Master of Science in Bioinformatics (MSc)
The Master of Science in Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary program that combines the application of computer technology to the management and analysis of biological data. The result is that computers are being used to organize data generated from experiments into databases, develop new algorithms and software, and use this software for the interpretation and analysis of the data into meaningful biological information. For the past ten years, our M.Sc. program has been training students to organize, visualize, analyze and interpret biological data. Students have access to world renowned bioinformaticians at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the BC Cancer Agency, and have exposure to the latest technologies to develop their skills.
Strategic Program Objectives:
- To build on British Columbia's reputation and excellence in bioinformatics.
- To integrate bioinformatics into basic biology to further current research excellence in other life science sectors of the province.
- To foster collaborations locally, nationally and internationally.
What makes the program unique?
The Bioinformatics M.Sc. program integrates academic centres in computer science, statistics, molecular biology, and biotechnology, with translational groups at hospitals and at the clinical interface. The innovative partnership among the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the BC Cancer Agency allows students access to top experts in the field of bioinformatics, exposure to original research and opportunities to complete significant practical work on real bioinformatics problems. Internships allow student mobility between Canadian and international universities, institutions and industries to further enhance collaborations among Canadian high-technology research groups in both the private and public sectors. Students have done research in various locations over the years such as the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and Mexico, Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Moscow, European Bioinformatics Institute at Cambridge, National University of Singapore and the National Institute of Genetics in Japan.
Contact the program
Admission Information & Requirements
In order to apply to this program, the following components may be required.
All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.
Minimum Academic Requirements
The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:
Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitve process.
English Language Test
Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.
Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:
Other Test Scores
Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:
Letters of Reference
A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.
Statement of Interest
Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.
Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.
Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Master of Science in Bioinformatics (MSc)
CV, Official transcripts, three letters of reference, Official English exam scores (if required)
Prior degree requirements
Applicants must have a Life-Sciences degree, with significant experience in a quantitative science OR a Computer Science/Math/Engineering/Physics degree with significant experience in Life Sciences. Although work experience may be taken into consideration if the degree is outside these areas.
Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.
Students who secure an NSERC-CREATE scholarship will undertake a 3-4 month internship that may be local, within Canada or at an international University or Institution.
Bioinformatics faculty are spread throughout the UBC campus, as well as off-campus at the BC Cancer Research Centre or hospital research labs and Institutions.
Students must secure a supervisor before they can be admitted into the program. As well, they must meet the minimum admission requirements set out by Graduate and Post-doctoral Studies at UBC.
January 2021 Intake
Application Open Date25 May 2020
May 2021 Intake
Application Open Date25 May 2020
September 2021 Intake
Application Open Date25 May 2020
Tuition & Financial Support
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,698.56||$2,984.09|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$944.51 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $16,954.00 (check cost calculator)|
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.
Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.
Program Funding Packages
All students accepted by a faculty member and enrolled in the program will be paid a minimum stipend of $24,300/year. Applicants who are interested in the organization and management of data, the development of algorithms and software, and application of these approaches to questions in wide-ranging areas of biology may consider the NSERC-CREATE funded Training Program in High-Dimensional Bioinformatics that provides additional funding and professional development opportunities.
Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)
All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.
Teaching Assistantships (GTA)
Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.
Research Assistantships (GRA)
Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.
Financial aid (need-based funding)
Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.
All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.
Foreign government scholarships
Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.
Working while studying
The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.
Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats
These statistics show data for the Master of Science in Bioinformatics (MSc). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.
Completion Rates & Times
This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.
Otto, Sarah (evolution, mathematical modeling, population genetics, genomic evolution, evolution of sex, yeast experimental evolution, Population genetics and evolutionary biology, yeast)
Overall, Christopher Mark (Blood research, antiviral immunity)
Pavlidis, Paul (Bioinformatics, computational biology, genomics, genome, neuroscience, neurobiology, gene expression, microarray, computer science, machine learning, statistics, Bioinformatics and neuroscience, schizophrenia and autism)
Pennell, Matthew (evolution, Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Biodiversity Theory and Informatics, Evolutionary change across different time scales, Ecological and evolutionary processes operating in "deep time", Ecological models for adaptive radiation, Long-term dynamics of evolutionary change, Phylogenetics, Macroevolution, evolutionary genetics)
Plotkin, Steven (Biophysics theory and computation )
Rieseberg, Loren (plant evolutionary biology, adaptation, speciation, crops, weeds, invasive plants)
Roth, Andrew (Molecular Oncology, Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, computational statistics, Machine Learning, genomics, Cancer Evolution, Evolutionary cancer biology, Cancer omics data, computational methods for studying clonal population structures and tumour evolution, Methodological work in computational statistics)
Simpson, Elizabeth (Congenital Anomalies, Eye and Visual System Diseases, Gene therapy for brain and eye diseases, In vivo gene augmentation and genome editing (CRISPR/CAS9), CRISPR, Aniridia, Rare diseases, Congenital blindness, MiniPromoters for restricted expression)
Steidl, Christian (Cancer; Molecular Pathology & Cell Biology, Genetics, genomics proteomics and related approaches)
Suttle, Curtis (Marine Environment, Microbial Diversity, Marine Microbiology, Environmental Virology, Biological Oceanography, Viral Discovery, Viruses, Phage)
Swindale, Nicholas Vaughan (Neuronal Modeling, Neuronal Systems, Eye and Visual System Diseases, Visual System)
Takei, Fumio (Molecular immunology, cancer, cell-cell interactions)
Tam, Roger (Imaging, Expert Systems, Neurodegenerative Diseases, Shape Recognition and Computer Graphics, Computer Science and Statistics, Biomedical Technologies, Machine Learning, Precision Medicine, Radiology, Biomedical Informatics, Data Analytics)
Tremlett, Helen (multiple sclerosis, prognosis, disease progression, natural history, disease modifying therapies, drugs, beta-interferon, therapeutics, adverse drug, reactions, side effects, effectiveness, epidemiology, pharmacoepidemiology, liver, pregnancy, Multiple sclerosis, euroepidemiology)
Wang, Zhen (Signal processing theory and applications, bioinformatics)
Wasserman, Wyeth (Bioinformatics, computation analysis of human genome, gene regulation, rare pediatric disorders)
Weng, Andrew (Molecular biology )
Woodward, Todd (Cognitive neuropsychiatry and functional neuroimaging)