Master of Science in Bioinformatics (MSc)

Overview

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.

Quick Facts

Degree
Master of Science
Subject
Health and Medicine
Mode of delivery
On campus
Specialization
Bioinformatics
Program Components
Coursework + Thesis required
Faculty
Faculty of Science

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Program Enquiries

If you have reviewed the information on this program page and understand the requirements for this program, you may send an enquiry

Admission Information & Requirements

In order to apply to this program, the following components may be required.

Online Application

All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.

Transcripts

All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.

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.

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.

Document Requirements

CV, Official transcripts, three letters of reference, Official English exam scores (if required)

English Language Proficiency

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:

100
22
21
22
21
7.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
6.0

Supervision

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)
All applicants need firm commitment from a supervisor prior to applying.

Test Scores (GRE / GMAT or similar)

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:

The GRE is not 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.

Citizenship Verification

Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.

Research Information

Program Components

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.

Research Facilities

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.

Application Notes

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.

Deadline Details

Application Deadline

Deadline to submit online application. No changes can be made to the application after submission.

Transcript Deadline

Deadline to upload scans of official transcripts through the applicant portal in support of a submitted application. Information for accessing the applicant portal will be provided after submitting an online application for admission.

Referee Deadline

Deadline for the referees identified in the application for admission to submit references. See Letters of Reference for more information.

May 2020 Intake

Application Open Date
20 June 2019
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 20 January 2020
Transcript Deadline: 20 January 2020
Referee Deadline: 24 January 2020
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 19 December 2019
Transcript Deadline: 19 December 2019
Referee Deadline: 19 December 2019

September 2020 Intake

Application Open Date
14 September 2019
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 13 March 2020
Transcript Deadline: 13 March 2020
Referee Deadline: 13 March 2020
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 14 February 2020
Transcript Deadline: 14 February 2020
Referee Deadline: 14 February 2020

Funding Sources

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.

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.

We encourage all applicants to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund your 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.

In addition to scholarships and awards, applicants may be eligible to apply for financial aid or other benefits in the form of loans, bursaries, tax credits, or similar.

Career Options

As biological data sets increase exponentially in both size and complexity, bioinformatics tools have central importance in fields and industries ranging from environmental management, forestry, aquaculture, and bio-fuels to personalized medicine, drug development, preventative medicine and gene therapy. Individuals who can analyze and interpret large data sets or "big data" are highly sought after by both public and private sector employers. Academic positions are also available at universities and research institutions, for those who continue their studies toward a PhD degree in Bioinformatics. Recent graduates have taken positions at local research institutions and biotechnology companies, a gaming company in California, a computer software company in Japan, and a chemical company in Montreal. Those looking to further their academic career have entered medical school, or are pursuing a PhD degrees in Australia, Cambridge, Oxford, and locally at UBC and SFU.

Tuition / Program Costs

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$106.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,095.68$8,952.27
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)
* Regular, full-time tuition. For on-leave, extension, continuing or part time (if applicable) fees see UBC Calendar.
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.

Statistical Data

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.

Enrolment Data

 20182017201620152014
Applications7270261321
Offers12119613
New registrations1098513
Total enrolment2723252529

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 70.59% based on 17 students admitted between 2009 - 2012. Based on 27 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 1.99 years and the maximum time is 4.00 years with an average of 2.84 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 22 March 2019]. Enrolment data are based on March 1 snapshots. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Rates and times of completion depend on a number of variables (e.g. curriculum requirements, student funding), some of which may have changed in recent years for some programs [data updated: 27 October 2019].

Research Supervisors

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)
  • Plotkin, Steven (Biophysics theory and computation )
  • Rieseberg, Loren (plant evolutionary biology, adaptation, speciation, crops, weeds, invasive plants)
  • 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)

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Further Program Information

 

Apply Now

If you don't have a UBC Campus-Wide Login (CWL) please create an account first.
 

May 2020 Intake

Application Open Date
20 June 2019
Canadian Applicant Deadline
20 January 2020
International Applicant Deadline
19 December 2019

September 2020 Intake

Application Open Date
14 September 2019
Canadian Applicant Deadline
13 March 2020
International Applicant Deadline
14 February 2020
 

Supervisor Search

 

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