A Ph.D. in Bioinformatics Data Science will train the next-generation of researchers and professionals who will play a key role in multi- and interdisciplinary teams, bridging life sciences and computational sciences. Students will receive training in experimental, computational and mathematical disciplines through their coursework and research. Students who complete this degree will be able to generate and analyze experimental data for biomedical research as well as develop physical or computational models of the molecular components that drive the behavior of the biological system.

Students must complete a minimum of 15 hours of coursework, plus 3 credit hours of seminar, 6 credit hours of research and 9 credit hours of doctoral dissertation. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 33 credits. Students who are admitted directly after a B.S. degree will be required to complete up to 9 additional credits in order to fulfill the core curriculum in the following areas: Database Systems, Statistics, and Introduction to Discipline. In addition, if students entering the program with an M.S. degree are lacking equivalent prerequisites, they also will be required to complete courses in these three areas; however, these courses may fulfill the elective requirement in the Ph.D. program, if approved in the program of study.

BINF-PhD (31 Credit Hours Total)
Core and Elective Courses (15 - 24 Credits)
Bioinformatics Data Science Core9 Credits
Prerequisites - Direct Admit Students3-9 Credits
Electives6 Credits
Seminar and Research (18 Credits)
Seminar (6 semesters)3 Credits
Research6 Credits
Doctoral Dissertation9 Credits

Academic Load

PhD students holding research assistantships (or teaching) are considered full-time with 6 credit hours. Students without RA or TA  are considered full-time if enrolled in at least 9 credit hours or in sustaining credit. Those enrolled for fewer than 9 credit hours are considered part-time students. Generally, a maximum load is 12 graduate credit hours; however, additional credit hours may be taken with the approval of the student’s adviser and the Graduate College. A maximum course load in either summer or winter session is 7 credit hours. Permission must be obtained from the Graduate College to carry an overload in any session. 

Bioinformatics Data Science Courses

Students must take one course in each of the following areas (9 credits):

Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Core (9 Credit Hours)
[select one]
BINF644 Bioinformatics (3)
CISC636 Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Data Science - Systems Biology
[Select One]
BINF694 Systems Biology I (3)
BINF695 Computational Systems Biology (3)
Data Science - Data Analytics
[select one]
NURS/HLTH844 Population Healthcare Informatics
CISC681 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
CISC683 Introduction to Data Mining
CISC684 Introduction to Machine Learning
BINF610 Applied Machine Learning
BINF620 Big Data Analytics in Healthcare


Students must fulfill core curriculum in each of the following areas (3-9 credits):

Prerequisites (3 - 9 Credit Hours)
[select one]
BINF640 Databases for Bioinformatics (3)
CISC637 Database Systems (3)
[select one]
STAT656 Biostatistics (3)
STAT611 Regression Analysis (3)
Intro to Discipline
[select one]
Computational Sciences Concentration
BISC609 Molecular Biology of the Cell (3)
BISC654 Biochemical Genetics (3)
PLSC636 Plant Genes and Genomes (3)
Life Science Concentration
BINF690: Programming for Bioinformatics (3)

Elective Courses

Students must take two courses to compliment their bioinformatics data science dissertation project (6 credits): 

See Elective courses



Students must take six semesters of seminar (three 0 credit; three 1 credit) and give a presentation during three semesters.

Seminars (3 Credit Hours)
SeminarBINF 865 Seminar (0-1)

Other Requirements:

  1. Formation of Graduate Dissertation Committee
  2. Successful completion of Graduate Preliminary Exam
  3. Research on a significant scientific problem
  4. Successful completion of Ph.D. Candidacy Exam
  5. Successful completion of Dissertation Defense

Formation of Graduate Committee

The student needs to establish a Dissertation Committee within the first year of study. The Committee should consist of at least four faculty members, including the primary faculty advisor (serving as the Committee Chair), a secondary faculty advisor (in a complementary field to the primary advisor), a second faculty from the home department, and one CBCB affiliate faculty outside the Departments of the primary and secondary advisors or from outside the University. Students must complete the Dissertation Committee Formation form and submit to the Associate Director.

Students should convene their dissertation committee at least once every six months.

Preliminary Examination

The preliminary examination should be taken before the end of the fourth semester and will consist of an oral exam in subjects based on the Bioinformatics Data Science core.* In recognition of the importance of the core curriculum in providing a good test of the student’s knowledge, students must achieve a minimum 3.0 GPA in the core curriculum before taking the preliminary exam. Students will not be permitted to take the preliminary examination if the core grade requirements and cumulative GPA of 3.0 has not been achieved. The exam will be administered by the Preliminary Exam Committee, which will consist of one instructor from each of the three core courses. Each member of the Committee will provide a single grade (pass, conditional pass or fail) and the final grades will be submitted via the Results of Preliminary Exam Form:

  1. Pass. The student may proceed to the next stage of his/her degree training.
  2. Conditional pass. In the event that the examination committee feels that the student did not have an adequate background or understanding in one or more specific areas, the Preliminary Exam Committee will communicate the conditional pass to the student and must provide the student with specific requirements and guidelines for completing the conditional pass. The student must inform the Preliminary Exam Committee, the Graduate Program Director and Program Committee when these conditions have been completed. The Preliminary Exam Committee will then meet with the student to ensure all recommendations have been completed and whether a re-examination is necessary. If required, the re-examination will be done using the same format and prior to the beginning of the next academic semester. If the student still does not perform satisfactorily on this re-examination, he/she will then be recommended to the Graduate Affairs Committee for dismissal from the graduate program.
  3. Failure. This outcome would indicate that the Examination Committee considers the student incapable of completing degree training. The student’s academic progress will be reviewed by the Graduate Affairs Committee, who will make recommendations to the Program Director regarding the student’s enrollment status. The Program Director may recommend to the Graduate College that the student be dismissed from the Program immediately.

*Students who need to complete prerequisite courses may request a deadline extension for the preliminary and subsequently the candidacy examination. Requests must be submitted to the Graduate Program Committee prior to the start of the third semester.

Candidacy Exam

The candidacy examination must be completed by the end of the sixth semester of enrollment.* It requires a formal, detailed proposal be submitted to the Dissertation Committee and an oral defense of the student’s proposed research project. Upon the recommendation of the Dissertation Committee, the student may be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The stipulations for admission to doctoral candidacy are that the student has (i) completed one academic years of full-time graduate study in residence at the University of Delaware, (ii) completed all required courses with the exception of BINF865 and BINF969, (iii) passed the preliminary exams, (iv) demonstrated the ability to perform research, and (v) had a research project accepted by the Dissertation Committee. Within one week of the candidacy exam, complete and submit the Recommendation for Candidacy for Doctoral Degree form for details. A copy of the completed form should be given to the Associate Director.

*Students who need to complete prerequisite courses may request a deadline extension for the preliminary and subsequently the candidacy examination.  Requests must be submitted to the Graduate Program Committee prior to the start of the third semester.

Dissertation Exam

The dissertation examination of the Ph.D. program will involve the approval of the written dissertation and an oral defense of the candidate’s dissertation.  The written dissertation will be submitted to the Dissertation Committee and the CBCB office at least three weeks in advance of the oral defense date.  The oral defense date will be publicly announced at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date. The oral presentation will be open to the public and all members of the Bioinformatics Data Science program. The Dissertation Committee will approve the candidate’s dissertation. The student and the primary faculty advisor will be responsible for making all corrections to the dissertation document and for meeting all Graduate College deadlines.  Within one week of the dissertation defense, complete and submit the Certification of Doctoral Dissertation Defense Form. A copy of the completed form should be given to the Associate Director.