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Characterizing the Quantitative Biology Curricula from Institutions Across the United States

Author(s): Wendy Jo Levenson, Monika Norea Herbst1, Sam S Donovan1, Alison N Hale1

University of Pittsburgh

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Undergraduate research poster presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Pittsburgh in 2015.

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 03 Jan 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4X094 - cite this


Due to the increasingly quantitative nature of the biological sciences, many schools now offer majors in mathematical biology. As this is a new major, there is no standard for how the program should be designed nor is there a place to easily access information about each school’s curriculum. In this study we analyzed the curriculum of ten mathematical biology programs to characterize their core components and their interdisciplinary nature. We then compared these programs to elucidate similarities and differences in: the percentage of credit hours devoted to mathematics vs. science; the department in which the major is housed; the number of required courses at different levels of learning (introductory, intermediate, and advanced); the number of undergraduate students enrolled in the major; and the number of interdisciplinary courses offered. Preliminary analyses indicate that programs vary across a wide spectrum in the percentage of credit hours devoted to mathematics vs. science. The programs that are heavily skewed towards either math or science lack courses that are cross-listed between departments. However, most programs offer courses with titles that suggest a blend of mathematical and biology concepts. We also found that most mathematical biology programs are housed in the mathematics department. By characterizing the layout, focus, and difficulty of mathematical biology programs, professionals in this field will be able to compare their curriculum with others to create a more consistent curriculum.

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