Learn the tools to unlock the next big discovery while gaining real-world industry experience with a master's degree in bioinformatics.

Bioinformatics is a blend of biology, computer science, and mathematics. Modern biology generates massive quantities of big data. Hidden in this data might be the next cancer therapy, the definitive proof that a certain gene is responsible for a disease, or the information needed to replicate a crucial biological process—and you could be on the team that discovers it.

A specialization in bioinformatics helps prepare you to become a qualified bioinformatics professional for public- or private-sector organizations. You'll gain cutting-edge knowledge, and you'll also develop experience in the field, which can give you an advantage in the job market.

These program requirements are for students who enroll in the 2019–2020 academic year. For prior year academic requirements, visit the catalog archive in the Current Students section.

About the Biotechnology Master's Degree with Bioinformatics Specialization

The bioinformatics curriculum covers a broad range of subjects at the interface of molecular biology and computational science. You'll gain real-world experience through interactions with biotechnology and learn from case studies that tackle real challenges.

What You'll Learn

Through your coursework, you will learn how to

  • Code in Python and Java
  • Analyze big data, next-generation sequencing data, and scientific data
  • Perform sequence alignments and phylogenetic analyses
  • Use biostatistics, databases and data structures, algorithms, and mathematical modeling

Coursework Examples

In past projects, students have had the opportunity to

  • Align and analyze DNA, RNA, and protein sequences, then perform phylogenetic analyses on them
  • Write computer scripts to automate complex tasks and analyze biological data
  • Work on a team for a sponsoring organization to tackle a real project

Biotechnology Master's Degree with Bioinformatics Specialization Requirements

Our curriculum is designed with input from employers, industry experts, and scholars. You'll learn theories combined with real-world applications and practical skills you can apply on the job right away.

Master's - specialization Courses

Introductory Course

  • UCSP 615
    (to be taken within the first 6 credits of study)

Core Courses

  • BIOT 640
  • BIOT 630
  • BIOT 645
  • BIOT 643

Core Rules & Recommendations

  • BIOT 640 must be taken as the first course.
  • All BIOT courses must be completed in the order listed before taking specialization courses.
  • If you need to take BIOT 601, you can take it at the same time as BIOT 640.

Specialization Courses

  • BIFS 613
  • BIFS 614
  • BIFS 617
  • DBST 651
  • BIFS 618
  • DBST 652
  • BIFS 619

Specialization Rules & Recommendations

  • STAT 200 or an equivalent statistics course (with a grade of C or higher for an undergraduate course; B or higher for a graduate course) must be taken before BIFS 613.
  • UCSP 635 and UCSP 636 or an equivalent programming course (with a grade of C or higher for an undergraduate course; B or higher for a graduate course) must be taken before BIFS 617.
  • BIFS 617 must be taken before BIFS 618 and BIFS 619.

Capstone Course

  • BIOT 670

Capstone Rules & Recommendations

  • This course must be taken after you have completed 30 credits.
  • Please check the Schedule of Classes to confirm course availability.
  • Currently, BIOT 670 is not available during the summer term.

Other Requirements

  • You must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher at all times.
  • All degree requirements must be fulfilled within five consecutive years.
  • Any transfer credits must have been earned within the five-year time frame to be applied toward a graduate degree.

Career Preparation

This program is designed to help prepare you for a high-demand job in bioinformatics in a public- or private-sector organization. Potential employers include corporate organizations and government agencies as well as academic institutions.

Experience Recommended for Success in the Program

We recommend you have a background in programming and statistics.

If you do not have demonstrated experience or prior coursework in software programming, you should take UCSP 635 and UCSP 636 (or equivalent) before beginning any BIFS classes. If you don't have recent statistics experience, you should take STAT 200 (or equivalent). If you would like to improve your graduate writing skills, you should take UCSP 605.

Program Admission Requirements

A molecular biology background is required for progression within this program. Upon submission of an official transcript, you can be accepted into the degree program without a molecular biology background, but must either take a college-level molecular biology course or BIOT 601 prior to the required program core.


Awards & Recognition

  • Outstanding Continuing Education Student Award | Michael Dayton, Master of Science in Biotechnology student | University Professional and Continuing Education Association, Mid-Atlantic Region | 2012

Special Designations

PSM LogoThis program has received a special designation as a Professional Science Master's Degree by the Council of Graduate Schools.