admissions

Information for Applicants to the Bioinformatics Program

Bioinformatics is both a Home Area & Ph.D. granting program within the UCLA Graduate Programs in Bioscience (GPB).  Our Home Area accepts applications in the Fall of the current year for admission to the Ph.D. program with graduate study to begin the following Fall. We accept applications for study for the Ph.D. degree only, not for M.S. degrees.

The UCLA Application for Graduate Admission

As part of the online UCLA Application for Graduate Admission, please upload your statement of purpose, curriculum vitae, letters of recommendation, and transcripts, as well as any supporting materials like certifications and publications.

This Home Area requires the following:

  • Application deadline: December 1.
  • Please start the application process via the UCLA Graduate Programs in Bioscience website.
  • In the application process applicants will be asked to select “Biosciences” as your Academic Program, “Biosciences PHD” as the degree objective, and the Quarter in which you are applying. On the next screen you have the option to select  “Bioinformatics” as the Home Area who will receive and review your application.
  • We require the GRE General Exam; A SUBJECT TEST IS NOT REQUIRED.
  • Three letters of recommendation are required from professors, supervisors or others who may provide an evaluation of accomplishments or potential for research.
  • In your Statement of Purpose (no more than 2 pages) answer the following questions:
    1) What question in bioinformatics interests you most?
    2) Describe your research experience(s) (include information on any publications).
    3) This statement is also a means of helping us match your academic and research interests with those of our faculty and should only contain details that will aid the Admissions Committee in evaluating your application.
  • Your CV should cover relevant skills and experience for bioinformatics, including URL links to research or software projects you have worked on.
  • Transcripts must be both
    1) uploaded as part of your online application
    2) mailed to the Bioinformatics program. While you may upload unofficial copies of your transcripts as part of your application, send official transcripts directly to Bioinformatics. One official transcript is required, in the original language, from each academic institution you have attended. (If English is not the original language, also provide one official copy in an authorized, complete, and exact English translation) Transcripts should be mailed to Bioinformatics at the following address:UCLA Bioinformatics Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program
    172 Boyer Hall Box 951570
    611 Charles E. Young Dr. East
    Los Angeles, CA 90095-7246
  • International students whose native language is not English must submit results of either the TOEFL or the IELTS. Please review the English Requirements outlined by the UCLA Graduate Division here.

The institution code for UCLA is 4837 (GRE and TOEFL).

The GRE department code is 0224 (Bioinformatics).

The TOEFL department code is 30 (Other Biological Sciences).

Note:  applicants who hold a bachelor’s or higher degree from a university located in the United States or in another country in which English is both the primary spoken language and the medium of instruction, or who have completed at least two years of full-time study at such an institution, are exempted from both the TOEFL/IELTS requirement and the ESLPE.  Please be sure to include such information in your application.

University requirements for international applicants to UCLA graduate programs:  http://www.gdnet.ucla.edu/gasaa/admissions/INTLREQT.HTM

Undergraduate Preparation

Qualified applicants will have completed at least a B.S. or B.A. degree, with a major within the biological sciences, computer science, mathematics, or the physical sciences. Expected undergraduate preparations for the program fall into three major categories:

  • Bioinformatics and computational biology major: an increasing number of universities are offering undergraduate majors in bioinformatics and computational biology. (UCLA itself offers undergraduate bioinformatics study via its Computational and Systems Biology major or Bioinformatics minor). This represents an ideal undergraduate preparation for the program, because it demonstrates the applicant’s performance in each of the essential subject areas-biology, mathematics, and computer science.
  • Double major in biology and computer science or mathematics: in our view, the single greatest difficulty of bioinformatics is its interdisciplinary character. Most undergraduates only have strong preparation in one subject area, making it difficult to evaluate their likely performance in other areas that are essential for bioinformatics. Thus, we also encourage applications from students who have double majored in biology plus a quantitative science, preferably computer science or mathematics.
  • Single majors with strong evidence of interdisciplinary skills:  We will also admit exceptionally strong students from a single traditional major with evidence of interdisciplinary skills. In this case the student’s academic record and research experiences must show clear evidence of ability in other areas essential for bioinformatics, outside of his/her major. In particular, non-biology majors must demonstrate some background in biology. Similarly, biology majors must demonstrate strong quantitative skills in computer science and mathematics.

Additionally, the program will place a strong emphasis on applicants’ bioinformatics research experience. Currently, most students entering UCLA via various departments to pursue bioinformatics, have extensive bioinformatics research experience. Success in bioinformatics research, and strong letters of recommendation from bioinformatics faculty advisors, provide the program with clear evidence of a student’s ability to combine the interdisciplinary skills necessary for bioinformatics. This is very important, and will continue to be a vital consideration for admissions.

Masters Preparation

Applicants who have completed or are in the process of completion of a M.S. or M.A. degree are expected to have extensive research experience including publications in research areas closely related to bioinformatics. Applicants with Masters degrees without publications are unlikely to be admitted to the Ph.D. program.