Program Description

Researchers in the field of bioinformatics and computational biology collect, store, analyze, and present complex biological data using high-performance computing. Through this work, critical contributions are made to disease detection, drug design, forensics, agriculture, and environmental sciences. This research-oriented program trains a new generation of computational biologists for careers in private industry, academia, and government agencies. The program provides students with interdisciplinary academic curriculum that includes fundamental bioscience courses as well as advanced courses in bioinformatics.

In general, course requirements are completed within the first two years of study. Completion of coursework, the comprehensive exam, and a successful dissertation proposal results in advancement to candidacy status. In the next phase, students conduct research guided by a faculty member. The program is concluded with the defense of PhD dissertation.

The program is structured to be accessible for full- and part-time students. The courses are offered in a hybrid or distance learning format without requiring students to travel to campus. Because the research work is computational, students may choose to earn their doctoral degree entirely remotely or in a traditional face-to-face format.

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. New Student and other mandatory university and course fees may apply.

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: PhD

College/School: College of Science

Credits: 72 total

 Who should apply?

The program is inherently interdisciplinary and consequently the students coming to the program are likely to have a background in biology, computer science, or chemistry. Students select one of the areas in bioinformatics and computational biology studied by a faculty member, who will serve as their advisor.  Thus, the students interested in studying biological problems utilizing computational methods are encouraged to apply.

Why choose George Mason?

  • Life science is a rapidly developing field demanding highly trained computational biologists. Our program addresses the growing demand by preparing a new generation of bioinformaticians to be employed in industry, academia, or government.
  • By joining the program, students will participate in advanced, cutting-edge research.
  • Students benefit from cooperation with neighboring world-class research institutions, including the NIH, USDA, FDA, FBI, and many other universities, research institutes, museums, government, and military laboratories in the Greater Washington, DC area.
  • Courses in this program are taught by acclaimed professors and experts in the field, including Saleet Jafri, Dmitri Klimov, Donald Seto, Jeffrey Solka, Aman Ullah, and Iosif Vaisman as well as faculty from other departments.
  • The program offers excellent opportunity for professionals with MS degree to complete PhD program on a part-time basis.
  • The entire doctoral degree can be earned online without the need to travel to campus.

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

Requirements: 72 credits total

  • 6 credits fundamental biosciences courses
  • 13 credits core courses
  • 3 credits colloquium course (1 credit each instance)
  • 3 credits lab rotation (1 credit each instance)
  • 12-24 credits research course
  • 23-35 credits elective courses

All the courses needed to complete the entire program are offered online. Most online courses are delivered synchronously. Classes are scheduled 4:30 p.m. (eastern standard time) or later to accommodate students employed full-time. Offerings vary by semester.

Fundamental Biosciences Courses

  • BINF 701 Systems Biology | 3 credits
  • BINF 702 Biological Data Analysis | 3 credits

Core Courses

  • BINF 690 Numerical Methods for Bioinformatics | 3 credits
  • BINF 705 Research Ethics | 1 credit
  • BINF 730 Biological Sequence and Genome Analysis | 3 credits
  • BINF 731 Protein Structure Analysis | 3 credits
  • BINF 740 Introduction to Biophysics | 3 credits

Colloquium (3 instances)

  • BINF 704 Colloquium in Bioinformatics | 1 credit

Bioinformatics Lab Rotation (3 instances)

  • BINF 703 Bioinformatics Lab Rotation | 1 credit

Dissertation Research

  • BINF 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal | 1-12 credits
  • BINF 999 Doctoral Dissertation | 1-12 credits (must earn minimum 3 credits)


Electives may be graduate level coursework selected from bioinformatics, biology, biotechnology, statistics, computer science, and information systems courses. Review class schedule for latest course offerings. Contact your faculty advisor for approval of elective course selection.

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

Because of explosive growth in life sciences, biotechnology, and drug design, there is a strong demand for bioinformatics scientists employing computational methods to advance the scientific understanding of living systems. Broadly speaking, the bioinformatics employment falls into several categories.

Researchers: Academia, government, and commercial sector are hiring employees trained in bioinformatics to support their research. People in these positions generally work in a specific area of research.

Instruction: There is a robust demand for teaching bioinformatics and computational biology. Some PhD level bioinformaticians will pursue an academic career developing their own research agenda and teach at universities. To this end, they typically receive an additional post-doctoral training in one of research labs for few years. Many institutions are also seeking dedicated instructors to teach bioinformatics.

Support of core facilities: Universities or government institutes tend to establish central resources for their labs referred to as core facilities. The personnel supporting such core facilities often require research experience and PhD level degrees.

Software developers: Many companies within the Greater Washington area and nationally are interested in developing and deploying computational algorithms and tools. Such jobs often require research experience and advanced skills only provided at PhD level.


Students are strongly encouraged to check online postings for job opportunities in bioinformatics and computational biology. 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
College 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 biology, computer science, or related field
  • Achieve a minimum GPA of 3.25 in the last earned degree
  • Have taken courses in molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, calculus, computer programming and data structures, and probability and statistics. Students with deficiencies in one or more of these areas may be admitted, but required to take additional courses, some of which may not be applicable to the degree’s course total.
  • 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.