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Systems, Synthetic, and Quantitative Biology​

Systems, Synthetic, and Quantitative Biology (SSQB) is an innovative field that explains how higher-level properties of complex biological systems arise from the interactions among their parts.

Harvard was one of the first institutions to offer a program to explore this exciting new field. The program’s core curriculum includes courses on the methods and logic that shape research, how to conceptualize and present research, and an introduction to the faculty’s research.

The program has 48 faculty located in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Mass General, and Boston Children’s Hospital. SSQB is one of 14 PhD programs in the Harvard Integrated Life Sciences program that collectively gives you access to over 900 faculty research groups situated in the heart of Boston’s biotech hub. Our students are working on projects that range from fundamental problems in biology to translational research, whose goal is to directly affect medicine and global sustainability.

Graduates of the program have gone on to faculty positions at prestigious institutions such as MIT and Princeton University, while others are now industry leaders as startup founders or as decision-makers at companies including Boston Consulting Group, Yumanity Therapeutics, McKinsey & Company, and Regeneron.

Additional information on the graduate program is available from the Systems, Synthetic, and Quantitative Biology PhD Program, and requirements for the degree are detailed in Policies.

Admissions Requirements

Please review admissions requirements and other information before applying. You can find degree program-specific admissions requirements below and access additional guidance on applying from the Systems, Synthetic, and Quantitative Biology PhD Program.

Academic Background

Applicants typically have a background in biology, physics, chemistry, computer science, engineering, or mathematics and work to forge a new approach to biology that combines theoretical and experimental approaches. The typical student has a strong background in one of the disciplines relevant to systems biology and an interest in interdisciplinary research.

Standardized Tests

GRE General: Optional 

Contacting Faculty

Applicants should indicate their faculty of interest in the application. You are not required to contact any faculty in advance but are welcome to.


Applications are reviewed by the admissions committee during December and early January. Selected applicants are notified if they have been chosen for an on-campus interview. These visits provide students with the opportunity to meet with faculty and current students and to get a better feel for our community and the types of research conducted here. Applicants invited for an interview who reside overseas and cannot visit the Harvard campus may interview remotely.

Theses & Dissertations

Theses & Dissertations for Systems, Synthetic, and Quantitative Biology​


See list of Systems, Synthetic, and Quantitative Biology​ faculty


Degrees Offered


Questions about the Program?

Liz Pomerantz
Program Administrator