Forum:Masters In Bioinformatics Vs Masters In Information Technology (Computer Science)
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9.9 years ago

Hi everyone

I am a recent honours graduate from Australia. I currently hold a

Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science) with a major in bioscience and minor in advance biochemistry and

Bachelor of Science (Honours) - Biochemistry (upper second class honours)

I am interested pursuing a research career in bioinformatics, however the phd bioinformatics scholarships require experience and formal education/training (basically a major) in bioinformatics, mathematics/statistics, or computer science which I have none.

Therefore I have decided to pursue a masters. however I can't decide whether to do a masters in bioinformatics or a masters in IT (CS). I have read many of the forum posts and many have stated that bioinformaticians who come from a biology background have very poor programming skills and vice versa. Therefore I want to ask is it better to do a masters in IT (CS) in order to be fluent in a programming language or do a masters in bioinformatics?

Thank you and much appreciated

Jason

career • 7.8k views
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You don't need a CS masters to become fluent in a programming language. I can't count the number of CS degree holders I've come across who can't solve even simple practical programming problems. if you want to learn how to program, pick the language you want to learn, buy a few books, and do some challenges (like www.rosalind.info). Quicker, better, cheaper. Bioinformaticians who are lousy programmers simply didn't put the effort in. It has nothing to do with their biology background.

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"i have read many of the forum posts and many have stated that bioinformaticians who come from a biology background have very poor programming skills"-- it all depends, on someone's willingness and how hard one work. I suggest to do masters in bioinformatics if you have never done anything in programming. Jumping immediately after after Biomedical science or biochem to IT seems to be a bit ambitious to me. You acquire knowledge you need in Bioinf degree, but you learn to program and other stuff with experience basically.

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9.9 years ago
Xingyu Yang ▴ 280

Unless you want to go some lab focusing on algorithm development or find an IT job, I would suggest you take a bioinformatics degree.

First, most of the bioinformatics research today doesn't require deep programming skills. All you need to do is parsing and formatting data from different sources and running existing software. A good understanding of biology is more important than knowing some algorithm. It won't take you more than 2 months to master the most widely used language like Python or Perl (if you have learnt C, no more than 1 week) .

Second, apart from programming skills, statistics is also super important in bioinformatics even if you don't develop new algorithm. Statistics is not that emphasized in computer science when you just pursue a master's degree. And it's also important to know kinds of database and simple algorithm designed specific for bioinformatics. Pursuing a master in CS, you might learn lots of things that can't directly contribute to your success in Phd of bioinformatics.

Third, pursuing a bioinformatics degree, you'll have more experience in bioinformatics which would be helpful to get a better offer. And your master's adviser might have his circle in bioinformatics so his LOR can potentially be more valuable.

Last, without any background, it's not that easy to get a master degree in CS with good record.

Of course, it depends on what kind of offer you get...

From a PhD student in bioinformatics

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