PhD Program

Curriculum and Requirements

Our 72-credit-hour program builds your comprehensive knowledge of biomedical informatics while equipping you with highly specialized knowledge and research expertise in one of five key areas of our field.

You may enter our PhD program directly or — with strong previous preparation in the basic biomedical sciences, mathematics or engineering — through our school’s interdisciplinary PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences.

First-Year Curriculum

Direct Admission to the PhD Program in Biomedical Informatics

During your first year of study, you’ll rotate through divisional labs within our department to explore research disciplines and determine your area of interest.

In addition to your lab rotations, you’ll take three required courses in our department during your first year of study — and, in the spring, a selective course in your research field.



Second-Year Curriculum

You’ll select your primary adviser and embark upon a research project in that faculty member’s lab. You’ll take an advanced selective course in your research field and expand upon your areas of knowledge by taking electives in our department or in other departments.

Your second year of study culminates with your qualifying exam.



Third-Year Curriculum

From your third year of study on, you will:

  • take additional electives courses
  • complete more focused research rotations
  • gain supervised teaching experience in one or more of our master’s degree courses
  • complete, defend and publish your dissertation



Fourth-Year Curriculum



Fifth-Year Curriculum



First-Year Curriculum

Admission Via the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences

First Year Curriculum

You will spend your first year in our interdisciplinary PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS). You will have the chance to explore a variety of disciplines before committing to your specific research area.

You will gain a broad base of experience and knowledge in our lab rotation system. You will collaborate with our renowned research scientists on cutting-edge research.

You will build expertise as you complete our structured, interdisciplinary curriculum. You also will receive strong support to pursue your individual interests.

By starting in the PPBS, your lab rotations will take place in other basic biomedical sciences departments as well as with our faculty in biomedical informatics.

Your core PPBS courses will count as elective credits toward your PhD in biomedical informatics.

Second-Year Curriculum

If you didn’t take them during your first year of study, you'll need to have completed the following core BMI course requirements by the end of your second:

You’ll take these courses in lieu of the electives your direct-admit peers take.

In all other respects, your curriculum mirrors that of the second-year direct-admit curriculum.

Third- through Fifth-Year Curriculum

From your third year of study on, your curriculum mirrors that of the direct-admit curriculum.

Selective and Advanced Selective Courses

Our selective courses address your area of research. You must take the relevant selective course during your first year of study and the relevant advanced selective course during your second.

Our selective courses include:

Our advanced selective courses include:


In addition to choosing from the list below, you may take additional selective courses and other UB graduate courses as electives, with your faculty adviser’s approval.

PhD Qualifying Exam

You’ll prepare a written dissertation research proposal — including a literature review and a progress report of your preliminary studies — and defend it before our faculty.

If your faculty adviser and our program director have concerns about your knowledge and readiness to proceed with your proposed research after your presentation, you may be asked to take a written exam as well.

After successfully completing this process — typically at the end of your second year and no later than the end of your fifth semester — you’ll become a PhD candidate in our program.

Dissertation Research

You’ll conduct your thesis research under the supervision of your primary faculty adviser, who will also chair your dissertation advisory committee.

Once you pass your qualifying exam, you and your adviser will select two to three members of UB’s graduate faculty to serve on your committee. Including your primary adviser, at least two of these committee members must have primary faculty appointments in our department, and at least one must have a primary appointment in another UB department.

You’ll regularly update committee members on your research progress, and they will offer feedback and advice in return.

You’ll write your thesis as an original contribution to the scientific, peer-reviewed literature. You’ll also complete an oral defense of your research methods and results before your committee, and present your thesis in a public seminar.

Other Program Requirements

During both your first and third years of study, you’ll be required to:

  • complete an online self-study course on the protection of human research subjects
  • attend two in-person training session on good research practices

You’ll also be expected to contribute to our departmental Journal Club. We require that you participate in at least half of these sessions during your first two years in the program and at least a quarter of them during your last three.

Our PhD candidates regularly attend and present at our departmental seminars as well.

During your first two years in our program, you’ll be required to attend at least half of these presentations; during your last three years, you’ll be required to attend at least a quarter of them and give at least one presentation.