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Bioinformatics degree questions.

Kevin Karplus karplus at bray.cse.ucsc.edu
Wed Mar 27 18:57:45 EST 2002

In article <u9sbe9cjkld407 at corp.supernews.com>, Kenneth Blaine wrote:
> I'm thinking about going back to school to (eventually) get a PhD in
> bioinformatics.  My original degree was in a non-technical field (business
> administration) so I've got quite a lot of makeup work to do before I can
> consider applying to grad school.   The way that I look at it, I have three
> options I could follow before I apply:
> 1.  Take only the standard courses necessary for entrance into a graduate
> bioinformatics program.
> 2.  Get a (second) undergraduate degree in molecular biology.
> 3.  Get a (second) undergraduate degree in molecular biology and take the
> extra year of courses required for a masters in molecular biology.
> (Note:  I do plan on taking several extra courses in mathematics and
> computer science, in any case.  But I can take more of them if I don't have
> to worry about filling (Lib Arts&Sci) requirements for the 2nd degree.)
> So, which of these options would give me the best chance at getting into a
> good graduate program?   Or are they all pretty much on par?   Also, how
> difficult is it to get into a bioinformatics program?  I've read that many
> universities are having a hard time keeping professors in the field - that
> many are being lured away by the private sector.  Has this caused it to be
> significantly more difficult to be admitted to a bioinformatics program than
> to a regular molecular biology program?

There are a lot more molecular biology programs than bioinformatics
programs, and the necessary training to get into them is not as broad
(though possibly deeper).  You can look at 


to answer a number of your questions about what training UCSC expects
for its incoming bioinformatics students.

Getting into UCSC (one of the premier programs in bioinformatics,
though I say it as shouldn't) is quite difficult---we only accepted
about 20 out of 60 applicants this year, and we expect the number of
applicants to soar once we actually have an approved grad program.

Getting a grad degree in molecular biology is great, but it won't be
enough to get you into our bioinformatics program.  We want to see a
substantial programming background and some statistics, as well as a
fair amount of molecular biology.  We've found it takes too long to
teach someone how to program---that is a skill that need to be
obtained BEFORE entering a grad program in bioinformatics.

Kevin Karplus 	karplus at soe.ucsc.edu	http://www.soe.ucsc.edu/~karplus
Professor of Computer Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz
Undergraduate Director, Bioinformatics
(and grad director-to-be)

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