Student Handbook

The BICB graduate program is an all-University, interdisciplinary graduate program.

The administrative home is at the University of Minnesota Rochester. Faculty come from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, the University of Minnesota Rochester, the Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Institute, National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), and the Brain Sciences Center. A Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and an Associate Director of Graduate Studies (A-DGS) are the liaison with departments and partnering institutions.

Graduate students are admitted to the University of Minnesota after review of applications by the faculty of the program for which the student applied. The Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BICB) graduate program is one of many graduate programs offered by the University of Minnesota. A list of all majors and degrees offered by the University of Minnesota, the faculty members, requirements, and courses can be found in the Graduate School Catalog.

Specific information about the BICB graduate program can be found in the BICB Student Handbook. General information about graduate programs at the University of Minnesota can be found at the web page of the Graduate School. The Graduate School has also issued a Graduate Student Handbook with useful information about policies and procedures that are relevant to all University of Minnesota graduate students.

The information in this handbook and other University catalogs, publications, or announcements is subject to change without notice. University offices can provide current information about possible changes.

The University creates Internet accounts for all incoming students. In order to use it, you need to “initiate” it by defining a password (more information about how to initiate your Internet Account). Your Internet account gives you 50 hours per month of modem access, as well as 50 MB of file storage space on a University server and 20 MB which can be used for a personal web page. Current students may download and use Symantec Antivirus on one personal computer.

Courses taken by students in the BICB program include courses taught through the Twin Cities campus and through the Mayo Graduate School. These courses are divided into core and elective categories. Below is a list of approved courses that fall into each category, but please note that this list is not exhaustive. If you and your adviser identify a course that is not on the list but is essential for gaining competency in your area of specialty, contact the Director of Graduate Studies to find out which of the Core or Elective areas the course satisfies.

BICB Required Courses

  • BICB 8510 Computation and Biology (2 credits; up to 2 repetitions totaling up to 4.0 credits)

    • This course will be taught in modular form over the Fall and Spring semesters and will provide first‐year graduate students with an overview of topics in molecular biology and genetics; mathematics, statistics and biostatistics; programming and scripting; data management; and data mining. The modules will be offered based on the needs of each incoming class of BICB graduate students.
  • BICB 8401 Ethics in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (1 credit)
    • This course comprises lectures, case studies and group discussion on topics related to responsible conduct, acceptable practices, ethics and public policies in scientific research. This course is offered during the Fall semester.
  • BICB 8970 Entrepreneurship and Leadership (1 credit)
    • This course features invited speakers to discuss the essential leadership and entrepreneurial qualities required for a successful career in industry and academia. This course is offered during the Spring semester.
  • BICB 8920 BICB Colloquium (1 credit; up to 2 repetitions totaling up to 2.0 credits)
    • This is a weekly seminar that features faculty or student speakers that introduces students to current research topics in bioinformatics and computational biology. Ph.D. students must take two semesters of this seminar; M.S. students must take one semester.
  • BICB 8930 Journal Club (1 credit; up to 4 repetitions totaling up to 4.0 credits)
    • This seminar will meet weekly for 50 minutes during both fall semester and spring semester. This seminar consists of student research presentations and discussions of journal articles. The seminar is required of 1st and 2nd year Ph.D. graduate students and 1st year M.S. graduate students.
  • BICB 8932 Proposal Writing Seminar (1 credit; no repeats allowed)
    • This seminar is required for all 2nd year Ph.D. graduate students. Its purpose is to teach students how to write proposals and to guide them through the writing of their preliminary written exam. This seminar will meet during the Spring semester.

Other BICB Elective Courses

  • BICB 8960 Internship Course (1‐6 credits; up to 6 repeats allowed totaling up to 12.0 credits)

    • All students are required to complete 120 hours of internships. Students may register for up to 6 credits per semester. Students are not required to register for credit for internships. However, they must provide documentation of completion of internships that are kept on file as outlined in Appendix B.
  • BICB 8991 Independent Study (1‐2 credits; up to 2 repetitions totaling up to 4.0 credits)
    • This course may be used by graduate students for reading courses with appropriate faculty or to conduct other independent studies. Ph.D. graduate students may only register for this course prior to passing the preliminary oral exam. M.S. graduate students may register for this course at any time.
  • BICB 8994 Directed Research (1‐3 credits; up to 2 repetitions allowed totaling up to 6.0 credits)
    • This course may be used by Ph.D. graduate students to engage in research projects prior to passing the preliminary oral exam. These research projects may lead to thesis research or could be independent of the planned Ph.D. or M.S. thesis research. M.S. graduate students may register for this course at any time.
  • BICB 8990 Seminar on Current Topics (1 credit; up to 4 repetitions totaling up to 4.0 credits)
    • Sections in this seminar will vary depending on the instructor.
  • BICB 8940 Education and Pedagogy Seminar (1 credit; up to 4 repetitions totaling up to 4.0 credits)
    • This seminar will meet weekly in the fall semester. It will give students and faculty the opportunity to discuss effective teaching methods, advising methods, etc., with an emphasis on interdisciplinary training and training across multiple institutions.

Other Program Credits

  • BICB 8333 FTE: Master’s (1 credit; No Grade Associated)
  • BICB 8444 FTE: Doctoral (1 credit; No Grade Associated)
  • BICB 8666 Doctoral Pre‐Thesis Credits (1‐6 credits; 2 repeats allowed totaling up to 6.0 credits; DGS consent for 3rd/4th registrations; No Grade Associated)
  • BICB 8777 Master’s Thesis Credits: (1‐10 credits; 10 repeats allowed totaling up to 10.0 credits; No Grade Associated)
  • BICB 8888 Doctoral Thesis Credits: (1‐14 credits; 10 repeats allowed totaling up to 24.0 credits; No Grade Associated)

Mayo Clinic Courses and UMTC MOT Courses

  • BICB 5620 Topics in Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology (0.5‐4 credits; up to 6 repetitions totaling up to 24.0 credits)

    • Each section of this course corresponds to a Mayo Clinic 5xxx or 6xxx course. Contact DGS before enrolling
  • BICB 8620 Topics in Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology (0.5‐4 credits; up to 6 repetitions totaling up to 24.0 credits)
    • Each section of this course corresponds to a Mayo Clinic 8xxx course. Contact DGS before enrolling.
  • BICB 8670 Topics in Management of Technology (0.5‐4.0 credits; up to 6 repetitions totaling up to 24.0 credits)
    • Each section of this course corresponds to a MOT course. Contact DGS before enrolling.

Classes can be searched online using One Stop. Click on Class Search, which is available under the Quick Links. BICB courses are listed on the Rochester campus; others courses are listed under the Twin Cities campus. Select the Term and then the Subject to find the courses you wish to register for. If you are registering for the first time, see your temporary advisor and the DGS/Associate DGS before you register for courses. Returning graduate students should discuss the schedule for the upcoming semester with their advisor/co-advisors and committee members. To register for a course, click on the Add Now button next to the section you wish to attend. If a course requires departmental or instructor permission, obtain a permission number from the department that offers the course. BICB graduate courses are processed by the BICB Graduate Program Secretary at UMR. If a hold was placed on your registration, contact the DGS/Associate DGS.

The University requires registration every Fall and Spring semester to maintain active status. If you do not register, you are considered to have withdrawn, and you must seek re-admission to the Graduate School (see Maintaining Active Status). To get re-admitted, you need to pay a reapplication fee to the Graduate School.

Registration Policies and Procedures
Graduate student registration dates can be found on the One Stop Student Services website. Students are expected to know their registration queue time during the registration period for each semester, this can be found on their MyU homepage or through One Stop. Students are required to know and follow University registration deadlines and register each fall and spring semester to maintain active student status.

The academic calendar with the important dates and deadlines for each semester are available online. The University has a schedule builder that greatly facilitates finding courses. Many classes fill up quickly, so plan ahead! As a reminder, you need to be registered before the first day of classes to avoid late registration fees. You can change, add, or cancel classes, including changing the grade basis during the first two weeks, but you can only add a class without instructor approval or get a 100% refund for canceling a class during the first seven days.

Permission Numbers
To register for any of the BICB courses, you will need a permission number. Please send an E-mail with the details of your request to ( to obtain one. For access to courses offered through other departments that require permission numbers, you must contact that department through e-mail to request a permission number (for a list, see here).

BICB 8777: M.S. Thesis Credits
M.S. students who have identified a thesis adviser can take these at any time for the M.S. Plan A degree.

BICB 8888: Doctoral Thesis Credits
At least 24 doctoral thesis credits are required for the Ph.D. Please discuss and request permission with your faculty thesis advisor if you wish to take Doctoral Thesis Credits prior to completing your preliminary exams. We encourage “filling up” your credits to the maximum allowed for a full-time student, i.e., 14 credits, each Fall and Spring semesters in your first two years to complete your required 31 course credits and 24 doctoral thesis credits.

UNITE Courses
If you are taking a UNITE course and are a full-time student, i.e., you plan to register for six or more credits, e-mail so we can facilitate your registration without incurring the UNITE fees. If you are a part-time student, i.e., you plan to register for fewer than six credits, you need to register through the UNITE site ( and pay the UNITE fee in addition to tuition.

Special Registration Categories
To participate as a graduate student at the University and make progress towards your degree, it is required that you maintain active student status. In order to remain active, you must register for courses every fall and spring term. If you do not register for every fall and spring term, your student status is discontinued (considered inactive), and you must apply for readmission if you wish to return. You can read more about active status in the leave of absence and reinstatement policy.

As a graduate student, there may be a time when you need to register solely to meet your registration requirements and avoid inactive status. GRAD 999 listed below will allow you to maintain your active student status. This course is restricted to graduate and professional students. Speak with your faculty advisor or the DGS for more information.

GRAD 999
GRAD 999 is a zero-credit, zero-tuition registration option intended for graduate students who have completed all coursework and (if applicable) thesis credit requirements, and who must maintain registration to meet the registration requirement. GRAD 999 enrollment serves only to maintain active student status. Students with GRAD 999 enrollment are not eligible for financial aid, and this status cannot be used for student loan deferment. Students may not hold graduate assistantships while enrolled in GRAD 999.

While registered for GRAD 999, you can:

  • Meet the active status requirement
  • File graduate degree plan; petition; application for degree
  • Take master's final exam; doctoral prelim written/oral exam; doctoral final exam
  • Submit degree clearance materials (e.g., exam forms, thesis)
  • Use U Library resources

If you register for GRAD 999, you are not required to pay the Student Services Fee; however, you may elect to do so if you wish to use or support the services covered by the fee.

International students are strongly encouraged to confer with the International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) office if they are considering GRAD 999 registration to discuss how to maintain legal status and maintain health benefits.

BICB 8333 FTE: Master’s
You will only be eligible to register for this option once you have completed your required 30 graduate credits.

BICB 8444 FTE: Doctoral
You will only be eligible to register for this option once you have completed your preliminary written and oral exams.

International Students
If you are an international student, make sure you are registered as a full-time student before classes start and do not fall below six credits if you cancel any classes (i.e., add before you cancel) in the Fall and Spring semesters. There is also a limit on online courses that you can take-- at least 3 credits must be taken in a class where there is an instructor in the classroom and you are sitting in that classroom. Thesis and directed research credits are considered as in-class credits. Ask if you have any questions--failure to comply with the rules governing international students may invalidate your international student status and result in deportation.

Holds on your account that prevent registration
If you have any Holds on your account that prevent registration and do not know how to remove them, contact the DGS.

The Graduate School has two registration options: active or full-time status. Full-time status is defined as 6 or more credits per semester. Students who are either Teaching or Research Assistants, or have loans to defer, or are on a foreign visa, or live in student housing must maintain full-time status (some fellowships and traineeships also require full-time status). Graduate students (M.S. Plan A or Ph.D.) who have completed all their coursework and required thesis credits and are working full-time on their research or writing of their thesis have the option to register for “Full-time Equivalent” (FTE). M.S. students register for BICB 8333 and Ph.D. students for BICB 8444 (see Procedures for FTE with One Credit for Advanced Graduate Students). Depending on the source of funding, the Graduate Program reserves the right to require registration for FTE for students who are eligible.

Course Designators

College Name

Phone Number



Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development

(612) 624-7470




(612) 625-5179



Chemical Engineering




Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology


Email the professor and ask for permission number. If he approves, he'll call the secretary and you'll get the number.



(612) 625-9997



Computer Science

(612) 625-4002



Electrical and Computer Engineering


Get the permission number from the specific instructor


Scientific Computation





(612) 625-4848



Public Health


On the PubH page off of onestop, look at the contact for the course you're interested in, and contact them for the number.







(612) 624-9717



Ecology, Evolution and Behavior

(612) 624-6770




(612) 624-3331



Comparative and Molecular Biosciences

(612) 624-2282




(612) 624-0026




(612) 624-9856



Biomedical Engineering


Email the professor and ask for permission number.  If he approves, he'll call the secretary and you'll get the number.


Medical Chemistry


Contact the professor for the permission number



(612) 625-7980




(612) 624-9440



Educational Policy and Administration

(612) 624-1006



Management of Technology

(612) 624-5747



Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

(612) 625-6255


All students will be reviewed annually. The DGS assistant will solicit transcripts and a progress report of each student during the spring semester. Students meet with the DGS or Associate DGS or appointed faculty members during the summer to review their progress and to discuss the upcoming academic year. M.S. students who are not in good standing will be informed of the result in writing with a copy to the advisor. Ph.D. students, regardless of their standing, will be informed in writing about their progress.

Statement on Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is against the law. It is prohibited by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and by the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Sexual harassment is broadly defined to include behavior which is not considered overtly sexual. Although not specifically prohibited, consenting sexual relationships between faculty and student, or supervisor and employee, are actively discouraged. The University of Minnesota has had a strongly enforced policy on sexual harassment since 1981 and encourages reporting of violations. Call 612-624-9547 for additional information.

Statement of Equal Opportunity
The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, or sexual orientation.

Other general information about graduate programs at the University of Minnesota can be found at the web page of the Graduate School. The Graduate School has also issued a Graduate Student Handbookwith useful information about policies and procedures that are relevant to all University of Minnesota graduate students.

The University suggests principles for mutual roles and responsibilities in Mutual Rights and Responsibilities of Faculty and Graduate Students: Guidelines.

For resolving student academic complaints, please contact the DGS (see also Administrative Policy: Addressing Student Academic Complaints, and the Student Conflict Resolution Center)

See the Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code and related resources (e.g., Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity)

For research involving human subjects and animals, see: Research Involving Human Subjects and Research Involving Animal Subjects.

Opportunities for Student Involvement

  • BICB has a student representative who attends BICB Faculty meetings

  • COGS


Adding External Members to an Examining Committee

  1. The graduate student initiates the process by informing the DGS that s/he would like to add an external member to the committee.

  2. The DGS solicits the CV from the suggested member, and verifies with the student's adviser that the suggested member is appropriate for the committee and approved by the adviser.

  3. The DGS checks whether the suggested member has the appropriate credentials, which typically is a Ph.D. in a field appropriate to the student's research.

  4. The DGS circulates the CV among BICB graduate faculty to solicit comments within a fixed period (say, two weeks). If nobody voices any concerns about the suggested member being a member of an examining committee, the DGS will initiate the process of adding the member to the committee.

Being an external member of an examining committee does not confer any rights other than participating in that committee. i.e., the external member does not become a permanent member of the BICB graduate faculty. Once the student graduates, the external member no longer has a relationship with the program. If serious concerns by other faculty members are voiced, i.e., if faculty have reasons to believe that the academic credentials of the suggested external member are not at the level expected of a member of a BICB examining committee, the DGS will contact the student's adviser to discuss the concerns. If the concerns cannot be resolved through discussions, the DGS will ask the adviser to suggest a different committee member.