Bioinformatics Degree Programs

Bioinformatics blends technology with biology and degrees are available at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Learn more about the field in general, types of degree programs, common course topics and career prospects. Schools offering Bioinformatics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is Bioinformatics?

Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that combines information technology, biology and computer science. This field involves the use of computer models and mathematical formulas to document large quantities of data gathered by researchers. Bioinformatics scientists model proteins and predict cell behavior; they also document and predict genetic patterns.

Field Focus Protein modeling, cell behavior prediction, genetic pattern prediction
Degree Levels Bachelor's, master's, doctorate
Online Options Fully online programs are rare
Admission Requirements Bachelor's degree for master's or doctorate programs; some prerequisite coursework may also be necessary
Common Courses Molecular mechanics, genetic engineering, developmental biology
Career Opportunities Biological technician, biological scientist, professor

What Kinds of Bioinformatics Degree Programs Are Available?

You can pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Bioinformatics or a B.S. in Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology. You can also earn a Master of Science (M.S.) in Bioinformatics, a Professional M.S. in Bioinformatics or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. Although most bioinformatics programs are campus-based, some M.S. programs include courses that may be completed online.

You'll need to complete a bachelor's program before applying to either an M.S. or a Ph.D. program. These programs may expect you to complete some prerequisite courses, particularly if you didn't earn a bachelor's degree in a computer science, math or life sciences field. Required classes could include integral calculus, statistics, biochemistry, computer programming or molecular biology.

What Kind of Training Will I Receive?

Bioinformatics bachelor's programs often include introductory coursework in chemistry, molecular biology, physics and computer science. You might learn how to use a genetics database or design a computer programming algorithm. Additional topics might include genetic engineering, drug discovery techniques and developmental biology. You may need to complete an internship in a school-approved research laboratory in order to graduate.

Master's programs in bioinformatics usually explore advanced topics in the field, like bioinformatics programming languages, molecular mechanics or analysis of protein structures. You might need to complete an independent study project or a lab-based internship in order to earn a master's degree. Completion of a thesis paper may be required as well.

Most Ph.D. programs include courses like life science research methods or database management. A written dissertation that explores a unique topic within the bioinformatics field is required. You'll usually need to take written and oral qualifying exams under the supervision of a faculty committee before beginning work on your dissertation.

Why Would I Earn a Degree in this Field?

Earning a bachelor's or master's degree in bioinformatics might help you find work as a biological technician in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries. Biological technicians often assist scientists by conducting basic research and collecting data. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biological technicians earned a median annual income of $41,290, as of 2014.

You'll need to complete a Ph.D. program in order to work as a bioinformatics scientist or university professor. In 2014, the BLS reported that biological scientists earned a median annual wage of $74,720. During the same year, post-secondary biological science teachers earned a median annual salary of $74,580.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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