General Overview PSM in Bioinformatics
The Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering (GSBSE) has developed a new online Professional Science Masters program in bioinformatics. Bioinformatics is the application of mathematical, statistical, and computational approaches to understand biological processes. The PSM in bioinformatics is an online program and includes interdisciplinary classes across the fields of mathematics, computer science, spatial information science and engineering, and molecular and cell biology. GSBSE faculty from the University of Maine, the Jackson Laboratory, Mt. Desert Island Biological Laboratory, University of New England, University of Southern Maine and Maine Medical Center Research Institute will be teaching the courses for this online degree program. The PSM provides an opportunity for advanced training directly relevant to current knowledge for their professional careers. Students entering the program are expected to come from a cell and molecular biology background and require more intensive training in math, computer, and information science, or from the mathematics, computer or information sciences disciplines and need training in cell and molecular biology. The program requires fifteen credits of bioinformatics courses, nine credits of enrichment courses, and six credits of applied field experience. Graduates of the Professional Science Masters in Bioinformatics are prepared for a diverse range of careers in biotechnology, infectious diseases, pharmaceutical biomedical research, environmental sciences, and forensics to name a few. The professional component of the Program prepares our graduates for leadership roles in the commercial, government and non-profit markets. The program’s interdisciplinary approach, depending on the student’s background can prepare you for positions as Computational Biologist, Biology Database Specialist, Bioinformatics Specialist, Bioinformatics Analysts among others. As a graduate of the PSM in Bioinformatics, you are transforming the landscape of business, technology, and science and you’re part of a growing trend in an emerging cross-disciplinary approach between the scientific and technical fields.
Program Requirements (30 credits)
- A total of 15 credits of bioinformatics courses
- 9 credits of enrichment courses
- 6 credits of applied field experience are required
- Transfer credit from other universities and programs may be possible
- A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be maintained for the PSM in Bioinformatics
A sample schedule for the course of study is provided below Fall First Year (6 cr)
- SIE 507 Information Systems Programming (3 cr) or BMS 525 Molecular Genetics (3 cr)
- MAT 541 Computational Genomics (3 cr)
Spring First Year (5 cr)
- BMB 525 Functional Genomics (4 cr)
- INT 601 Responsible Conduct of Research (1 cr)
Summer First Year (3 cr)
- Plus Element course (3 cr)
Fall Second Year (4 cr)
- SIE 557 Database System Applications (3 cr)
- GSBSE module (1 cr)
Spring Second Year (9 cr)
- Plus Element course (3 cr)
- Applied Field Research (6 cr)
Summer Second Year (3 cr)
- Plus Element course (3 cr)
The applied field experience will be self-directed and will be scheduled at the convenience of the student. With permission, other courses may be substituted for those listed for the Bioinformatics Core or Plus Element courses. In addition, as new courses are developed for online delivery, other courses may be added to the Bioinformatics Core and Plus Element courses as they become available. Prior graduate courses that have been taken by students, including courses considered for transfer will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The 6 credits of applied field experience are a cornerstone of the PSM degree. The applied field experience will integrate computer science, mathematics, biomedical sciences and plus element courses into a project that is relevant to the students’ current or future employment. The students will present their complete projects before a committee of faculty and industry leaders.
A strong applicant will have an undergraduate degree in the sciences, engineering, or related discipline, with an outstanding academic record and strong GRE scores. Students entering the program are expected to come from a cell and molecular biology background and require more intensive training in math, computer, and information science, or from the mathematics, computer or information sciences disciplines and need training in cell and molecular biology. The general GRE examination is required for review by the GSBSE Admissions Committee, except when the applicant has an advanced degree, in which case this requirement is waived. The GRE subject examination is not required. Evaluation for admission will also consider the motivation and career goals of the applicant in addition to research experience and the strength of recommendations. The application packet should include:
- University of Maine Graduate School application
- Letter of interest, including motivation to pursue an advanced degree
- GRE scores
- TOEFL scores, if appropriate
- Three letters of recommendation from professional or academic references
- Official academic transcript
- Any other relevant information that will aid in the evaluation of the applicant
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for Fall semester matriculation and program start. The application review process starts in early January. Notification of admission into the program occurs throughout the Spring. To begin the application process, follow our helpful application guide here. When you’re familiar with the process you can begin your online application to the University of Maine Graduate School!
What can I do with a PSM in Bioinformatics?
According to AAAS Science Journal, there is an “abundant demand for scientists with professional skills.” The Boston Globe called Bioinformatics a “high demand field within the life-sciences industry” further saying that “pay goes up dramatically for those with industry experience and with a master’s or doctoral degree.” A March 2014 article in the New York Times called it “A Degree Where Techie Meets Business Smarts.“ Higher salaries are typically found in the private sector, which recognizes and values the PSM Program. As a graduate of the PSM in Bioinformatics, you are transforming the landscape of business, technology, and science and you’re part of a growing trend in an emerging cross-disciplinary approach between the scientific and technical fields.
- Sequence Assembly: This involves the use of sophisticated computer-based methods to assemble the thousands of fragments that make up the genome of an organism.
- Genomic Sequence Analysis: This involves mapping out the regions of a genome that code for a particular protein’s production. It also involves mapping out areas of the gene that is clipped out or discarded. All these are done using sophisticated software programs, and results are then compared with databases of already mapped out genes.
- Functional genomics: This is the process of determining the functions of genes and determining whether they would be suitable for drug discovery.
- Genotyping: This involves the discovery of disease-causing genes and using that knowledge to identify individuals who are susceptible to such diseases.
- Proteomics: An offshoot of genomic studies, this is the study of the portion of a genome that is expressed in particular cells. This usually involves the use of microarrays (a cutting-edge technology that allows the expression level of thousands of genes in a cell sample to be quickly determined) and the results are entered in a database. This area is especially useful for drug and/or gene therapy.
- Pharmacogenomics: Here databases of single nucleotide polymorphisms (gene mutations that cause particular disease states or increased/decreased sensitivity to drugs) have an important role to play in future drug development efforts and in the design of clinical trials.
- Database Administration: This usually involves the design and maintenance of huge databases of genomic sequence and biochemical information. These databases need to be constantly updated. There is also the involvement in the development of intelligent search algorithms to search through the database and retrieve relevant information.
- Informatics problem-solving skills which include computer science and genomic expertise. This would include a good understanding of how and why DNA is transcribed into RNA and then expressed as proteins.
- Database administration and programming skills (e.g. SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, MySQL, CORBA, PERL, Java, C, C++, web scripting). UNIX tends to be the operating system used for many biological programs. Being able to write programs, especially using PERL and C, on this platform and using SQL, which tends to be the language used of querying relational databases where the biological information is stored, would be highly desirable.
- Experience with genomic sequence analysis and molecular modeling programs would also be a good skill to possess for those looking to get into bioinformatics.
- Act as an effective bridge between biologist and computers scientists, especially during the design of effective tools for data analysis, storage, and retrieval.
- Possess the necessary skills needed to effectively filter information and from possible relationships between datasets.
30 credit hours
Cost & Fees
- $418/cr. in-state and
- $523/cr. out-of-state
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Last updated November 20, 2017