B.S. Computer Science with a Specialization in Bioinformatics

Updated 3.2.2018


The explosion in biological knowledge spawned by the various genome projects has created entirely new fields and industries, and a need for trained computational biologists who are familiar with Biology, Mathematics, and Computer Sciences.  The computer science and engineering department offers rigorous, interdisciplinary training in the new and rapidly evolving field of bioinformatics.

Bioinformatics refers to advanced computational and experimental methods that model the flow of information (genetic, metabolic and regulatory) in living systems to provide an integrated understanding of the system properties of organisms.

This interdisciplinary major also is offered by the Division of Biological Sciences, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and the Department of Bioengineering.

Many graduates in this degree go on to graduate school, medical school or choose careers that involve the design of software systems to further the study in computational molecular biology, bioinformatics, proteomics, approximational algorithms, human genome, human proteome, protein identification, Expressed Sequence Tags (EST) analysis, and also employment in biotech companies. 

The BS Computer Science with a specialization in bioinformatics program requires a total of 153 units (not including the general-education requirements).  

Our Long-Term plans are designed for students with no advanced placement credit.  Some students will begin with CSE 3, CSE 8A or CSE 11, therefore, it is imperative that each student draw up a suitable schedule based on her/his specific circumstances.  Please read CSE Course Placement Advice to figure out which courses to take first.  To assist you with planning your schedule, consult our Courses page.

Tracking Your Progress

Major Requirements

1. Lower-Division Requirements

Students are expected to complete the following 56 units by the end of their sophomore year.  All classes must be taken for a letter grade.

  1. Computer Science and Engineering: CSE 8B or11, CSE 12, CSE 15L, CSE 21, and CSE 30 (18 units)
  2. Mathematics: Math 18, 20A, Math 20B, and Math 20C  (16 units)
  3. Chemistry: Chem 6A and Chem 6B, (8 units)
  4. Biology: BILD 1, BILD 3, and BILD 4 (12 units)
  5. Physics: Phys 10 or Phys 2A (4 units)

2. Upper-Division Requirements

Students must complete 72 upper-division units.  All courses must be taken for a letter grade unless offered P/NP only.

  1. CSE 100 or Math 176 (4 units)
  2. CSE 101 or Math 188 (4 units)
  3. Chem 140A (4 units)*
  4. Chem 114A (or BIBC 102 which requires CHEM 40B as a prereq) (4 units)
  5. BICD 100 (4 units)
  6. BIMM 100 (4 units)
  7. BIMM 101 (4 units)
  8. Six additional upper-division electives (24 units) chosen from:
    • Group I (4 units): CSE 110, 130, 131
    • Group II (8 units): CSE 105, 150, 151, 158; Math 184A; COGS 185
    • Group III (4 units): CSE 132A, 132B, 134, 135
    • Group IV (8 units):  Additional electives chosen from 4-unit upper-division CSE courses or Chem 140B or ENG 100D or ENG 100L.  A maximum of 4 units of P/NP coursework may count, including CSE 197, 197 and 199.
  9. The bioinformatics series, comprising the following five courses (20 units):
    • CSE 181 or BIMM 181 or BENG 181s (4 units)
    • CSE 182 or BIMM 182 or BENG 182 or Chem 182 (4 units)
    • BENG 183 (4 units)
    • BIMM 185  (4 units)
    • Math 186  (4 units)
Graduation Requirements
  • All major requirements and upper-division electives, except CSE 91, CSE 197, CSE 198 or CSE 199, must be taken for a letter grade.
  • To graduate, a minimum grade-point average of 2.0 will be required in upper-division courses in the major, including upper-division electives.
  • Students must satisfy the general education course requirements of their college and university requirements.

* Scheduling Notes: 

- Effective Fall 2017, CHEM 140A will be renumbered to CHEM 40A: Organic Chemistry I (4 units)

CSE Academic Advising

Contact advisors via the Virtual Advising Center or call 858-534-8872 or visit a CSE Advisor during Advising Office Hours.

Major Opportunities