Masters / PHD

Institute of Bioinformatics – Graduate Program

With the advent of multiple genome sequences, biological research has become much more quantitative, using tools from physical, mathematical, and computational sciences to generate and analyze large-scale datasets in an attempt to understand the behavior of biological systems. The highly interdisciplinary field of bioinformatics has developed around these new approaches. The mission of the Institute of Bioinformatics is to educate and train graduate students in bioinformatics research and its applications, so that they can attain mastery and leadership in this new interdisciplinary field. Graduate students pursue research-oriented programs of study leading to a degree or certificate. The Institute offers three options:

  • Ph.D. degree in Bioinformatics
  • M.S. degree in Bioinformatics
  • Graduate certificate in Bioinformatics

Students matriculating in this program will be directed and mentored by faculty members from multiple departments and disciplines. The bioinformatics graduate program consists of faculty members whose research interests cover a wide spectrum of bioinformatics research in the areas of microbial, fungal, plant, and animal genomics, structural genomics, biomedical (e.g., cancer) genomics, glycogenomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, and pharmacological informatics, using computational, statistical, and experimental technologies. Students should refer to the detailed research descriptions of the faculty members in the Institute of Bioinformatics.

Applications for Admission to the Bioinformatics Program to Earn a Ph.D.

The candidates for the graduate program must apply to the Graduate School and meet its admission criteria. Successful applicants will be expected to have mastered one or more of the disciplines that serve as a foundation for bioinformatics research, including the biological, mathematical, computational, and physical sciences and engineering. Mastery will be demonstrated by coursework equivalent to an undergraduate major in at least one such area.  Admission is primarily processed through the Integrated Life Sciences program (ILS) although students solely focused on plant research might want to explore admission through the Integrated Plant Sciences (IPS) program.

In addition to ILS and IPS paths, IOB will accept applications for direct admission to the PhD program typically through the Bioinformatics Fellowship dependent upon available funding.  The Bioinformatics Fellowship is for prospective students with demonstrated proficiency in one or more quantitative disciplines.  Check regularly for up-to-date information about the Fellowship here.

How to Apply

  • Applications are due December 1st for matriculation the following Fall term. Late applications from exceptional applicants may receive consideration.
  • Apply electronically or to learn more about admissions requirements visit The Graduate School. International applicants should be aware of supplemental requirements prior to applying.

NOTE: Please select Integrated Life Sciences (ILS) or the Integrated Plant Sciences (IPS) as the program.

  • A complete application includes transcripts (official or unofficial), ILS or IPS Background & Interest form, Statement of Purpose, Curriculum Vitae, and 3 letters of recommendation. The ILS Background & Interest form and the IPS Background & Interest form contains a section for a personal statement and also solicits information about ILS or IPS Research Areas and Faculty that are of interest to you. The personal statement should detail your research experience and career interests. Submit the Background & Interest form to the ILS Graduate Coordinator or the IPS Graduate Coordinator and send other application materials to the UGA Graduate School. NOTE: GRE is not required but accepted as supplemental application material.
  • Important codes: Select PHD_ILSC (Integrated Life Sciences) or PHD IPSC (Integrated Plant Sciences) as the major code in the application process. Select 5813 as the institutional code for ETS reports.
  • Applications will be screened by the admissions committee based on undergraduate GPA, graduate GPA (if applicable), letters of reference, research experience and academic potential. Ethnic and gender diversity will also be considered.
  • Applications are screened in December and early January.  Top domestic applicants will be invited to visit the UGA campus in early February for in-person interviews and interactions with current students and research faculty. Top international applicants will be interviewed via phone or Skype. Offers of admission will be extended to successful applicants shortly after interviews.
  • In any given year, ILS and IPS entry portals receive more applications from highly qualified candidates than it can support. Thus, ILS and IPS frequently refer applicants to other graduate programs based on the applicant’s stated faculty and research interests. These other programs are just as selective as ILS and IPS. If your referred application is pursued by a particular program, the program will contact you directly to determine whether you are willing to be formally considered as an applicant to their program.

While in the program, students will fulfill all the requirements of the Graduate School for the graduate degree. Student progress in the program will be monitored by the Graduate Coordinator and the IOB Graduate Affairs Committee. Upon arrival at the university, students will be assigned a curriculum advisor for guidance and mentoring. Because this program is interdisciplinary, students will be required to take prerequisite courses in areas where they do not have the necessary background. Students will select their major professor and establish an advisory committee by the end of their first year in the program.

The advisory committee will meet with the students no less than once a year and will be responsible for mentoring the student’s research and training, approving the student’s program of study, administering the written and oral comprehensive examination, approving the subject for the dissertation, approving the completed dissertation, and approving the student’s defense of his or her research.

Students will take a comprehensive examination before the beginning of their third year under the supervision of the major professor, following the Graduate School guidelines. Successful candidates for the PhD degrees will then typically concentrate on their research projects. After completing their research, they will write a dissertation and defend it at a final oral examination.

All students will receive training and experience in written and oral communication skills and training in the responsible conduct of research.

The details of the graduate program can be found in the Bioinformatics Graduate Student Handbook. (Some information on course requirements might be outdated)

Graduate Assistantships

Each year, a limited number of graduate research and teaching assistantships from the IOB will be available to the new Ph.D. students admitted to the Bioinformatics Graduate Program. Such assistantships are usually only available for students entering in the fall semester but individual faculty members may offer assistantships in either of the semesters. Students applying for the assistantships should send a brief letter of interest to the Graduate Coordinator and may include additional credentials of academic and/or industrial experience to support their application.

Applications for Admission to the Bioinformatics Program to Earn an MS.

The candidates for the graduate program must apply to the Graduate School and meet its admission criteria. Successful applicants will be expected to have mastered one or more of the disciplines that serve as a foundation for bioinformatics research, including the biological, mathematical, computational, and physical sciences and engineering. Mastery will be demonstrated by coursework equivalent to an undergraduate major in at least one such area.

How to Apply

  • Applications are due December 1st for matriculation the following Fall term. Late applications from exceptional applicants may receive consideration.
  • Apply electronically or to learn more about admissions requirements visit The Graduate School. International applicants should be aware of supplemental requirements prior to applying.
  • A complete application includes transcripts (official or unofficial),  CV/Resume, Statement of Purpose, and 3 letters of recommendation. The personal statement should detail your research experience and career interests.  Submit the CV/Resume and Personal Statement to the IOB Graduate Coordinator and send other application materials to the UGA Graduate School.  NOTE: GRE is not required but accepted as supplemental application material.

While in the program, students will fulfill all the requirements of the Graduate School for the graduate degree. Student progress in the program will be monitored by the Graduate Coordinator and the IOB Graduate Affairs Committee. Upon arrival at the university, students will be assigned a curriculum advisor for guidance and mentoring. Because this program is interdisciplinary, students will be required to take prerequisite courses in areas where they do not have the necessary background. Students will select their major professor and establish an advisory committee by the end of their first year in the program.

The advisory committee will meet with the students no less than once a year and will be responsible for mentoring the student’s research and training, approving the student’s program of study, administering the written and oral comprehensive examination, approving the subject for the dissertation, approving the completed dissertation, and approving the student’s defense of his or her research.

M.S. students with the thesis option are required to conduct a research project and to write a thesis based on it. An oral exam will be conducted by the advisory committee during which the student will defend his/her thesis. For the non-thesis option, the student will prepare a technical report on a research project in bioinformatics under the direction of a designated member of the IOB faculty. The technical report must be approved by a committee including the project director.

All students will receive training and experience in written and oral communication skills and training in the responsible conduct of research.

The details of the graduate program can be found in the Boinformatics Graduate Student Handbook (Some information on course requirements might be outdated).

Path of a Student