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5 Common Courses in a Bioinformatics Degree Program

These Are Five Essential Courses in a Bioinformatics Degree Program

  • Statistics
  • Ethics or Legal Studies
  • Genomics
  • Biology
  • Computer Programming

A person interested in a lucrative career should consider taking these five common courses in a bioinformatics degree program. Bioinformatics is a growing field, with the number of jobs expected to go up by 16 percent between 2018 and 2028. A degree in this field would prepare a person for many different jobs in research, development, analysis, and evaluation.


1. Statistics

A student in a bioinformatics degree program will likely take several statistics classes. An introductory statistics class allows the student to learn the general principles and methods of statistical analysis. This entry course includes both descriptive and inferential statistics. Mid-level and advanced statistics courses prepare a bioinformatics professional to conduct complex analyses on large sets of data. Some of those additional statistics courses might include logistic regression, survey design, and differential equations.

2. Ethics or Legal Studies

Another course that is commonly included in a bioinformatics degree program is ethics or legal issues around private health information, the collection of identifiable information and the use of personal health and genetics data. This type of class explains the laws around the use and protection of personally identifiable information. It may also include encryption and other methods of protecting data. The ethics class would include information on what is a socially acceptable use of bioinformatics, health data and personal information in the public domain.

3. Genomics

Genomics is the study of the theories behind gene sequencing and the mapping of genes. This course would explore the tools and technology of genetic sequencing and mapping. It would also include an introduction to the methods of gene sequencing and mapping. Other topics, such as the evolution of genes, the origin of genes and how genes interact with each other could also be explored in this course. There is some overlap with biochemistry and the laboratory portion of other biology classes, but this is more of a lecture and book learning type of course.

4. Biology

A student working to earn a degree in bioinformatics will take multiple classes in the biological sciences. The introductory classes usually include biology, physiology, and biochemistry. These courses typically include a classroom component and a separate laboratory component. The mid-level biology classes will typically include genetic, ontology, evolution and biotechnology. The first bioinformatics course will usually come around this time. An introductory bioinformatics course will include topics about macromolecular structures and their data and how to represent, classify and interpret the data from those structures. Advanced bioinformatics courses include topics about sequence-structure analysis, sequence modeling, and proteomes.

5. Computer Programming

According to the National Library of Medicine, computer programming courses are also common to a bioinformatics degree program. Computer programming is important because it would allow a bioinformatics scientist to analyze the data collected in a genomics experiment. It would also allow the scientist to compile information from thousands or even millions of subjects in order to identify trends or make predictions. Some computer programming classes that a person might take include logic, SAS, STATA, Java or JavaScript.

These are not the only courses that a person earning a bioinformatics degree would need to take. The person would likely also take technical writing, communications, foreign language and a range of mathematics and physical sciences classes. Each of these five common courses in a bioinformatics degree program will prove useful to a career in this growing field.