Biological Data Science, M.S. - Advising

Staff Advisor 

We are here to help!  E-mail with questions related to policies and procedures to help you navigate graduate school successfully. 

Many of the answers to your questions may be on this website and in the Program Handbook, please review both carefully. 

Faculty Advisor 

Forming a relationship with a faculty advisor is one of the most important elements of graduate college.  Your advisor can help you in selecting the proper courses, in developing your culminating experience, and, more generally, in understanding the complexities of graduate-level education.  Each MS student must identify a primary faculty advisor who will help you identify other faculty members for your research thesis or applied project supervisory committee.

For tips on finding your faculty advisor see the MSBDS Program Handbook. 

Career Paths 

The Biological Data Science, MS program provides students with real-world training at the interface of the natural and mathematical sciences.  Students will learn to manipulate “Big Data”, including the generation and analysis of data using statistical and computational toolsets.  Students will use their analytical skills in ecological, environmental, toxicological, and other biological applications and will be prepared to work in emerging areas of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research.  With the multiple levels of experiential learning in the program, students will be ready to enter one of the fastest-growing job markets, work with consulting firms, government agencies as well as non-governmental organizations, or go on to seek advanced professional or graduate degrees.  

Here's your first step for earning a graduate degree 

Click here to learn more about the program, application, admission, and to request information. 

Accept your Offer of Admission 

Complete this brief form now to secure your spot (or tell us if you will not be attending). 

Review your Next Steps - Start Here:  To Do List  

Click here to review a list of items to complete to prepare for your program. 

Plan of Study 

The interactive Plan of Study (iPOS) functions as a contract between the student, the academic unit, and Graduate College.  Students must submit their iPOS by the time they have enrolled for 50 percent of the minimum credit hours required for their degree program.  

As a MSBDS student, the iPOS must contain the following degree requirements and list two faculty advisors: 

Graduation Checklist for Incoming Students (starting in Fall 2021 or later)

Required Core (12 credit hours) 

ACO 501: Database Systems and Problem Solving in Python (3) 

BIO 614: Biometry (4) 

LSC 519: Applied Learning Lab (1) 

LSC 547: Wet Laboratory Experience (1) 

STP 560: Experimental Statistics in Biology (3) 

Other Requirements (9) 

LSC 555: Integrative Biology I (3) 

LSC 556: Integrative Biology II (3) 

LSC 562: Applied Mathematics Techniques in Biology (3) 

Electives or Research (5 credit hours) 

ACO 598: Data Science (3) 

BIO 598: Ecosystem Ecology (3) 

BMI 555: Statistical Learning for Data Mining (3) 

BMI 601: Fundamentals of Health Informatics (3) 

LSC 598: Environmental & Human Toxicology (3) 

MAT 598: Mathematical Models in Biology (3) 

STC 510: Applied Social Technology (3) 

ACO 592 or BIO 592 or MAT 592 Research (2-3) 

Culminating Experience (6 credit hours) 

ACO 593 or BIO 593 or MAT 593: Applied Project (6) 

ACO 599 or BIO 599, or MAT 599: Thesis (6) 

Applied Project or Thesis 

The applied project or thesis is the integrative project undertaken at the end of the program of study. Talk with your faculty advisor about your research interests and ideas to determine which option will best suit your needs and goals. 

Biological data will be utilized throughout the degree and students will develop statistical and computational skill sets together with a knowledge of how to acquire and synthesize these biological datasets.  Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the degree, projects should involve at least two different areas within the degree.  The applied project and thesis represents a culmination of the students' accomplishments in the program, and should provide a demonstration of their best work. These should represent the kind of work that the student wishes to engage in after completing the program. This might involve an existing biological dataset (either from a professor or existing in the literature) that is analyzed with statistical and computational methods learned in the program, or it could involve the generation of large datasets that are prepared and categorized for future ease of analysis, or a research thesis that draws on the theoretical or empirical traditions to tackle a question of scholarly interest. 

Generally, the applied project and thesis will begin as a piece of work for one of the courses, and be developed further with the help of the student's committee. It will be developed as part of a two-course culminating sequence at the end of the student's program. 

Individualized Instruction 

Advanced students in the MSBDS program with specialized and well-developed topics may choose to take ACO, BIO, or MAT 580: Practicum, ACO, BIO, or MAT 590: Reading and Conference, or ACO, BIO, or MAT 592: Research as an individualized instruction course, working with a faculty member independently.  Please refer to the MSBDS Program Handbook for additional policies.  

After consulting with the faculty member with whom you want to work, please complete the Online Individualized Instruction Form.  After completing the form, it may take several days to receive the line number to register. 

Please submit the request to complete an individualized instruction course two weeks prior to the start of any academic semester. 


If you are interested in completing an Internship for academic credit, please review and complete the Graduate Studies Internship Packet. 

Applied Project and Thesis Proposal 

All students must work with their faculty advisors to complete an applied project or thesis proposal. The proposal must be approved by your iPOS Committee Chair and the MSBDS Program Director. Students must submit the proposal form no later than 2 weeks prior to beginning the semester of the applied project or thesis. 

Applied Project/Thesis Proposal Approval Process 

To be eligible to enroll in 593 or 599, a student must:  

  • Have an up-to-date and approved iPOS on file 

  • Have completed the Core Course Requirements of 21 credit hours (BIO 614, LSC 555, LSC 562, LSC 547, ACO 501, LSC 556, STP 560, and LSC 519) 

  • Download and complete the Applied Project Proposal form or the Thesis Proposal form. 

  • Upon entering your second semester of the program, you will have been sent an invitation to join the BDS Canvas Proposal organization. 

  • When you receive the invitation, please accept and proceed to upload the completed Applied Project or Thesis proposal into the BDS Canvas org 

  • The faculty chair and program director will review and approve the uploaded proposal in the canvas organization 

  • Graduate advising will process the course override for the approved proposal to allow you to register for the class. 

Please review the Applied Project and Thesis Requirements section of the MSBDS Program Handbook for more information. 

Student Travel 

The New College may provide up to $300 to support graduate student travel to academic and professional conferences.  Students may also receive up to $950 for travel from GPSA. 

Our Faculty 

Suzanne Dietrich, Applied Computing 

Chad Johnson, Biology 

Maxwell Leung 

Joel Nishimura, Applied Mathematics 

Yasin Silva, Applied Computing 

Karen Watanabe, Applied Mathematics/Biology 

Stephen Wirkus, Applied Mathematics 

Yunpeng Zhao, Statistics

COVID-19 information

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