I have a bachelor in biology with a minor in cs. In addition to cs courses like data structure and algorithm etc... , I've also taken courses in discrete mathematics, statistics/probability, linear algebra, differential equations and multivariable calculus. Taking those courses, I realized I love math and mathematical modeling as well.

How can I get into a mathematical biology masters or PhD? Are the courses I've taken enough to get me through admission proccess?

  • In my university (FCUP in Portugal), we used to have a mathematical biology masters. I think both mathematics and biology BSc were acceptable, but most students came from biology. You have to go to the webpage of the masters you are interested in and check the requirements. Feb 28 at 9:10
  • i checked it. its a masters in computational biology not in mathematical biology. i've checked entry requirments of many universities and almost all of them required just these courses i've taken but recommended more.
    – vhd
    Feb 28 at 9:19
  • We have this masters...sigarra.up.pt/fcup/en/… reading the requirements: "Bachelor's degree in Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics or related fields, with a minimum grade of 12 (of a 20 points grade scale). Candidates should possess a minimum of 72 ECTS in Biology and Biochemistry, or in the scientific areas of Mathematics and Computer Science." It seems they value biology courses more. You have to see if you fit. The more qualified, the better chances of course you have of getting in. Feb 28 at 9:21
  • Mathematical Biology and Computational biology are closely related, with a big superposition. Also in Portugal: Master in Computational Biology @ University of Coimbra.
    – The Doctor
    Feb 28 at 10:45
  • This probably depends on the country. Where do you propose to study?
    – Buffy
    Feb 28 at 12:33

2 Answers 2


In the US, I'd guess that you are qualified for entry into a doctoral program. If you have insight at all into the math courses you took it seems to me to be a solid enough base to start the journey.

Other places than the US might require more, of course, and many places require a masters first, but I don't see any serious missing parts for entry into a masters. In the US, though, a doctoral program would be a better choice if that is your goal. A masters isn't needed here to start most doctoral programs (with some exceptions).

  • thanks. do you have any recommendations for further math courses? i know courses like PDE or dynamical systems are gonna be useful, but what about some more pure courses, like algebra, real analysis or complex analysis? although it's probably better asked as another question.
    – vhd
    Feb 28 at 14:19
  • An advisor in such a program would be a better source, but you have the basics, I think. You might want to learn something like Python programming. But the discrete math and stats will be useful, along with the others you have.
    – Buffy
    Feb 28 at 14:23
  • 2
    @vhd I work with computational biology and never learned real/complex analysis, these are too theoretical. What I use a lot: ODE, PDE, SDE, Analytical Geometry, Linear Algebra, Calculus, Discrete mathematics/Scientific computing (derivatives and integration methods, optimisation/minimisation, ...), Python and some high performance language such Fortran 2008. But as Buffy said, the best is to get a supervisor to advise you, what you'll need depends on the actual research project.
    – The Doctor
    Feb 28 at 14:43
  • can i ask you about the field you work on? epidemiology , evolution , cell biology ...?@TheDoctor
    – vhd
    Feb 28 at 15:30

Take a look at the journals in the discipline and some papers recently published by faculty in the programs you are considering. These should show you the commonly used kinds of mathematics, which I think will pretty much be what you and others have mentioned.

There is always some other kind of math that might be useful in specific contexts but will rarely be used. I suggest looking at some more statistics first. I also think it never hurts to take another math class since it is easier than learning math on your own.

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