Program goals

The VCU Center for Biological Data Science created and administers the Master of Science in Bioinformatics degree program to provide interested students with two options:

  1. A traditional “thesis master’s,” including the development, implementation, writing and presentation of a coherent research project under the supervision of a graduate faculty member. This degree is most appropriate for students committed to initiating research careers in a variety of settings, including students considering pursuing later work toward a Ph.D.
  2. A “professional science master’s” option, with project-oriented research, including completion of a 10- to 12-week full-time externship in an industrial, government or academic site, usually during the summer between the first and second years of the bioinformatics program. This degree is most appropriate for students who wish to work in industrial/commercial settings.

Students enter the program from a variety of academic backgrounds (biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics/statistics, etc.) assisted by flexible “bridge curricula” designed to help them meet program prerequisites. Students will have an effective exposure to the biotech industry and other career options and to real-life applications of their learning.

The Master of Science in Bioinformatics degree program will prepare students to:

  1. Synthesize and apply interdisciplinary subject matter: The M.S. in Bioinformatics degree program seeks to provide students with the skills and knowledge required to advance into Ph.D. training programs and research positions in universities, government labs or industry. The program provides a framework for the progressive development of a mastery of the interdisciplinary subject matter pertinent to bioinformatics and an ability to synthesize this information and apply it to key areas of investigation and experimentation in bioinformatics.
  2. Design, implement and interpret experimental approaches: The program relates the above framework to the development of the ability to design, implement and interpret experimental approaches.
  3. Develop communication skills: In addition, the program will develop skills in oral and written communication of interdisciplinary science concepts, experimental design, results and interpretation.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Oral communication skills: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of oral communication skills with respect to the content, organization, logical flow, presentation and appropriate use of language incorporating the use of visual aids, as measured by rubric.
  2. Written communication skills: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of written communication skill with respect to grammar, syntax, spelling and use of vocabulary to effectively present information, including the use of figures, tables and citations, as measured by rubric.
  3. Experimental design competency: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of competence in the ability to appraise, modify, and/or create and implement bioinformatics experimental protocols and to design and develop experiments, as measured by rubric.
  4. Problem-solving skills: The candidate will demonstrate an appropriate level of ability to analyze scientific problems including pertinent datasets and design and develop appropriate methods to solve said problems, as measured by rubric.
  5. Integrated knowledge of bioinformatics: The candidate will demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge of fundamentals of molecular biology, computational science, statistics and a more detailed understanding of an individual area of internship research, including an appropriate familiarity with the research literature, as measured by rubric.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.