The following question was posted on Math SE, but seems to be more related to Academia SE:

Next year I will start studying maths at university. I'm highly interested in biomathematics, but in my country there aren't specific courses for students. At least there are very few Ph.D. programs. So I'm thinking of taking a 3-years degree course here and then a Master degree and Ph.D. in another country. Are there such courses in UK or US? If so, which are the entry requirements (in terms of, say, English language certificates, couses taken, etc)? How can I prepare to such courses? Are there any suggested readings?


Yes there are MSc as well as PhD programs in Biomathematics. You should look for programs in Biomathematics and/or Mathematical Biology; this field of study is also branded as Systems Biology quite often. A quick Google search returns quite a few hits both in UK and US. The Society for Mathematical Biology has a good (but I would say somewhat US-centric) list of such programs available here.

Entry requirements usually depend on the program. Generally speaking good Maths and Stats (eg. Network/Graph Theory, Stochastics, PDEs) help a lot, as well as showing an interdisciplinary approach to your training. My best advice to prepare for such a course would be to be a great student. It is too early in your academic journey to focus exclusive in one area (eg. Stochastic Processes) and hope it will carry you through graduate school. Besides it will be very unlikely that a star-pupil in Maths will be denied entry to a graduate Biomathematics programme.

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    +1 for the SMB list. I just want to note that the admission requirements can be very department/university dependent. On the grossest level, some universities, such as UCLA, has a separate department of biomathematics. At some universities, however, such as Florida State, biomathematics is a focus area within the usual math department. – Willie Wong Apr 27 '15 at 12:55

I know that pretty much every credited and decently reputable university has some sort of bioinformatics or biomathematics program. Even the school I currently attend, Indiana State University, which by the way is an absolutely shit school for ANYTHING except business adminstration, aviation and education, have a masters level bioinformatics degree, though I'm unsure about any PhD program. However, I know that Purdue has a program for it's computer science BA students to have what is called a "focus" (very common in majors like CS because of the breadth of where you can take it- also, criminology is very common to have 5 or 6 focuses as well) in bioinformatic data systems, and you can then pursue a masters or PhD with said focus.

Basically, even though none of that really answered your question, pretty much every university you go to will have some sort of bioinformatics / biomathematics (which by the way, I don't know if they're the same thing because I've always heard it called bioinformatics, which is the math behind biology... so I'm assuming there the same thing) program, and if they don't, they will DEFINITELY have CS / Math programs that are completely relevant to the study and very easy to get you into grad school on the basis of the only thing you didn't learn about bioinformatics was the application of principles you learned from your math classes to said field.

Also, most universities here in the US don't have specific requirements for transfer students beyond language certification. I.e., if you can speak decent English, which you can, then you'll be fine. Most of the Arabs in my Econ & CS classes right now can't speak a word of english at all and they're here so you'll be fine

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    Bioinformatics are not Biomathematics; they might overlap at times but they are not the same. – user8458 Apr 6 '14 at 3:36
  • @usεr11852 you're right. Bioinformatics, from what I understand now, is the study of processing biological data. However, I still contend that the fields are interchangable. Many Computer Scientists could very easily change there major to some sort of mathematics (though not all) in the final 2 semesters and still graduate on time due to the interconnectedness of the two. All computer scientists are part mathematicians, and at the PhD level nowadays, all mathematicians are part computer scientists. I'd wager the two fields are roughly the same – Michael Ward Apr 6 '14 at 13:36

I believe Coursera.org has a few MOOCs in biomathematics (or at least courses very closely related to it).

  • Hi, Jochen. This really doesn't answer the question—the OP is referring to "courses" in the sense of "major," rather than "lecture." – aeismail Feb 9 '14 at 16:48
  • "How can I prepare to such courses?" - Guess my answer points to a way that one could prepare for this kind of courses... – Jochem Feb 9 '14 at 20:56

In Sweden there are many universities strong in bioinformatics. The requirements are not very high (they depend on the program), and everything is in English and free for UE citiziens.

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    Bioinformatics are not Biomathematics; they might overlap at times but they are not the same. – user8458 Apr 6 '14 at 3:36

Bioinformatics is a bit of a collective name for many different cross disciplinary research fields. Essentially it's biology, mathematics, statistics and programming blended into a dough, and baked together. Consider bread, using the same ingredients you can make many different types of bread in the end.

It's more or less the same with bioinformatics/biomathematics. I am a last year bioinformatics PhD with less than 6 months to dissertation. So far the people I have met that do similar work as I do, I could probably count with fingers on one hand. :)

Instead of considering fields, and courses and programmes, consider which skills you want to acquire and what subjects you want to work on. Essentially, the question boils down to what do you think is cool? Are you interested in RNAseq, or GWAS? Are you interested in doing SAM, or pathway dynamics? Perhaps signal processing for MS-based proteomics?

There are literally thousands of interesting problems out there that require serious bioinformatics efforts. Which program you studied is a bit irrelevant as long as you have the right toolset of skills.

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