Online Master's in Bioinformatics & Genomics

Bioinformatics is the study of living things at the molecular level through the use of various types of information technology (e.g., big data), according to the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Genomics is a separate branch of molecular biology that studies the evolution, function, and structure of genes as well as gene sequencing. A genome is all the contents of DNA present in one cell of a person, animal, or plant.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not list all biological scientists separately. The median salary for all biological scientists (which includes molecular and cellular biologists) was $95,920 in May 2022. Annual job growth is projected to grow 4 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations (3 percent). Most professionals in this field have at least a graduate degree, with many choosing to earn a doctoral degree to expand their research opportunities.

Students who enroll in bioinformatics and genomics master’s degree programs typically already have a strong background in biology, calculus, computer programming, linear algebra, or physiology. They wish to research DNA patterns to predict and control the outcome of diseases and genetic conditions. These programs offer an excellent career for those who have a keen interest in science and technology and desire to use their knowledge to make a significant difference in the health of all living things.

The International Society for Computational Biology indicates that bioinformatics professionals can pursue several different career trajectories. Bioinformatics users access specific applications to diagnose, treat, and counsel patients; bioinformatic scientists use various computational methods to improve public understanding of a living system; and bioinformatics engineers create computational methods used by the other two groups. Bioinformatics professionals can create successful careers as individual contributors, core facility researchers, educators, and software developers.

This article explores several popular bioinformatics and genomics programs and academics.

Admissions Requirements for Online Master’s Programs in Bioinformatics and Genomics

Each school offering a master’s degree in bioinformatics and genomics has slightly different requirements. However, variations of the following are common across all degree programs:

  • Completed application and fee
  • Professional resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Official transcripts from previous schools attended
  • Personal statement of intent
  • One to three letters of recommendation
  • Test of English language proficiency (TOEFL)
  • GMAT or GRE score

Featured Online Master’s Programs in Bioinformatics and Genomics

Johns Hopkins University (AAP)
Brandeis University
Arizona State University

Brandeis University

This part-time online master’s degree in bioinformatics requires the completion of 30 credits. Students applying to the program should have already completed undergraduate coursework in molecular biology or biochemistry and statistics, probability or biostatistics. GRE or GMAT scores are not required for admission.

To earn the degree, students must complete required courses in bioinformatics scripting and databases with python; biological sequence analysis; mathematical modeling for bioinformatics; molecular biology, genetics, and disease; molecular profiling and biomarker discovery, and r for biomedical informatics. Students also complete four elective courses in cheminformatics; computational systems biology; drug discovery and development; and structural bioinformatics.

  • Location: Waltham, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Less than 36 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,220 per credit hour

Johns Hopkins University

The administration at Johns Hopkins University created this 11-course bioinformatics program based on the success of its biotechnology and engineering program. It provides students with rigorous training in bioinformatics and genomics by bringing together the disciplines of biosciences, bioinformatics, and computer science.

Some of the topics that students can expect to study include molecular biology; epigenetics, gene organization & expression; algorithms for bioinformatics; biological databases and database tools; practical computer concepts for bioinformatics; computational genomics; and statistics for bioinformatics, among others.

The program offers students both practical and theoretical aspects of bioinformatics and genomics to prepare them to perform complex data sequencing, interpret biological information, program software, and much more.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 16 to 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $56,350 to $58,870 total

Lewis University

Lewis University’s online master of science in data science program offers a concentration in computational biology and bioinformatics. This concentration can also be taken as a stand-alone graduate certificate program. Students in this online program will be provided with technical biotechnology and data analysis skills. They will learn to apply these skills and techniques in the areas of pharmaceuticals, genetics, and computational biology.

This 18-credit graduate certificate includes courses such as data systems in the life sciences; an introduction to computational biology; research in biotechnology; and data science projects for life scientists.

Graduates will be able to create software to analyze large data sets, utilize big data sets, identify trends within data sets, implement data management solutions related to bioinformatics and computational biology, use innovative ways to utilize data for technical research, and evaluate possible solutions for encryption and data storage.

  • Location: Romeoville, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Stand-alone graduate certificate (12 months); MS in data science (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $820 per credit

Northeastern University

One unique feature of Northeastern’s 32-credit bioinformatics program is that it allows students to gain up to six months of work experience by participating in an optional co-op program. In the past three years, 94 percent of graduates of this program have reported securing a position in research or industry. This MS in bioinformatics program is structured to provide students with the knowledge and skills required for developing, evaluating, and deploying computational biology and bioinformatics applications.

Additionally, the program allows students to choose from several available concentrations in bioinformatics and chemoinformatics, bioinformatics enterprise, biotechnology, data analytics, health informatics, medical health informatics, and omics. Students can also choose the online coursework option, where students can take elective courses instead of concentration-specific courses.

Examples of required coursework include computational bioinformatics methods; ethics in biological research; the biotechnology enterprise; bioinformatics programming; and statistics for bioinformatics.

Students who choose the three or six-month co-op experience will work with such organizations as Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Students can also earn an additional graduate certificate in data analytics alongside this program.

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 36 months; part-time or full-time available
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,730 per credit

Stanford University

The bioinformatics training program at the Stanford School of Medicine emphasizes public health, clinical informatics, and bioinformatics. Students enrolled in the 45-credit program complete courses in the core areas of biomedical informatics, social and ethical issues, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and statistics.

Examples of coursework in each core area include an introduction to biomedical informatics research methodology; modeling biomedical systems; data science for medicine; translational bioinformatics; computational methods for biomedical image analysis and interpretation; advances in biotechnology; ethics in bioengineering; economics of health and medical care; and foundations of bioethics. This program is designed to be completed part-time as students must be currently employed full-time. They should also plan to keep the same employment status while enrolled in the program.

  • Location: Stanford, CA
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 36 to 60 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,400 per unit

New York University

The Polytechnic Institute at New York University has responded to the demand for academically rigorous bioinformatic and genomics programs to prepare students to study and manage data taken from the life sciences. The 30-credit program provides a solid foundation in statistics, molecular biology, programming (Shell Scripting, R, and Python), Machine Learning (Deep Learning), and sequence and pathway analysis. The U.S. News and World Report have recognized this program as one of the best online graduate programs in internet technology.

Coursework includes topics such as algorithms and data structures for bioinformatics; problem-solving for bioinformatics; biology and biotechnology for bioinformatics; statistics and mathematics for bioinformatics; applied biostatistics for bioinformatics; and machine learning and data science for bioinformatics. Students will also be required to choose a concentration in laboratory science or translational science.

  • Location: Brooklyn, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Up to five years to complete, both full-time and part-time available
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,102 per credit

University of Maine

This online professional science master’s in bioinformatics takes an interdisciplinary approach from the fields of computer and information science, mathematics, and molecular and cell biology. The school requires students to have a previous background in at least one of these areas. The degree requires the completion of 30 credits. Of these, 17 come from bioinformatics courses, seven from enrichment courses, and six from applied field experiences.

Examples of courses in the first two areas include responsible conduct of research; metadata systems; information systems programming; database system applications; molecular genetics; strategic data analysis; enterprise architecture; data mining; electromagnetic theory; and foundations of biomedical science & engineering, among others.

  • Location: Orono, ME
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 36 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $608 per credit

University of Maryland Global Campus

UMGC offers a professional science master’s degree in biotechnology specializing in bioinformatics. The program prepares students to become qualified bioinformatics professionals for private or public sector organizations and join the teams doing crucial work in this industry.

It requires the completion of 36 credits, 12 of which come from core courses that all biotechnology students complete, which include bioprocessing and the business of biotechnology; introduction to bioinformatics; societal issues in biotechnology; and biotechnology techniques. Students also take seven three-credit specialization courses and a three-credit Capstone project. Examples of coursework for the bioinformatics specialization include advanced bioinformatics; advanced object-relational database systems; and data structures and algorithms.

  • Location: Largo, Maryland
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 36 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($524 per credit); out-of-state ($659 per credit)

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

The School of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Texas at Houston offers an online master of science program in biomedical informatics with two available tracks: the applied biomedical informatics track and the research track. Both these tracks are designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge required for delivering innovative solutions to real-world problems in health information technology. With part-time and full-time options, both tracks can be completed online and have CAHIIM Accreditation.

The research track focuses on how biomedical and health data are collected and processed into health information and how this data can support clinical decision-making. Students in the applied biomedical informatics track will utilize information, knowledge, and data for designing, implementing and evaluating health information solutions for improving human health. Both tracks require 39 credits to complete.

As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as foundations of biomedical information sciences; introduction to biomedical informatics; statistical methods in biomedical informatics; legal and ethical aspects of health informatics; applied data management; workflow process modeling; and change management in health informatics, among others. Students in both tracks will be required to complete a practicum during their academic program.

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($18,900); non-resident ($42,663)

George Mason University

George Mason University offers an online master of science program in bioinformatics and computational biology addressing the growing regional and national demand for trained computational biologists. Graduates of this program are qualified to pursue careers that require the applications and knowledge of current bioinformatics methods and the ability to use and develop new bioinformatics software.

Applicants to the program must hold a bachelor’s degree in math, science, computer science, or engineering from an accredited US institution with a GPA of 3.0.

Made up of 31 credits, the program includes courses such as bioinformatics methods; molecular cell biology for bioinformatics; bioinformatics programming; systems biology; molecular biotechnology; biomolecular modeling; numerical methods for bioinformatics; and biological sequence analysis.

Graduates can take up roles such as biological software engineers, biostatisticians, computational biologists, data analysts, data managers, and pharmaceutical scientists, among many other such roles.

  • Location: Fairfax, VA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 36 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Virginia resident ($793 per credit); non-Virginia resident ($1,681 per credit)

Accreditation of Online Programs

Ensuring that a school has earned outside accreditation is one of the most important things a prospective student can do when deciding where to enroll. Accreditation means that the school has voluntarily sought approval from a third-party educational agency that reviews such things as programs, faculty credentials, admissions process, and percentage of students who obtain jobs in their respective fields.

Most colleges seek regional accreditation for the entire school and sometimes individual accreditation for various programs. Some of the most well-known regional accrediting bodies include:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Professors to Know in Bioinformatics and Genomics

Dr. Gentles is an assistant professor of research medicine at Stanford University Medical School. In addition to his teaching duties, Dr. Gentles is a member of Bio-X, the Stanford Cancer Institute, and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute. His research interests include the biology of human disease using computational systems, systems biology, and machine learning.

Dr. Gentles has numerous publications to his credit, with the most recent one entitled “Lymph node colonization induces tumor-immune tolerance to promote distant metastasis.” Dr. Gentles earned his bachelor of science with honors in physics at the University of Manchester and his doctorate in theoretical particle physics at the University of Southampton in Great Britain.

Dr. Arif Harmanci is an assistant professor in the School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). His research interests cover a wide range of topics such as computational biology, genotype-phenotype associations, non-coding variation, biological networks, the development of novel machine learning methods for biomedical data analysis, and cancer genomics.

His areas of expertise include genomic privacy, functional genomics, bioinformatics, and next-generation sequencing data analysis. His research has been published in prominent journals such as Nature Communications, Genome Biology, and Molecular Systems Biology. Dr. Harmanci completed his PhD and MS degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Rochester, and a BS in electrical and computer engineering from Bilkent University.

Dr. Manpreet Katari is a clinical professor of biology and coordinator of computational studies at New York University. He teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses focusing on bioinformatics or related fields. Course topics include bioinformatics in medicine and biology; programming for biologists; biological databases and data-mining; applied genomics; statistics in biology; and algorithms and data structures in bioinformatics. His research interests include comparative genomics, functional genomics, systems biology, and bioinformatics. His research has been published in prominent journals such as Plant Physiology, PLOS Genetics, and Genome biology. He completed his PhD in genetics from SUNY Stony Brook and a BS in biochemistry from SUNY Buffalo.

Lisa A Eramo
Lisa A Eramo Writer

Lisa A. Eramo, BA, MA is a full-time freelance healthcare writer specializing in health information management, medical coding, and regulatory topics. She regularly contributes to various healthcare publications and assists clients with healthcare content development, including blogs, articles, white papers, case studies, and more. Visit her website at