Graduate Program in

Mathematical, Computational & Systems Biology

New & Aspiring Students

Interested in MCSB? View the information below—along with Program Details (above)—to find out more about the program and whether it's right for you.

Current Students

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Questions? Contact Tina Rimal, MCSB Graduate Program Coordinator

Program Overview

The goal of UCI's program in Mathematical, Computational and Systems Biology (MCSB) is to provide students from a variety of educational backgrounds with Ph.D. training suitable for research careers in the nascent field of Systems Biology. The program emphasizes in-depth classroom study, interdisciplinary research rotations, and individualized advising.

What is Systems Biology?

The intellectual landscape of Biology is in a state of upheaval: Our field has focused for so long on the "parts lists" of life--systematically enumerating genomes, proteomes, phenomes, etc.--that now, as many of these lists attain a very real measure of completeness, we are being challenged to re-evaluate the very nature of what we do.  Systems Biology , at least as we use the term here, refers to a way of approaching life science that, if not entirely new, has only recently become of widespread utility.

To the Systems Biologist, the living world is built of interacting sets of complex systems, crafted by natural selection to carry out defined tasks. Understanding such a world requires addressing questions with an engineering flavor, such as "Why is a system designed the way it is?" "How does it function robustly?" and "What can the system be altered to do?" To tackle such questions, one needs to know not just mechanisms ("how does it work?") but also purposes ("what is its job?" "why was it advantageous to build it that way?"). Yet relationships between how complex systems are built and what they were designed to do are usually far from intuitive; considerable computational effort and mathematical skill are often needed to make the necessary connections.   Such a strong dependence on ideas and approaches outside the discipline of Biology explains why Systems Biology, in our view, is not just a trend within biology, but a truly hybrid discipline, an amalgam of molecular biology, evolutionary biology, engineering, mathematics and computer science.

Program Sponsors

Of our 64 students who have graduated so far, 53% remain in academia and 47% are employed in private industry

MCSB Partners


Biological Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Developmental and Cell Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Mathematics, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Physics and Astronomy


Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science,The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, School of Biological Sciences, School of Physical Sciences, School of Medicine