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Major Maps

Strategic Enrollment Management and Student Success

Visit majormaps.vcu.edu for the online version with links.
Sponsored by the Office of the Provost
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2021-2022

Bioinformatics

VCU Life Sciences

Concentration(s):
Biological/Genomic Sciences, Computational Sciences, Quantitative/Statistical Sciences
Program description

The bioinformatics curriculum blends foundational courses in biology, math, chemistry and computer science with a core of hands-on, problem-solving bioinformatics courses. It allows undergraduates an unusual opportunity to learn computational biology and data science by actually doing it--reading scientific papers, doing experiments, creating bioinformatics programs, and designing individual and team research investigations. The program includes general training in biology, computer science, and statistics to create a solid bioinformatics core, as well as focused training in a chosen concentration.


In the biological/genomic sciences concentration, students are primarily motivated by biology and have chosen this concentration to focus on upper-level biology topics such as advanced molecular biology and biochemistry.


In the computational sciences concentration, students are primarily motivated by computer science and have chosen this concentration to focus on upper-level computer science courses designed to improve students’ programming skills and understanding of algorithms.


In the quantitative/Statistical Sciences Concentration, students are primarily motivated by problem-solving using math and statistics and have chosen this concentration to focus on mathematical and statistical theory and methods for quantitative modeling and analysis.

Career opportunities

Our students learn how to use bioinformatics tools to solve scientific problems through project-based, experiential courses. These experiences mimic what doing molecular/computational science is actually like and provide excellent training for technician-level jobs (universities, institutes, biotech, or IT industry), for training in graduate school or in the health professions. Students interested in a health profession usually specialize in the Biological/Genomic Concentration. 


Some students are interested in working close to the health system, while others are more interested in the programming/data analyst route. The technical, analytical and communications skills practiced in the program can transfer to other occupations as well. 


Students with the Master of Science degree typically have greater opportunities than those with the Bachelor's degree as the Master's allows the student to gain more relevant skills, content knowledge, and project experience. In this case, greater opportunities refers to both roles with higher pay and although Master of Science graduates typically begin their careers in entry-level positions, they are working at a higher technical level and they will have the qualifications for leadership positions in the future.

Change of major requirements

A cumulative GPA greater than 2.0 is strongly encouraged due to the science rigor of the major. Email Lian Currie at lcurrie@vcu.edu to schedule an introductory appointment.


Bachelor-level job titles
  • Agricultural & Food Technician
  • Bioinformatics Technician
  • Biological Data Analyst
  • Biological Technician
  • Clinical Research Associate (CRA)
  • Computational Biologist
  • Computer Programmer
  • Genomic Data Scientist
  • Mathematical Technician
  • Operations Research Analyst
Graduate and professional level job titles
  • Biostatistician
  • College Professor
  • Microbiologist
  • Software Developer
Highest level of math required
  • MATH 200
  • STAT 314/321
Science required
  • 5+ additional science courses
Foreign language requirements
  • Yes
Additional tuition/fees
  • Yes
GPA requirements (to progress/graduate in the major)
  • 2.0+ cumulative GPA, 2.0+ major GPA
Department name:
Center for the Study of Biological Complexity
Building/room location:
Grace Harris Hall, room 3116a
Phone:
(804) 828-0559
Email:
hsemery@vcu.edu
Campus (where 75% of courses are taken):
Monroe Park

Major map compass icon [View Image]
Major map

Explore
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
DEVELOP CULTURAL AGILITY
EXPLORE CAREERS AND DEVELOP ESSENTIAL SKILLS
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE

Experience
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor to explore minors, certificates, and plan your required REAL experience.
  • Get familiar with the research process with the VCU Libraries Research Basics Guide.
  • Talk to professors about your research interests, electives, and strategies for success in your classes.
  • Explore innovation and business/non-profit creation classes with the da Vinci Center.
  • Meet with your academic advisor to incorporate teaching assistantships and independent studies into your degree plan: these courses offer the chance to gain experiential skills outside the classroom.
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
  • Discuss personal and professional interests with faculty.
  • Take a service-learning class to get involved with local organizations while earning credit.
  • Volunteer to address a social issue and check out Hands on Greater Richmond for opportunities.
  • Learn about the Sophomore Year Experience in Cary & Belvedere.
  • If living on campus, join the Residence Hall Association.
  • Explore professional associations related to bioinformatics and see if there are opportunities for students to get involved in conferences, publications, or online resources.
DEVELOP CULTURAL AGILITY
  • Make friends with diverse perspectives and join a cultural or identity-related student organization.
  • Explore social issues, develop cultural competency skills, and engage with faculty through iExcel pop-up courses.
  • Investigate globally-focused courses in your major by pursuing language coursework or setting language proficiency goals with advisors and faculty.
  • Apply for the Critical Languages Scholarship.
  • Meet with your academic advisor to plan a course timeline to include study abroad.
EXPLORE CAREERS AND DEVELOP ESSENTIAL SKILLS
  • Complete a gap analysis with your career advisor to identify key skills required for your professional field.
  • Seek out practical experience through independent skill-building, internships, shadowing, or part-time work.
  • Explore global career options with a career advisor to set goals for getting your dream job.
  • Organize examples of your academic and professional experiences, accomplishments, and reflections in an ePortfolio.
  • Attend career and internship fairs and other professional development events.
  • Pursue a digital badge to highlight the knowledge, skills, and experiences employers and graduate schools value.
  • Participate in a hackathon, such as BNFOhacks or HealthHacks, in order to practice problem-solving skills.
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
  • Connect with alumni on VCULink for career advice, industry contacts, and meaningful professional relationships.
  • Conduct informational interviews or shadow someone in a field of professional interest.
  • Ask a faculty or staff member to be your academic and professional mentor and to provide future letters of recommendation.
  • Meet with a coach at The Money Spot to set financial goals, understand student loans, and create spending plans.
  • Meet with the bioinformatics graduate student advisor, a graduate student, or the Bioinformatics Graduate Student Organization to learn more about attending a graduate program after completing your undergraduate degree and how to plan for that now.

Experience
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
  • See your academic and career advisors to discuss graduation progress and career planning.
  • Enhance your business, software, technology, and creative skills using LinkedIn Learning.
  • Complete BNFO 301: Introduction to Bioinformatics during this academic year to be prepared for your capstone course in your senior year.
  • If you are considering an MS in Bioinformatics, discuss with your advisor the department's BS-MS program.
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
DEVELOP CULTURAL AGILITY
  • Build language proficiency and cultural competence by carrying out your plans for study abroad, internships, and service-learning.
  • Get required REAL experience and effect community change by using iExcel’s Active Citizen’s Toolkit to vote and volunteer.
  • Explore new cultures at one of Richmond’s wide array of festivals.
  • Prepare for future work on multidisciplinary and multicultural teams by showcasing your interpersonal skills on your resume.
  • Commit to understanding intersectional social identities by volunteering and working on issues outside of your comfort zone.
EXPLORE CAREERS AND DEVELOP ESSENTIAL SKILLS
  • Take advantage of mock interview opportunities through InterviewStream or meeting with a career advisor.
  • Update your ePortfolio.
  • Apply for the Graduate School Mentorship Program to learn more about graduate school and the graduate student experience.
  • Expand your understanding of ethical challenges that occur in Life Sciences research and practice identifying these issues and concerns by taking BNFO 411: Ethical Issues in Life Sciences.
  • Seek research opportunities and apply for funding through VCU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and other summer research programs.
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
  • Make a plan with your academic, career, and faculty advisors for applying to graduate school or land a micro-internship.
  • Study for and complete any standardized exams required for graduate school the summer before senior year. 
  • Prepare for job offer negotiation by researching salaries, benefits, and other opportunities for flexibility.
  • Practice communication and interpersonal skills that embrace cultural differences, particularly in professional settings.

Excel
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
  • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor the semester before you graduate to ensure that all graduation requirements will be met.
  • Choose REAL electives to diversify your skillset and round out your degree.
  • If admitted to the accelerated BS-MS program, take up to 12 graduate credits replacing 12 required credits in the BS program.
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
DEVELOP CULTURAL AGILITY
  • Carry out globally-oriented research projects with multilingual faculty and international partners.
  • Read scholarly articles about diversity in your field.
  • Master your answers to interview questions about your experience working with diverse populations.
  • Plan for how you will grow your cultural agility after graduation.
  • Plan for how you will grow your cultural agility after graduation
  • Seek out opportunities to work with a multicultural team on a group project, such as in BNFO 420 Bioinformatics Capstone, a Hackathon, or similar REAL experience.
EXPLORE CAREERS AND DEVELOP ESSENTIAL SKILLS
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
  • Prepare for graduation by making a plan to complete licensing exams, applications, and self-marketing activities.
  • Single out prospective employers and create a job or graduate school search strategy at least 8 months before graduation.
  • Have a personal statement or cover letter reviewed by Career Services. 
  • Connect with the Office of VCU Alumni Relations at Grad Fair, Grad Bash, and the VCULink Industry Network or alumni chapter.
  • Apply for graduate or professional school no later than fall of your final year.
  • Attend career fairs that offer opportunities to engage with employers in your career path.
Visit majormaps.vcu.edu for the online version with links.
Sponsored by the Office of the Provost
Major map compass icon [View Image]
2021-2022

Bioinformatics

VCU Life Sciences

Concentration(s):
Biological/Genomic Sciences, Computational Sciences, Quantitative/Statistical Sciences
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNINGGET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITYDEVELOP CULTURAL AGILITYEXPLORE CAREERS AND DEVELOP ESSENTIAL SKILLSPREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
ExploreYear 1
ExperienceYear 2
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor to explore minors, certificates, and plan your required REAL experience.
  • Get familiar with the research process with the VCU Libraries Research Basics Guide.
  • Talk to professors about your research interests, electives, and strategies for success in your classes.
  • Explore innovation and business/non-profit creation classes with the da Vinci Center.
  • Meet with your academic advisor to incorporate teaching assistantships and independent studies into your degree plan: these courses offer the chance to gain experiential skills outside the classroom.
  • Discuss personal and professional interests with faculty.
  • Take a service-learning class to get involved with local organizations while earning credit.
  • Volunteer to address a social issue and check out Hands on Greater Richmond for opportunities.
  • Learn about the Sophomore Year Experience in Cary & Belvedere.
  • If living on campus, join the Residence Hall Association.
  • Explore professional associations related to bioinformatics and see if there are opportunities for students to get involved in conferences, publications, or online resources.
  • Make friends with diverse perspectives and join a cultural or identity-related student organization.
  • Explore social issues, develop cultural competency skills, and engage with faculty through iExcel pop-up courses.
  • Investigate globally-focused courses in your major by pursuing language coursework or setting language proficiency goals with advisors and faculty.
  • Apply for the Critical Languages Scholarship.
  • Meet with your academic advisor to plan a course timeline to include study abroad.
  • Complete a gap analysis with your career advisor to identify key skills required for your professional field.
  • Seek out practical experience through independent skill-building, internships, shadowing, or part-time work.
  • Explore global career options with a career advisor to set goals for getting your dream job.
  • Organize examples of your academic and professional experiences, accomplishments, and reflections in an ePortfolio.
  • Attend career and internship fairs and other professional development events.
  • Pursue a digital badge to highlight the knowledge, skills, and experiences employers and graduate schools value.
  • Participate in a hackathon, such as BNFOhacks or HealthHacks, in order to practice problem-solving skills.
  • Connect with alumni on VCULink for career advice, industry contacts, and meaningful professional relationships.
  • Conduct informational interviews or shadow someone in a field of professional interest.
  • Ask a faculty or staff member to be your academic and professional mentor and to provide future letters of recommendation.
  • Meet with a coach at The Money Spot to set financial goals, understand student loans, and create spending plans.
  • Meet with the bioinformatics graduate student advisor, a graduate student, or the Bioinformatics Graduate Student Organization to learn more about attending a graduate program after completing your undergraduate degree and how to plan for that now.
Year 3
  • See your academic and career advisors to discuss graduation progress and career planning.
  • Enhance your business, software, technology, and creative skills using LinkedIn Learning.
  • Complete BNFO 301: Introduction to Bioinformatics during this academic year to be prepared for your capstone course in your senior year.
  • If you are considering an MS in Bioinformatics, discuss with your advisor the department's BS-MS program.
  • Build language proficiency and cultural competence by carrying out your plans for study abroad, internships, and service-learning.
  • Get required REAL experience and effect community change by using iExcel’s Active Citizen’s Toolkit to vote and volunteer.
  • Explore new cultures at one of Richmond’s wide array of festivals.
  • Prepare for future work on multidisciplinary and multicultural teams by showcasing your interpersonal skills on your resume.
  • Commit to understanding intersectional social identities by volunteering and working on issues outside of your comfort zone.
  • Take advantage of mock interview opportunities through InterviewStream or meeting with a career advisor.
  • Update your ePortfolio.
  • Apply for the Graduate School Mentorship Program to learn more about graduate school and the graduate student experience.
  • Expand your understanding of ethical challenges that occur in Life Sciences research and practice identifying these issues and concerns by taking BNFO 411: Ethical Issues in Life Sciences.
  • Seek research opportunities and apply for funding through VCU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and other summer research programs.
  • Make a plan with your academic, career, and faculty advisors for applying to graduate school or land a micro-internship.
  • Study for and complete any standardized exams required for graduate school the summer before senior year. 
  • Prepare for job offer negotiation by researching salaries, benefits, and other opportunities for flexibility.
  • Practice communication and interpersonal skills that embrace cultural differences, particularly in professional settings.
ExcelYear 4
  • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor the semester before you graduate to ensure that all graduation requirements will be met.
  • Choose REAL electives to diversify your skillset and round out your degree.
  • If admitted to the accelerated BS-MS program, take up to 12 graduate credits replacing 12 required credits in the BS program.
  • Carry out globally-oriented research projects with multilingual faculty and international partners.
  • Read scholarly articles about diversity in your field.
  • Master your answers to interview questions about your experience working with diverse populations.
  • Plan for how you will grow your cultural agility after graduation.
  • Plan for how you will grow your cultural agility after graduation
  • Seek out opportunities to work with a multicultural team on a group project, such as in BNFO 420 Bioinformatics Capstone, a Hackathon, or similar REAL experience.
  • Prepare for graduation by making a plan to complete licensing exams, applications, and self-marketing activities.
  • Single out prospective employers and create a job or graduate school search strategy at least 8 months before graduation.
  • Have a personal statement or cover letter reviewed by Career Services. 
  • Connect with the Office of VCU Alumni Relations at Grad Fair, Grad Bash, and the VCULink Industry Network or alumni chapter.
  • Apply for graduate or professional school no later than fall of your final year.
  • Attend career fairs that offer opportunities to engage with employers in your career path.
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