immigration documents. This service is at your expense and will allow you to receive your I-20 or DS-2019 through DHL, FedEx or UPS within 3-5 days after the label has been processed. 

OIE will email you when the I-20 or DS-2019 has been processed. The email will include your SEVIS ID number as well as instructions on how to create a shipping label. 

Do NOT create the shipping label until you receive an email from OIE instructing you to do so.  

You may also choose to use eShipGlobal to send your International Student Information Form and required documentation TO Carnegie Mellon University. If you choose to do this, start by creating a student account, select “Send documents to your University”, Carnegie Mellon University and choose the Office of International Education. 

Be very careful when selecting the correct CMU office address to avoid any delays. 

To create a student account in eShipGlobal, simply follow the instructions using this link:

1. Log in to eShipGlobal–do not go through DHL, FedEx or UPS directly. (The link works best with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox browsers.)
2. You will be required to register a new student account using your email and password.
3. Enter your complete mailing address including postal code, phone number and email. (student ID is not required).
4. You will need a credit card (Visa, MasterCard or Discover only) to pay for the service.  

The Department of Biological Sciences does not handle the processing of the sevis transfer or the I20. Complete all the forms accurately along with all required supporting documents to:

Carnegie Mellon University 
Office of International Education 
5000 Forbes Avenue 
Warner Hall, Third Floor 
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 


Step 2: June Checklist

  • Health Insurance

Full-time, matriculating students must meet medical insurance requirements. Waivers, enrollment forms and deadlines may be found at the Student Insurance webpage. Any questions about health insurance should be directed to

The 2017-2018 student insurance premium for an individual is $2,039 per year. The premium rates for two-person, family and the vision and dental plans may be found at the About the Plans webpage at The department’s health insurance allowance is $663, which is paid in installments August through May. You are responsible for paying the difference and setting up payment with the insurance carrier; it is not paid directly by the department on your behalf. Please note that both dental and vision insurances are optional and not paid for by the department.

  • Housing

Housing Services is offering on-campus housing to a limited number of graduate students for the 2016-2017 academic year. If you are interested please visit the Housing Services website at

Community Housing services provides the Housing Registry, which is a listing of available rental properties, information about the city of Pittsburgh, and resources for individuals who may be new to renting off-campus housing.

Your best resource about housing is our current graduate students. The Housing section from the Words of Wisdom from Current Students webpage is a great reference tool. The webpage may be found at Words of Wisdom.

Disclaimer: This list of advice and information was put together by current graduate students of the Biological Sciences department, and does not express the views of the department. Most of the information below has been verified, but some may have changed including URLs, dates, and email addresses, so self-verification of information is advisable.


Step 3: July Checklist

  • Course Registration

You will be pre-enrolled into all three background courses for Fall 2017 (Programming for Scientists, Advanced Algorithms and Data Structures, and Applied Cell and Molecular Biology). We will be holding placement exams during orientation to give you the opportunity to place out of foundation courses (and replace them with additional depth units). The co-assistant directors for 2017-2018, Prof. DJ Brasier and Prof. Phillip Compeau, will be in touch to follow up in the coming weeks. During the MSCB orientation, you will meet both as a group and individually with the Graduate Advising Committee to discuss your future at CMU and beyond. Changes in the curriculum are ongoing. You may want to familiarize yourself with courses by reviewing the Course Listings. There is no recommended overall reading list.

 If you have any questions about the courses that you will take at Carnegie Mellon, please contact DJ Brasier, Ph.D. by email (

Step 4: August Checklist

  • Finances

You should arrive with $2,500 to $3,500 in traveler’s checks to cover your initial costs and a small amount ($100- $300) of U.S. currency in small bills ($5 and $10). These funds will be used for your arrival expenses such as taxis, meals, books, supplies, and other personal needs.

  • Emergency Loans

All students regardless of their program are eligible for the Emergency Student Loan, which is an interest-free and emergency base loan repayable within 30 days. It is available through the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs; students may apply for the loan by stopping in the Student Affairs Office or by calling 268.2075 for an appointment.

  • Student ID Card

The Carnegie Mellon ID Card identifies a campus community member and it is used to access campus facilities and services. The Card Accessible Services website includes a list of the services and resources that the card provides. New graduate students beginning classes for the fall semester may be issued an ID card after August 1 at the Card Office.

The Card Office address is A15 Warner Hall. They may be reached at 412.268.8186 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday - 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday - 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or by email: