Bioinformatics Ph.D. Requirements

The bioinformatics track of the Ph.D. in Informatics prepares students to become top academic researchers and accomplished bioinformatics professionals, in part through research collaborations with scientists at Indiana University, other institutions and research centers, and businesses.

Download the current Ph.D. in Informatics handbook (PDF). For more information, we also recommend consulting the School of Informatics and Computing Bulletin 2014-2015 (use the tabs on the left) and the University Graduate School Academic Bulletin 2013-2014 (use the tabs at the top and at the left) for more detailed information about these requirements.

Our faculty are also happy to supervise students pursuing a Ph.D. in Computer Science who want to conduct research in bioinformatics.


A total of 90 credit hours is required for this degree. No more than 30 of those hours will be counted from a master’s degree taken at Indiana University or a graduate program at another university. An additional 6 hours of master’s thesis or capstone project may be counted toward the Ph.D. at the discretion of the student’s advisory committee, assuming the thesis or capstone project is of sufficient research quality.


Required Informatics Courses (18 cr.)

Theory and Methodology (12 cr.)

Specific course work, including research-oriented independent study, will be determined by the student’s advisory committee.

Electives (12-21 cr.)

Research lab experience may be substituted for classroom courses upon approval of the advisor and the advisory committee.

Minor(6-12 cr.)

All students are required to have an appropriate minor inside or outside the school. Minors will be selected with the advisor’s recommendation.

Dissertation Work (21-30 cr.)

Qualifying Exam

The bioinformatics qualifying exam consists of three parts:

  • Computer science, concerning either algorithms or machine learning
  • Biology, concerning either evolution, molecular biology/genetics, or structural biology
  • A breadth area from one of the required informatics courses

The exam is offered once a year after the first semester, typically in May or June. Most students take it in the second year of doctoral study. Learn more about the qualifying exam.

Thesis Proposal

Students who have made significant progress on their research will submit a thesis proposal. A written proposal should be circulated to the student’s thesis committee at least two weeks before the student discusses the proposal, at a talk that is open to the public. Learn more about the thesis proposal.

Thesis Defense

The thesis defense/final exam is scheduled when the student’s doctoral research is almost finished. The student should submit a complete draft of the thesis to the thesis committee at least two weeks before the exam, which is an oral defense of the dissertation. Learn more about the thesis defense.