Advice/Guidance needed

Kevin Karplus karplus at
Fri Feb 20 01:05:59 EST 2004

In article <908df554.0402181051.51e02168 at>, Rinkoo wrote:
> I have some questions here about career in Bioinformatics.
> I am an Engineer by Education. But I have worked for the last 5 Years
> as Programmer/Analyst.
> I have always been keenly interested in Biological Sciences. I have
> started looking at the various options.
> I have looked at Biomedical Engineering, Biotechnology and
> Bioinformatics. In fact I have been offered admission Biomedical
> Engineering. But I find Bioinformatics more inline with my background
> and interest.
> I have been studying Biochemistry, Molecular Biology on my own.
> I need advise and guidance about
> 1. Am I making a right choice or "totaly wrong choice" based on my
> background.
> 2. Do I have adequate background, what more do i need.
> 3. I am going to take General GRE, do i need to take Subject GRE in
> Biochem/Molecular Biology.

There are a lot of people interested in getting into

We accept a fair number of re-entry students who have had previous
careers in programming, biology, math, statistics, ... .  They need to
show that they are capable of handling graduate-level work in their
new field.  We need evidence on paper---study "on your own" means so
many different things that we can't interpret it.  Take some courses
at a local community college, extension program, or university.

We have a bioinformatics BS program:
For Fall 2003, we accepted about half the BS applicants directly into
the major. 

We also have an MS and PhD in bioinformatics:

These program descriptions will give you an idea what sort of
background we expect of students studying bioinformatics.  We have
found that for our style of bioinformatics, it is easier to add
chemistry and biology knowledge to someone who already has programming
skills, than to develop the programming skills in a biologist or

We do not require a Subject GRE, since there is none that covers the
wide range of material that we want our incoming students to know.

For admission in Fall 2003, we accepted about 15% of US applicants and
3% of foreign applicants.  For Fall 2004 admission, we accepted no
foreign applicants, 26% of the domestic PhD applicants, and 42% of the
domestic Master's students.  The PhD applicants were promised full
support for a year (including summer), with the expectation (but no
promise) of continued funding. The Master's students were given no
funding at all, so we expect the number who come to be quite small.

The next deadline (for Fall 2005 admission) will be mid-December 2004.
Applications received after that deadline will not be considered.  

We do not accept applications for the grad program outside the normal
application process for Fall admission.  Those receiving Fall
admission can delay arrival by a quarter or two, but we can't handle
applications outside the normal process.

Sending me e-mail about your application will not improve your chances
for admissions or funding, but takes up my time, delaying the time
until the decisions are made.  (One exception: if you find a serious
error in your application, let me know.)

For more information about our research and some of the courses we
offer, see

There are Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQ) pages about our
bioinformatics program:

There is a certificate program at the UCSC Extension program in Santa
This program is NOT the equivalent of either the undergrad or
graduate programs at UCSC and is NOT taught by UCSC faculty.  It does
help provide people in industry a chance to get some training in the
field and has served as an introduction to the field for students who
later came to UCSC for the graduate program.

Some prospective students who happen to live within commuting distance
of UCSC have taken the BME 100 course (Introduction to Bioinformatics)
at UCSC through the "concurrent enrollment" program administered by
UCSC Extension.  This course is a good way for prospective students to
find out if UCSC is a good fit for them and for us to evaluate the
students.  The sample size is small, but so far about 50% of
prospective students taking BME 100 this way get admitted to the
program (and the class they took before being admitted counts towards
their degree, of course).

Kevin Karplus 	karplus at
Professor of Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz
Undergraduate and Graduate Director, Bioinformatics
Affiliations for identification only.

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