Advanced Electives

A requirement of four advanced electives is designed to develop both breadth and depth for students in the CSB Ph.D. Program. These should be 12-unit G-level graduate subjects. The electives add to the base of the core curriculum and contribute strength in areas related to student interest and research direction. Two of the four restricted electives must be in the same area (department). At least one of the electives must be from an engineering discipline and at least one from a biology-related field.

As is typical for students in other doctoral programs at MIT, CSB Ph.D. students may take classes beyond the required restricted electives. These additional subjects might be useful to explore advanced topics important for thesis research in later years.

Each student will design a program of advanced electives that satisfies the distribution and area requirements in close consultation with members of the CSB Ph.D. Graduate Committee and with their thesis advisor. Examples of combinations of courses that might be particularly appropriate for students with certain interests are described below. These examples are intended as illustrations only – individual programs will vary.

Students with an interest in model building and theory might include Network Optimization (Computer Science/Operations Research) and/or Foundations of Algorithms for Computational Biology (Computer Science/Biological Engineering).

Students with a focus on developing novel tools might select subjects such as Integrated Microelectronic Devices (Electrical Engineering/Materials Science) and/or Fundamental Limits of Biological Measurement (Biological Engineering).

Students who intend to pursue computational biology or bioinformatics can take courses in Computational Functional Genomics (Biology, Computer Science), Bioinformatics: Principles, Applications, and Methods (Chemical Engineering), or Biomedical Information Technology (Mechanical Engineering).

The following is a list of subjects that students may consider for advanced electives or additional subjects, organized by department. See the MIT online subject descriptions for more information.

(Not a complete list. Please petition the committee if there is an unlisted 12 unit, G-Level course you wish to take.)

Civil and Environmental Engineering

1.151 Probability and Statistics in Engineering (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

1.207 Computer Algorithms in Systems Engineering (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

1.685/2.034/18.377J Nonlinear Dynamics and Waves (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

1.871 Computational Ecology (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

1.89 Environmental Microbiology (spring 2018, G, 12 units)


Mechanical Engineering

2.18/6.557J Biomolecular Feedback Systems (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

2.372/6.777J Design and Fabrication of Microelectromechanical Devices

(spring 2018, G, 12 units)

2.717 Optical Engineering (not offered this year, G, 12 units)



5.64/HST.539J Frontiers of Interdisciplinary Science in Human Health and Disease (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

5.70/10.546J Statistical Thermodynamics (fall 2017, G, 12 Units) 


Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

6.231 Dynamic Programming and Stochastic Control (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

6.241/16.338J Dynamic Systems and Control (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

6.262 Discrete Stochastic Processes (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

6.334 Power Electronics (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

6.336/2.096/16.910J Introduction to Numerical Simulation (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

6.337/18.335J Introduction to Numerical Methods (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

6.339/2.097/16.920J Numerical Methods for Partial Differential Equations (fall 2017, G, 12 units)


6.431A Introduction to Probability I (fall 2017, spring 2018, G, 6 units, first half of term)

6.431B Introduction to Probability II (fall 2017, spring 2018, G, 6 units, second half of term)

6.434/ 16.391J Statistics for Engineers and Scientists (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

6.436/ 15.085J Fundamentals of Probability (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

6.437 Inference and Information (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

6.438 Algorithms for Inference (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

6.581/20.482J Foundations of Algorithms and Computational Techniques in Systems Biology (not offered this year, G, 12 units)

6.720/3.43J Integrated Microelectronic Devices (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

6.842 Randomness and Computation (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

6.854/18.415J Advanced Algorithms (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

6.866 Machine Vision (not offered this year, G, 12 units)

6.867 Machine Learning (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

6.878/HST.507J Advanced Computational Biology: Genomes, Networks, Evolution (fall 2017, G, 12 units) [Could also be used to satisfy Comp Bio requirement]

6.881/6.882 Advanced Topics in Artificial Intelligence (fall 2017, spring 2018, G, 12 units)

6.945 Large-scale Symbolic Systems (spring 2018, G, 12 units)



7.493/ 1.87/ 12.493/20.446J Microbial Genetics and Evolution (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

7.60 Cell Biology: Structure and Functions of the Nucleus (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

7.61 Eukaryotic Cell Biology: Principles and Practice (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

7.63 Immunology (not offered this year, G, 12 units)

7.64 Molecular Mechanisms, Pathology and Therapy of Human Neuromuscular Disorders (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

7.69/9.181J Developmental Neurobiology (not offered this year, G, 12 units)

7.70 Regulation of Gene Expression (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

7.71 Biophysical Chemistry Techniques (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

7.72 Principles and Frontiers of Developmental Biology (not offered this year, G, 12 units)

7.77 Nucleic Acids, Structure, Function, Evolution and Their Interactions with Proteins

(spring 2018, G, 12 units)

7.85 The Hallmarks of Cancer (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

7.95 Cancer Biology (spring 2018, G, 12 units)



8.333 Statistical Mechanics I (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

8.334 Statistical Mechanics II (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

8.431/6.634J Nonlinear Optics (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

8.591/7.81J Systems Biology (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

8.592/HST.452J Statistical Physics in Biology (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

8.593/HST.450J Biological Physics (spring 2018, G, 12 units)


Brain and Cognitive Sciences

9.013/7.68J Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience Core II (spring 2017, G, 12 units)

9.015/7.65J Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience Core I (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

9.520/6.860J Statistical Learning Theory and Applications (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

Chemical Engineering

10.544 Metabolic and Cell Engineering (fall 2017, spring 2018, G, 12 units)

10.555/HST.940J Bioinformatics: Principles, Methods, and Applications  

(spring 2018, G, 12 units)

10.557 Mixed-integer and Nonconvex Optimization (spring 2018, G, 12 units)



15.083 Integer Programming and Combinatorial Optimization (spring 2018, G, 12 units)



18.0651 Matrix Methods in Data Analysis, Signal Processing, and Machine Learning (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

18.0751 Methods for Scientists and Engineers (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

18.0851 Computational Science and Engineering I (fall 2017, spring 2018, G, 12 units)

18.0861 Computational Science and Engineering II (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

18.177 Topics in Stochastic Processes (fall 2017, spring 2018, G, 12 units)

18.385/2.036J Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos (not offered this year, G, 12 units)

18.408 Topics in Theoretical Computer Science (fall 2017, spring 2018, G, 12 units)

18.418 Topics in Computational Molecular Biology (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

18.4531 Combinatorial Optimization (not offered this year, G, 12 units)

18.455 Advanced Combinatorial Optimization (not offered this year, G, 12 units)

18.6501/18.650/IDS.041J Statistics for Applications (fall 2017, spring 2018, G, 12 units)

Biological Engineering

20.201 Fundamentals of Drug Development (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

20.405/6.589J Principals of Synthetic Biology (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

20.409 Biological Engineering II: Instrumentation and Measurement (fall

2017, spring 2018, G, 12 units)

20.415 Physical Biology (spring 2018, G, 12 units)

20.420/10.538J Principle of Molecular Bioengineering (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

20.430/ 2.795/6.561/10.539J Fields, Forces, and Flows in Biological Systems   

(fall 2017, G, 12 units)

20.440 Analysis of Biological Networks (spring 2018, G, 15 units)

20.463/3.963J Biomaterials Science and Engineering (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

20.465 Engineering the Immune System in Cancer and Beyond (not offered this year, G, 12 units)

20.470/2.794/6.521/9.021/HST.541J Cellular Neurophysiology and Computing (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

20.490 Foundations of Computational and Systems Biology (spring 2018, G, 12 units)


Institute for Data, Systems, and Society

IDS.147/15.077J Statistical Learning and Data Mining (not offered this year, G, 12 units)


Health Sciences and Technology

HST.035 Pathology of Human Disease (spring 2018, G, 16 units)

HST.176 Cellular and Molecular Immunology (fall 2017, G, 12 units)

HST.508 Quantitative Genomics (fall 2017, G, 12 units)