Bioinformatics, in simple terms, is the combination of biology and informatics (including data science) for the storage, analysis, and distribution of biological data. Given the demand and popularity, many young folks are now aiming for Masters or graduate studies in the field of bioinformatics. In this post, we will look at the top universities for MS Bioinformatics in USA.
MS Bioinformatics in USA
Eligibility, Cost, Top Universities, Career Prospects, Jobs & Salaries
Co-authored by Pavan Somwanshi
Introduction to Bioinformatics
In today’s era of biotechnology and medicine, bioinformatics has become a key component in basic & translational research. It’s being widely used for the development of new diagnostic & therapeutic tools, clinical practice, and personalized medicine.
Bioinformatics – Biology Meets Big Data
At the intersection of computer science and the life sciences is bioinformatics, an industry that fuels scientific discovery and is essential in all areas of biotechnology, including personalized medicine, drug and vaccine development, and database/software development for biomedical data.
Bioinformatics is pretty closely related to computational biology. In fact, at the Masters (MS) level, bioinformatics and computational biology are more or less the same.
Bioinformatics provides a globally accessible database for scientists to contribute and find information. The main goal of Bioinformatics is to convert loads of complex data into useful information. Genomics and proteomics are two important large-scale activities that use Bioinformatics.
The increase in the use of Bioinformatics and its promising and widening scope as a career is attracting the interest of many students each passing day. Read more about careers and jobs in bioinformatics.
Eligibility for MS Bioinformatics in USA
To pursue MS Bioinformatics in the US, a student needs to have essential skills like analyzing data, having good computational skills, comfortable with verbal and written communication skills, organizational skills & a strong base in statistical laboratory testing techniques. Meeting these requirements is essential when admitting to MS Bioinformatics in the USA.
Relevant Degree and CGPA – You need to have an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject (e.g. Biotechnology, Biomedical Sciences, Pharmacy, Computer Science, Math/Statistics, Data Science).
Based on the country or university the cumulative GPA should be 2.8 – 3.0 or higher. For top universities, 3.2 – 3.3 is desirable. Read how to convert CGPA or Percentage (from Indian System) to US GPA on a scale of 4.0.
GRE – Your quantitative and qualitative skills are evaluated through GRE. A GRE score of 300 is essential; however, you will need 310+ in order to make it to the top schools. Read how to score 168+ in GRE Quants with one-month preparation.
Statement of Purpose – Your Statement of Purpose (SOP) reflects your personality to the admission committee. Statement of Purpose can be a deciding factor for your admission to a University. Help for writing a Statement of Purpose can be taken from study-abroad consultants or independent admission counselors.
Letters of Recommendation – You can get your letter of recommendation from your professors or supervisors. The US universities require three letters of recommendation as a part of the application process.
English Language Requirement – To get admission to reputed universities you are required to give the TOEFL test which is English language proficiency. The minimum TOEFL score for MS in Bioinformatics in the USA is 79. For top universities, you need to score in the range of 88 – 95. Alternatively, you need to have a score of 6.5-7.0 in IELTS.
Top Universities for MS Bioinformatics in USA
MS Computational Biology – Harvard University
This program is designed for students seeking both theoretical and practical training. The typical duration of this course is 18-24 months. A biological background, Computational skills, Statistical & Epidemiological skills are some of the skills this program is designed to provide students. The course requires a minimum of 60-course work credits and a supervised 10-20 credit Collaborative Research Thesis. The thesis is then presented to a committee in both oral and written form.
MEng Bioinformatics & Computational Biology – UC Berkeley
It’s an ideal program if you are looking for a career in managing and analyzing genomic and molecular data, applying techniques like statistical modeling, machine learning, databases, scripting, and bioinformatics tool development/deployment in fields such as precision molecular medicine, genetic engineering, and biotechnology.
MS Biomedical Informatics – Columbia University
Columbia has got one of the oldest informatics departments in the US. Columbia’s Department of Biomedical Informatics is a global leader for a wide range of activities – modeling the atomic interactions of proteins, analyzing patient records on a global scale, designing new cancer therapies, and so on.
The department has got a very high reputation for clinical information systems, methodologies in clinical natural language processing, and machine learning over electronic health record data. Both faculty and students work in a highly collaborative environment, applying informatics from the atomic level to global populations.
MS Bioinformatics – Georgia Tech
With an aim of advancing study and research, this program is a three-semester master’s program involving 37 credit hours. Computer science, advanced molecular biology and biochemistry, statistics, and bioinformatics are the subjects involved in this course. An essential part of the curriculum is a full-time summer internship in a corporate or academic bioinformatics group.
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MS Computational Biology – Carnegie Mellon University
Built on a foundation of Biology, Computer Science, Statistics, and Machine Learning this MS Computational Biology provides a great deal of training in Computational Biology. Students are also given research opportunities based on their interests. Full-time students pursue this degree and complete the program in 3-4 semesters. Students who’ve completed the program now work at various industries in biotech, pharma, and academic institutions.
MS Computational Biology – Cornell University
The MSCB program at Cornell is an interdisciplinary program, which is designed to provide students with expertise in the leading quantitative methods underlying modern biomedical science.
The first half of the program contains the foundation and competency courses. These courses include the necessary fundamentals in mathematics, biology, and computer science, and provide training in quantitative biology and bioinformatics.
The second half of the program is dedicated mainly to thesis research. Students will join one of our top-notch research labs to work on an independent project, develop more specialized expertise, and increase skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and science communication.
It’s a unique, rigorous training program, equipping students with theoretical understanding and practical mastery of state-of-the-art applications of computational approaches in biology and medicine. Additionally, the faculty from Weill Cornell Medicine, Sloan-Kettering Institute, and Cornell Tech are world-class leaders in computational biology research and applications.
MS Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics – University of Michigan
With an established history of successful graduates entering the biotechnology industry, the MS Bioinformatics program at Michigan is a great choice. Full-time students usually complete this degree in 3 terms or 1.5 years & the time period for part-time students can go beyond 2 years.
This master’s degree requires a minimum of 300 hours of research experience which can be either paid part-time research experience or a full-time summer internship. Introductory Bioinformatics, Computing & Informatics, Probability & Statistics & Molecular Biology are some of the topics covered in the coursework.
MS Bioinformatics – Johns Hopkins University
The MS in Bioinformatics program at Johns Hopkins combines studies in data and computer sciences with biological science areas, including molecular biology, biochemistry, personalized medicine, and genomic sequencing. You’ll also explore current issues and gain practical skills through courses in both computer science and biotechnology.
MS Bioinformatics – Boston University
The MS bioinformatics program at Boston is an extremely popular program among international students. Usually, students enrolling in this program belong to a background of either computational area of biochemistry/molecular biology. The program is very flexible and can be finished in 12 months.
The program involves a 400-hour internship project, followed by a written and oral report which will serve as a master’s thesis. MS students in the BU Bioinformatics Program have completed internships at more than 100 labs, hospitals, universities, and biotech companies, including New England Biolabs, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Hospital Corporation of America, Novartis, Takeda, and Biogen.
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MS Biomedical Informatics – New York University
The MS in biomedical informatics at NYU is an intensive 12-month program that sharpens students’ practical skills in basic science, translational science, and medical research.
MS Bioinformatics and Computational Biology – University of Minnesota Rochester
The graduate school offers the master’s degrees under two different plans: Plan A, which requires a thesis; and Plan B, which substitutes additional coursework and a capstone experience. Each plan has a minimum of 30 credits.
Every M.S. graduate student will have a temporary advisor assigned when entering the program. The student is expected to decide on a research area by the end of the first year and to choose a permanent advisor by the end of the first year. The time limit for earning a Master’s degree is five years. Students who are unable to complete the program within five years may petition for an extension of up to 12 months.
The graduate program trains graduate students in the development and applications of computational methods. The program offers industrial internships along with training in business leadership, technology management. The faculty provides education through coursework & research seminars.
MS Bioinformatics – San Diego State University
The Bioinformatics Masters Program at San Diego State University (SDSU) welcomes students from various backgrounds of computing and informatics, mathematics and statistics, biology, chemistry, and engineering. This program can ideally be completed in 1.5 – 2 years.
This is a pretty competitive program and requires some technical experience (through lab or project work) along with a minimum GPA score of 3.0.
MS Bioinformatics – Rochester Institute of Technology
The MS Bioinformatics program at RIT combines biotechnology, computer programming, and computational mathematics to prepare you to utilize and create technologies that will discover, treat, and cure a range of medical illnesses.
This program provides students with a strong foundation in biotechnology, computer programming, computational mathematics, statistics, and database management. Graduates are well-prepared for academia and careers in the biotechnology, bioinformatics, pharmaceutical, and vaccine industries.
MS Biomedical Informatics – Stanford University
This is a full-time, on-campus, research-oriented program, and is for candidates with an interest in academic or research positions. Read more about the MS Biomedical Informatics program at Stanford.
Other Top Universities for MS & Graduate Research in Bioinformatics in USA
- Oregon Health and Science University
- North Carolina State University
- UC Santa Cruz
- University of Utah
- San Jose State University
- Michigan State University
- UC Irvine
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Northwestern University
- Rice University
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- University of Pittsburgh
- Northeastern University
- Princeton University
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Washington
- University of South Florida
- Arizona State University
- Florida State University
- Georgetown University
- Purdue University
- University of Idaho
- Vanderbilt University
- California State University Channel Island
- New Jersey Institute of Technology
- UT Dallas
- University of Houston Clear Lake
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Cost of Pursuing MS Bioinformatics in USA
The tuition cost of MS in Bioinformatics in the USA can be between $10,000 – $50,000 per annum, which varies from university to university.
The living cost is usually between $10,000 – $15,000 per year which averages around $800 to $1000 per month. The location has a huge influence on this cost.
Job Market and Salaries
In the United States, there are about 38,700 bioinformatics scientists currently, and the job market is expected to grow 8% by 2026. Bioinformatics shows steady growth in jobs and not exponential in the near future. The average salary of Bioinformatics Scientists is $82,000, which can vary depending on your position and experience in the field.
To give you an idea of the job market, here are the number of people employed in Bioinformatics in different states – California [8,050], Massachusetts [3,960], Maryland [3,720] & Texas [1,940].
Featured Image Source: Boston University