Students are required to take a written qualifying exam and an oral exam to demonstrate proficiency in the fundamentals of bioinformatics and computational biology, as well as competence in synthesizing these fundamentals into original scientific hypotheses or approaches.

Written Exam

The written component is taken at the end of the first year, typically in mid-June.  The exam may be postponed until the end of the second year if necessary with the approval of the BCB Director.  Students are assigned a reading list of about 10-15 research papers focusing on key analytical skills that should have been acquired from completion of core coursework during the first year.  These papers are released to during a study period two weeks prior to the exam date.  The exam itself is administered over the course of four days.  Exams are graded as either pass or fail.  Students who do not pass have the option to take the exam again the next year.  Students who fail a second time will be dismissed from the program.

Oral Exam

The oral component of the exam must be taken before the end of the third academic year.  Students are expected to submit a 6-12 page written proposal in the form of a fellowship application (e.g. NIH or NSF) to their thesis committee describing their dissertation research project.  Details regarding the content of the proposal should be discussed no later than the annual thesis committee meeting at the beginning of the third year.  Detailed guidelines for conducting the exam may be found here.  Once the proposal is submitted to the thesis committee, students are required to defend their proposals during an oral exam given by their thesis committee.  Students are expected to demonstrate sufficient knowledge in their chosen research area and feasibility in completing their research plan by the end of the fifth year.  The specific content of these oral exams is dictated by the thesis committee and moderated by the committee chair.  Students who fail the exam have the option to take the exam again at a later date under terms and conditions set by their committee.  Students who fail a second time will be dismissed from the program.

Forms Required for BCB Oral Exam

  1. BCB Report of Oral Exam
  2. Graduate School Committee and Dissertation Form
    1. Must get this form from BCB Curriculum Administrator
    2. Must provide names and titles (ie Professor, Assistant Professor, etc.) for all committee members
    3. Must provide designation of committee positions (ie: Chair, Advisor, Member)
    4. Form with original signatures must be turned in to BCB Curriculum Administrator  within 1 week of exam
  3. Graduate School Doctoral Exam Report Form
    1. Must get this form from BCB Curriculum Administrator
    2. Parts I and II will completed at this exam (Signature and Initials of Committee Chair are required for both parts)
    3. Form with original signatures must be turned in to BCB Curriculum Administrator within 1 week of exam