About the Bachelor of Science in Computational Biology
All undergraduates accepted to the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University are able to choose between four majors: computational biology, computer science, artificial intelligence, and humancomputer interaction. For more information on the different majors, please visit the School of Computer Science Undergraduate Programs Overview.
Success in computational biology requires significant technical knowledge of fundamental computer science as well as a broad biological intuition and general understanding of experimental biology. However, most importantly, it requires students who can integrate their knowledge by making connections between the two fields.
As much as any other field, making the interdisciplinary connections required to truly integrate biological and computational knowledge often requires a student to conduct research. We don't just encourage undergraduate research to our majors; we promise it to all students who are interested.
There is significant industry demand for excellent computational biology students, in biotech firms, biomedical research, as well as in pharmaceutical research. Both established companies and the hundreds of recent startups in this field struggle to find computationally sophisticated employees who have a strong foundation in the life sciences. By receiving their training in the worldfamous School of Computer Science, our students will receive a degree that is unparalleled at any other institution.
Students completing the major will also be ideally prepared for Ph.D. programs across a range of biomedical areas. Students who choose to complete premed requirements will be very wellprepared to attend medical school; the next generation of physicians will need to better understand the computational approaches needed for automated medical testing, automated medical imaging, and the revolution in personalized medicine.
Degree Requirements
Students completing the Bachelor of Science in Computational Biology follow certain policies that apply to all SCS students; please consult the SCS policies page for a complete listing of these expectations.
Students must complete a minimum of 360 units for the degree in computational biology.
The following degree requirements apply to undergraduates matriculating in fall 2020. For students in previous years of entry, please consult past CMU course catalogs.
Math/Stats Core
21122  Integration, Differential Equations, and Approximation  10 units 
15151  Mathematical Foundations for Computer Science (or 21127 if not offered)  10 units 
36218 
Probability Theory for Computer Scientists (Students taking 15259 should take 36326 or 15260 instead) 
9 units 
or 36226  Introduction to Statistical Inference  
or 36326  Mathematical Statistics (Honors)  
or 36235  Probability and Statistical Inference I  
or 15260  Statistics and Computing (requires students to have taken 15259)  
21241  Matrices and Linear Transformations  910 units 
or 21242  Matrix Theory  
Total Units 
3839 
General Science Core
09105  Introduction to Modern Chemistry I  10 units 
or 09107 
Honors Chemistry: Fundamentals, Concepts and Applications 

33121 
Physics I for Science Students 
12 units 
or 33141 
Physics I for Engineering Students 

Total Units  22 
Biological Core
03151  Honors Modern Biology  10 units 
or 03121  Modern Biology  9 units 
03221  Genomes, Evolution, and Disease: Introduction to Quantitative Genetic Analysis  9 units 
03232 
Biochemistry I 
9 units 
or 03231 
Honors Biochemistry (Students taking 03231, including premed students,will take organic chemistry as a prerequisite, which will satisfy a biology elective requirement.) 

03320 
Cell Biology 
9 units 
Total Units  3637 
Computer Science Core
07128 
Firstyear Immigration Course (This course may be replaced by 03201 or 03202 if, and only if, 15128 is not offered) 
1 unit 
15122 
Principles of Imperative Computation 
10 units 
15251 
Great Ideas in Theoretical Computer Science 
12 units 
15451 
Algorithm Design and Analysis 
12 units 
or 15351 
Algorithms and Advanced Data Structures 

10315 
Introduction to Machine Learning (SCS Majors) 
12 units 
Total Units  47 
Computational Biology Core
02251 
Great Ideas in Computational Biology 
12 units 
02261 
Quantitative Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory (Computational Biology majors must take 12 unit version of this course) 
12 units 
or 02262 
Computation and Biology Integrated Research Lab 
12 units 
02402 
Computational Biology Seminar 
3 units 
02510 
Computational Genomics 
12 units 
02512 
Computational Methods for Biological Modeling and Simulation 
12 units 
Total Units  51 
Major Electives
023xx  CB Electives at 300 level or above  1824 units 
033xx  Biology electives at 300 level or above (09217 or 42202 also count as biology electives)  912 units 
SCS2xx  These electives can be from any SCS department; 200level or above, at least 9 units each. 15150 is an acceptable 100level course counting in this category, but the following exceptions are not allowed in this category: 02201, 02223, 02250, 02261, 02262, 11423, 15351, 16223, 17200, 17333, 17562.)  1824 units 
Total Units  4560 
General Education (Humanities and Arts)
Expectations for Humanities & Arts courses are shared between the Computer Science and Computational Biology undergraduate programs. For specific courses that may be used to satisfy each elective, please see the SCS General Education Requirements page.76101  Interpretation and Argument  9 units 
or 76102  Advanced First Year Writing: Special Topics  
or two of: 76106, 76107, 76108 
Writing Minis  
Cognition, Choice, and Behavior Elective 
9 units  
Economics, Political, and Social Institutions Elective 
9 units  
Cultural Analysis Elective 
9 units  
Nontechnical Electives (x3) 
27 units  
Total Units 
63 
Free Electives
A free elective is any Carnegie Mellon course. However, a maximum of 9 units of Physical Education, Military Science (ROTC) and/or StudentLed (StuCo) courses may be used toward fulfilling graduation requirements.
Free Electives  2954 units 
Total Units  2954 
Computing
99101  Computing @ Carnegie Mellon  3 units 
Total Units  3 
Last Updated: July 2021
Sample Course Sequence for Computational Biology Majors
The following is an example fouryear course sequence for computational biology majors. Note that our suggested courses during the first year fall are aligned with the sample course sequence for Computer Science majors. All students interested in computational biology should take 03151 (Honors Modern Biology) in their first fall and 02251 (Great Ideas in Computational Biology) in their first spring.
Some suggestions listed below are quite flexible. For example, physics and chemistry can be taken at any point in the student's first three semesters, and some of the computer science courses below can be replaced by other courses within the School of Computer Science, depending on a student’s individual interests.
Other courses, such as cell biology, biochemistry, computational genomics, and biological modeling and simulation, are only offered in either the fall or the spring.
We discuss a tailored plan with our majors to ensure that courses are taken at the appropriate times, while affording each student the flexibility to explore their other interests at CMU.
Year 1
Before you arrive at CMU, you will take 99101, Computing at Carnegie Mellon, and 15051, a Discrete Math primer, in your own time. These short courses are provided to incoming students for free.
Fall
07128  Firstyear Immigration Course  1 unit 
15112  Fundamentals of Programming and Computer Science (if needed)  12 units 
15131  Great Practical Ideas for Computer Scientists (optional)  2 units 
15151  Mathematical Foundations for Computer Science  10 units 
03151  Honors Modern Biology  10 units 
21122  Integration and Approximation  10 units 
Total units  45 
Spring
02251  Great Ideas in Computational Biology  12 units 
15122  Principles of Imperative Computation  9 units 
09105  Introduction to Modern Chemistry I  10 units 
21259  Calculus in Three Dimensions (optional)  9 units 
76101  Interpretation and Argument  9 units 
Total units  50 
Year 2
Fall
02261  Quantitative Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory  12 units 
21241  Matrices and Linear Transformations  10 units 
33121  Physics I for Science Students  12 units 
36218  Probability Theory for Computer Sciences  9 units 
15150  Principles of Functional Programming (optional)  10 units 
Total units  53 
Spring
02xxx  Computational Biology Elective  12 units 
15251  Great Ideas in Theoretical Computer Science  12 units 
03232  Biochemistry I  9 units 
03221  Genomes, Evolution, and Disease: Introduction to Quantitative Genetic Analysis  9 units 
xxxxx  Humanities and Arts Elective  9 units 
Total units  51 
Year 3
Fall
02512  Computational Methods for Biological Modeling and Simulation  9 units 
03320  Cell Biology  9 units 
10315  Introduction to Machine Learning (SCS Majors)  12 units 
15210  Parallel and Sequential Data Structures and Algorithms (optional)  12 units 
xxxxx  Humanities and Arts Elective  9 units 
Total units  48 
Spring
02402  Computational Biology Seminar  3 units 
02510  Computational Genomics  12 units 
03xxx  Biology Elective  9 units 
15451  Algorithm Design and Analysis  12 units 
xxxxx  Humanities and Arts Elective  9 units 
Total units  45 
Year 4
Fall
02xxx  Computational Biology Elective  12 units 
xxxxx  Humanities and Arts Electives  9 units 
xxxxx  Free Elective  9 units 
xxxxx  Free Elective  9 units 
Total units  39 
Spring
xxxxx  Humanities and Arts Elective  9 units 
xxxxx  Free Elective  9 units 
xxxxx  Free Elective  9 units 
xxxxx  Free Elective  9 units 
Total units  36 