Minor in Computational Biology-Ray and Stephanie Lane Center for Computational Biology - Carnegie Mellon University

The Minor in Computational Biology

The computational biology minor is open to students in any major of any college at Carnegie Mellon.  The curriculum and course requirements are designed to maximize the participation of students from diverse academic disciplines. The program seeks to produce students with both basic computational skills and knowledge in biological sciences that are central to computational biology.

Why Minor in Computational Biology?

Computational Biology is concerned with solving biological and biomedical problems using mathematical and computational methods. It is recognized as an essential element in modern biological and biomedical research. There have been fundamental changes in biology and medicine over the past two decades due to spectacular advances in high throughput data collection for genomics, proteomics and biomedical imaging. The resulting availability of unprecedented amounts of biological data demands the application of advanced computational tools to build integrated models of biological systems, and to use them to devise methods of prevent or treat disease. Computational Biologists inhabit and expand the interface of computation and biology, making them integral to the future of biology and medicine.

Computational Biology is a growing field not only in academia, but also in industry. Major players in computation and medicine have invested heavily in computational biology, including Google, Microsoft, Roche and Merck. This field has garnered much interest from venture capital and economy watchers. In a recent New York Times article, Issac Ro, of Goldman Sachs, is quoted saying “We believe the field of bioinformatics for genetic analysis will be one of the biggest areas of disruptive innovation in life science tools over the next few years.”
A minor in Computational Biology will position students well for entering the job market and graduate school in this exciting and growing field.


Students must apply for admission no later than November 30 of their senior years; an admission decision will usually be made within one month. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible in their undergraduate careers so that the advisor of the computational biology minor can provide advice on their curriculum.

To apply, send email to Dr. Ziv Bar-Joseph <zivbj at andrew.cmu.edu> and Dr. Karen Thickman <krthickman at cmu.edu>. Include in your email:

  •     Full name
  •     Andrew ID
  •     Preferred email address (if different)
  •     Your class and College/School at Carnegie Mellon
  •     Semester you intend to graduate
  •     All (currently) declared majors and minors
  •     Statement of purpose (maximum 1 page) - Describes why you want to take this minor and how it fits into your career goals
  •     Proposed schedule of courses for the minor (this is your plan, NOT a commitment)


The minor in computational biology requires a total of five courses: 3 core courses, 1 biology elective, and 1 computer science elective, for a total of 45 units.


15-122 - Principles of Imperative Computation
03-121 - Modern Biology

Core classes

02-250 - Introduction to Computational Biology
02-261 – Quantitative Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory

(03-116 Phage Genomics Research or 03-343 Experimental Techniques in Molecular Biology may be substituted for 02-261 with permission of Minor advisor.)

one of the following classes:

02-510 – Computational Genomics
02-512 – Computational Methods for Bio Modeling and Simulation
02-530 – Cell and Systems Modeling

Biology electives (one of the following):

03-231 - Biochemistry 
03-240 - Cell Biology
03-325 - Evolution
03-330 - Genetics
03-362 - Cellular Neuroscience
03-380 - Virology
03-439 - Introduction to Biophysics
03-442 - Molecular Biology of Eukaryotes
42-202 - Physiology

Computer Science electives (one of the following):

02-422 - Advanced Algorithms for Computational Structural Biology
02-450 - Automation of Biological Research - Robotics and Machine Learning
02-500 - Undergraduate Research
02-510 – Computational Genomics
02-512 – Computational Methods for Bio Modeling and Simulation
02-530 – Cell and Systems Modeling
02-740 - Bioimage Informatics
09-560 - Computational Chemistry
10-601 - Machine Learning
15-381 - Artificial Intelligence: Representation and Problem Solving
15-386 - Neural Computation
15-415 - Database Applications
16-721 - Learning-based Methods in Vision
16-725 - Methods In Medical Image Analysis

Courses in the minor may not be counted towards another SCS minor.

Administrative Contacts

Director: Dr. Ziv Bar-Joseph
Advisor: Dr. Karen Thickman
Admin Coordinator: Thom Gulish