What is a degree in bioinformatics?

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A degree in bioinformatics prepares students for careers at the intersection of biology, computer science, and information technology.

Also known as computational biology, bioinformatics is implicated in drug development, genetic research, agricultural productivity, and public health policy.

Potential job fields span agriculture and wildlife, computing and data science, pharmacy and biotechnology, as well as the public sector and academia.

Job titles in the field include:

  • Bioinformatics software engineer
  • Clinical Bioinformatics Data Analyst
  • Computational Biologist
  • Genomics specialist
  • Searcher

Read on to find out about the degree levels available, the knowledge and skills that help students succeed, and where you might fit in the field of biometrics.

Bioinformatics combines biology, computer science and information technology to assemble and analyze biological data.

It enables exciting projects like the Human Genome Project (HGP). The HGP mapped the base pairs of DNA segments to understand the full set of human genes.

Biometrics includes sub-disciplines such as biomedicine, biotechnology, energy development, and environmental restoration.

In these subtopics, bioinformatics professionals use tools like databases and algorithms to make medical discoveries like cancer biomarkers and research human impact on climate change.

Use of scientific and analytical software, including IBM SPSS Statistics, SAS statistical software and MATLAB

  • Development and customization of software applications
  • Communicate research results orally and in writing at conferences and in publications and reports
  • Analyze large molecular datasets and biological samples for clinical and research purposes
  • Development of data models and databases
  • Complex problem solving
  • Knowledge of biology, mathematics, chemistry, computer science and electronics
  • Proficiency in applied statistics, machine learning and programming
  • Deductive and inductive reasoning

Bioinformatics students have to master many subjects, which can make them challenging.

Learners need to move from science subjects like biology and chemistry to English, business and education.

They also hone their skills in computer hardware and software, processors and circuit boards, as well as algebra, geometry, calculus and statistics.

Depending on your career goals, you may spend several years earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or even a doctorate.

Students who excel in active listening, complex problem solving, critical thinking, and reading comprehension should be successful. Staying engaged in group projects and class participation can help keep you focused and motivated.

What Types of Bioinformatics Degrees Are There?

Bioinformatics degrees cover all levels, and which one is right for you depends on your interests, career goals, and how long you want to spend in school.

Associate’s Degree in Bioinformatics

Jobs on Indeed require at least a bachelor’s degree for employment, and associate’s degrees in this field are not common.

Bioinformatics associate programs exist for students who wish to explore the major and often include the first two years of study before progressing to a bachelor’s degree program.

Graduates may qualify for entry or assistant roles in medical and clinical laboratory technology or biological technology.

Classes may include:

  • Introduction to Interdisciplinary Bioinformatics
  • Biostatistics
  • Computational biology

Bachelor in Bioinformatics

Bachelor’s degrees in bioinformatics typically last four years.

Programs include capstone projects and interdisciplinary courses in computer science, life sciences, mathematics, and general education subjects. Students can specialize in the biological or computational areas of bioinformatics.

In some schools, bioinformatics is a focus area of ​​a biochemistry, bioengineering, biology, chemistry, or computer science degree. Other programs offer computer science electives in these and other areas of study.

Bioinformatics jobs include research scientist, computational biologist, clinical bioinformatics data analyst, and bioinformatics software engineer.

Classes may include:

  • Introduction to bioinformatics
  • Data structures
  • Introduction to Probability and Statistics for Scientists and Engineers

Graduate Certificate in Bioinformatics

Graduate certificates provide non-degree, multidisciplinary training in bioinformatics for computer scientists, engineers, and scientists.

Graduate certificates in bioinformatics programs generally admit bachelor’s degree holders, but some programs require students to hold a master’s or doctoral degree. program enrollees or postgraduate professionals. Certificates can be obtained in 8 to 36 months, depending on full-time or part-time enrollment.

Programs often incorporate case studies, seminars, literature review, individual and group research projects, and learning to code. Graduate certificates support professional roles in data science and modeling, biostatistics, and software development.

Classes may include:

  • Statistical genomics
  • machine learning
  • Molecular modeling in bioinformatics

Master in Bioinformatics

Master’s degrees in bioinformatics typically last 12 to 24 months.

They prepare graduates for roles in drug and vaccine development, disease research, and database and software engineering for biomedical data.

Opportunities exist in biotechnology, environmental science, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

Some students choose to pursue doctoral studies or enter medical school.

Potential components of the master’s program include computer lab courses, experiential projects, internships, and a thesis or capstone. Programs may offer focus areas such as biotechnology, computer science, laboratory science, and translational science.

Classes may include:

  • Molecular biology for bioinformatics
  • Epigenetics, organization and expression of genes
  • Biological database systems

PhD in Bioinformatics

Ph.D. programs train bioinformatics professors and research scientists.

Specialization tracks include biological data analysis, evolutionary genomics, evolutionary medicine, and structural bioinformatics. Courses focused on career development cover oral communication, research ethics, and scientific writing.

Laboratory rotations, research or teaching assistantships, dissertation proposals and defenses complete the course. Completion could take up to seven years.

Classes may include:

  • Proteomics and biomarkers
  • Quantitative Science to Solve Global Problems
  • Theoretical principles of biostatistics

Accreditation for Bioinformatics Programs

Accreditation indicates that a school or program receives regular evaluations to ensure the quality and effectiveness of the program. Check school-wide accreditationwhich is required for a college to offer federal financial aid.

Also confirm program accreditation by organizations such as American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or the Healthcare Management Education Accreditation Commission.

In conclusion

If reading this guide makes you want to learn more about earning a degree in bioinformatics, start by thinking about potential careers that might interest you.

Next, ask yourself if a bachelor’s degree will get you there or if you’ll need a master’s or doctorate. Finally, research the programs and specializations available to understand your options.

This article has been reviewed by Whende M. Carroll, MSN, RN-BC, FHIMSS

Whende Caroll, a woman with brown eyes and pulled back hair, smiles outdoors in a portrait.

When Mr. Carrollis the founder of Nurse Evolution, a health informatics center created to educate nurses on the use of emerging technologies, advanced data analytics and innovation strategies to improve health outcomes and improve the overall experience of nurses. nurses.

She is currently Director of Clinical Optimization at Contigo Health. Whende graduated from Walden University with a master’s degree in nursing with a major in computer science. She also holds a Computer Nursing Board certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She is the editor of the Online Journal of Nursing Informatics, where she writes regularly on topics related to big data-based nursing technology.

Whende M. Carroll is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Last revised May 30, 2022.

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