Computer Science Department

MS - Bioinformatics

The MS Bioinformatics features an interdisciplinary curriculum in bioinformatics, biology, computer science and mathematics. Questions in many areas of biology, including genomics, molecular biology, neuroscience, physiology, microbiology, ecology and evolution, must now be answered using mathematical and computational methods. New techniques allow the acquisitions of many thousands or millions of biological measurements, and the field of bioinformatics has developed to address this need. The MS Bioinformatics program will provide students with an understanding of biological questions, a background in mathematics, and the computational skills necessary to address complex problems in the biological sciences. Students will also gain experience utilizing these skills to answer biological questions, including those with biomedical applications. The goal of the MS in Bioinformatics program is to prepare students for careers in the growing field of bioinformatics both in academia and in the biotechnology industry.

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Admissions Requirements

University Admission

Candidates must apply through the CSU admissions portal, Cal State Apply, and meet all university admissions requirements. Applicants will need to apply separately to the university to obtain approval for university-level admission and to the department to obtain admission into the MS in Bioinformatics.

Applicants from countries in which the native language is not English or from countries with multiple native languages including English, must submit TOEFL scores. Minimum TOEFL scores acceptable for admission are 250 (Computer Based), 100 (Internet Based). Additional information about the TOEFL is given on the university webpage: Graduate Program Test Requirement.

Admission to the Program

Candidates must meet all the university admission requirements. Students can be admitted in either classified or conditionally classified standing. To be admitted to classified standing, applicants must have a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in the biological or computational sciences or in engineering, a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, and completion of all program prerequisites listed on the admission requirements webpage. Two letters of recommendation from academic instructors or advisors are also required. Currently, GRE exam results are not required.

To enter this program with classified standing, a student must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 units of required degree course work and have completed each of the following courses with a grade of "C" or better:

  • Biol 30 / Principles of Biology I (4 units)
  • Biol 31 / Principles of Biology II (4 units)
  • Biol 115 / General Genetics (4 units)
  • CS 22A / Python Programming for Non-Majors I (3 units)
  • CS 22B / Python Programming for Non-Majors II (3 units)
  • Math 30 / Calculus I (3 units)
  • Math 31 / Calculus II (4 units)
  • Math 161A / Applied Probability and Statistics I (3 units)
  • or equivalent courses

Students who meet the minimum university admission requirements can be conditionally classified if there is sufficient space in the program to accommodate them. Conditionally classified students will be required to complete undergraduate course work and prerequisite coursework (listed in "Requirements for Admission to Classified Standing"), as directed by the graduate coordinators.

Requirements for Advancement to Candidacy

To be admitted to candidacy for the MS degree, a student must meet the university requirements for advancement to candidacy for the master's degree as outlined in the Graduate Policies and Procedures section of this catalog. University requirements include completion of 9 letter graded units with a GPA of at least 3.0 and satisfaction of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR). The GWAR is met in this program by a "B" grade in CS 200W.

Requirements for Graduation

University Graduation Requirements

Students must complete all residency, curriculum, unit, GPA, and culminating experience requirements as outlined in the Graduation Requirements section of the Graduate Policies and Procedures.

Culminating Experience

Plan B (Project)

MS in Bioinformatics students will complete a written project as their culminating project. The project requires two consecutive semesters of enrollment in the 3-unit BIOL 298, CS 298B or MATH 298. Students not completing the project in one semester will be required to enroll in three additional units each semester until the project is completed. The student is responsible for identifying a project topic and for securing the commitment of a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member who agrees to serve as the project advisor. The student must also secure the commitments of two additional university faculty members, one of whom must be a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member, to serve as the student's project committee. Topics and committee selections must be approved by the Bioinformatics Graduate Coordinator. The project requires writing a manuscript describing original bioinformatics research and formatted for publication in a professional journal. It must be approved by the student's committee.

Course Requirements

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement
At SJSU, students must pass the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR). For information on the GWAR, please see
This requirement is satisfied by taking CS 200W
Requirements of the Masters
Core Courses19
BIOL 123A. Bioinformatics I3
BIOL 123B. Bioinformatics II3
BIOL 205. Advanced Molecular Techniques4
CS 200W. Graduate Technical WritingGWAR3
CS 223. Bioinformatics3
MATH 162. Statistics for Bioinformatics3
At least 6 units must be graduate level
BIOL 135A. Eukaryotic Cell and Molecular Biology I3
BIOL 135B. Eukaryotic Cell and Molecular Biology IIR3
BIOL 215. Seminar in Advanced Genetics3
BIOL 298. MS Project Culminating Experience3
CHE 293. Applied Bioinformatics3
CS 122. Advanced Programming with Python3
CS 255. Design and Analysis of Algorithms3
CS 256. Topics in Artificial Intelligence3
CS 257. Database System Principles3
CS 267. Topics in Database Systems3
CS 280. Graduate Individual Studies1-3
MATH 129A. Linear Algebra I3
MATH 161B. Applied Probability and Statistics II3
MATH 163. Probability Theory3
MATH 267A. Statistical Programming with R3
MATH 298. Special Study3
100- or 200-level courses chosen with advisor consent
Culminating Experience3
3 units of one of the following courses selected in consultation with the graduate advisor:
BIOL 298. MS Project Culminating Experience3
CS 298B. Bioinformatics Master's Project1-3
MATH 298. Special Study3

Total Units:31

Elective courses must be planned in consultation with one of the Graduate Coordinators.

The maximum number of upper-division undergraduate units that can be applied toward the master's degree is 12.

Upon completion of the degree requirements, the student must have achieved minimum candidacy and SJSU cumulative grade point averages of at least 3.0 in order to graduate.