Master's Program

Thank you for considering the University of Michigan Bioinformatics Program!

The UM Bioinformatics Program has a long, established history of successful graduates entering the biotechnology industry or obtaining positions in an academic setting.  

Please check the Admissions page of this website to determine the appropriate application deadline, as it varies depending on your current student status. You may contact the Bioinformatics Graduate Office with questions.  

Dr. Stephen Guest and Dr. Alla Karnovsky are the primary advisors for the Master’s Program. Students should make advising appointments with them while completing the program, to ensure all requirements are met. 

Program Requirements and Time-to-Degree

The majority of full-time Master’s students are able to complete the degree in 1 ½ years (or 3 terms). Rarely do students go beyond 2 years, unless they are a part-time MS student.  

The Bioinformatics Master’s Program is comprised of both courses (a minimum of 30 credit hours) and required research experience. More details on each are below. 

Coursework

Students are required to take at least one course in each of the following areas

Some notes on the course requirements:

  • Molecular Biology

Students without molecular biology background are strongly advised to take the introductory biology course, BIOINF 523 (Bioinformatics Basic Biology Lab). This course is offered in late August, and is often recommended the summer before starting first term. It should be taken before any other graduate-level molecular biology courses. BIOINF 523 is insufficient to satisfy the department course requirements. Most introductory molecular biology courses offered by PIBS programs qualify; ask advisers if interested in a course not listed.  

  • Statistics

Master's students may take BIOSTAT 521 (which does not require multivariate calculus) or STATS 412. If you are especially interested in later pursuing a Ph.D., one of the series in statistics is recommended (BIOSTAT 521 + BIOSTAT 522, BIOSTAT 601 + BIOSTAT 602, MATH 525 + MATH 526, PSYCH 613 + PSYCH 614, or STATS 425 + STATS 426). It is also possible to modify this; for example to take BIOSTAT 601 followed by STATS 426. 

  • Other courses

The Bioinformatics Program Directors encourage students to find other courses that may meet core area criteria. All requests to substitute courses in order to satisfy program requirements will be reviewed by the Directors and the Bioinformatics Curriculum Committee. 

Students are expected to receive a passing grade of “B” or better in each of the required courses. Any exceptions need permission. 

  • For PhD students pursuing a dual MS degree

Students take the same courses listed above, of which no more than 15 credit hours can overlap with their Ph.D. program’s course requirements. A student’s research during their Ph.D. will fulfill the bioinformatics research experience requirement as long as there is bioinformatics content in at least one thesis chapter, plus a DCMB faculty member is on the student’s dissertation committee. Per Rackham rules, the credits from courses numbered 990 and 995 may not be applied to a master’s degree. 

Research and Internship Opportunities

A minimum of 300 hours of research experience in is required for the Master’s degree. This can be either a paid part-time research experience, spring or summer full time internship, or research for credit (BIOINF 599). A maximum of 6 credit hour of BIOINF 599 will count towards your degree. Please speak with Dr. Stephen Guest about details; internship guidelines can be found here

PhD/MS Dual Degree Students

PhD students who are also pursuing a Bioinformatics Master’s Degree are required to have a bioinformatics-related chapter in their final dissertation. Students are strongly advised to consult with either one of the Master’s Guidance Advisors or one of the Graduate Program Directors well in advance of the defense to determine the best course of action. Dual degree students will have their MS degree conferred in their final term, at the same time as their PhD studies. 

Cost of Attendance and Financial Support

An estimated cost of attendance can be found on the UM webpages.

The Bioinformatics Graduate Program does not guarantee financial support to Master’s students. Occasionally students have obtained funded positions with individual mentors. Please be aware that the availability of such positions is not guaranteed, and my not provide full tuition or a large stipend. Oftentimes more options arise after students complete their first term of study. 

Students from underrepresented backgrounds in the biomedical sciences are strongly encouraged to apply, even if they do not have the financial ability to fully support the duration of their studies. Such students may be eligible for awards and fellowships from Rackham and the department. 

Transition from PhD to Master’s

The MS program is a terminal degree program; if interested in the PhD Program students must submit a new application. For Bioinformatics MS students in good academic standing who have identified an affiliated faculty mentor, they may apply for admission for Winter term. Mentors must be prepared to take both academic and financial responsibility. The application deadline is October 1, in the students’ second year.