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What is Bioinformatics?
Bioinformatics is an exciting field of study that is rapidly growing around the globe given technological and academic advancements. Bioinformatics is a branch of biology emphasizing the use of software applications to understand and process biological data. Being an interdisciplinary field of study within biology, bioinformatics leverages work from many fields such as: computer programming, mathematics, statistics, computer science, engineering, computational biology, cell biology, web development, data mining, molecular biology, database management, and biochemistry.
Bioinformatics leverages technology via various computational approaches to analyze biological data (e.g. large scale genomic, proteomic and metabolomic datasets) to investigate an array of living organisms. Biological databases can include:
- Gene Expression
- DNA Chips
- Nucleotide Sequence
- Protein Sequence
- Large Scale Genomic
- Biomolecular Interactions
- Gene Expression
- Protein Pathway
- Organs & Organisms
To understand the qualitative and quantitative biological data, students must have mastery of math, biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science. These disciplines are brought together with the computational power of computing technology to make sense of living organisms and the communities in which they live. Degrees in bioinformatics equips students for careers in industries such as biomedical, biotechnology, bioinformatics, and pharmaceutical.
Degrees in Bioinformatics
Students considering a degree in bioinformatics will have a number of degree options to consider from a variety of schools. In addition to the traditional undergraduate and graduate degree programs, students have the opportunity to entertain online degree options. Distance learning alternatives effectively double the number of choices for students. Learning online can have distinct benefits not found in classroom-based programs and may be worth considering. For additional resources in online learning, simply visit our degree matching portal or online degree articles today.
Bachelor Degree in Bioinformatics
Bachelor degrees in bioinformatics are conferred as a Bachelor of Science (BS). The bachelor’s degree will take approximately 4-years of full-time matriculation to complete with part-time students taking longer. BS degree programs will blend liberal arts education with core curricula. General education classes will typically include history, creative writing, philosophy, psychology, and communications.
Curriculum found in the core program will vary by school. However, similar principles will be covered by most colleges and institutions. Core programs will generally include: biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, advanced data structure, structural biochemistry, genetics, metabolic biochemistry, algorithmic design, molecular biology, cellular biology, biological databases, genomic technologies, molecular sequence analysis, statistics, probability, and neuroscience.
Master Degree in Bioinformatics
On-site or online master’s degrees in bioinformatics are rigorous graduate degrees that take 2-3 years of full time matriculation to complete. Master’s degrees are conferred as a Master of Science (MS) in this field. Core classes will generally include computer science, biostatistics, biomedical sciences, and computational biology. Equipped with advanced biological knowledge and technical prowess, students will be able to tackle pressing problems through research and analysis. Graduates with a master’s degree in bioinformatics will be ready to launch a career in a variety of fields or continue on to earn a PhD. The most common areas of emphasis for bioinformatics graduate students include: systems biology, functional genomics, machine learning, scientific programming, complex trait genomics, next generation data sequencing, data reproducibility, probabilistic graphical models, statistical genetics, proteomics, mathematical modeling, databases, text mining, information retrieval, imaging, and computational neuroscience.
Doctorate Degree in Bioinformatics
The doctorate degree in bioinformatics is conferred as a PhD. Doctoral degrees will take 3-5 years to complete depending on qualifications, pace, and time spent on the dissertation. PhD programs are research-intensive classes that focus on a combination of classroom lecture, symposium, mentored teaching, advanced research, seminars, labs, and a board-approved dissertation project. Doctorate degrees are designed to provide students with the ability to learn from top-tier professors in the field and help advance the study through research and application. PhD graduates will go on to work at research and development centers, government agencies, colleges, pharmaceutical companies, medical manufacturers, diagnostics laboratories, and other similar industries.
In terms of educational requirements, Bioinformatics degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:
Online Colleges Offering Degrees in Bioinformatics
Employment Information & Specialization
For students that earn a college degree in Bioinformatics, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue. The options range from high school teacher, post-secondary teacher, researcher, genomics, immunologist, toxicologist, virologist, biologist, biological technician, computer programmer, biomedical engineer, microbiologist, computer scientist, medical scientist, epidemiologist, food scientist, web programmer, surgeon, and nutritional scientist to name a few possible career tracks.
Job Growth, Salary, and Related Fields
The job growth in the greater Bioinformatics domain are well above average. For example, the rate of job growth for college professors is expected to rise 13% through 2024 and biomedical engineers an amazing 23% growth rate is expected during the same period. Given the broad nature of the Bioinformatics degree, compensation after graduation can vary greatly from career field to career field given prior experience and geographic location. Related fields include teaching, research, genomics, bioinformatics, radiobiology, computer science, neuroanatomy, pharmacology, web programming, biomedical engineer, medical scientist, and microbiology.