Program Description

Scientists in bioinformatics and computational biology collect, store, analyze, interpret, 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 and applications of current bioinformatics methods and the ability to develop and use new bioinformatics software.

What it costs

The total cost for this program is $793.25 per credit hour for VA state residents or $1,681.25 per credit hour for Non-VA residents. See the Cost tab below for a breakdown of tuition and fees. All of Mason’s tuition rates and fees can be found on our Student Accounts site.

Application Deadline

For application information and deadlines, see the Admissions site.

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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 or interest 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 hands-on cooperation with many neighboring local world-class research institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, USDA, FDA, FBI, 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 Patrick Gillevet, Saleet Jafri, Dmitri Kilmov, Donald Seto, Jeffrey Solka, and Iosif Vaisman, as well as faculty from other departments.
  • 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 (2021-2022)

Virginia Resident$643.00
Non-Virginia Resident$1,531.00
Mandatory Student Fee$150.25
Total Cost per Credit for Virginia Residents $793.25
Total Cost per Credit for Non-Virginia Residents$1,681.25
Graduate New Student Fee$60 (non-refundable, one-time fee)

Please Note: In addition to the tuition and fees described above, various course and lab fees may be assessed depending on the course(s) in which the student is enrolled. 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 Mason Career Services for more career information and counseling.

Department ContactSchool of Systems Biology
College ContactCollege of Science (COS)
Graduate Admissions
Phone: (703) 993-9532
Program Website
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All applicants should review School of Systems Biology Application Information. For international applicants, see guidelines for International Graduate Requirements.


  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in science, math, engineering, or computer science from a US institution that is accredited by one of the organizations found here
  • Achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0 in bachelor’s program
  • Demonstrate completion of two semesters of courses in each of the following: Integral Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics
  • Demonstrate completion of one statistics course
  • Possess strengths in one or more of the following: Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, and Physical Chemistry
  • Have a working knowledge of a computer programming language

Application Materials

  • Graduate application
  • Application fee
  • In-state tuition form (if applicable)
  • Two official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • Goals statement
  • Resume
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty members or individuals who have personal knowledge of your academic or professional capabilities

If you have any questions during the application process, please contact COS Graduate Admissions at or (703) 993-3430.