Course Requirements (2017-18)

See Also BISB 2017-18


Course Description

Sample Schedules

BISB in UCSD Catalog


See here for a list of projected course offerings for 2017-18.

All Core and Elective courses for the degree must be taken for a letter grade. Students must obtain a “B” or better in courses taken for the degree. If you receive a “B-” or lower in a Core or Elective class, or you take it on S/U grading, it does not fulfill your requirements. Please see the Grades FAQ if you have any grades of “B-” or lower or “U”.

Core Requirements for the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Track

Each student in the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Track must take four core courses. The three on this first list are required for all students:

For the fourth core class, choose one of the following. In the event that a student completes two or more of these with suitable grades, one will count as core and the other(s) as electives.


All students in years 1-2 must take the Colloquium for their track in fall, winter, and spring quarters.

All students in years 1-2 must take the Student Research Talks in fall, winter, and spring quarters.

All students must take one of the two ethics courses, SOMI 226 or BIOM 219, by the end of the second year. However, funding sources may require that it be taken the first year, so we recommend taking it the first year.

Special registration procedure: Students must register for the ethics course both via TritonLink as well as via the registration form on The course is taken by many UCSD employees (not just students), so the Ethics Program uses its own registration form. Registration on TritonLink is necessary for students to receive course credit.

Research and Teaching Requirements

During the academic year, all students must be enrolled in the appropriate research course for their level. Students typically do three rotations in year 1 (BNFO 298) and then do research units (BNFO 299) with their thesis advisor in years 2 and later. BNFO 299 units may be varied to meet the full-time enrollment requirement of 12 units per quarter in fall, winter, and spring. During the summer, students are expected to do research as well, but should not enroll in BNFO 298 or BNFO 299. During all quarters and the summer, students are responsible for satisfying program requirements including proposals, reports, presentations, committee meetings, notifying the graduate coordinator when joining/changing labs, etc.; the only difference is that students do not enroll in BNFO 298 or BNFO 299 in the summer. In addition, each student will make periodic research presentations to the graduate program students/faculty. Students will also discuss their progress at the annual program meeting to be held each year.

All students must serve as a teaching assistant (TA) for at least two quarters. Students should enroll in BNFO 500 (Teaching Experience) or an equivalent course code in another department (BENG 501, BGGN 500, CHEM 500, CSE 500, MATH 500, etc.), during each quarter in which they are a teaching assistant. A typical teaching assistantship is 110 hours/quarter (25% load, 2 units of BNFO 500); however, this varies by class. 220 hours/quarter is a 50% load, 4 units.

Program Electives

Each student in the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology track will select 16 units of Elective Courses from the Elective Fields (BIO, CS, SB, BMI, QBIO) delineated below, with at least 4 units from the CS series and 4 units from the BIO series. For example, a student interested in Systems Biology could take one 4 unit class from the CS series, one from the BIO series, one from SB-1, and one from SB-2.

It is the general policy of the program to be as adaptable as possible to the needs of the individual student. The curriculum committee is receptive to students petitioning to satisfy an Elective requirement by taking a course not listed among the Electives.

If a class is available both as an elective and as a core class, it may only be used to satisfy one of those requirements, not both.

Elective BIO-2: Molecular Genetics

BGGN 220DEF are three consecutive 3.3 week classes, usually taken together, but that's not required.