PhD in Bioinformatics

Students must complete a minimum of 108 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree in order to complete the PhD program.

Coursework Requirements

big genomic data visualization

Students admitted with a prior master’s degree in bioengineering or bioinformatics or a related field must complete at least 24 hours of coursework, 12 hours of which must be bioengineering courses. In addition, at least 12 hours must be at the 500 level (excluding BIOE 595, 596, and 599). A maximum of 4 hours of BIOE 590 may be applied toward the degree, provided that credit for BIOE 590 or a similar course was not applied toward a prior MS degree.

Students who are directly admitted after a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering, bioinformatics, or a related field must complete at least 48 hours of coursework, at least 24 hours of which must be bioengineering courses. At least 20 hours must be at the 500 level (excluding BIOE 595, 596, and 599). A maximum of 4 hours of BIOE 590 may be applied toward the degree.

One semester hour of BIOE 595 is required for all PhD in Bioinformatics students. Each student is required to present at least one seminar in BIOE 595 prior to graduation.

PhD students must earn at least 60 semester hours in BIOE 599, in which they conduct original research and write their dissertation. Here are a few examples of recent dissertations completed by our bioinformatics students (see more on our dissertations page).

  • Novel Statistical Methods Through Data Integration for Disease-related Gene and Pathway Detection
  • Computational Methods for Longitudinal Microbiome Analysis: Identification, Modeling, and Classification
  • Modeling Host-Microbiome Interactions
  • Investigation of Feature Selection Methods in High-Throughput Omics Data Analysis
  • Computational and Experimental Investigations of Folding Principles and Design of Outer Membrane Proteins

Qualifying Examination

PhD in Bioinformatics students must pass a qualifying examination before they move on to the preliminary examination phase. (Please note that this is a difference from the PhD in Bioengineering.) Students must attempt the qualifying exam at the end of the first academic year, and two attempts may be made. The four-hour exam is held on the first Monday in June each year. It consists of up to nine questions that are based on the courses offered during the fall and spring terms of that academic year. Students may choose at most six questions, and the final score is calculated based on the five best-scored questions.

Preliminary Examination

PhD students must pass an oral preliminary examination on their proposed dissertation topic. In this examination, students must demonstrate a capacity for independent research on an original dissertation topic within the selected field of study. Visit the Preliminary Examination page for full details.


Upon completion of all degree requirements and the dissertation, students must orally defend their work before the committee. Visit the Dissertation Process page for full details.

Additional Resources for PhD in Bioinformatics Students

If you have any further questions about the program that aren’t answered here or on our Graduate FAQ page, please email