PhD Program Application: Frequently Asked Questions

Applications to the Computational Biology & Bioinformatics (CBB) PhD program must be submitted to the Duke University Graduate School. Application instructions and materials are available on their website.

  1. What are the prerequisites for admission?
  2. I am interested in computer science. Should I apply to Duke's Computer Science department or to CBB?
  3. What are the GRE and TOEFL Institution and Department codes?
  4. What is the application deadline?
  5. What are the minimum GRE scores or grade point average (GPA) required for admission?
  6. Is financial aid available?
  7. What is the most important part of my application?
  8. Where do I send my application and/or my supporting documents?

Please submit ALL materials to the Duke University Graduate School. NO application materials or supporting documents should be sent directly to the Computational Biology Program.

Question: What are the prerequisites for admission?
Answer: Students are expected to have taken and done well in mathematics through differential equations and linear algebra; two courses in statistics; two courses in computer science; at least one course in genetics and cell & molecular biology; and at least one college-level chemistry course. Competitive students lacking one or more of these requirements will be expected to satisfy them prior to or during their first year in the program. Research and/or computational experience outside of the classroom is also essential for successful applications.

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Question: I am interested in computer science. Should I apply to Duke's Computer Science department or to CBB?
Answer: If you are interested in biology as only one of many potential applications of CS, then perhaps you should probably apply to Computer Science. As a Duke Computer Science PhD student, you would have the opportunity to get a Certificate in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (see link on the left side bar.) If, on the other hand, you have a background in biology and are interested in applying computer science to biological problems, then CBB is for you. Both programs include rigorous coursework in algorithms and their development. The CBB curriculum emphasizes the biological applications of these algorithms.

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Question: What are the GRE and TOEFL Institution and Department codes?
Answer: The Duke Institutional Code is 5156. The department/major field code does not matter because all applications go through the same office in the Graduate School

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Question: What is the application deadline?
Answer: The Duke Graduate School's application fee is $85. The CBB Program application deadline is December 1st.

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Question: What are the minimum GRE scores or grade point average (GPA) required for admission?
Answer: The CBB program is highly selective. However, we have no cut-offs for quantitative measurements of achievement. A GRE score below 550 does not preclude admission of a student with an otherwise strong application. Likewise, when a GPA below 3.2 is found along with good GRE scores and strong letters of recommendation, transcripts are examined to determine which courses account for the low GPA and when during the student's undergraduate career the low grades were received. Uniformly high grades in the last two or three terms can compensate for low grades received earlier in an applicant's undergraduate career.

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Question: Is financial aid available?
Answer: Yes. Most CBB graduate students receive stipends for the entire time they are in graduate school. The uniform stipend for academic year 2017 - 2018 is $30,550 which goes very far given Durham's low cost of living. Tuition and most fees are usually also covered by the University. Unfortunately, funds available to cover stipend, tuition and fees for non-US citizens or permanent residents are extremely limited, which makes the competition among foreign student applications much higher than for domestic students.

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Question: What is the most important part of my application?
Answer: Your research and computational experience. This is evaluated by scrutiny of your statement of purpose; list of publications and abstracts; and your letters of recommendation.

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Question: Where do I send my application and /or my supporting documents?
Answer: Applications and materials are submitted electronically through the Duke Graduate School.

Visit the graduate school website for all application questions.

https://gradschool.duke.edu/admissions/application-instructions

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For further information about applying to the CBB PhD program, please contact:

Liz Labriola
Programs Coordinator
GCB PhD Program in Computational Biology & Bioinformatics
102 North Building
Duke University, Box 90090
Durham, NC 27708
cbbdgs(at)duke.edu
Phone: 919-684-0881