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Bioinformatics (M.S.)

  • Master's

About this Program

With the advent of “big data,” bioinformatics has become one of the major growth opportunities in the life sciences.

Program Overview

The master's degree in bioinformatics addresses the cross-cutting core subject areas and skill sets identified by the International Society for Computational Biology as essential for bioinformaticians. The program meets the growing demand for desk- and bench-based science professionals to demonstrate expertise in the experimental design, data handling and data analysis of biology studies that examine genes (genomics, proteins), proteomics and metabolites (metabolomics).

It is designed to develop life science professionals who are fluent in this interdisciplinary field. Increasingly, bioinformatics is the engine by which researchers process, analyze and interpret the vast quantities of data generated every day across Maryland, the nation and 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

Dual-gateway program

A dual-gateway approach allows individuals from both biology and computer science backgrounds to enter the program successfully by beginning with different foundation courses. It also ensures that students receive the cross-disciplinary training necessary in today’s bioinformatics job market. Students may also elect to complete a complementary certificate in project management.

Experiential learning

Students are strongly encouraged to pursue experiential learning with local research labs and biotechnology companies. Coursework emphasizes the leadership and project management training needed in the team-based environment of bioinformatics research today. In addition, students have access to a laboratory information management system with features that support modern laboratory operations.

Expert faculty, individual attention

Students benefit from small classes taught by faculty who are highly qualified in computer science, biology and bioinformatics. Our faculty have experience with top R&D and biotechnology firms, as well as federal and private laboratories. Their professional connections are instrumental in establishing and maintaining relevant partnerships that provide practical learning opportunities.

Flexible, convenient

The 33-credit M.S. program can be completed in as little as two years or longer on a less accelerated schedule. Evening classes accommodate working professionals and are held on the Hood College campus.

Degrees Offered

  • MS

M.S. in Bioinformatics

Candidates for master's program must have completed one of the following: 

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

Applicants must submit: 

  • A completed online application.
  • One copy of official transcripts from each institution of higher education attended; submit to the Graduate School.
  • A statement of intent of no more than 250 words that describes your background, experience and future goals.

GRE or GMAT exams are not required. 

All application materials should be submitted by July 15 for fall admission and December 1 for spring admission. Applications will continue to be reviewed after the deadline on a space-available basis.

Students can complete the Bioinformatics M.S. program coursework in approximately two to three years depending on the pace of coursework that they choose. By following these two steps, students can plan on completing the program requirements at a pace that meets their professional needs. 

Step One

Look up the Bioinformatics M.S. program requirements, course descriptions and Graduate School policies and procedures in the College Catalog

Step Two

Students should consult their adviser and the course schedule each semester to determine how they will fulfill the program requirements; the program director contact information is located at the bottom of the Bioinformatics M.S. homepage and students' academic advisers are indicated on their letters of admission. These faculty members can assist in planning a program of study based on a student's professional and career goals. All students must consult with their adviser before signing up for any final research project. 

Graduate students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty who can assist in the pursuit of academic and professional goals. Students are encouraged to get to know their faculty advisers and course professors to make the most of their graduate school experience.

The 33-credit program includes 18 credits of required coursework, 12 credits of elective coursework and a 3-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/BMS 501Foundation in Life Sciences (for non-Life Scientists)




BIFX 502Foundations in Computer Sciences (for non-Computer Scientists)




BIFX 503Statistics for Bioinformatics


BIFX 530Introduction to Database Systems and SQL


BIFX 545Leadership Skills and Project Management in Life Sciences


BIFX 550Nucleic Acid Sequence Analysis and Protein Modeling


BIFX 551Programming for Bioinformatics


Electives (12 credits)

BIFX 546Knowledge Reasoning and Machine Learning


BIFX 547Web-based Bioinformatics & Applications in Life Sciences


BIFX 548Data Visualization for Bioinformatics


BIFX 552Bioinformatics Applications I


BIFX 553Bioinformatics Applications II


Capstone (3 credits)

BIFX 579Capstone Project


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

FAES Course               Hood Equivalent
STAT 5000 II-0 Statistics for Biomedical Scientists II  BIFX 503 Statistics for Bioinformatics
BIOF 518 Theoretical and Applied BioinformaticsBIFX 550 Nucleic Acid Sequence
BIOF 509 Applied Machine LearningBIFX 502 Foundations in Comp Science (Certificate Only)

*An FAES student may count up to 9 FAES credits toward their BIFX degree or up to 6 credits toward their BIFX certificate, pending approval of the program director.


ABC graphic

Academic Blazer Chat: Bioinformatics

Miranda Darby, director of the bioinformatics program, and Katharine Coykendall, a bioinformatics student, discuss what bioinformatics is and who should pursue the field, with Laurie Ward, executive director of marketing and communications.

Miranda Darby

Miranda Darby

View MD Tech Council's brief interview with Miranda Darby, Ph.D., Hood Bioinformatics Program Director.

View Video

Program Contact

Miranda Darby

Program Director

Vanessa Solis

Assistant Director of Graduate Admission

Office 301-696-3604 Cell/WhatsApp: 240-651-4015

Our advisory board...

provides support and assistance in the development of new programs, serves as ambassadors for our program and identifies best practice standards.

All Faculty
Miranda Darby

Miranda Darby

  • Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics
  • Program Director, Master's in Bioinformatics and Bioinformatics Certificate

Xinlian Liu

  • Associate Professor of Computer Science
  • Program Director, Master's in Computer Science
Jennifer Schroeder, Adjunct Professor of Bioinformatics

Graduate Faculty Focus | Jennifer Schroeder

Jennifer Schroeder, Adjunct Professor of Bioinformatics Faculty Graduate School Graduate Student

"What I like most about Hood is how personal the education experience is here – classes are small, students get the attention they need from their professors, and the professors take educating students very seriously."

  • Academics
  • Natural Sciences
  • Math & Computer Sciences
Alexandra Faulkner

Graduate Alumna Focus | Alexandra Faulkner

Alexandra Faulkner Alumni Graduate School Graduate Student

Alexandra Faulkner earned a M.S. in Bioinformatics at Hood College in 2020. She recently started a position at Leidos as a Compliance Analyst in the Contracts and Acquisitions Directorate.

  • Academics
  • Natural Sciences
  • Math & Computer Sciences
Destinee Morrow

Graduate Alumna Focus | Destinee Morrow

Destinee Morrow, Bioinformatics, M.S.'20 Alumni Graduate School Graduate Student

Hood graduate student, Destinee Morrow, received a Master's in Bioinformatics in May 2020. She recently worked on a collaborative research project between the Berkeley National Lab and the Veterans Affairs.

  • Academics
  • Natural Sciences
  • Math & Computer Sciences