Computer Science Master's Degree - Computational Biology

Computational Biology

Online Program Overview

Degree Level
Master's Degree
Total Credits
Fully Online
Contact Us
Minimum GPA
Qualifying Exam
GRE Required


The Computational Biology Track is intended for students who wish to develop working knowledge of computational techniques and their applications to biomedical research. Recent advances in high-throughput technologies, e.g., for DNA sequencing and for measuring RNA expression via DNA microarrays, are changing the nature of biomedical research. They empower fundamental new understandings of biological mechanisms with far reaching applications to biological and medical sciences. To fulfill this promise, new computational techniques are needed to analyze genome sequences, protein structures, metabolic and regulatory pathways, evolutionary patterns and the genetic basis of disease. The computational-biology track seeks to provide state of the art understanding of this concomitant growth of high-throughput experimental techniques, computational techniques to analyze their data, the resulting new understandings of biological mechanisms and their applications to pharmacological and medical practice (from diagnosis to drug design).

"It was very nice to be able to watch the lectures at my leisure. I've already gushed to anyone who'll listen about how great your program is."
Ray Siu, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center

Admissions Requirements

Degree required for admission: Most candidates have completed an undergraduate degree in computer science. Applicants with degrees in other disciplines and a record of excellence are encouraged to apply; these applicants are required to have completed at least 4 computer science courses covering the foundations of the field and 2 math courses. 

Examples of computer science courses would be the courses offered through the undergraduate computer science program: Intro to Computer Science (COMS W1004 or COMS W1007), Advanced Programming (COMS W3157), Data Structures and Algorithms (COMS W3134 or W3137), which is a prerequisite for most of our graduate-level courses, or/and Discrete Math (COMS W3203).  For the math prereqs, students are encouraged to take linear algebra and differential equations. 

GPA required: Most students admitted have earned a grade point average above 3.5 (out of 4.0); a GPA of at least 3.3 is required. 

GRE requirements: General test required. A subject GRE test is not required but may be helpful in strengthening your application. 

Competence in English: Applicants whose native language is not English and who have not studied at schools where English is the primary language must complete the TOEFL exam with a minimum grade of 600 on the written TOEFL, or 250 on the computerized version. 

Other application requirements: 3 recommendation letters, transcripts, resume, and a personal-professional statement are required. All application requirements in the Graduate Application must be completed as specified in the application. For answers to your most common admissions questions, please review our FAQ page here.

Students must complete at least 30 points of graduate coursework as outlined below.

1     Security Track requires::

         - Breadth Courses

         -Required Track Courses (15 pts)

        - Track Electives (6 pts)

        -General Electives (6 pts)


2     5 required courses (15 pts): COMS W4118 (OS), COMS W4156 (Adv. Software Engineering), COMS W4180 (Network Security), COMS W4187 (Security Architecture and Engineering), and either COMS W4261 (Introduction to Cryptography) or COMS E6185 (Intrusion Detection).


3     2 elective courses (6 pts) selected from the list of Elective Track Courses; at least 1 of these courses must be a 6000-level CS course.


4     1 general elective graduate CS course (3 pts), at 4000-level or above.


5    Must have 6 points at the 6000-level, at least 3 of these 6000-level points must be selected from the list of Elective Track Courses.



Students must complete at least 30 points of graduate coursework as outlined below.

1     Computational Biology track requires:

        - Breadth courses
 (12 pts)

        - Required Track courses (6 pts)

        - Track Electives (6 pts)

        -General Electives (6 pts)

2     2 required courses (6 points): COMS W4761(Computational Genomics) and either COMS W4771 or SIEO W4150.

3     6 elective points at the 6000-level, at least 3 of these 6000-level points must be selected from the list of Elective Track Courses.

4     6 credits of general elective graduate courses, at 4000 level or above; at least 3 of these points must be CS graduate courses.

5     At least 3 elective points must be selected from courses in biological departments.

6     Students, who waive track requirements using previous courses, may complete the 30 graduate credits by expanding their electives selected from (a) the list of required track courses; (b) the list of elective track courses; or (c) other graduate courses.


Students must complete all core courses and selected electives for a total of 30 graduate points of academic work via CVN while maintaining a minimum grade point average of 2.7. All degree requirements must be completed within 5 years of the beginning of the first course credited toward the degree. This includes courses taken in the non-degree program.

Course List

Core Breadth Requirement

Students are required to satisfy Breadth Requirements by taking one course from Group 1, one course from Group 2, one course from Group 3, and one more course from any of the three groups. Track courses taken at Columbia can also count towards the breadth requirement.

Group 1 - Systems

  • COMS W4111: Database Systems
  • COMS W4112: Database System Implementation
  • COMS W4115: Programming Languages and Translators
  • COMS W4118: Operating Systems
  • CSEE W4119: Computer Networks
  • COMS W4156: Advanced Software Engineering
  • COMS W4130: Principles and Practice of Parallel Programming
  • COMS W4180: Network Security
  • COMS W4187: Security Architecture and Engineering
  • CSEE W4824: Computer Architecture

Group 2 - Theory

  • COMS W4203: Graph Theory
  • CSOR W4231: Analysis of Algorithms I
  • COMS W4236: Introduction to Computational Complexity
  • COMS W4241: Numerical Algorithms and Complexity
  • COMS W4252: Introduction to Computational Learning Theory
  • COMS W4261: Introduction to Cryptography
  • COMS W4281: Introduction to Quantum Computing

Group 3 - Artificial Intelligence & Applications

  • COMS W4701: Artificial Intelligence
  • COMS W4705: Natural Language Processing
  • COMS W4706: Spoken Language Processing
  • COMS W4733: Computational Aspects of Robotics
  • COMS W4735: Visual Interfaces to Computers
  • COMS W4771: Machine Learning
  • COMS W4772: Advanced Machine Learning

Required Track Courses

Candidates are required to complete the following courses:

  • CBMF W4761: Computational Genomics And one course from the following list
  • COMS W4771: Machine Learning
  • SIEO W4150: Introduction to Probability and Statistics

Elective Track Courses

Candidates are required to complete two (2) courses from the following list. At least one of these courses must be a 6000-level CS course.

  • COMS W4111: Database Systems
  • COMS W4252: Introduction to Computational Learning Theory
  • COMS W4772: Advanced Machine Learning
  • COMS E6111: Advanced Database Systems
  • COMS E6998: Computational Human Genetics
  • COMS E6998: Biological Networks
  • COMS E6998: Search Engine Technology
  • COMS E6998: Advanced Topics in Machine Learning
  • COMS E6998: Intro to Distributed Data Mining
  • COMS E6998: Cloud Computing
  • COMS E6901: Projects in Computer Science

General Elective Courses

Candidates are required to complete six credits of appropriate Columbia graduate courses, approved in advance by your Advisor. At least three of these credits must be at the 6000-level.

Note: The list of electives may be updated to reflect changes in the schedule of course offerings.

Tuition & Fees

2017 - 2018 Tuition & Fees

Please note that all tuition and fees are in U.S. dollars and are estimated. Tuition and most fees are prescribed by statute, and are subject to change at the discretion of the Trustees.

CVN Credit Tuition: $1,936 per point (Credit Hour)
CVN Fee: $395 non-refundable fee per course
Transcript Fee: $105 non-refundable one-time fee

CVN Audit Tuition: $834 per point (Credit Hour)
Graduate Admission Application Fee: $150 non-refundable one-time fee
CVN Fee: $395 non-refundable fee per course

Certification Program Application Fee: $150 non-refundable one-time fee

Late Registration Fee: $100 non-refundable fee

CVN Withdrawal Fee: $75, plus prorated tuition and all non-refundable fees

For example: A three credit course would be $5,808 + transcript fee $105 (one-time) + CVN fee $395 = $6,308


Payment should be mailed to:

Columbia Video Network
540 S.W. MUDD Building, MC4719
500 West 120th Street
New York, NY 10027

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