Visit majormaps.vcu.edu for the online version with links.
Sponsored by the Office of the Provost
Major map compass icon
2018-2019

Bioinformatics

VCU Life Sciences

Concentration(s):
Biological/Genomic
Program description

The bioinformatics curriculum blends foundational courses in biology, math, chemistry and computer science with a core of hands-on, problem-solving bioinformatics courses.  It allows undergraduates an unusual opportunity to learn molecular biology by actually doing it--reading scientific papers, doing "wet-lab" experiments, creating bioinformatics programs, and designing individual and team research investigations.  The program includes the Life Sciences general education, specific training in the collateral coursework and bioinformatics core, and focused training in the chosen concentration.

Career opportunities

Our students learn how to use bioinformatics tools to solve scientific problems through project-based courses.  These experiences mimic what doing molecular/computational science is actually like and provide excellent training for technician-level  jobs (universities, institutes, biotech or IT industry), for training in graduate school or in the health professions.  Students interested in a health profession usually specialize in the Biological/Genomic Concentration.  Some students are interested in working close to the health system, while others are more interested in the programming/data analyst route.  The technical, analytical and communications skills practiced in the program can transfer to other occupations as well.  Students with the MS degree typically have greater opportunities than those with the Bachelor's degree, as the Masters allows the student to gain more relevant skills, content knowledge and project experience.

Change of major requirements

A GPA greater than 2.0 is strongly encouraged due to the science rigor of the major.  Email hsemery@vcu.edu to schedule an orientation appointment.


Bachelor-level job titles
  • Agricultural & Food Technician
  • Bioinformatics Technician
  • Biological Technician
  • Clinical Research Associate (CRA)
  • Computer Programmer
  • Mathematical technician
  • Microbiologist
Degree requirements in Bulletin
Plan of study in Bulletin
Highest level of math required
  • MATH 200
  • STAT 314/321
Science required
  • 5+ additional science courses
Foreign language requirements
  • Yes
Additional tuition/fees
GPA requirements (to progress/graduate in the major)
  • 2.0
Department name:
Center for the Study of Biological Complexity
Building/room location:
Grace Harris Hall, room 3116a
Campus (where 75% of courses are taken):
Monroe park
Phone:
(804) 828-0559
Email:
hsemery@vcu.edu

Major map compass icon
Major map

Explore
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
  • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor each semester to discuss tutoring, course electives, and degree progression.
  • Register for BNFO 251-252 Phage Discovery Lab for a year-long bioinformatics experience.
  • Attend all supplemental instruction sessions.
  • Attend Ready, Set, Go – Sophomore Transition Experience.   
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
  • Connect with & support your VCU “Society of Bioinformaticists.”
  • Register to vote in Virginia and explore Richmond, including its museums, parks, festivals, and cultural events!
  • Apply to live in the ASPiRE, Globe, INNOVATE, or LEAD Living & Learning Programs.
  • Get involved with VCU Student Government or one of over 450 clubs and organizations.
BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
  • Learn about your study abroad options by visiting a study abroad fair and attending a First Advising Session in the Global Education Office.
  • Review the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs(OMSA) website for programs, events, and resources.
  • Join a living-learning program such as VCU Globe.
GET REAL EXPERIENCE
  • Explore “What Can I Do With This Major” to learn about employers/ job titles in your field of study (go to ‘Biological Sciences’)
  • Complete your Handshake profile and opt-in to industry email lists to learn about opportunities.
  • Discuss with your advisor when you want to plan your next research experience after Phage Lab
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
  • Complete a “Gap Analysis” Strategic Plan with your academic or career advisor to identify and arrange pre-professional experiences in support of your post-graduation plans.
  • Practice independent living skills (such as money management, self-care, time management, and personal responsibility).

Experience
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor and explore minors, certificates, and skills-based value added courses. Discuss the timeline to complete BNFO 201 and 300.   
  • Talk to your professors about research interests, picking future classes in your major, and strategies for success in your degree program.
  • Use the ‘research proposal’ in BNFO 300 to connect with a mentor for a research experience.
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
  • Take service-learning classes or volunteer to address a social issue (ConnectVA & HandsOnRVA). 
  • Meet with your faculty mentor to discuss your interests and opportunities to align with those.
  • Explore peer leadership opportunities or apply for I-LEAD Connect, Alternative Spring Break.
  • Join Bioinformatics related clubs and professional organizations. 
BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
  • Attend Diversity Scholars in Research Week.
  • Get to know other VCU students from all over the world at a monthly Global Café.
  • Join a cultural organization.
  • Consider short-term, semester and year long Study Abroad opportunities.
  • Attend OMSA Social Justice Conference.
GET REAL EXPERIENCE
  • Create a draft of your resume and go to drop-ins at VCU Career Services to have it reviewed.
  • Attend Career & Internship Fairs and career events throughout the year. 
  • Join groups on LinkedIn reflecting specific careers or topics of interest in Bioinformatics.
  • Consider “giving back” to Phage Lab by assisting the instructor & students in some capacity.
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
  • Conduct numerous informational interviews or shadow someone in a field of career interest.
  • Using LinkedIn, connect to at least 10 people. Check out the VCU alumni page in My Network
  • Consider who you would like to have serve as professional and academic references for future letters of recommendation.  

Experience
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
  • See your advisor each semester to discuss degree progression and plans for elective coursework.
  • If you are considering an MS in Bioinformatics, discuss with your advisor VCU’s “Accelerated BS-MS Program.”
  • Conduct independent undergraduate research. Consider attending a scientific meeting and presenting a poster with your research advisor.
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
  • Consider taking on a leadership role in your Society of Bioinformaticists or as a BNFO class TA.
  • Create and complete a science related community-engaged research project.
  • Attend civic meetings, such as school board, neighborhood associations, city council, or state legislative sessions.
  • Attend at least two or three public talks or other events advertised by the department.  
BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
  • Develop exceptional communication and interpersonal skills for future work on multidisciplinary teams.
  • Consider becoming a diversity ambassador with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.  
  • Apply for a Fulbright or other post-graduate international fellowship program through VCU’s National Scholarship Office   
GET REAL EXPERIENCE
  • Work on developing your professional online presence with the aid of an e-portfolio (Github).
  • For science jobs or training after graduation, seek research opportunities to refine your goals & to learn the rigors & discipline required for success
  • Apply for summer research funding through UROP.
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
  • Talk to your advisers and faculty about whether graduate school or a job will be the best step for you after graduation.
  • Research graduate/professional schools at least one year in advance of application deadlines. Complete admissions exams the summer before your senior year (GRE, MCAT, DAT, etc.). 

Excel
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
  • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor a semester before your anticipated graduation to ensure all graduation requirements will be met. 
  • Students in the accelerated BS-MS program take up to 12 graduate credits this year, replacing 12 required credits in the BS program.
GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
  • Serve in a leadership role or as a board member of a local community organization.
  • Consider applying for a year-long service opportunity after graduation through programs like VCU AmeriCorps, Literacy Lab, Peace Corps, Fulbright Student Scholars, Teach for America and City Year.
  • Attend professional conferences that offer student rates or scholarships. Enhance your networking and presenting skills and practice your “elevator speech.”
BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
  • Read scholarly articles about diversity in STEM.
  • Reflect on your own cultural competency, and be prepared to answer interview questions that outline how you have worked with diverse populations. Schedule a mock interview with VCU Career Services.
  • Attend Office of Multicultural Student Affairs I Love Diversity Week.
GET REAL EXPERIENCE
  • Continue to engage in research to create more content for your e-portfolio (Github). 
  • Present your research at conference/meeting such as UROP Undergraduate Research Symposium or other discipline- specific conference. 
  • Gain practical experience related to your career goal through internships, externships and skill building.  
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
  • Complete necessary exams, applications, or self-marketing activities for next steps beyond graduation.
  • Research employers and create a job or graduate school search strategy at least 8 months before graduation
  • Have your personal statement or cover letter reviewed, and do a mock interview at VCU Career Services.  
Visit majormaps.vcu.edu for the online version with links.
Sponsored by the Office of the Provost
Major map compass icon
2018-2019

Bioinformatics

VCU Life Sciences

Concentration(s):
Biological/Genomic | Computational | Quantitative/Statistical
MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE GET REAL EXPERIENCE PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
Explore Year 1
  • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor each semester to discuss tutoring, course electives, and degree progression.
  • Register for BNFO 251-252 Phage Discovery Lab for a year-long bioinformatics experience.
  • Attend all supplemental instruction sessions.
  • Attend Ready, Set, Go – Sophomore Transition Experience.   
  • Explore “What Can I Do With This Major” to learn about employers/ job titles in your field of study (go to ‘Biological Sciences’)
  • Complete your Handshake profile and opt-in to industry email lists to learn about opportunities.
  • Discuss with your advisor when you want to plan your next research experience after Phage Lab
  • Complete a “Gap Analysis” Strategic Plan with your academic or career advisor to identify and arrange pre-professional experiences in support of your post-graduation plans.
  • Practice independent living skills (such as money management, self-care, time management, and personal responsibility).
Experience Year 2
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor and explore minors, certificates, and skills-based value added courses. Discuss the timeline to complete BNFO 201 and 300.   
  • Talk to your professors about research interests, picking future classes in your major, and strategies for success in your degree program.
  • Use the ‘research proposal’ in BNFO 300 to connect with a mentor for a research experience.
  • Take service-learning classes or volunteer to address a social issue (ConnectVA & HandsOnRVA). 
  • Meet with your faculty mentor to discuss your interests and opportunities to align with those.
  • Explore peer leadership opportunities or apply for I-LEAD Connect, Alternative Spring Break
  • Join Bioinformatics related clubs and professional organizations. 
  • Attend Diversity Scholars in Research Week
  • Get to know other VCU students from all over the world at a monthly Global Café
  • Join a cultural organization.
  • Consider short-term, semester and year long Study Abroad opportunities.
  • Attend OMSA Social Justice Conference.
  • Conduct numerous informational interviews or shadow someone in a field of career interest.
  • Using LinkedIn, connect to at least 10 people. Check out the VCU alumni page in My Network
  • Consider who you would like to have serve as professional and academic references for future letters of recommendation.  
Year 3
  • See your advisor each semester to discuss degree progression and plans for elective coursework.
  • If you are considering an MS in Bioinformatics, discuss with your advisor VCU’s “Accelerated BS-MS Program.”
  • Conduct independent undergraduate research. Consider attending a scientific meeting and presenting a poster with your research advisor.
  • Work on developing your professional online presence with the aid of an e-portfolio (Github).
  • For science jobs or training after graduation, seek research opportunities to refine your goals & to learn the rigors & discipline required for success
  • Apply for summer research funding through UROP
  • Talk to your advisers and faculty about whether graduate school or a job will be the best step for you after graduation.
  • Research graduate/professional schools at least one year in advance of application deadlines. Complete admissions exams the summer before your senior year (GRE, MCAT, DAT, etc.). 
Excel Year 4
  • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor a semester before your anticipated graduation to ensure all graduation requirements will be met. 
  • Students in the accelerated BS-MS program take up to 12 graduate credits this year, replacing 12 required credits in the BS program.
  • Read scholarly articles about diversity in STEM.
  • Reflect on your own cultural competency, and be prepared to answer interview questions that outline how you have worked with diverse populations. Schedule a mock interview with VCU Career Services
  • Attend Office of Multicultural Student Affairs I Love Diversity Week.
  • Continue to engage in research to create more content for your e-portfolio (Github). 
  • Present your research at conference/meeting such as UROP Undergraduate Research Symposium or other discipline- specific conference. 
  • Gain practical experience related to your career goal through internships, externships and skill building.  
  • Complete necessary exams, applications, or self-marketing activities for next steps beyond graduation.
  • Research employers and create a job or graduate school search strategy at least 8 months before graduation
  • Have your personal statement or cover letter reviewed, and do a mock interview at VCU Career Services.