Online master's degree programs in bioinformatics are offered by many schools. Most programs are designed for working professionals. The degree program can usually be completed entirely through Internet-based study, although some programs offer on-campus instruction, too. Independent study in the field may also be required.
A master's degree program in bioinformatics gives graduates the ability to analyze sequence data and interpret biological information through the use of computer software. Students also may learn programming skills to help them obtain information through computer modeling. They will study DNA analysis and explore the possibilities of personalized medicine.
Students in these master's programs must hold bachelor's degrees, preferably in computer or biological sciences. Bioinformatics professionals generally have a previous background in a health- or computer science-related field.
Online master's degree programs in bioinformatics typically include 9-11 core and specialty courses. Courses are delivered through basic online content management software, such as Blackboard. Some schools may require students to take exams on-campus. Students communicate with the professors and other students through e-mail, message boards and online chats. A thesis or an independent study in the field may be required.
Coursework in bioinformatics requires students to have a fundamental understanding of scientific data sets, such as genomic sequence data, proteomics and more. Online classes cover the tools to acquire, analyze and interpret bioinformatics data, as well as the theories that govern the practice.
This online course introduces students of varying backgrounds to the techniques inherent in sequence analysis. Topics focus particularly on manipulating technology, such as PHYLIP or BLAST, to analyze genomic sequences. Students also get an introduction to the statistical methods used in bioinformatics.
Bioinformatic Algorithms and Data Structures
Students learn to manipulate large volumes of biological data using various concepts in this distance learning course. This class covers dynamic storage allocation, searching methods, binary trees, abstract data types and more.
This bioinformatics course addresses genome sequence analysis using information technology. Students learn to align sequences, assemble genetic fragments, locate specific genes and more.
Molecular Modeling in Bioinformatics
Molecular modeling uses bioinformatics to predict the physical and structural properties of molecular aggregates. Powerful bioinformatics technology is used to process this data for modeling, particularly in the field of pharmaceutical research which utilizes protein structure modeling to design drugs.
Career Information for Graduates
The vast majority of bioinformatics graduates are employed by government agencies, according to 2015 statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of 2015, the BLS determined the median annual salary of biological scientists to be $75,150. Bioinformatics graduates find their skills applicable to the fields of chemical engineering, biology, medicine and physical chemistry.
Continuing Education Information
In addition to master's degrees, some professionals choose to move onto to doctorate level training in bioinformatics. This level of training places greater emphasis on research or teaching bioinformatics techniques, in contrast to the practical applications taught at the master's level.
Students pursuing a master's in bioinformatics can do so both fully online and in hybrid format. Entrants must hold a bachelor's in either computer or biological sciences.