Master of Biostatistics Vs. Bioinformatics

Feb 14, 2018

Find out about some of the differences between a Master of Biostatistics and a Master of Bioinformatics degree. Learn about the unique coursework for each program, as well as common entrance requirements.

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Although a Master of Biostatistics and Master of Bioinformatics degree program may seem like similar programs, they are quite distinct and prepare students for different kinds of careers. A Master of Biostatistics is a more analytic and quantitative degree program, while a Master of Bioinformatics incorporates technology and computer science with data analysis. Compare and contrast these two degree programs below.

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Comparing a Master of Biostatistics to a Master of Bioinformatics

Master of Biostatistics

Master of Biostatistics degree programs are typically offered as Master of Science degrees and are designed for students wishing to apply statistics and other mathematical analysis to health- and biology-related data. These programs range in length from 1 to 2 years and are available in on-campus and online formats. Some of these programs may offer additional concentrations, such as statistical bioinformatics, statistical methods or population health analytics, and/or require a thesis or final project to give students the opportunity to apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios.

These degree programs typically require core courses in biostatistics and public health that may include common topics in biostatistical methods, epidemiology, foundations of public health, consulting, data management, data analysis, statistical programming and statistical theory. Graduates of this degree program can work as biostatisticians or in other data analysis positions that may conduct research, participate in the analysis of clinical trials, work in drug development and/or supervise various research projects in public health for organizations.

Master of Bioinformatics

Master of Bioinformatics degree programs are also usually Master of Science degrees that prepare students to participate in biological or health research, but they focus study on biology, information technology and computer science. These programs are usually 2 to 3 years in length and are available in on-campus and online formats. They may offer additional concentration areas, like genomics, clinical research or computational, and require a thesis, capstone project and/or other hands-on learning opportunities, like a co-op position.

Although elective courses vary, especially if a student has chosen an emphasis, many common core courses cover topics in biostatistics, ethics, clinical research methods, bioinformatics, computational methods and bioinformatics programming. Graduates of this degree program are qualified to work across several different fields, including engineering, biotechnology, computer science and health care. They may conduct research, create databases, set up electronic health record systems, plan clinical trials and more.

Common Entrance Requirements

Most Master of Biostatistics and Master of Bioinformatics degree programs, like other graduate degree programs, usually require applicants to submit official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, statements of purpose and/or a resume in addition to the required applications. Master of Biostatistics programs may also require students to hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. Many of these programs require or strongly suggest that students have prior coursework in calculus, algebra, statistics and some experience with statistical software. Master of Bioinformatics degree programs may prefer, but not require, applicants to have at least a 3.0 GPA and/or hold a bachelor's degree in a science or health-related field. These programs may also recommend that students have prior coursework in calculus, biology, computer science and statistics.

A Master of Biostatistics prepares students for data analysis careers in the fields of healthcare or biology, while Master of Bioinformatics degree programs prepare students for careers in healthcare, biology, engineering or computer science that integrate technology with data analysis. Both programs usually require applicants to have prior coursework in calculus and statistics, but they offer unique coursework and areas of emphasis to prepare students for their career.

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