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Program Overview

The Bioinformatics M.S. program is designed to develop life science professionals who are fluent in this cross-cutting discipline. Increasingly, bioinformatics is the engine by which researchers process, analyze and interpret the vast quantities of data generated every day across Maryland and the nation and around the globe.

Students gain sound, practical knowledge in the following areas:

  • Programming languages foundations – R, UNIX/Linux, Python
  • Algorithm development and testing
  • Modeling biological systems
  • Molecular structure analysis
  • Data management
  • Structural bioinformatics
  • Database systems and SQL
  • Machine learning
  • Bioinformatics sequence analysis and comparative genomics
  • Systems and integrative biology
  • Use of publicly available databases and analysis tools
  • Leadership and project management skills

Entrance requirements

Candidates must have completed one of the following:

  • A B.A. or B.S. in a life science or computer science field with a GPA of 2.75 or higher
  • A Bioinformatics certificate from Hood (or be progressing toward the certificate) with a 3.0 or higher
  • A M.A. or M.S in a biology-related or computer science-related field with a 3.0 or better.

Applications are welcome from candidates from outside the U.S. who hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with at least a 2.75 GPA on a 4.0 scale. 

GRE or GMAT exams are not required.


Complete and submit the graduate school application available at

About the program

The 33-credit program includes 18 credits of required coursework, 12 credits of elective coursework and a three-credit capstone project.

Initial courses cover public databases and applications, database management/data mining, programming for bioinformatics, statistics and analysis of genomic, proteomic and data modeling. Under the program’s “dual-gateway” format:

  • Candidates who have strong biology backgrounds begin by enrolling in a “gateway” foundation course in computer science.
  • Candidates who have strong computational backgrounds, but lack the understanding of life science and ‘-omics’ projects, enroll first in a foundation course that introduces the basics of cell biology and genome science.
  • Electives are centered on specific applications and tools and emphasize the synergy and integration of multiple approaches and platforms as solutions to bioinformatics challenges.
  • A team-based research project, linked where possible with local research labs and companies, culminates the program. Students are required to develop the research questions; collect and analyze the primary data; coalesce and synthesize the material into a final product; and report their findings back to the partner institution.

Required courses (18 credits)

  • BIFX 501 Foundation in Life Sciences (for non-Life Scientists) OR
  • BIFX 502 Foundation in Computer Science (for non-Computer Scientists) (3 credits)
  • BIFX 503 Statistics for Bioinformatics (3 credits)
  • BIFX 530 Introduction to Database Systems and SQL (3 credits)
  • BIFX 545 Leadership Skills and Project Management in Life Sciences (3 credits)
  • BIFX 550 Nucleic Acid Sequence Analysis and Protein Modeling* (3 credits)
  • BIFX 551 Programming for Bioinformatics * (3 credits)

Electives (12 credits)

  • BIFX 546 Knowledge Reasoning and Machine Learning (3 credits)
  • BIFX 547 Web- based Biomedical Informatics Applications in Life Sciences (3 credits)
  • BIFX 548 Data Visualization for Biomedical Informatics (3 credits)
  • BIFX 552 Bioinformatics Applications I * (3 credits)
  • BIFX 553 Bioinformatics Applications II * (3 credits)

Capstone (3 credits)

  • BIFX 579 Capstone Project (3 credits)

Students may elect to complete Hood’s 15-credit Bioinformatics certificate and then apply those credits* toward the M.S. degree.