The field of quantitative biology involves using both quantitative methods, like mathematical and statistical analysis, as well as advanced computing technology, to gain a better understanding of the biological sciences. Through careful analysis and the construction of models, scientists attempt to explain different biological phenomena. For students interested in pursuing this career at the graduate level, only Ph.D. programs are available. Below, we will learn a bit about Ph.D. programs in quantitative biology.
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General Information About Quantitative Biology Graduate Programs
Ph.D. programs in quantitative biology generally take around three years to complete. Some programs will confer a Ph.D. degree in Quantitative Biology, while others offer Ph.D. degrees in Biochemistry, Cell Biology or a related topic with a specialization in quantitative biology. Both options require that students take similar courses, especially towards the beginning of the program. We will look at a few of the courses that are common in quantitative biology Ph.D. programs.
Introduction to Quantitative Biology
One of the first courses you may take, depending on whether you have a background in the field, is an introduction into quantitative biology. This course will cover all of the basics and introductory concepts in quantitative biology. It is generally geared towards who are not from a bioengineering or quantitative biology background.
Statistics for Biology
Ph.D. programs in quantitative biology generally include some sort of statistics requirement so that students can learn methods of applying statistics to quantitative biology topics. This course may involve using specialized statistics software and requires a high level of mathematical and computing skills.
A course in biological physics will focus on using different types of statistical and quantitative models from the field of physics and applying them to study and understand various biological processes. Some possible course topics include protein folding, cytoskeletal assembly, and cooperative binding.
To further develop students' skill sets, this hands-on course trains students to apply computational algorithms in analyzing biological information using sophisticated lab equipment. Course topics typically include gene regulation and gene expression.
Ph.D. programs in this field may also require several laboratory-based courses in which students can conduct their own experiments and apply the theories and concepts they have learned in the classroom into physical, hands-on application. Some topics of lab courses may include molecular imaging, experimental techniques, and other relevant topics in quantitative biology.
Quantitative Biology Graduate Program Admission Requirements
When applying to a Ph.D. program in quantitative biology, students will need to have completed at least a bachelor's degree. While students from many disciplines and backgrounds may be excepted, having a bachelor's degree in a field like bioengineering or a similar field may allow students to skip some introductory level classes in the program. Along with transcripts, students will need to submit their GRE scores, resume, a personal statement, and recommendation letters.
Depending on the program you plan on enrolling in, you may need to first apply to a more general Ph.D. track, in a field like biochemistry or molecular and cell biology, while selecting the quantitative biology specialization track. Some programs may require you to select a specialization from the beginning of your degree program, while others may allow you to apply to a specialization after completing a year or two of coursework.