In addition to undergraduate degrees, some of our students have a master's degree. A range of backgrounds include math, statistics, biology, cognitive science, and computer science (with several dual degrees) and two MD/PhD students. BIG students usually graduate in about 5 years.
The BIG program offers an interdisciplinary PhD training aimed at producing leading researchers in the area bioinformatics. These students will become experts not only in computational analysis but also have broad background in the biological sciences and expertise in an area of application, whether that is a basic biological phenomenon or a disease area. Students therefore take coursework in genetics and molecular biology as well as a biological literature reading course, with graduate students in other programs at the medical school. For those interested in advanced quantitative courses, there are numerous courses at nearby institutions, e.g., Bayesian statistics at Harvard School of Public Health, machine learning at the Harvard main campus, or signal processing at MIT.
Students complete at least two lab rotations before choosing a thesis lab from a variety of research areas. There is substantial flexibility in choosing their advisors--they can choose practically any faculty members who have a primary appointment at Harvard, in addition to the core BIG faculty members. Our core faculty is unparalleled in its record high-quality research in many areas of genomics and bioinformatics, both in basic science and translational research.