Carnegie Mellon University

Pre-College Program in Computational Biology

Modern biology is undergoing a computational revolution. Computers are used to design new drugs and vaccines, analyze how species have evolved, and provide new insights into the brain. Yet computer science and biology are typically taught to students as distinct disciplines. The Pre-College Program in Computational Biology fills this gap by guiding our students to explore some of the beautiful computational approaches that are vital to a complete understanding of modern biology.

In the three-week program, our students (most of whom are rising high school seniors) work in teams to solve computational challenges and then apply their code to biological datasets to answer real research questions on the frontier of the field.

In the Pre-College classroom, we use active learning techniques that are backed by years of educational research to keep students happy and engaged.  We teach the background for a specific topic in a heavily interactive lightning lecture and then breakout into teams for students to solve problems with instructor guidance.

We love getting to teach a diverse group of wonderful students, and one of our favorite parts of the program is that we do not confer grades  and we keep homework relatively light too! Without worrying about grades, we can have a fun experience that is all about challenging our students to learn as much as possible.

Full scholarships are available for socioeconomically underprivileged students.

Our commitment to an innovative online experience

In 2020, while summer programs around the country were closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we took the opportunity to shift our program entirely online. Our instructors have years of experience in online education and were able to develop an experience that was tailored to the online environment. We even incorporated real questions from the pandemic into our program, as students constructed an evolutionary tree of viruses to track the spread of the coronavirus around the world. To ensure equitable access to our program, the 2021 program was also held online.

The program requires that students have a computer with a camera and stable internet connection.  If you are interested but these requirements would be prohibitive for you, please send us an email at

Join us!

We hope that you will apply to our program!  We’re looking for students who love math and science, especially biology (although not the memorization kind).  If you’ve done some coding before, that’s a plus, but we do not require any previous exposure to programming. We provide some preparatory materials before the program starts that will get you completely up to speed.

For more information, including how to apply, see the Carnegie Mellon PreCollege homepage. For specific questions about the program, feel free to shoot us an email at and we would love to start a conversation.


Program Curricula

Link to 2020 program curriculum
Link to 2019 program curriculum