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Curriculum Overview

The IQ Biology program offers a mix of core classes, research projects and professional development opportunities designed to help you think broadly and work collaboratively. In their first year, IQ Biology students are immersed in an interdisciplinary collaborative culture. After joining a department in the second year, students remain engaged in IQ Biology through a variety of program activities.

IQ Biology Curriculum

Core Courses: As an incoming IQ Biology student, you will take part in our core courses that cover cutting-edge quantitative techniques. These courses include one course in the fall and two courses in the spring. IQ Biology core courses count simultaneously toward each home department’s electives. You will not be delayed by more than one semester of extra coursework while participating in the IQ Biology program. These core courses serve as the foundation of the IQ Biology curriculum and are taken together by all first-year IQ Biology students:

  • Quantitative Optical Imaging Lecture and Recitation 
  • Bioinformatics and Genomics OR Mathematical and Computational Biology
  • Biology-Inspired Multi-agent Systems OR Biophysics

Gap-Filling Courses: You will take two courses outside of your primary discipline(s). These courses allow you to explore other areas of quantitative biology and fill "gaps" in your academic background to benefit your future interdisciplinary research and ability to collaborate effectively.

Lab Rotations: You will also rotate through three different research labs in at least two different disciplines. These rotations allow you to explore your interests, learn new laboratory, experimental, and computational techniques, and work with prospective thesis advisors.

Idea Exchanges: In your first year as an IQ Biology student, you will participate in weekly Idea Exchanges, which serve as a lab meeting-like forum to work with faculty, discuss research topics and ideas in quantitative biology, hold workshops and professional development activities, and network with interdisciplinary colleagues and mentors.

During your second year, you will begin taking the courses required by your chosen partner degree-granting program of study/department, as advised by your departmental thesis committee.

During your PhD tenure, IQ Biology students remain engaged with the IQ Biology program by:

  • Attending seminars with the IQ Biology community, as well as meeting with the speaker and IQ Biology students before each seminar when possible.
  • Participating in interdisciplinary and quantitative research communities, such as BioInformatics Supergroups
  • Developing and presenting your research in a student-run IQ Biology symposium on campus.
  • Mentoring new IQ Biology students
  • Attending social gatherings held for the entire IQ Biology community
  • Volunteering for outreach opportunities in STEM with fellow IQ Biology students

PhD Coursework and Research

You will fulfill the PhD requirements of your chosen degree-granting program of study (some departmental electives will be substituted with courses from this program). Upon graduation, you will receive a PhD from your degree-granting department and an interdisciplinary certificate from the CU Boulder Graduate School.

Internships and Teaching

You will be given the opportunity to intern at a company, non-profit, national lab or institution abroad. IQ Biology faculty and staff members can facilitate internship placements. You will also have the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses at CU Boulder, participate in curriculum development and engage in K-12 activities.

Professional Development

You will be given the opportunity to participate in workshops or activities on scientific communication, career preparation, ethics, mentoring and being mentored, policy, team building and collaboration, grant writing and entrepreneurship.

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