Carnegie Mellon University

Curriculum overview (144-153 units)

  • Foundation courses (60-69* units)
  • Breadth courses (36 units)
  • Depth courses (48* units)

* if a student waives more than 9 units of foundation classes, then they need to complete additional depth credits to reach a total of 144 units to graduate.

Curriculum at a Glance

Foundation Courses (up to 69 units)

  • Programming for Scientists (12 units, Fall)*
  • Algorithms and Advanced Data Structures (12 units, Fall or Spring)
  • Essential Statistics and Mathematics for Scientists (9 units, Fall)*
  • Applied Cell and Molecular Biology (12 units, Fall)*
  • Genomes, Evolution, and Disease: Advanced Quantitative Genetic Analysis (9 units, Spring)*
  • Professional Issues in Computational Biology (3 units, Fall)
  • Machine Learning for Scientists (12 units, Spring)

    * students may waive one or more of these classes.  If more than 9 units are waived, then the student needs to complete additional depth credits to reach a total of 144 units.

Breadth Courses (36 units)

  • Genomics (12 units, Fall or Spring)
  • Biological Modeling (12 units, Fall)
  • Automation of Biology (12 units, Spring)

Depth Courses (48* units)

48* units of relevant courses, including:

* if a student has waived more than 9 units of foundation courses, then they have to take additional depth courses to get up to a total of 144 units to the degree. These additional depth classes can be from either department. See here for more.

§ some courses listed on these links may have limited space or restrictions in how they apply to the degree, students should talk with their advisors with questions.

Graduation Requirements

  • You must have a B average (GPA = 3.00) over all courses counted for graduation
  • This includes the Foundation, Breadth, and Depth courses
  • These courses must total at least 144 units
  • 02-602 (Professional Issues in Computational Biology) can count toward the 140 units, but not be factored in for GPA calculation
  • Courses counted for undergraduate degree certification cannot count for M.S. degree

Additional Curriculum Notes


Each semester, all students are encouraged to and attend some or all of the weekly Department of Biological Sciences Research Seminars and Computational Biology Department 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 (03-655 or 02-702).


Students who are interested in research for credit may take 03-700 or 02-700 (M.S. Thesis Research). The number of credits for this course will be determined by the faculty mentor. In order for more than 12 units of research to count toward total units for graduation, the student must write and defend a Masters thesis. Students should 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, 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. (refer to MSCB Student Handbook).


Students who are interested in doing an internship in industry or at a research lab not at CMU can take 03-601R, Computational Biology Internship, for 3 units of credit.

International students who secure paid internships outside of Carnegie Mellon must register for both 03-601R 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 03-601R will not be assessed.

It is advisable to contact the Assistant Director (Internship and Job Placement) and/or 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).