Synthetic Biology Certificate Programs

Certificate Programs

We offer two avenues for graduate certification in synthetic biology

Synthetic biology aims to understand and harness the rules of life toward engineering goals that benefit society. From molecules, to cells, to organisms, to biological communities and ecosystems, life all around us presents an enormous diversity of biological function that spans multiple spatiotemporal scales. These functions—from the abilities of cells to synthesize small molecules, remediate environmental contaminants, build and maintain ecosystems, and differentiate to protect our immune systems—have great potential to become components of sustainable solutions for meeting pressing global challenges. The field of synthetic biology has emerged to harness this potential of biology. Given the promise of synthetic biology to tackle pressing societal challenges, there is growing demand for new training programs that address challenges to traditional training in synthetic biology and that meet the needs of a growing STEM workforce.

We offer two avenues for graduate certification in synthetic biology providing official recognition that students have received a multifaceted education in synthetic biology through Northwestern’s unique training approach to synthetic biology and are prepared to enter the biotechnology workforce. The TGS graduate certificate is for students in degree programs in The Graduate School. The Synthetic Biology Minor is intended for master’s students.

 

TGS Certificate in Synthetic Biology Synthetic Biology Minor for Master's Students

TGS Certificate

The Graduate School Certificate in Synthetic Biology

The Synthetic Biology TGS certificate curriculum emphasizes the physical and chemical principles of biological function in the context of building biological systems to understand the rules of life. The Synthetic Biology TGS certificate includes two introduction courses that teach the principles of synthetic biology and uses real-world case studies—recent landmark thrusts to build biological solutions to compelling societal challenges—to deconstruct biological phenomena along biological scales: molecular, circuit/network, cell/cell-free system, communities, and ecosystems. The curriculum then takes three additional topical courses categorized along the scales framework that delve deeper into the principles and tools used to engineer biological systems on a particular scale. A course in responsible conduct of research completes the training for the graduate certificate in synthetic biology.

How to Apply

Enrolled PhD students in The Graduate School may pursue this certificate with the permission of their program. If you are a Master’s student interested in synthetic biology training, check out the Minor in Synthetic Biology.

Certificate Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.

In addition to meeting the PhD/MS requirements of their chosen departments, students will be required to complete the coursework described below:

  • CHEM ENG 376 – Principles of Synthetic Biology
  • CHEM ENG 395 – Deconstructing Synthetic Biology
  • Responsible conduct of research (any of the following):
    • IBiS 423 (Ethics in Biological Research)
    • GEN ENG 519 (Responsible Conduct of Research)
    • CHEM 519 (Responsible Conduct of Research Training)
    • IGP494-1 (Colloquium on Integrity in Biomedical Research)
  • Three elective courses chosen by students.

Elective courses are organized into scale areas and methods/skills courses that reinforce the scales framework for synthetic biology training. Each course provides rigorous training in the fundamentals of physics, chemistry, and biology needed to understand biological function at a particular scale and technical approaches that can be used to apply the concepts of synthetic biology to engineer and manipulate the functions at that scale. Interfaces between scales will be emphasized by the requirement of students to choose three electives that cover at least two different scales.

Several courses have been specifically developed as part of our synthetic biology training program to meet these training concepts and are highly recommended for meeting the elective requirement. These courses are preferred:

  • CHEM ENG 470: Molecular Folding and Function (molecular scale)
  • CHEM ENG 379: Computational Biology – Analysis and Design of Living Systems (network/circuit scale)
  •  BMD ENG 395: Emerging Applications with Cell-Free Systems (cell/cell-free systems scale)
  • CHEM ENG 373: Biotechnology and Global Health (societal scale)

In addition to these preferred courses, students are also able to meet the elective requirement by taking a course that meet the training goals of a particular scale. Explore our course options for more options.

Explore course options Apply now

Synthetic Biology Minor

Synthetic Biology Minor for Master's Students

Rather than focusing on traditional topic-based learning, our curriculum emphasizes the physical and chemical principles of biological function in the context of building biological systems to understand the rules of life. Students begin their training through an introduction course that teach them the principles of synthetic biology and an introduction to the scales framework that uses real-world case studies—recent landmark thrusts to build biological solutions to compelling societal challenges—to deconstruct biological phenomena along biological scales: molecular, circuit/network, cell/cell- free system, communities, and ecosystems. They will then partake in a selected elective course of their choosing, from the courses listed below.

How to Apply

The minor is intended for MS students. If you are enrolled as a PhD student, please see the TGS certificate in Synthetic Biology. If you are an MS student, either in a professional/McCormick MS program or in a program in The Graduate School, you may pursue this minor with the permission of your home program.

Minor Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.

The Synthetic Biology Minor requires students take at least 3 courses. In addition to meeting the PhD/MS requirements of their chosen departments, students will be required to complete the coursework described below:

  • CHEM ENG 376 – Principles of Synthetic Biology
  • CHEM ENG 395 – Deconstructing Synthetic Biology
  • One elective course chosen by students as described below.

Elective courses are organized into scale areas and methods/skills courses that reinforce the scales framework for synthetic biology training. Each course provides rigorous training in the fundamentals of physics, chemistry, and biology needed to understand biological function at a particular scale and technical approaches that can be used to apply the concepts of synthetic biology to engineer and manipulate the functions at that scale.

Several courses have been specifically developed as part of our synthetic biology training program to meet these training concepts and are highly recommended for meeting the elective requirement. These courses are preferred:

  • CHEM ENG 470: Molecular Folding and Function (molecular scale)
  • CHEM ENG 379: Computational Biology – Analysis and Design of Living Systems (network/circuit scale)
  •  BMD ENG 395: Emerging Applications with Cell-Free Systems (cell/cell-free systems scale)
  • CHEM ENG 373: Biotechnology and Global Health (societal scale)

In addition to these preferred courses, students are also able to meet the elective requirement by taking a course that meet the training goals of a particular scale. Explore our course options for more options.

Explore course options Apply now

Questions? Contact us.

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Julius Lucks

Certificate Program Co-Director

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Danielle Tullman-Ercek

Certificate Program Co-Director

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Christine Akdeniz

Program Coordinator

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