About the Program
The Master of Science in Bioinformatics students perform independent research to write, present and defend a thesis under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The goal of this research-oriented degree program is to prepare students for research careers in university, foundation or industry laboratories; and completion of a thesis provides problem solving skills required for a research career. Additionally, students completing the Master of Science in Bioinformatics are well prepared for Ph.D. level work in all areas of biological and biomedical science, including the Integrative Life Sciences Ph.D. program (www.vcu.edu/lifesci/phd/).
What is Bioinformatics?
Bioinformatics is a new, exciting, multidisciplinary approach to doing biomedical research in which computer science and biology merge into a single discipline. Bioinformatics relies on the collection, organization and analysis of large amounts of biological data, using networks of computers and databases. Many scientists believe that leading 21st century biologists, biomedical scientists and doctors will use bioinformatics tools like the last century’s biologists used test tubes and pipets! If you enjoy working with computers and are interested in a career in science, consider our bioinformatics programs for your graduate training.
Who should get a degree in bioinformatics?
Please consider the following question:
1. Do you like biology?
2. Do you like computers?
3. Do you want an interesting job in the biological or biomedical field?
4. Do you want to be highly sought after in the job market?
5. Do you want a high paying, secure job?
If you answered YES to these questions, you should be interested in bioinformatics. Put yourself in the position of a hiring manager dealing with 21st century biological problems requiring the massive data sets produced by contemporary genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and interactomics. Who will you interview first:
1) an applicant prepared with a traditional degree in biology; or
2) an applicant with similar training who can also manipulate ‘omic’ data sets?
The answer is clear!!
Job Prospects: Recent graduates with a masters degree in bioinformatics enjoy starting salaries of $65,000 and higher. In comparison, a graduate with a typical BS degree earns an average annual salary of $33,000; and a graduate with an MS in Biology typically earns $48,000. Bioinformatics graduates are well prepared for interdisciplinary careers in academics, industry and government.
Student Learning Outcomes
- Oral communication skills: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of oral communication skills with respect to the content, organization, logical flow, presentation and appropriate use of language incorporating the use of visual aids.
- Written communication skills: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of written communication skill with respect to grammar, syntax, spelling and use of vocabulary to effectively present information including the use of figures, tables and citations.
- Experimental design competency: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of competence in the ability to appraise, modify and / or create and implement bioinformatics experimental protocols and to design and develop experiments.
- Problem solving skills: The candidate will demonstrate an appropriate level of ability to analyze scientific problems including pertinent datasets and design and develop appropriate methods to solve said problems.
- Integrated knowledge of bioinformatics: The candidate will demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge of fundamentals of molecular biology, computational science, statistics, and a more detailed understanding of their individual area of thesis research, including an appropriate familiarity with the research literature.