Bioinformatics is a cross-disciplinary field of study that encompasses computer science, biology, and information technology. A master's degree in bioinformatics can prepare you for a career in biotechnology, the pharmaceutical industry, or life science research. In this article, we will explore California-based bioinformatics master's programs, covering coursework and degree requirements as well as how you can apply to these programs.
Master's Programs in Bioinformatics Located in California
San Jose State University
San Jose State University offers a Master of Science in Bioinformatics that requires 31 total units. Over the span of this program, you take courses in advanced molecular techniques, molecular biology, database systems, artificial intelligence, and probability theory. Also required are culminating experiences, which include research hours, individual study hours, and special study hours. These experiences will then culminate into a final master's project.
California State University, Channel Islands
Located in Camarillo, California State University, Channel Islands has a Master of Science in Biotechnology & Bioinformatics degree program that can be completed in anywhere from 16-32 months. This program has three different emphasis areas, including biotechnology, biomedical engineering, and stem cell technology and lab management. The biotechnology and biomedical engineering emphasis areas both require 34 units and include coursework and a team project. The stem cell technology and lab management emphasis area requires 35 units along with coursework plus a team project and/or internship. This program is designed for working professionals with evening and weekend classes and does not require a thesis or capstone project.
University of California, Santa Cruz
The University of California, Santa Cruz offers a 41-credit master's degree in biomolecular engineering and bioinformatics. Your core coursework in this program centers on bioinformatics modeling, computational genomics, cell engineering, and a course on ethics. You are also required to complete one quarter of independent study and take three seminar courses. Strongly encouraged, but not required, is a pre-program bootcamp that involves orientation activities, lab training, and a research project. To earn your degree, you must complete a master's capstone, which is a research project and a written report.
At Northeastern University's San Francisco campus, you can earn a Master of Science in Bioinformatics with a possible concentration in data analysis, biotechnology, bioinformatics enterprise, bioinformatics and cheminformatics, or omics. This program requires 32 total semester hours and features core coursework in bioinformatics computational methods, statistics for bioinformatics, and bioinformatics programming. You will also need to choose elective courses, which will depend on your chosen concentration, but could be classes in information design, molecular cell biology, biochemistry, or machine learning. There is no thesis or capstone element to this program; however, you could choose to participate in an optional co-op, which is a four-, six-, or eight-month long professional work experience in the industry or academia.
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California in Los Angeles offers a Masters in Translational Biomedical Informatics and Bioinformatics, which requires 28 total units. The format of this program consists of traditional classroom learning coupled with online materials and laboratory work. During the span of your degree program, you take core classes in such subjects as genomic technology and translational biomedical informatics as well as possible electives classes in neuroimaging, programming for informatics, and statistical methods of human genetics. While there is no internship or thesis requirement, you do need to complete a capstone class that consists of web-based application portfolio and a project.
Entrance Requirements for Bioinformatics Master's Programs
To apply to a master's program in bioinformatics, you need to submit an application, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Most programs also require that you submit a personal statement that speaks to your interest in studying bioinformatics and discussion of your career goals. San Jose State University and the University of Southern California do require that you hold an undergraduate degree in the biological or computational sciences and that you have completed some prerequisite coursework, while California State University, Channel Islands only prefers an undergraduate degree in biology, chemistry, or biochemistry. Both Northeastern University and the University of California, Santa Cruz do not require GRE scores; however, California State University, Channel Islands and the University of Southern California do require them.
To earn a master's degree in bioinformatics, you will likely need to complete 31-41 units in a range of disciplines, such as computer engineering, biology, chemistry, and biotechnology. Due to the fact that these are science-heavy programs, you may want to have a background in the life sciences or computer engineering.