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Program in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Office of Graduate Studies University of California, San Diego

  • La Jolla, CA
  • Public
  • Suburban
  • 22%78%
    student ratio
  • 67
    total students
  • $11,220 | $26,322
    in-state tuition | out-of-state tuition
  • January 2
    fall application deadline
  • 16%
    acceptance rate
  • 1 Degree
    degrees/awards offered


An International Leader in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Research

The University of California at San Diego was one of the first major universities to initiate a bioinformatics graduate program and continues to be an international leader in the field. Located in Southern California, UC San Diego is a premier research institution that has fostered interdisciplinary research since its inception.

The world is witnessing the birth of a new era in biology and medicine. The confluence of unprecendented measuring capabilities and computational power has dramatically changed the questions that may be addressed in the biological and biomedical sciences and promised to empower clinical practice in fundamental ways.

UCSD's Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Graduate program (including the graduate Biomedical Informatics Track) is an inter-departmental academic program. It is supported broadly by 5 schools and divisions and by the faculty from participating departments, including the Jacobs School of Engineering, the Division of Biological Sciences, the Division of Physical Sciences the School of Medicine, and the Skaggs School of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The graduate program is supported by the respective schools, divisions, and departments, as well as by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Training Grant and over 60, associated faculty.

Student-Faculty Member Ratio Is Nearly One-to-One

The cutting-edge research projects undertaken by UCSD's outstanding faculty members and exceptional graduate students focus on emerging frontiers in bioinformatics and computational biology. The program is one of the largest on campus, offering a student-faculty member ratio of nearly 1-to-1.

Meeting the Challenges of a New Era in Biology

Addressing the challenges of biological datasets at the genomic, sub-cellular, molecular, and biology systems levels requires the development of sophisticated computational methods (bioinformatics) for computational biology.

Moving biology into the realm of a quantitative, predictive, and theory-driven science requires an interdisciplinary research structure dedicated to developing intellectual and human capital in bioinformatics and systems biology. As such, there is an enormous need for trained professionals who are experts in both biology and computing.

The Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

The interdisciplinary bioinformatics graduate program offers 2 tracks: "Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (BISB)" and "Biomedical Informatics (BMI)." Students are able to switch tracks during their course of studies.

Each track is organized around a formal course requirement of 4 compulsory core courses and 16 units of elective courses to be completed within the first 2 years of study. Students must also each participate in a Seminar Series, student research talks, and research rotations. They complete one of 2 ethics courses, and 2 research units with their dissertation advisers. They also serve as a teaching assistant for 2 quarters.

Incoming first-year students also each spend a week at the program's Boot Camp which introduces students to faculty members, courses, and research opportunity and conveys the work ethic and bar of the program's best students. It also provides student support to remedy deficiencies prior to beginning coursework.

Research Rotations

Each graduate undertakes 3, 10-week research rotations in 3 different laboratories within the first calendar year. The purpose of the research rotations is to train students in specific research methodologies, and identify a laboratory in which students will pursue doctoral thesis research.

All students, regardless of their backgrounds and elective tracks, are expected to identify a thesis research laboratory and join that laboratory by the beginning (fall quarter) of their second year.

Ph.D. Requirements

Students take second-year qualifying exams that consists of a 10-page research project proposal and an oral exam that tests the students' ability to think critically, analytically, and independently.

Students also sit for a written and oral exam on their dissertation topics at the end of the third year to qualify for advancement to Ph.D. candidacy. Ph.D. candidates then submit their dissertations and defend them in oral examinations.

Wide-Ranging Research Opportunities in Bioinformatics

UCSD's large faculty offers a broad range of research opportunities in bioinformatics. Faculty member research interests include cell cycle, apoptosis, computational modeling of the genetic basis of diseases, proteomics, metabolomics, genomics, biological circuits, medical decision support systems, and many other areas.

A sampling of the leading-edge doctoral theses completed by recent graduates of the UC San Diego bioinformatics program include: "Computational Tools for Analysis of Mass Spectrometry Imaging Data;" "Structural Systems Biology Perspective on the Metabolic Impact of Physicochemical Stress;" "Insights from Reconstructing Cellular Networks in Transcription, Stress and Cancer;" "Electromicrobiology: A Systems Perspective;" and "The Human Gut Microbiome: Characterization Challenges and HIV Disease Association."

UCSD: A Nationally Ranked Research University in a Beautiful Region

Established in 1960 in the San Diego community of La Jolla, the University of California San Diego soon became one of the country's top universities. The Southern California campus spreads from the scenic coastline, where the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is located, across a large, wooded portion of the Torrey Pines Mesa overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

One of 10 campuses in the University of California System, UCSD boasts over 70 miles of beaches and one of the world's best climates. One can move from the beach to the mountains to the desert within a few hours and enjoy a year-round active lifestyle. A marvelous climate, a beautiful campus, and the lovely city of La Jolla are a perfect match for UC San Diego's superb academic environment for graduate education.

Location and Contact Information

PhD Program in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

Office of Graduate Studies

University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive La Jolla, CA 92093 United States

Dr. Vineet Bafna


Phone: 858-822-4978

Kathleen Kazules

Graduate Coordinator

Phone: 858-822-4948


Location & Contact

Program in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

Office of Graduate Studies
University of California, San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

Vineet Bafna


Phone: 858-534-3852

Risa Shibata

Graduate Coordinator

Phone: 858-822-4948

Request More Info

Degrees & Award

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • Biomedical Informatics Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Degrees Awarded
    • Master's Degrees 1
    • Doctoral Degrees 7
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
    • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
  • Earning Your Degree
    • Part-time study available? No
    • Evening/weekend programs available? No
    • Distance learning programs available? No
    • Terminal master's degree available? Not reported
  • Degree Requirements
    • Master's Degrees Not reported
    • Doctoral Degrees
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported


16% of applicants are admitted.
  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied 206
    • Accepted 35
    • Acceptance Rate 16
    • Enrolled 18
  • Applying
    • Application Fee - Domestic $80
    • Application Fee - International $100
    • Electronic applications accepted? Yes
    • Applications processed on a rolling basis? Not Reported
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Domestic International Priority Date
    • Fall deadline January 2nd Not Reported Not Reported
    • Winter deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
    • Spring deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
  • Entrance Requirements
    • Master's DegreesNot Reported
    • Doctoral's DegreesGRE General Test
    • First-Professional's DegreesNot Reported
    • Other Advanced DegreesNot Reported
    • International DegreesTOEFL required, IELTS required

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition & Fees
    • In-state tuition *$11,220
    • Out-of-state tuition *$26,322
    • International student tuitionNot Reported
    • *Typical tuition for this institution for full-time graduate students per academic year
  • Fees
    • Per-academic year feesNot Reported
    • Per-term feesNot Reported
    • One-time feeNot Reported
    • *Typical fees for this institution for full-time graduate students per academic year
  • Financial Support
    • Financial award applicants must submitFAFSA
    • Application deadlines for financial awardsNot Reported
    • Types of financial support availableTuition Waivers, Scholarship and/or loans

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Graduate Students67
    • Female Percentage22%
    • Male Percentage78%
  • Participation
    • Total Graduate Students67
    • Part-time Percentage0%
    • Full-time Percentage100%
  • Ethnicity
    • Hispanic / Latino4%
    • Black / African American2%
    • White / Caucasian55%
    • American Indian / Alaskan Native0%
    • Asian27%
    • Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander0%
    • Two or more races0%
    • Unknown12%


  • Existing Research
    • Focus of faculty researchQuantitative foundations of computational biology, comparative and population genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, epigenomics and gene expression control, genetic and molecular networks
    • Externally sponsored research expenditures last yearNot Reported





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