Skip to main content
Department of Computer Science

Undergraduate Focus Area: Bioinformatics

The Bioinformatics Focus Area in the Computer Science Major
Department of Computer Science
Tufts University

Last updated by Lenore Cowen, Soha Hassoun, Mike Hughes, Li-Ping Liu and Donna Slonim, on November 6, 2019

Bioinformatics applies computer science techniques to analyze and interpret biological data.  At Tufts, bioinformatics research and education span several key topics including computational biology, systems biology, bioengineering, and biomedical informatics. Key underlying techniques include machine learning, statistical science, and algorithms. Built on a strong computer science foundation, this focus area provides breadth and depth in bioinformatics to prepare students for careers or graduate school in fields at the intersection of biology and computer science.  This focus area applies equally well for Arts and Sciences (A&S) and School of Engineering (SoE) students, and for both Computer Science and Data Science majors. 

The Computer Science Core
Common to both Computer Science and Data Science Majors, and most relevant to this focus area. Additional core courses may be required for your major.

1. Introduction to Computer Science (CS 11)
2. Data Structures (CS 15)
3. Machine Structure & Assembly Language Programming (CS 40)
4. Discrete Mathematics (CS 61)
5. Algorithms (CS 160)
6. Probability & Statistics (MATH 162, ES 56, EE24, EE 104, BME 141, BIO 132, PHY 153)

The Bioinformatics Core
1. Machine Learning (CS 135) (required for DS majors)
2. Computational Biology (CS 167)
3. Computational Systems Biology (CS 150-CSB)

Bioinformatics Electives
Pick at least 3 courses from the list below:

CS 131 AI
CS 136 Statistical Pattern Recognition (required for DS majors)
CS 150-BDL Bayesian Deep Learning
CS 150-CBP Computing with Biological Parts 
CS 150-MLG Machine Learning for Graph Analytics
CS 150-CSE Exploration of Computer Science Ethics
CS 150-DNN Deep Neural Networks
CS 150-EXM Experimental Methods for Computer Scientists
CS 150-HPC High Performance Computing
CS 150-MMD Mobile Medical Devices and Apps
CS 150-NS Network Science
CS 150-VA Visual Analytics
CS 156-SEN Software Engineering
CS 150-NLP Natural Language Processing
CS 150-WWC Working with Corpora

Recommended Courses in Other Departments
It is recommended that students take at least 3 courses in either Biology, Biomedical Engineering, or Biological and Biomedical Engineering departments, depending on interest. Some courses offered include: 

BIO 13-Organisms and Populations W/Lab
BIO 41-General Genetics
BIO 132-Biostatistics
BIO 133-Ecological Stats & Data W/Lab
BIO 105-Molecular Biology
BME 62-Molecular Biotechnology

To be successful in Bioinformatics in the future (in academia and industry alike), you will need to be able to demonstrate practical hands-on experience with Bioinformatics algorithms and problems. You can fulfill the capstone de facto requirement in our Bioinformatics focus area by either doing a year-long senior capstone project via CS 97 and CS 98 or doing a thesis in Bioinformatics via CS 197. Contact any of the Bioinformatics faculty for further information.

Focus areas

Guidance for class selection in areas where Computer Science majors may wish to focus.

In response to student feedback, the Department of Computer Science has been looking for ways to provide guidance on how to achieve greater depth in specific areas within the computer science major. To that end, we are now offering information on what we call focus areas. Focus areas as we define them are a kind of unofficial concentration within the major, and our focus area guides are meant to provide additional scaffolding or structure to help students decide which courses they may want to take. More guides may become available in the future.