Program Description

Specialists in bioinformatics and computational biology collect, store, analyze, and present complex biological data. Through biological analysis and high-performance computing, critical contributions are made to basic biology, disease detection, drug design, modeling biosystems, forensics, agriculture, and environmental sciences. This program addresses growing national and regional demand for trained computational biologists. Graduates are qualified to pursue careers that require knowledge of current bioinformatics methods and applications and the ability to develop and use new bioinformatics software.

What it costs

The cost is $546 per credit hour for VA state residents or $1,301 per credit hour for out of state students, plus a $35 per credit hour Distance Education fee. Education Resource, New Student, and other mandatory university and course fees may apply.

Application Deadline

This program has an application deadline of March 15 for Fall and November 15 for Spring. International students must apply at least one month prior to deadline

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Program Summary

100 Percent Online

Program: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Degree: MS

College/School: College of Science

Credits: 31 total

 Who should apply?

Ideal candidates for this program have a background in biological or computer sciences. The flexibility of the degree structure permits students to custom-design their curriculum under an advisor’s guidance, making this especially relevant for students employed in today’s diverse biotechnology workplace.

Why choose George Mason?

  • This program addresses the growing international, national, and regional demand for trained computational biologists by combining a solid foundation in biotechnology with computational skills relevant to bioinformatics.
  • In this program you will receive the most up-to-date, advanced bioinformatics education available in the region.
  • Program projects are often done in cooperation with many world-class research institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, USDA, and many other universities, research institutes, museums, government, and military laboratories.
  • Courses in this program are taught by acclaimed professors and experts in the field, including Dr. Donald Seto, Dr. Dmitri Kilmov, and Dr. Iosif Vaisman.
  • It is possible to complete the entire program using online courses.
  • Persons employed at area biotechnology organizations may receive credit for work done on the job under the guidance of a faculty member. This work-related project may be applied either as a 3-credit research project or as a 6-credit master’s thesis.

Program requirements are subject to change; please refer to the Mason Course Catalog for the most up-to-date requirements.

Requirements: 31 credits total

  • 12 credits core courses
  • 3 credits advanced course
  • 1 credit seminar course
  • 3-6 credits research course
  • 9-12 credits elective courses

Sufficient courses are offered to complete the entire program online. Most online courses are delivered synchronously and offerings vary by semester.

Core Courses

  • BINF 630 Bioinformatics Methods | 3 credits
  • BINF 631 Molecular Cell Biology for Bioinformatics | 3 credits
  • BINF 634 Bioinformatics Programming | 3 credits
  • BINF 701 Systems Biology | 3 credits

Advanced Course

  • 3 credits of advanced bioinformatics courses numbered BINF 730 or above

Bioinformatics Seminar

  • BINF 704 Colloquium in Bioinformatics | 1 credit

Research Project or Thesis (Choose One)

  • BINF 798 Research Project | 3 credits
  • BINF 799 Master’s Thesis | 6 credits


If you select the Research Project option, you must complete 12 credits of elective courses. If you select the Master’s Thesis option, you must complete 9 credits of elective courses. Approved electives are as follows:

  • BINF 633 Molecular Biotechnology | 3 credits
  • BINF 641 Biomolecular Modeling | 3 credits
  • BINF 650 Intro to Bioinformatics Database Design | 3 credits
  • BINF 690 Numerical Method for Bioinformatics| 3 credits
  • BINF 702 Research Methods | 3 credits
  • BINF 730 Biological Sequence Analysis| 3 credits
  • BINF 731 Protein Structure Analysis | 3 credits
  • BINF 732 Genomics | 3 credits
  • BINF 734 Advanced Bioinformatics Programming | 3 credits

Electives may be selected from bioinformatics, biology, biotechnology, statistics, computer science, and information systems courses. Only courses that are available online are listed. For additional face-to-face elective options, contact your academic advisor.

Tuition (2015-16)

Virginia Resident$546 plus fees
Non-Virginia Resident$1,301 plus fees
Distance Education Fee$35
Education Resource Fee$60 - $100 (per semester)

Please refer to the Students Accounts Office website for more information on tuition and fees.

Financial Aid

For information on loans and scholarships, visit the Office of Student Financial Aid. For information regarding grants, tuition waivers and other merit aid, please inquire with your graduate department.

Career Descriptions

Graduates from this program have been offered positions and research opportunities at world-class institutions including NIH, NCI, The John Hopkins University, FDA, USDA, J. Craig Venter Institute, the FBI,  University of Georgia, and Baylor University. Many graduates have also found positions overseas in India, China, and Mexico.

Check out the International Society for Computational Biology website for current job postings in the field of bioinformatics. Graduates of this program are prepared for the following positions:

  • Biological Software Engineer
  • Biostatistician
  • Computational Biologist
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Manager
  • Pharmaceutical Scientist
  • Research Scientist
  • Scientific Programmer

As a Mason student, you may also contact the George Mason Career Services center for more career information and counseling.

Online Program ContactDiane St. Germain
Phone: (703) 993-4263
Fax: (703) 993-8976
Academic Program Office10900 University Boulevard, MS 5B3
Manassas, VA 20110
Phone: (703) 993-4263
College of Science
Graduate Admission Office
4400 University Drive, MS 6A3
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: (703) 993-3430
School of Systems Biology
Graduate Student Research


  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in science, math, engineering, or computer science
  • Achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0 in Bachelor’s program
  • Demonstrate completion of two semesters of courses in each of the following topics: Integral Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics
  • Demonstrate completion of one statistics course
  • Possess strengths in one or more of the following areas: Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Physical Chemistry
  • Have a working knowledge of a computer programming language

Application Materials

  • Graduate application
  • Transcripts of all post-secondary education (two copies from each institution attended)
  • Resume
  • 3 letters of recommendation from faculty members or individuals who have personal knowledge of your academic or professional capabilities
  • Goals statement
  • Application fee
  • Official GRE scores (the GRE requirement is waived if the student already holds a master’s degree from a U.S. institution)
  • A TOEFL score with a minimum of 20 in each section (internet-based test), 230 (computer-based test), 575 (paper-based test), or 6.5 IELTS is required for students who have not attained a degree in the US, Canada, U.K., New Zealand, or Australia

Please send your application materials to:
George Mason University
College of Science
Graduate Admission Processing Center
4400 University Drive, MSN 6A3
Fairfax, VA 22030