A unique master’s degree merging the biological sciences and computer technology, the Professional Science Master’s (PSM) program leading to the M.S. in Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary program at the intersection of the disciplines of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Statistics, Computing and Informatics, and Engineering. It is expected that students entering the program will have completed an undergraduate major in either a life science or a quantitative discipline. The degree requires additional training and demonstrated competence in both life sciences and scientific programming. The PSM program is structured to provide students with the skills and knowledge to develop, evaluate, and deploy bioinformatics and computational biology applications. The program is designed to prepare students for employment in the biotechnology sector, where the need for knowledgeable life scientists with quantitative and computational skills has exploded in the past decade.
Additional Admission Requirements
In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Graduate School, the following are required for study toward the M.S. in Bioinformatics:
Under most circumstances, students admitted to the program will have:
- A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university in Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, or another related field that provides a sound background in life sciences, computing, or both
- A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (4.0 scale) and 3.0 in the major (this requirement is waived for Early Entry program applicants who meet the University’s overall GPA requirement (3.2 and 75-90 hours of completed undergraduate coursework) in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math, SIS or CS, or another UNC Charlotte major if the department determines the student’s preparation is appropriate)
- A minimum combined score of 300 on the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE, and an acceptable score on the analytical section
- A combined TOEFL score of 220 (computer-based), 557 (paper-based), or 83 (Internet-based) is required if the previous degree was from a country where English is not the common language
- Three positive letters of recommendation
The M.S. in Bioinformatics degree requires a minimum of 34 graduate credit hours, and a minimum of 30 credit hours of formal coursework. A minimum of 24 credit hours presented toward an M.S.in Bioinformatics must be from courses numbered 6000 or higher. A maximum of 6 hours of graduate credit may be transferred from other institutions.
The PSM program requires 34 post-baccalaureate credit hours. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of this program, which is designed to provide students with a common graduate experience during their professional preparation for the M.S. in Bioinformatics degree, all students will be required to take a general curriculum that includes a two-year sequence of courses as described below:
Core Bioinformatics Courses
All students must take the following Core Courses. Students who have previously taken a course with a syllabus that closely follows one of the Core Courses may test out of the core requirement by passing a written exam, and may then substitute an advanced elective for the required Core Course.
Plus one of the following courses and its corresponding lab:
The department offers two intensive graduate-level courses designed to provide accelerated training in a second discipline that complements the student’s undergraduate training. Students entering the program without preparatory coursework in computing or biology may need to take the Gateway course that is appropriate for their background. These courses are not required core courses for all students, but are designed to satisfy core course prerequisites for students who have not encountered the material presented in a previous course. For students entering from computing backgrounds, BINF 6100 should be chosen, while students entering from biological science backgrounds should choose BINF 6111 and BINF 6111L .
Professional Preparation Requirement
Students are required to take at least 6 credit hours of elective courses designed to prepare them to function effectively and ethically in a professional environment.
The remaining 6 credit hours of required coursework can be satisfied by elective courses. The PSM Graduate Coordinator, in conjunction with the Executive Committee, reviews the student’s plan of study each semester.
Bioinformatics Elective Courses
Any courses with BINF numbers, with the exception of Gateway courses are open to PSM students seeking to complete their coursework requirements.
Recommended Elective Courses Offered By Other Departments
A wide range of graduate courses in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Health Informatics, Software and Information Systems, and other programs may be appropriate electives for PSM in Bioinformatics students. As course offerings change frequently, the Bioinformatics Program maintains a list of current recommended electives online at bioinformatics.uncc.edu.
Students are encouraged to choose their electives with a topical focus that reflects their scientific and career interests. Courses from one of the following recommended clusters of advanced electives can be selected, or the student can design his or her own elective focus with the approval of the PSM Executive Committee.
Modeling and Simulation Cluster
Computing and Technology Cluster
Bioinformatics Seminar and Internship
In addition to 30 credit hours of formal coursework, students are required to enroll in the Bioinformatics Program seminar (BINF 6600 ) for at least one semester (1 credit hour) and to enroll in either Principles of Team Science (BINF 6399 ), internal or external internship (BINF 6400 ), or a faculty-supervised original research project leading to a thesis (BINF 6900 ).
An accumulation of three C grades will result in suspension of the student’s enrollment in the graduate program. If a student makes a grade of U in any course, enrollment in the program will be suspended.
Amount of Transfer Credit Accepted
A maximum of 6 credit hours of coursework from other institutions will count toward the M.S. in Bioinformatics degree requirements. Only courses with grades of A or B from accredited institutions are eligible for transfer credit.