Which courses (at an undergrad level or master's level) in mathematics or statistics should be taken by a student aiming for a PhD in mathematical biology?

The basics I imagine are calculus courses, linear algebra and probability.

But then I would guess that other important courses would be ODE, PDE, Complex analysis(?), Fourier analysis(?) and Markov chains(?). I am unsure about the ones with (?).

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    $\begingroup$ I think a student should consult with math and/or biology faculty at his/her university. If they don't know, they probably know someone who does. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 22 '12 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Desmond Your question is probably appropriate for the nearly-in-beta-SE area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/64216/…. Check out the proposal and commit to it if you're interested. Then we can get it off the ground and get the site in beta! $\endgroup$ – Xoque55 Mar 3 '14 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Xoque55: The site is now in beta (and has been for 416 days at the time of writing this comment). It's been renamed "Mathematics Educators" - Beta Q&A site for those involved in the field of teaching mathematics. $\endgroup$ – J W May 3 '15 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson, based on time stamps (here and on the user's profile), it looks like the OP set up an account, posted a question, then never returned to check for answers. $\endgroup$ – Barry Cipra Nov 29 '18 at 17:55

As Gerry Myerson points out in a comment to your question, you should ask the appropriate people at your university. Since this is a late answer to your question, I hope you have already done so, but perhaps this answer will benefit others.

Searching online for applied mathematics programs in biology reveals many courses (e.g. Brown University's Applied Mathematics - Biology degree.)

Certainly, calculus, linear algebra and probability are fundamental subjects. Statistics and differential equations are also important. For computational biology, discrete mathematics, especially graph theory and combinatorics can be valuable.

At an advanced level you may run into various subjects from partial differential equations to nonlinear dynamical systems to stochastic processes to computational topology to algebraic statistics. What to choose will depend on degree requirements, what is available at your university and the advice of experts in the area. I would also recommend asking about taking suitable biology courses and other subjects, such as programming, algorithms, chemistry and physics.


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