A unique master’s degree merging the biological sciences and computer technology, the M.S. in Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary program at the intersection of the disciplines of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Statistics, Computing and Informatics, and Engineering. It is expected that students entering the program will have completed an undergraduate major in either a life science or a quantitative discipline. The degree requires additional training and demonstrated competence in both life sciences and scientific programming. The M.S. in Bioinformatics program is structured to provide students with the skills and knowledge to develop, evaluate, and deploy bioinformatics and computational biology applications. The program is designed to prepare students for employment in the biotechnology sector, where the need for knowledgeable life scientists with quantitative and computational skills has exploded in the past decade.
In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Graduate School, the following are required for study toward the M.S. in Bioinformatics:
Under most circumstances, students admitted to the program will have:
- A baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited by an accepted accrediting body in Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, or another related field that provides a sound background in life sciences, computing, or both
- A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (4.0 scale) and 3.0 in the major (this requirement is waived for Early Entry program applicants who meet the University’s overall GPA requirement (3.2 and 75-90 hours of completed undergraduate coursework) in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math, SIS or CS, or another UNC Charlotte major if the department determines the student’s preparation is appropriate)
- A minimum combined score of 300 on the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE, and an acceptable score on the analytical section
- A combined TOEFL score of 220 (computer-based), 557 (paper-based), or 83 (Internet-based) is required if the previous degree was from a country where English is not the common language
- Three positive letters of recommendation
The GRE application requirement may be waived for applicants meeting one or more of the following criteria:
- Have a cumulative minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.2 from a college or university accredited by an accepted accrediting body
- Have a relevant master’s degree or terminal degree from a college or university accredited by an accepted accrediting body
- International students who provide a transcript evaluation that indicates a United States college or university equivalency GPA of 3.2 or higher; this evaluation must be completed by any member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation
- Have successfully completed the Graduate Certificate in Bioinformatics Applications or Graduate Certificate in Bioinformatics Technology
Early Entry Program
Exceptional undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte may apply for the Early Entry Program and begin work toward the graduate degree before completion of the baccalaureate degree. See the Undergraduate Catalog for details and requirements. Also see the Degree Requirements and Academic Policies section of the Graduate Catalog for more information about Early Entry Programs.
The M.S. in Bioinformatics degree requires a minimum of 34 graduate credit hours, and a minimum of 30 credit hours of formal coursework. A minimum of 24 credit hours presented toward an M.S.in Bioinformatics must be from courses numbered 6000 or higher. A maximum of 6 hours of graduate credit may be transferred from other institutions.
Because of the interdisciplinary nature of this program, which is designed to provide students with a common graduate experience during their professional preparation for the M.S. in Bioinformatics degree, all students are required to take a general curriculum that includes a two-year sequence of courses as described below:
Core Bioinformatics Courses (18 credit hours)
All students must take the following Core Courses. Students who have previously taken a course with a syllabus that closely follows one of the Core Courses may test out of the core requirement by passing a written exam, and may then substitute an advanced elective for the required Core Course.
Gateway Courses (3 credit hours)
The department offers two intensive graduate-level courses designed to provide accelerated training in a second discipline that complements the student’s undergraduate training. Students entering the program without preparatory coursework in computing or biology may need to take the Gateway course that is appropriate for their background. These courses are not required core courses for all students, but are designed to satisfy core course prerequisites for students who have not encountered the material presented in a previous course. Select one of the following:
Professional Preparation Course (3 credit hours)
Students are required to take at least 3 credit hours of professional preparation courses designed to prepare them to function effectively and ethically in a professional scientific environment. Select one of the following:
Elective Courses (9 credit hours)
The remaining 9 credit hours of required coursework can be satisfied by elective courses. The M.S. Graduate Coordinator, in conjunction with the Graduate Program Director, reviews the student’s plan of study each semester.
Bioinformatics Elective Courses
Any BINF courses, with the exception of Gateway courses, are open to M.S. students seeking to complete their coursework requirements.
Recommended Elective Courses Offered By Other Departments
A wide range of graduate courses in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Data Science, Health Informatics and Analytics, Software and Information Systems, and other programs may be appropriate electives for M.S. in Bioinformatics students. As course offerings change frequently, the Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics maintains a list of current recommended electives online at bioinformatics.uncc.edu.
Students are encouraged to choose their electives with a topical focus that reflects their scientific and career interests. Courses from one of the following recommended clusters of advanced electives can be selected, or the student can design his or her own elective focus with the approval of the PSM Executive Committee.
Modeling and Simulation Cluster
Computing and Technology Cluster
Bioinformatics Seminar and Research Experience (4 credit hours)
In addition to 30 credit hours of formal coursework, students are required to enroll in the Bioinformatics Program seminar (BINF 6600) for at least one semester (1 credit hour) and to enroll in either Principles of Team Science (BINF 6399), internal or external internship (BINF 6400), or a faculty-supervised original research project (BINF 6900).
Degree Total = 34 Credit Hours
An accumulation of three C grades will result in suspension of the student’s enrollment in the graduate program. If a student makes a grade of U in any course, enrollment in the program will be suspended.
A maximum of 6 credit hours of coursework from other institutions will count toward the M.S. in Bioinformatics degree requirements. Only courses with grades of A or B from an institution accredited by an accepted accrediting body are eligible for transfer credit.