Highly-motivated and exceptional undergraduates can pursue a master’s degree (M.S.) via the Bioinformatics Graduate Interdepartmental Program, while simultaneously completing the requirements for their B.S. in Computational & Systems Biology. The academic mechanism for this dual degree is called the Departmental Scholar Program (DSP), administered by L&S College Honors. 

Minimum Eligibility Criteria

  • Completion of all Pre-Major courses, a minimum of 5 Upper Division courses for the Major (6 if admitted to the Major Fall 2020 and forward), and the Writing II requirement
  • Completion of 96 undergraduate units at UCLA, or, for transfer students, the equivalent at a similar institution (transfer students must complete at least a year of coursework at UCLA)
  • A 3.5 Cumulative GPA
  • A 3.5 GPA in Upper Division courses for the Major

Application Requirements

  • A completed Departmental Scholar Nomination Form
  • Two letters of recommendation from ladder faculty members (titles of professor, associate professor, assistant professor — not adjuncts or lecturers). CaSB Affiliated Faculty are preferred and one letter should come from the student’s faculty mentor (senior thesis advisor)
    • If you are unsure if a faculty member is a ladder faculty member, you can check their title on the UCLA Directory or send their name to casb@lifesci.ucla.edu for verification
    • Non-ladder faculty can write supplementary letters, but cannot be one of the two required letters
    • Please have your recommenders send their letters directly to casb@lifesci.ucla.edu
  • A statement of purpose (one page) detailing your interest in the program and your intellectual and research interests, short and long term

The Application Process

The application process can be initiated with the CaSB Student Affairs Office once the student is eligible — normally the end of Junior year or beginning of Senior year. When the application is complete, it is reviewed by a CaSB faculty committee. Upon approval, the nomination is forwarded to the Dean of the Division of Honors, and finally to the Dean of Graduate Division. Students can begin taking graduate courses toward the M.S. degree in the quarter following admission.

Students must be admitted to the program prior to the start of their final undergraduate quarter. At the latest, students should apply during their second to last undergraduate term (e.g., Winter quarter for a Spring degree candidate).

Completed applications (including letters of recommendation) are reviewed by the CaSB faculty committee twice per quarter and once during Summer Session A:

  • Friday Week 2 of Fall, Winter, Spring quarters and Summer Session A
  • Friday Week 8 of Fall, Winter, Spring quarters

Students must submit all application materials no later than Friday Week 8 of a quarter to be considered for admission in that quarter. Final admission decisions are made by Graduate Division by the end of the quarter, regardless of whether a student submits for the Week 2 or Week 8 deadline.

M.S. Bioinformatics Degree Requirements

Applicants should review the Bioinformatics M.S. requirements before applying at: https://grad.ucla.edu/programs/life-sciences/bioinformatics/.

For their M.S. requirements, DSP students pursue Field 3: Computational & Systems Biology. Students can choose any of the Subfields. Only the M.S. Thesis Plan is available to DSP students in CaSB and, with adequate planning, this can be an extension of the senior thesis required for the bachelor’s degree.

The Departmental Counselor for Bioinformatics, Gene Gray, advises on M.S. requirements. Any questions about the M.S. requirements should be directed to him. The CaSB Departmental Counselor advises on admission to DSP and the B.S. requirements.

Other Policies

Before applying, please review the Departmental Scholar Program Guidelines provided by Honors.

Although DSP students will be concurrently enrolled in undergraduate and graduate coursework, students remain in undergraduate status and are subject to all rules and regulations affecting UCLA undergraduates. Students will receive their B.S. and M.S. degrees simultaneously (e.g., if a student finishes their B.S. requirements Spring 2021 and their M.S. requirements Spring 2022, they will officially earn both degrees in Spring 2022).

Students must fulfill all requirements for both degrees, and no course may be used to fulfill requirements for both degrees (i.e., no double-counting).

Coursework taken prior to admission to DSP cannot be used to fulfill M.S. requirements. Students should wait to take M.S. courses until after admitted. That said, it may be possible to backdate an application by up to 2 quarters (e.g., if a student applies during Spring 2021, we can submit the application effective Fall 2020). This is useful if a student recently took a course that could potentially count towards M.S. requirements.