Graduate Program in

Mathematical, Computational & Systems Biology

Curriculum Overview

Students are individuals. Nowhere is this more true than in the MCSB program, which welcomes applicants from a wide variety of academic backgrounds from traditional biology disciplines to mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering or computer science. The goal of the program is to provide a balance between individualized instruction and exposure to a common core of concepts and approaches. The program does not seek to produce a homogeneous set of graduates with exactly the same knowledge base and skills. Rather, the program seeks to give individuals the practical skills to work together across disciplinary lines. To this end, the curriculum emphasizes diverse training, active mentoring, and collaborative efforts.

The components of the curriculum include:

  • Didactic Core Courses, providing a broad introduction to topics in Mathematical, Computational and Systems Biology
  • MCSB Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Breadth Courses
  • Laboratory Rotations, to expose students to research projects in a variety of disciplines
  • Skill building coursework, designed to develop critical thinking and collaboration skills
  • Focused Workshops; short-term experiences intended to build specific practical skills

Core Courses

Students are expected to take a minimum of 7 didactic courses in preparation for thesis research.   These courses will typically be taken during the first year of graduate school.


Biological Physics (Physics 230A)
Code: 48455
Instructor: J. Allard

Mathematical and Computational Biology I (Math 227A)
Code: 45060
Instructor: G. Enciso

Critical Thinking in Systems Biology (Dev Bio 203A)
Code: 08464
Instructor: A. Lander

Systems Biology Journal Club (Dev Bio 212A)
Code: 08512
Instructor: W. Wang


Get PDF Downloads of Core and Breadth Courses

Laboratory Rotations

Students will carry out a minimum of two rotation projects, working in research groups from different fields and in different departments. Rotation projects represent focused research experiences in which students are expected to learn techniques and skills, and make modest progress. Advisors will help students choose rotations that expose them to a interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches.