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PhD - Doctor of Philosophy in Bioinformatics



What will I learn?

Bioinformaticians research, develop, and apply computational tools and approaches for analyzing, and thus expanding, the use of biological, medical, behavioral, and health data.

We use a multidisciplinary approach to make the complex data of life sciences more understandable and useful. Not only are we creating workers for highly desirable businesses, we are also contributing to both basic science and clinical applications. The next generation of bioinformatics pioneers is here, mining and interpreting biological data.

What is bioinformatics?

As a discipline that builds upon the fields of computer and information science, bioinformatics relies heavily upon strategies to acquire, store, organize, archive, analyze, and visualize data.

As a discipline that builds upon computational biology, bioinformatics encompasses the development and application of data-analytical and theoretical methods, mathematical modeling and computational simulation techniques to the study of biological, behavioral, and social systems.

As a discipline that builds upon the life, health, and medical sciences, bioinformatics supports medical informatics; gene mapping in pedigrees and population studies; functional-, structural-, and pharmacy-genomics; proteomics, and dozens of other evolving “-omits.”

As a discipline that builds upon the basic sciences, bioinformatics depends on a strong foundation of chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, biology, genetics, and molecular biology which allows interpretation of biological data in a meaningful context.

As a discipline whose core is mathematics and statistics, bioinformatics applies these fields in ways that provide insight to make the vast, diverse, and complex life sciences data more understandable and useful, to uncover new biological insights, and to provide new perspectives to discern unifying principles.

While the MS degree program is breadth-focused, the PhD program, by definition, is depth-focused. The PhD in Bioinformatics requires completion of the MS in Bioinformatics. Subsequently, students concentrate almost exclusively upon their research and must complete a minimum of 34 additional credit hours. While most of these credit hours will be earned doing their research, two must be for additional participation in BINF 7193: Bioinformatics Graduate Seminar series. The student’s advisory committee, however, may require the student to take additional advanced coursework if they feel that it is necessary for the student to effectively conduct his/her research.

During the first eight months in the PhD program post-Master’s, students are required to prepare and submit a written grant request, for which s/he is the Principal Investigator to attempt to fund his/her dissertation research. The funding source may be internal (e.g., the UAMS CAGSRF grant program) or external (e.g., a fellowship request or an NIH or NSF doctoral dissertation research support grant). The submission of this proposal to the funding source and to the Program Director, the student’s oral presentation of the proposal, and the student’s oral examination by their committee constitute the typical PhD candidacy exam.

Which department am I in?

George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology

Study options

Full Time (35 credit hours)

Tuition fees
USD $725 per credit hour
Start date

Expected January, August 2023


George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology

2801 S University Avenue,



72204, United States

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Students must baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution with substantially the same undergraduate program as at UALR (typically at least 120 hours or the equivalent of a 4-year baccalaureate degree). They are required to have 2.75 cumulative GPA; most programs will also require a 3.0 GPA on the last 60 undergraduate hours (including post-baccalaureate hours); and have TOEFL score of 525 on paper-based.

For international students

Applicants are expected to have a minimum of a four-year undergraduate degree (BS or BA) in the life sciences, statistics, or information/computer sciences.

Students will have to meet the minimum admission requirement of a GPA of 3.0 or a GPA of 3.3 or greater on their last 60 credit hours as an undergraduate.

All international students must provide an official score on either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS).

On the IELTS, all applicants must make at least a 6.5.

On the TOEFL, applicants must achieve a score of 550 on the paper-based test, 213 on the computer-based version, or 79 on the Internet-based version.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


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