Academic Programs Catalog

College of Natural Science

Interdepartmental Degree Programs

Graduate Study
Quantitative Biology - Dual Major

The interdepartmental dual major in quantitative biology is administered by the College of Natural Science. The dual major is available only to those students who plan to complete a Ph.D. degree program that involves a research project and course work in quantitative biology and a major in one of the following departments that are affiliated with the interdepartmental program: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Chemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Epidemiology, Genetics, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Physics and Astronomy, Physiology, Plant Biology, Statistics and Probability, and Zoology. The student does not have the option of completing a major in quantitative biology alone.

The educational objectives of the interdepartmental program are to:

  1. provide an opportunity for doctoral students to obtain an interdisciplinary and contemporary academic experience in the field of quantitative biology.
  2. stimulate doctoral students with an interest in biological sciences to develop skills in chemical/physical or mathematical/computational approaches while encouraging doctoral students in the chemical, physical, mathematical, and computational sciences to apply their skills to solve biological problems.
  3. develop an intellectual environment that will foster the growth of research and teaching in the area of quantitative biology.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the department and college in which the student is enrolled, the student must meet the requirements specified below.


In order to enroll in the dual major in quantitative biology a student must also have been admitted to a major in one of the affiliated departments. A minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.0 and undergraduate mathematics through calculus are required for admission to the dual major. Students may apply  to the quantitative biology program at any time prior to their preliminary exam.

Admission to the quantitative biology dual major is by approval of the quantitative biology recruiting committee and the graduate program director. In special cases, an applicant who has deficiencies in background courses may be admitted to the dual major on a provisional basis.

Guidance Committee

The student must select two mentors, typically one from a biological discipline and one from a chemical, physical, mathematical, computational, or engineering discipline. Both of these mentors will serve on the guidance committee.  At least two members of the student’s guidance committee must be members of the quantitative biology faculty. At least one member of the committee must be from a department or disciplinary program other than the one that administers the student’s disciplinary major. The student’s program of study will be planned in accordance with the statement on Dual Major Doctoral Degrees in the Graduate Education section of this catalog.

Requirements for the Dual Major in Quantitative Biology


At least two courses totaling a combined minimum of 5 credits that provide graduate training in biology to students in chemical/physical or mathematical/computational disciplines or that provide graduate training in chemical, physical, mathematical, or computational methods to those in the biological disciplines. The courses should be complementary to the student’s research, relevant to the goals of the quantitative biology program, and must be approved by the program director. Approved concentration areas include:  molecular biophysics, systems biology, ecological and evolutionary modeling, or genomics, bioinformatics, and computational biology.

2. Twenty-four credits in Doctoral Dissertation Research (course number 999) from one of the departments referenced above.  
3. Pass a comprehensive examination that will be defined by the requirements of the participating primary department and that will demonstrate appropriate knowledge of quantitative biology as determined by the guidance committee.  
4. Submit a dissertation that, in the judgment of the student’s guidance committee, represents the area of quantitative biology.  
5. Regularly attend and participate in quantitative biology sponsored seminars.