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Curriculum Overview

The IQ Biology program offers a mix of core classes, research projects and professional development experiences. These are all designed to help you work collaboratively across disciplines to solve problems.


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You will participate as part of a group in core courses that cover cutting-edge quantitative techniques used to analyze biological data: one (6 credit) course in the fall and two related (3 credit) courses in the spring.

During the first semester, all incoming students will take part in our core course: "Foundations in Interdisciplinary Quantitative Biology." You will learn core competences in bioscience and the mathematical/computational sciences with your interdisciplinary cohort.

During the second semester, you will take two project-based courses that tackle several biologically motivated problems, using multiple quantitative platforms while working in interdisciplinary teams.

As part of your first year studies, you will take two courses outside of your primary discipline(s) to explore other areas of quantitative biology and fill any gaps in your background to benefit your future interdisciplinary research. You will also rotate through three different research labs in at least two different disciplines to learn new techniques and attend weekly seminars.

After the First Year

In May of their first year, you will choose your degree program and thesis advisor. During the second year, you will likely begin taking the core courses required by your chosen home department, and those advised by your departmental thesis committee.

The IQ Biology electives count simultaneously toward each home department’s electives. You will not be delayed by more than one semester of extra coursework while participating in this program.

Additional IQ Biology Activities Throughout Your Studies

  • Attend seminars with the IQ Biology community, as well as meeting with the speaker and IQ Biology students before each seminar when possible.
  • Develop and present your research in a student-run IQ Biology symposium on campus.
  • Social gatherings will be provided periodically for the entire IQ Biology Community.


PhD Coursework and Research

You will fulfill the PhD requirements of your chosen degree program, but some elective coursework requirements of the departments will be substituted with courses from this program. Dissertation requirements are determined by the degree-granting department, however, IQ Biology students need to have an out-of-discipline member on their committee and need to have an interdisciplinary component to their dissertation research. Upon graduation, you will receive a PhD from your degree-granting department and an interdisciplinary certificate from the Graduate School in IQ Biology.


You will be given the opportunity to intern at a company, a non-profit, a national lab or at an institution abroad. IQ Biology faculty members have connections at several federal labs locally, at biotech companies, and at institutions abroad to facilitate internship placement. For example, Cochlear Americas is accepting interns from IQ Biology in their research and development area and within their business development and marketing departments for those interested in a more cross-disciplinary experience.

Professional Development

You will be given the opportunity to participate in workshops or activities on:

  • Scientific communication
  • Careers in science
  • Ethics
  • Mentor training
  • Policy
  • Team building
  • Grant writing
  • Entrepreneurship

In addition you will have the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses at CU Boulder, as well as participate in the development of curriculum and in-classroom experience with K-12 education.

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