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We accept applications to enter our graduate programs for either fall or spring semester start. To ensure sufficient time to review your application and make an admissions decision, applicants are encouraged to complete their applications several months before their intended start term. International applicants must include enough time to obtain a visa.

Applicants should apply through the VCU graduate admissions form and submit transcripts, GRE scores, a person statement describing preparation and motivation for graduate study in bioinformatics, and three letters of recommendation from people who can describe the applicant's academic preparation for graduate study. International applicants should submit TOEFL or ILETS scores. Also note that prospective students who have studied outside of the U.S. must provide an official WES or ECE (or other NACE-accredited agency) external credential evaluation as a required part of the admissions process. This report should be sealed and unopened, and sent directly to the Office of Admissions.

Admission requirements are listed fully in VCU Graduate Bulletins. Please visit the VCU Graduate School website for more information and to apply. If you have questions specific to applying to Bioinformatics please contact Dr. Allison Johnson, aajohnson@vcu.edu.

Interested in Graduate School?

Bioinformatics is a new, exciting, multidisciplinary approach to doing biomedical research in which computer science, information technology and biology merge into a single discipline. At VCU, we teach bioinformatics by bringing together the expertise and resources of multiple departments of the university. We host two program options in our Master of Science in Bioinformatics degree. Read the descriptions below to determine which option might be the best fit for you.

Master of Science in Bioinformatics, thesis option

The Master of Science in Bioinformatics, thesis option is a traditional research- and thesis-oriented master’s degree. In addition to course work, students complete a substantial, original research project with a VCU faculty mentor and write a thesis describing that work. This degree program prepares students for employment in an academic, industrial or government environment and for Ph.D. training programs.

Our program mission

The mission of this research-oriented degree program is to prepare students for research careers in university, foundation or industry laboratories; and completion of a thesis provides problem solving skills required for a research career.

Master of Science in Bioinformatics, Professional Science Masters (non-thesis) option

The Master of Science in Bioinformatics, (non thesis option) is a Professional Science Master’s degree program that prepares graduate students to work as a bioinformaticist in a professional environment. In addition to course work featuring both bioinformatics and business fundamentals, students participate in a summer externship at an industrial or government setting. This degree program not only prepares students with advanced training in bioinformatics but also in workplace skills valued by employers.

Our program mission

The Professional Science Masters program in bioinformatics at VCU will be the premier bioinformatics PSM program in the United States, training graduates for leadership roles in biotechnology, biomedicine and other sectors of the life sciences by imparting interdisciplinary knowledge, skills and experience in the biological, quantitative and information sciences, and engaging students in the practices of business and entrepreneurship in collaboration with the commercial and public bioscience sectors.


The bioinformatics curriculum includes courses in bioinformatics, molecular biology and computation, as well as credits for thesis research or externship experiences. Core courses teach students the practice and theory of bioinformatics and provide hands-on experience in the field. Students also take elective courses related to their area of interest, such as network biology, genomics and phylogenetics, modeling and biocomplexity, or algorithms. View course descriptions on the VCU Courses website

Ph.D. in Integrative Life Sciences, concentration in Bioinformatics and Genomics

The Ph.D. in Integrative Life Sciences, concentration in Bioinformatics and Genomics is a flexible, interdisciplinary program designed for students seeking new ways to answer emerging research questions. This concentration focuses on bioinformatics and genomics training, while mainitaining the core academic curriculum of the Ph.D. program. For more information on this program, please contact Dr. Brian Verrelli.

Who should apply

We accept talented students from a variety of backgrounds, including those with undergraduate degrees in biology, bioinformatics, computer science and math biotechnology, with a strong motivation for graduate training in bioinformatics. If your undergraduate degree is not in bioinformatics, we can support your transition into bioinformatics through enrollment in prerequisite bridge courses taken during your first year in the program. For example, if your undergraduate degree is in biology, you may need to take the relevant computer science and statistics prerequisite courses to boost your computational and quantitative background.

In the area?

We encourage you to make an appointment to meet and talk about your interest in the program. Please contact the following individuals for more information:

Herschell Emery, Ph.D., director of undergraduate curricula
Grace E. Harris Hall, Room 3116b
(804) 828-0559

Allison Johnson, Ph.D., assistant director
Grace E. Harris Hall, Room 3115
(804) 828-6782

Pursuing practical applications
By researching how physicians can more accurately tailor drug therapies to their individual patients, alumnus William Budd, Ph.D., is using bioinformatics to make a difference in people’s lives.
Read more on the VCU Life Sciences website »

Job prospects

Bioinformatics graduates are well-prepared for interdisciplinary careers in academics, industry and government. Our M.S. graduates generally find a job before or very soon after graduation. Recent graduates with a master's degree in bioinformatics enjoy starting salaries of $70,000 and higher. In comparison, a graduate with a typical B.S. degree earns an average annual salary of $38,000, and a graduate with an M.S. in Biology typically earns $50,000.

Learning outcomes

The Master of Science in Bioinformatics degree programs share a core curriculum designed to support these learning outcomes:

  • Oral communication skills: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of oral communication skills with respect to the content, organization, logical flow, presentation and appropriate use of language, incorporating the use of visual aids.
  • Written communication skills: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of written communication skill with respect to grammar, syntax, spelling and use of vocabulary to effectively present information, including the use of figures, tables and citations.
  • Experimental design competency: The candidate will demonstrate the achievement of an appropriate level of competence in the ability to appraise, modify and/or create and implement bioinformatics experimental protocols and to design and develop experiments.
  • Problem-solving skills: The candidate will demonstrate an appropriate level of ability to analyze scientific problems, including pertinent datasets and design and develop appropriate methods to solve said problems.
  • Integrated knowledge of bioinformatics: The candidate will demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge of the fundamentals of molecular biology, computational science, statistics and a more detailed understanding of their individual area of thesis research, including an appropriate familiarity with the research literature

The Master of Science, Professional Science Masters (non-thesis) option is affiliated with the Professional Science Masters programs National Office.


Virginia Commonwealth University | VCU Life Sciences | Center for the Study of Biological Complexity
Grace E. Harris Hall, Room 3102 | Box 842537 | Richmond, Virginia 23284 | Phone: (804) 827-0026
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