Computational Biology, Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Program Description

Computation has become essential to biological research. Genomic databases, protein databanks, MRI images of the human brain, and remote sensing data on landscapes contain unprecedented amounts of detailed information that are transforming almost all of biology. The computational biologist must have skills in mathematics and computation as well as in biology. A key goal in training is to develop the ability to relate biological processes to computational models.
The field provides interdisciplinary training and research opportunities in a range of subareas of computational biology involving topics such as DNA and protein databases, protein structure and function, computational neuroscience, biomechanics, population genetics, and management of natural and agricultural systems.

Students majoring in computational biology are expected to obtain a broad, interdisciplinary knowledge of fundamental principles in biology, computational science, and mathematics. But because the field covers a wide range of areas, it would be unrealistic to expect a student to master each facet in detail. Instead, students choose from specific subareas of study: they are expected to develop competence in at least one specific subdomain of biology (i.e., genetics, macromolecular biology, cellular biology, organismal biology, behavioral biology or ecology) and in relevant subareas of computational science and mathematics. 
Students are supervised by field faculty drawn from sixteen departments.

Contact Information

Phone: (607) 255-5488

102 Weill Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • computational behavioral biology
  • computational biology
  • computational cell biology
  • computational ecology
  • computational genetics
  • computational macromolecular biology
  • computational organismal biology


2017-2018: $29,500

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Dec. 1

Requirements Summary:

Please see the field's Ph.D. program page,


Learning Assessment in Computational Biology

1. Overview
Computational Biology (CB) is a growing young graduate field at Cornell, launched in 2006 and now home to 22 graduate students. The field is highly interdisciplinary, and includes 34 faculty members from more than a dozen departments. The CB graduate field currently has only one degree program: the Ph.D. program in Computational Biology.

The CB graduate field is closely associated with the Tri-Institutional Program in Computational Molecular Biology (CBM;, which is run jointly by Cornell-Ithaca, Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC), and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). All CBM students spend their first academic year taking courses in Ithaca, and during this time they are officially enrolled in the CB field. Starting in their second year, CBM students join laboratories either in Ithaca or in New York City. If they choose to stay in Ithaca, they remain enrolled in the CB field; otherwise they are administratively accommodated by graduate programs at WCMC or MSKCC. CBM students who remain in Ithaca must meet all requirements of the CB field, as well as some additional requirements of the CBM program. At present, the majority of CB students (all but 5) are enrolled via the CBM program.

For more information about the Computational Biology Assessment Plan.

For more information rubrics go to Computational Biology.