Master of Science in Computational Biology and Quantitative Genetics Program

Director
John Quakenbush, MS, PhD
smcompbio@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-1056

PROGRAM OVERVIEW
This 80-credit degree program, offered jointly through the Departments of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, provides students with a working knowledge of basic molecular biology and computational and systems biology methods, an understanding of DNA sequencing technology and data analysis, the fundamentals of modern genetic analysis, and broad training in the use of genomic data to address biomedical research questions. The program is organized around a core curriculum with tracks that provide the option for students to emphasize computational biology or quantitative genetics and with a range of electives that allows them to specialize their training to their areas of interest.

The curriculum is designed to prepare students for such positions as bioinformatics analysts or bioinformatics engineers in teaching hospitals, universities, research organizations, or pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. This degree also provides an optional route to a PhD in biostatistics or an SD in epidemiology that emphasizes computational biology and quantitative genetics.

Prerequisites for Entrance
Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree or non-U.S. equivalent, together with appropriate quantitative training as undergraduates or before matriculation in the program. This level of training comprises successful completion of calculus through partial differentiation and multivariable integration; one semester of linear algebra or matrix methods; either a two-semester sequence in probability and statistics or a two-semester sequence in applied statistics; and at least one semester of training in biology, with familiarity with molecular biology and genetics. In addition, it is highly desirable for applicants to have practical knowledge of computer scripting and programming, as well as experience with a statistical computing package such as R.

Program Requirements
To fulfill their 80 credits, students must complete a minimum of 60 credits of coursework, followed by a supervised collaborative research thesis, and must satisfy a research ethics requirement. The thesis work takes place at an authorized location where students are mentored by experienced quantitative scientists with expertise in the analysis of genomic data. The thesis, which receives an ordinal grade, is presented in both oral and written form before a committee consisting of the thesis adviser and two other department faculty.

Contact Information:
John Quakenbush, MS, PhD, director
655 Huntington Avenue, Building 2, 4th floor
Boston, MA 02115 USA
Phone: 617-432-1056
Email: smcompbio@hsph.harvard.edu
Web: hsph.harvard.edu/sm-computational-biology