PhD Program

Prospective students who have completed a bachelor’s degree may apply for admission to the PhD program. The PhD requires a total of 64 credits, consisting of lecture, laboratory and seminar courses and research credits. While there is a set of required core courses, the precise course of study will be determined in consultation with the student’s academic advisor, and will reflect the student’s background and interests.

In order to be admitted to PhD candidacy, students must demonstrate mastery of the core subject matter (no lower than a “B” in core courses) and successfully complete the oral qualifying examination by the end of the second year.

Lab Rotation Requirement

Three lab rotations are required during a Ph.D. student’s first year, each lasting approximately 9 weeks. One rotation must be experimental, one computational, and the third can be either. Lab rotations must take place at Boston University, on either the Charles River campus or the Medical School campus.  Only rotations done in laboratories located on-campus fulfill the rotation requirement.

Annual Report

All students are required to submit an annual report each fall. The report includes a list of courses completed, research projects and committee updates, journal publications, conference presentations or posters, teaching, Bioinformatics Community Service, financial support, report of oral examination, as well as a brief program evaluation.

Teaching Requirement

There is a one semester teaching requirement for all PhD students in the Bioinformatics Program.

Qualifying Examination

The goal of the oral qualifying exam is for the student to demonstrate his or her general proficiency in bioinformatics, as well as command of the area(s) in which he or she intends to conduct research. Each student in the Bioinformatics Program will select a Qualifying Committee (QC) of 4 faculty members in the program during the first semester of their second year.  The Qualifying Committee must include faculty members with biological/experimental expertise, as well as members with computational expertise.

Ph.D. Dissertation

All Ph.D. students are expected to defend the significance, originality and methodologies employed in their thesis research. This defense consists of two parts. The first is the public seminar open to the University community and based on the work by the student. The second is an oral defense of the work, which usually follows the public seminar, and is done privately before the student’s Thesis Committee. The committee members ensure that the research is complete and understood by the candidate. At this time they can voice any concerns over the data or the preparation of the dissertation document. Depending on how well the thesis experiments are designed, performed, and defended, and how well the thesis is prepared, the committee will vote whether or not the thesis is complete and satisfactory.


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