Quantitative and Computational Biology

Study mode:Full-time Languages: English Duration:5 years
Local:$ 48.9k / 1 Academic year(s) Foreign:$ 48.9k / 1 Academic year(s) Deadline: Dec 1, 2021
StudyQA ranking:1606

Photos of university / #Princeton

The Program in Quantitative and Computational Biology (QCB) is intended to facilitate graduate education at Princeton at the interface of biology, the more quantitative sciences, and computation. Administered from The Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, QCB is a collaboration in multidisciplinary graduate education among faculty in the Institute and the Departments of Chemistry, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Computer Science, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Biology, and Physics. The program covers the fields of genomics, computational biology, systems biology, biophysics, quantitative genetics, molecular evolution, and microbial interactions.

Program Highlights

  • An Outstanding Tradition:  Chartered in 1746, Princeton University has long been considered among the world’s most outstanding institutions of higher education, with particular strength in mathematics and the quantitative sciences. Building upon the legacies of greats such as Compton, Feynman, and Einstein, Princeton established the Lewis-Sigler Institute of Integrative Genomics in 1999 to carry this tradition of quantitative science into the realm of biology.
  • World Class Research: The Lewis-Sigler Institute and the QCB program focus on attacking problems of great fundamental significance using a mixture of theory and experimentation. To maximize the chances of paradigm shifting advances, there is an emphasis on studying fundamental processes in biology, such as transcription and metabolism, in tractable model organisms including bacteria, yeasts, worms, and fruit flies.
  • World Class Faculty: The research efforts are led by the QCB program’s 44 faculty, who include a Nobel Laureate, 8 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 4 Howard Hughes Investigators, and over a dozen early career faculty who have received major national research awards (e.g., NSF CAREER or NIH Innovator).
  • Personalized Education: A hallmark of any Princeton education is personal attention. The QCB program is no exception. Lab sizes are generally modest, typically 6 – 16 researchers, and all students have extensive direct contact with their faculty mentors. Many students choose to work at the interface of two different labs, enabling them to build close intellectual relationships with multiple principal investigators.
  • Stimulating Environment: The physical heart of the QCB program is the Carl Icahn Laboratory, an architectural landmark located adjacent to physics, biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and mathematics on Princeton’s main campus. Students have access to a wealth of resources, both intellectual and tangible, such as world-leading capabilities in DNA sequencing, mass spectrometry, and microscopy. They also benefit from the friendly atmosphere of the program, which includes tea and cookies every afternoon. When not busy doing science, students can partake in an active campus social scene and world class arts and theater events on campus.


Two courses: QCB 515 and COS/QCB 551 are required for all students, as is a Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) course.  Three additional courses can be chosen from the following list.  Course selections must include at least one course from both quantitative and biological course options.

Note: The full course of study must be reviewed and approved by the DGS.

Quantitative Courses (must take at least one)

  • CHM 515 Biophysical Chemistry I
  • CHM/MOL 550 Contemporary Problems in Molecular Biophysics
  • COS 511 Theoretical Machine Learning
  • COS 557 Analysis and Visualization of Large-Scale Genomic Datasets
  • MOL 510 Introduction to Biological Dynamics
  • MOL 536 Advanced Statistics for Biology
  • PHY 561/2 Biophysics
  • QCB/CBE 511 Modeling Tools for Cell and Developmental Biology

Biological Courses (must take at least one)

  • CHM/QCB 541 Chemical Biology II
  • EEB 504 Fundamental Concepts in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior II
  • EEB 507 Recent Research in Population Biology
  • MOL 504 Biochemistry
  • MOL 505 Molecular Biology of Prokaryotes
  • MOL 506 Molecular Biology of Eukaryotes
  • MOL 516 Genetics of Eukaryotic Organisms
  • MOL 520 Advanced Topics in Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cell Biology
  • MOL 523 Molecular Basis of Cancer
  • MOL 545 Advanced Microbial Genetics
  • MOL 559 Viruses: Strategy & Tactics

Selected undergraduate courses of interest
(Note: these do not count towards course requirements)

  • APC 350 Introduction in Differential Equations
  • CBE 448 Introduction to Nonlinear Dynamics
  • COS 226 Algorithms and Data Structures
  • EEB 320 Molecular Evolution
  • EEB/MOL 414 Genetics of Human Populations
  • ORF/MAT 309/380 Probability and Stochastic Systems
  • ORF 406 Statistical Design of Experiments
  • QCB 302 Research Topics in QCB

Pre-Generals Requirements(s):

Research Colloquium: QCB Graduate Colloquium

QCB Graduate Colloquium is a research colloquium that has been developed for QCB graduate students, usually held on an afternoon during the fall and spring terms. In the fall, the colloquium will give students an opportunity to hear about the work our faculty are doing and is intended to help students with their lab rotation decisions. In the spring, students enhance their oral presentation skills by presenting their lab work to their peers.

Rotations All students are required to complete a minimum of two research rotations, with a maximum of four, to explore possible research advisers. At least one rotation project must be theoretical/computational, and one must be experimental.


General Exam:

The general examination is usually taken in January of the second year, and consists of one 3 hour oral session on the student’s thesis proposal, as well as a second “mock” thesis proposal on a subject outside the scope of the thesis work.

Qualifying for the M.A.:

The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully passes the general examination.  It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that the requirements have been met.


At least two semesters of teaching are required for all graduate students. Students will typically teach in the fall and spring terms of their third year. Teaching assignments are made by the DGS, and students are notified of assignments in the summer of their second year.

Post-Generals Requirement(s):

Committee Meetings

Research progress is overseen by a thesis committee selected by the student after passing the general exam.

Dissertation and FPO:

The dissertation and FPO are required for all Ph.D. students.  All students must write and successfully defend their dissertation.

  • Statement of Academic Purpose
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Transcripts
  • Fall Semester Grades
  • Prerequisite Tests
  • English Language Tests
  • GRE :General test
  • Application Fee:$90
  • English Language Requirements: IELTS band: 7 TOEFL iBT® test: 100

For Ph.D. candidates, tuition and fees during a student’s regular period of enrollment are provided in full from a student’s graduate student financial support, in the form of tuition support from fellowships, assistantships, or external sources.

The annual stipend amount provided to Ph.D. candidates during their regular enrollment is intended to support a single graduate student based on estimated costs. Master’s students or students with spouses and/or dependents may require additional resources to support their living expenses 



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