BIOINFORMATICS MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAM

At Illinois, students work side-by-side with distinguished faculty members and researchers. They also benefit from their peers — a talented and diverse group of promising graduate students who come from all over the world. Research in bioinformatics takes place not only in academic departments, but in several leading interdisciplinary centers on campus, equipped with the latest tools and techniques.

Introduction

The Bioinformatics MS program at the University of Illinois is designed to satisfy the demands of a highly interdisciplinary and rapidly evolving field. An explosion of biological information is being generated from academic, industry, and government labs giving rise to a critical demand for professionals who can turn this information into useful knowledge.The MS is coordinated by the Illinois Informatics Institute in partnership with four currently participating academic units that are consistently ranked among the top in the world:

Because each offers its own flavor of bioinformatics, students can gain exposure to all aspects of the field and have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of cutting-edge research projects. Each unit has different admission requirements. Prospective students should apply directly to the unit of their choice.

Illinois also now offers the PhD in informatics, with a bioinformatics program area option.

 

 Research

At Illinois, students work side-by-side with distinguished faculty members and researchers. They also benefit from their peers — a talented and diverse group of promising graduate students who come from all over the world.Research in bioinformatics takes place not only in academic departments, but in several leading interdisciplinary centers on campus, equipped with the latest tools and techniques. These include

  • Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology, which serves physical and computer science students who are interested in applying their knowledge to biology, as well as students with biological backgrounds interested in instrumentation, computation, and physical aspects of biology.
  • An NIH Resource for Macromolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics that houses the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group. This laboratory is devoted to theoretical and computational biophysics research that centers on the structure and function of supramolecular systems in the living cell, and on the development of new algorithms and efficient computing tools for structural biology.

The campus offers state-of-the-art experimental bioinformatics facilities, including

  • Keck Center for Comparative and Functional Genomics, where researchers study the comparative genetic organization, evolution and function of plant, animal and microbial genomes.
  • Institute for Genomic Biology, where researchers work in the areas of systems biology, cellular and metabolic engineering, and genome technology. IGB is also at the forefront of farm bioenergy production research.
  • National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the home of Blue Waters, the first petascale computing system for open scientific research. NCSA allows researchers to access, develop and experiment with powerful computational tools for bioinformatics.

 Degree Requirement

The MS degree is offered in both thesis and non-thesis options. The aim is to prepare students for successful careers in the biotechnology or bioinformatics sectors, in industry or academia. All students must take courses in each of three core areas:

  • Fundamental bioinformatics – Courses in genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, and computational biology
  • Biology – Courses in general biochemistry and cell biology
  • Computer Science – Courses in database systems and combinatorial algorithms

 Core Courses

Illinois provides a comprehensive set of graduate courses in life sciences, computer and mathematical sciences, and engineering that can be taken as technical electives for the MS in bioinformatics. The current core course list can be viewed here.

Bioinformatics graduate students are encouraged to participate in a course on responsible conduct of research (RCR).  Examples of RCR courses available at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign include:

 Admission

Students interested in this program must apply to one of the following units.  Each has its own admissions criteria and deadlines, and each has its unique flavor of bioinformatics, described below. For details see each unit’s home page and the Web page specific to their MS.