Computational biology, or bioinformatics, is an interdisciplinary field which utilizes a variety of computational tools in biological research to analyze complex data. Those who hold this degree are able to analyze big data within medical research and pharmaceutical firms. Read on to learn more about the requirements to earn a degree in this field, as well as some universities in New Jersey which offer such programs.
Master of Science Program Requirements
Those who are interested in pursuing graduate education may consider earning a Master of Science (M.S.) degree. Depending on the program, the M.S. may be in bioinformatics, or may be an interdisciplinary M.S. encompassing several departments. The course of study typically takes two years of full-time study to complete.
Students applying for an M.S. program should hold an undergraduate degree in a closely related area of study. Those that do not meet prerequisites may be required to take these classes prior to enrollment. Applicants should expect to provide transcripts, recommendations, and a personal statement. GRE scores may be required. In addition, identifying a faculty member with whom the applicant would like to work may support their application.
Those who graduate from a master's level program will be qualified for further study at the doctoral level or to seek positions in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical research industries.
Students enrolled in this program are required to take courses in a wide range of cognate areas in order to have a strong foundation in biology, computer science, and other scientific fields. Courses for the M.S. in Computational Biology or Bioinformatics may include the following.
Data Mining in Bioinformatics
Within this course, students may explore a range of databases utilized within informatics. The course may present information on a range of querying and search functions, including oracle and MySQL. The design of databases and machine learning might be explored as well.
Data Management Systems Design
This course typically introduces students to the types of databases used for computational biology. Database programming languages, query processing, storage, and basic architecture and design may be addressed. The ability to meet the specifications of end-users might be a component of the course.
Within this course, students could begin an introduction to computational neuroscience and computational modeling. Specific topics sometimes include the Hodgkin-Huxley model, synaptic transmission, and repetitive and burst firing. Students may be introduced to data analysis as it relates to computational neuroscience, and may also build and analyze computer models of neural networks.
Data Visualization in Bioinformatics
In a data visualization course, students may be introduced to a range of tools and methods utilized in scientific visualization. Basic theories, including data acquisition, time-varying data, image techniques, and cognitive theory, are often explored. Students may gain practical experience in creating a range of data visualizations.
This course covers methods of developing and applying algorithmic approaches to a range of biological and medical questions. Common techniques such as restriction mapping and sequence comparison may be introduced. Specific biometrics concerns such as DNA arrays and genome rearrangements may be reviewed during the course.
Universities in New Jersey offering Master's Programs in Computational Biology
New Jersey Institute of Technology
At the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in Newark, students can pursue the M.S. in Bioinformatics offered through the Ying Wu College of Computing. The campus is computing-intensive and provides extensive technical opportunities for students. Students must take core and elective courses; and either complete a thesis or research projects. Those who enter the program who are not from a computing background may be required to take several bridge classes.
Rowan University, in Glassboro, offers the M.S. in Bioinformatics degree program. Students complete a range of coursework and either a thesis or project-intensive elective courses. Students may choose a focus area in biological sciences, biochemistry, or computer science. Undergraduates at Rowan majoring in bioinformatics may enter a special program to complete the M.S. in one year.
At Rutgers University's campus in Camden, students can pursue an integrative Master of Science program through the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology. The center encompasses the departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics. Enrollees can choose a thesis or non-thesis track for degree completion. Non-thesis students engage in a comprehensive review paper. A comprehensive exam is required at the end of the program. An annual retreat provides the opportunity to share research through oral presentations or poster presentations, as do weekly seminars.
Bioinformatics is a growing field. A range of master's level programs in the state of New Jersey allow graduates to launch their careers into this discipline.