Visit majormaps.vcu.edu for the online version with links.
Sponsored by the Office of the Provost
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2020-2021

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 molecular biology by actually doing it--reading scientific papers, doing "wet-lab" experiments, creating bioinformatics programs, and designing individual and team research investigations.  The program includes the Life Sciences general education, specific training in the collateral coursework and bioinformatics core, and focused training in the chosen concentration.

Career opportunities

Our students learn how to use bioinformatics tools to solve scientific problems through project-based 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 MS degree typically have greater opportunities than those with the Bachelor's degree, as the Masters allows the student to gain more relevant skills, content knowledge and project experience.

Change of major requirements

A GPA greater than 2.0 is strongly encouraged due to the science rigor of the major.  Email hsemery@vcu.edu to schedule an orientation 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
GPA requirements (to progress/graduate in the major)
  • 2.0
Department name:
Center for the Study of Biological Complexity
Building/room location:
Grace Harris Hall, room 3116a
Campus (where 75% of courses are taken):
Monroe park
Phone:
(804) 828-0559
Email:
hsemery@vcu.edu

Major map compass icon [View Image]
Major map

Explore
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
GET REAL EXPERIENCE
  • Complete your Handshake profile and opt-in to industry email lists.
  • Consider applying for a federal work-study (FWS) job on- or off-campus through Handshake.
  • Create a draft resume and meet with a career advisor in VCU Career Services to discuss it.
  • Explore innovation and business/non-profit creation with the da Vinci Center.
  • Discuss with your advisor when you want to plan your next research experience after Phage Lab
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
  • Access your free credit report and begin making responsible credit choices to prepare for your future.
  • Build a LinkedIn profile, connect to at least 10 people, and check out the VCU alumni page.
  • Explore “What Can I Do With This Major” to learn about employers in your field of study.
  • Join Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) to connect to VCU traditions, networking opportunities, and fellow Rams.
  • Practice independent living skills (such as money management, self-care, time management, and personal responsibility).

Experience
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
  • Get familiar with the research process with the VCU Libraries Research Basics Guide. Ask questions about how to use the library.
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor and explore minors, certificates, and skills-based value added courses.  
  • Talk to your professors about research interests, picking future classes, and strategies for success in your program.
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor and discuss the timeline to complete BNFO 201 and 300.   
  • Use the ‘research proposal’ in BNFO 300 to connect with a mentor for a research experience.
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
GET REAL EXPERIENCE
  • Attend Career & Internship Fairs and other professional development events. 
  • Complete a “Gap Analysis” Strategic Plan with your academic or career advisor.
  • Create an ePortfolio to document academic/professional experiences, accomplishments, and reflections.
  • Gain practical experience related to career goals through internships, shadowing, part-time work, or independent skill building.
  • Join groups on LinkedIn reflecting specific careers or topics of interest in Bioinformatics.
  • Consider assisting Phage Lab instructors and students in some capacity.
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
  • Conduct informational interviews or shadow someone in a field of career interest.
  • Consider who you would ask to serve as professional and academic references for future letters of recommendation.   
  • Get plugged into VCULink to connect with students and alumni.
  • Meet with a coach at The Money Spot to set financial goals, understand student loans, and create spending plans.

Experience
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
  • Deepen your expertise at finding information in your discipline by working with your subject expert librarian & using research guides.
  • Enhance your business, software, technology and creative skills using LinkedIn Learning.
  • See your academic and career advisors regularly to discuss your progress towards graduation and career planning.
  • If you are considering an MS in Bioinformatics, discuss with your advisor VCU’s “Accelerated BS-MS Program.”
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
GET REAL EXPERIENCE
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
  • Prepare for job offer negotiation by researching salaries, benefits, and other opportunities for flexibility.
  • Research graduate/professional schools at least 1 year in advance of deadlines. Study for and complete any exams the summer before senior year. 
  • Talk to advisors, faculty, and VCU Career Services about graduate school versus a job.

Excel
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
  • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor a semester before your anticipated graduation to ensure all graduation requirements will be met. 
  • Students in the accelerated BS-MS program take up to 12 graduate credits this year, replacing 12 required credits in the BS program.
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
  • Apply for a year-long service or fellowship opportunity after graduation through programs like Peace Corps, Fulbright Student Scholars, Literacy Lab, Richmond Teacher Residency, or AmeriCorps.
  • Attend professional conferences that offer student rates or scholarships (see professional organizations listed above).
  • Continue to find opportunities and organizations through SOC that can help you make a difference and make your mark.
  • Serve in a leadership role on campus or as a board member of a local community organization.
  • Enhance your networking and presenting skills and practice your “elevator speech.”
BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
  • Read scholarly articles about diversity in your field.
  • Reflect on your own cultural competency, and be prepared to answer interview questions that outline how you have worked with diverse populations.
  • Attend Office of Multicultural Student Affairs I Love Diversity Week.
GET REAL EXPERIENCE
  • Continue to engage in research to create more content for your ePortfolio.
  • Present your research at conference/meeting such as UROP Undergraduate Research Symposium or other conferences. 
  • Reflect on the experiential learning you have engaged in thus far, and discuss with current or potential mentors (peers, faculty, advisors, alumni, professionals).
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
  • Complete exams, applications, or self-marketing activities for after graduation.
  • Consider training to become an educator through programs like RTR, which prepares graduates from a variety of majors to become effective teachers in high-need schools.
  • Engage with the VCU Alumni Association at Grad Fair, Grad Bash, and by joining a VCULink Industry Network and alumni chapter as you prepare to graduate.
  • Have a personal statement or cover letter reviewed and do a mock interview through InterviewStream or with a career advisor.
  • Research prospective employers and create a job or graduate school search strategy at least 8 months before graduation.
Visit majormaps.vcu.edu for the online version with links.
Sponsored by the Office of the Provost
Major map compass icon [View Image]
2020-2021

Bioinformatics

VCU Life Sciences

Concentration(s):
Biological/Genomic Sciences; Computational Sciences; Quantitative/Statistical Sciences
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNINGGET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITYBUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCEGET REAL EXPERIENCEPREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
ExploreYear 1
  • Complete your Handshake profile and opt-in to industry email lists.
  • Consider applying for a federal work-study (FWS) job on- or off-campus through Handshake.
  • Create a draft resume and meet with a career advisor in VCU Career Services to discuss it.
  • Explore innovation and business/non-profit creation with the da Vinci Center.
  • Discuss with your advisor when you want to plan your next research experience after Phage Lab
  • Access your free credit report and begin making responsible credit choices to prepare for your future.
  • Build a LinkedIn profile, connect to at least 10 people, and check out the VCU alumni page.
  • Explore “What Can I Do With This Major” to learn about employers in your field of study.
  • Join Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) to connect to VCU traditions, networking opportunities, and fellow Rams.
  • Practice independent living skills (such as money management, self-care, time management, and personal responsibility).
ExperienceYear 2
  • Get familiar with the research process with the VCU Libraries Research Basics Guide. Ask questions about how to use the library.
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor and explore minors, certificates, and skills-based value added courses.  
  • Talk to your professors about research interests, picking future classes, and strategies for success in your program.
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor and discuss the timeline to complete BNFO 201 and 300.   
  • Use the ‘research proposal’ in BNFO 300 to connect with a mentor for a research experience.
  • Attend Career & Internship Fairs and other professional development events. 
  • Complete a “Gap Analysis” Strategic Plan with your academic or career advisor.
  • Create an ePortfolio to document academic/professional experiences, accomplishments, and reflections.
  • Gain practical experience related to career goals through internships, shadowing, part-time work, or independent skill building.
  • Join groups on LinkedIn reflecting specific careers or topics of interest in Bioinformatics.
  • Consider assisting Phage Lab instructors and students in some capacity.
  • Conduct informational interviews or shadow someone in a field of career interest.
  • Consider who you would ask to serve as professional and academic references for future letters of recommendation.   
  • Get plugged into VCULink to connect with students and alumni.
  • Meet with a coach at The Money Spot to set financial goals, understand student loans, and create spending plans.
Year 3
  • Deepen your expertise at finding information in your discipline by working with your subject expert librarian & using research guides.
  • Enhance your business, software, technology and creative skills using LinkedIn Learning.
  • See your academic and career advisors regularly to discuss your progress towards graduation and career planning.
  • If you are considering an MS in Bioinformatics, discuss with your advisor VCU’s “Accelerated BS-MS Program.”
  • Prepare for job offer negotiation by researching salaries, benefits, and other opportunities for flexibility.
  • Research graduate/professional schools at least 1 year in advance of deadlines. Study for and complete any exams the summer before senior year. 
  • Talk to advisors, faculty, and VCU Career Services about graduate school versus a job.
ExcelYear 4
  • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor a semester before your anticipated graduation to ensure all graduation requirements will be met. 
  • Students in the accelerated BS-MS program take up to 12 graduate credits this year, replacing 12 required credits in the BS program.
  • Apply for a year-long service or fellowship opportunity after graduation through programs like Peace Corps, Fulbright Student Scholars, Literacy Lab, Richmond Teacher Residency, or AmeriCorps.
  • Attend professional conferences that offer student rates or scholarships (see professional organizations listed above).
  • Continue to find opportunities and organizations through SOC that can help you make a difference and make your mark.
  • Serve in a leadership role on campus or as a board member of a local community organization.
  • Enhance your networking and presenting skills and practice your “elevator speech.”
  • Read scholarly articles about diversity in your field.
  • Reflect on your own cultural competency, and be prepared to answer interview questions that outline how you have worked with diverse populations.
  • Attend Office of Multicultural Student Affairs I Love Diversity Week.
  • Continue to engage in research to create more content for your ePortfolio.
  • Present your research at conference/meeting such as UROP Undergraduate Research Symposium or other conferences. 
  • Reflect on the experiential learning you have engaged in thus far, and discuss with current or potential mentors (peers, faculty, advisors, alumni, professionals).
  • Complete exams, applications, or self-marketing activities for after graduation.
  • Consider training to become an educator through programs like RTR, which prepares graduates from a variety of majors to become effective teachers in high-need schools.
  • Engage with the VCU Alumni Association at Grad Fair, Grad Bash, and by joining a VCULink Industry Network and alumni chapter as you prepare to graduate.
  • Have a personal statement or cover letter reviewed and do a mock interview through InterviewStream or with a career advisor.
  • Research prospective employers and create a job or graduate school search strategy at least 8 months before graduation.
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