Biomathematics

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Q: What is Biomathematics? 
A: The mission of the field of biomathematics is to develop analytical and predictive models of biological and medical systems. The field may also be referred to as mathematical biology and by some of its subfields (such as computational biology or systems biology).

Q: What is the difference between the biomathematics program and programs in mathematics, biostatistics, bioinformatics, and traditional biology programs at UCLA and elsewhere?
A: The Biomathematics program is unique in that students are expected to have a strong background in both biology and applied mathematics. Mathematics and statistics programs typically do not train students to be intimately acquainted with empirical data in terms of measurements and biological meaning or to have deep biological knowledge. Biostatistics and Bioinformatics programs typically focus on statistical and algorithmic analysis of large datasets but not on the construction of mechanistic, predictive models. Traditional biology programs instill biological knowledge and techniques but teach little if any mathematics. The Biomathematics program builds upon the fact that much of the research in the next few decades will require intimate knowledge that combines empirical data and methods, statistics, and theory. Collaborations are crucial for this progress, and we train our graduates to have the skills, tools, and language to easily create and lead collaborative teams and tackle the most exciting interdisciplinary problems today. Indeed, our graduates have a running start in both the academic and technical industries because they do not have to spend time gaining additional training through independent learning once they start a new job.

Application Questions

Q: May I apply to more than one graduate program at UCLA?
A: UCLA does not permit application to more than one graduate program, with the exception of concurrent and articulated degrees.

Q: Some of my application materials will arrive later than the Jan 15 deadline.  Is there some flexibility in the deadline?
A: If you anticipate that not all your application materials will arrive before the deadline, please contact the department immediately.

Q: Do I have to take a GRE subject test?
A: The general GRE is required for MS and PhD applicants.  A subject test in Mathematics, physics, chemistry, or biology is highly recommended, but not required, for admission to the PhD program.  For undergraduates with dual majors (e.g., biology and mathematics), choose the subject test for which you feel best prepared.  We have experience evaluating tests in such circumstances.

Q: How many letters of recommendation are required?  May I submit more? 
Three letters of recommendation are required.  You may submit more if you wish.

Q: What is the GRE code for the department?
A: The UCLA institution code is 4837.  ETS major code for Biomathematics is 0225.  Please instruct ETS to send your score to UCLA (4837).  UCLA will match your GRE results using your name and birthdate.prospective students page.

Q: Where do I send official transcripts, and the supplemental application forms?
A: Send these application materials directly to the department

Q: I’m thinking of applying.  May I come to visit the department?
A: Please contact us and we will be happy to arrange for you to meet with faculty and students.

Q: What are the funding options?
A: PhD applicants may apply for training grants and university scholarships and fellowships.  There are also many external sources of funding for doctoral students.  TA-ships and readerships may be available.

Q: How do I apply to the graduate program?
A: See the department’s admissions page and follow the instructions.  Complete your application online.

Q: Is there an undergraduate program?
A: No.  However, the department offers several popular undergraduate courses which may be of interest to undergraduates majoring in mathematics, physics, or biology, including pre-medical students.  Undergraduates should check with their major departments to see if biomathematics courses can be used to fulfill elective requirements.

Q: I’m an undergraduate interested in biomathematics.  What should I do to be admitted to the graduate program?
A: Take courses in mathematics, statistics, physics, computer science, and biology that interest you.  Do research over the summers with working research scientists.  Publish a research paper.  Learn a computer programming language.  Earn good grades and test scores.  Find recommenders who know you and your work well.  Apply and submit your materials before the deadline.

Q: What are the minimum mathematical preparation requirements for new graduate students?
A: Our admitted students have widely varying quantitative backgrounds, so there are no explicit requirements.  However, entering students are expected to be well-versed in linear algebra, differential equations, calculus, basic physics, probability theory, and statistics.

Q: Do I have to pick a research area before being admitted?
A: No.  While the admissions committee takes into account your research interests and experience, you are not required to specify a research area when applying.  Many new students decide over the course of their first year the topics that interest them and the faculty members with whom they wish to work.

Q: What if I have already taken upper-division or graduate-level courses in mathematics or biology?
A:  Through a petition process and in consultation with the faculty, some elective requirements may be waived if admitted students have taken substantial upper-division or graduate-level courses in mathematics or biology.  Students who have completed the first two years of medical school may have all biological course requirements waived.

Q: What are the minimum GPA and GRE scores required for admission?
A: Aside from the university requirement of 3.0 GPA, there is no formal GPA or GRE score requirement.  However, successful applicants generally have better than 3.5 GPA and GRE scores.  Exceptions to these guidelines are made on a case-by-case basis.

Q: How many students does the department currently have, and what are they working on?
A: Please see our students page.

Admitted Students

Q: Can I visit the department?
A: Yes.  Please contact us and we will arrange for you to visit and meet other students and faculty members.

Q: I am an admitted student.  When should I arrive at UCLA in the fall?  Is there an orientation?
A:  Arrive on campus in time for the new graduate student orientation (http://www.gdnet.ucla.edu/orientation.html) in September.  Stop by the biomath office to handle some administrative paperwork, get keys, your copier code, and get to know the other students in the grad office.  Sometime in late September or October, the department will hold a gathering to welcome new students. 

Finding the Department

Q: Where is the Biomath department?
A: UCLA Campus Map

Infrequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that is not answered by this FAQ, or if you believe that one of the answers provided here is inaccurate, please contact the department and we will get back to you and possibly amend this page to include your question.  For general UCLA graduate questions, please see the graduate division FAQ.