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Course content

As a professional school specializing in information management and systems, GSLIS is a natural fit to offer a concentration within the campus-wide MS in Bioinformatics (http://www.informatics.illinois.edu/academics/bioinformatics-ms/). In the GSLIS concentration, we define "bioinformatics" broadly as the management of biological information of all types. The bioinformatics program is an entirely separate program from the existing GSLIS MS/LIS degree(http://www.lis.illinois.edu/academics/degrees/mslis); students may not be simultaneously admitted to both programs; and the new concentration is not accredited by the American Library Association.

Program Information

In the bioinformatics program, students may take courses in several departments across the University of Illinois campus. This breadth of training provides students with the multidisciplinary skills that are required for a career developing and managing information systems for the biological community. The program provides training from faculty who are international experts in many areas of information management, including bioinformatics, biology, chemistry, statistics, and computer science.

Library and information science (LIS) as a discipline has emphasized the use of information technology to support new approaches to the organization of and access to information. The bioinformatics program provides applied skills in building and evaluating systems that mediate effectively between users and collections. The bioinformatics program emphasizes the range of library and information science including: collection development, classification schemes, information retrieval, knowledge representation, user evaluation, data curation, and policy standards. Our students are taught to develop information management systems in biological applications, with opportunities to consider a broad spectrum of domains including molecular biology, environmental ecology, and biomedicine.


A GSLIS committee for admission to and oversight of the bioinformatics program reviews the suitability of each student's program of study, including any necessary remediation in biology or computing. The bioinformatics program requires a total of 36 hours of coursework, either with 36 hours of core required and elective courses or with 28 hours of core required and elective courses plus 8 hours of thesis work. At least 12 hours must be at the 500 graduate level. Students are allowed up to 4 hours of independent study as elective credit, with approval from their advisor. This program cannot be completed through Leep online learning. A Schedule Planning Guide is available to aid bioinformatics students in planning their coursework - http://www.lis.illinois.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/page/219/Schedule_Planning_Guide.pdf

Core Requirements

To satisfy the campus core requirements, one (1) course must be taken from each of the three (3) Core Areas: Biology, Computer Science, and Fundamental Bioinformatics. The courses approved for the core in the Biology, Computer Science, and Bioinformatics areas are listed on the campus-wide MS in Bioinformatics site (http://www.informatics.illinois.edu/). Additionally, GSLIS requires one (1) four-hour course in three of the following four (4) areas:

Information Organization and Knowledge Representation
Information Resources, Uses and Users
Information Systems and Access
Disciplinary Focus


A typical student will thus take 6 required courses (24 hours): 1 Biology, 1 Computer Science, 1 Fundamental Bioinformatics, and 3 GSLIS. The student must then choose 3 courses (12 hours) of electives to complete the degree. It is strongly encouraged that up to 2 courses of these electives (8 hours) are thesis. A recommended list of electives is given below. Our expectation is that each student will arrange a custom program of study, suitable for the information management of their particular bioinformatics application.

A student who has already completed coursework comparable to one or more of the required courses for the MS in bioinformatics prior to enrolling in the degree program may petition to waive enrollment in that required course and replace it with a comparable number of hours of elective credit toward the MS in bioinformatics. Such a petition needs to be approved by the advisor, the GSLIS associate dean, and the Graduate College. Additionally, students may request transfer of credit for graduate level coursework from any accredited institution (maximum 8 hours) that has not already been applied towards a degree.

Instructions for Thesis Work

Note that the thesis option in the GSLIS bioinformatics master's program is OPTIONAL.

If you wish to write a master's thesis as part of your MS degree program, you will work with one faculty advisor negotiated in the same manner as an independent study. Advisors may be from departments outside of GSLIS. Prior to registering for LIS 599, Thesis Research, you should prepare a brief proposal of the thesis. Proposals should be reviewed and approved by the faculty advisor. If the faculty advisor is not from GSLIS, the proposal should also be reviewed and approved by a faculty member from GSLIS. Once the required approval(s) is secured, the proposal should be forwarded to the dean for signature. You will need to fill out the thesis proposal and request form (http://www.lis.illinois.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/page/219/599form.pdf). A maximum of 8 hours of LIS 599 credit can be applied to the MS degree. The thesis must conform to the requirements of the Graduate College as stated in the latest edition of the Handbook for Graduate Students Preparing to Deposit and be deposited in the Thesis Office before the MS degree will be awarded.

Once the thesis is complete, the dean, on recommendation from the faculty advisor, who serves as first reader, appoints a second reader. The first reader (faculty advisor) and second reader will confer and must agree upon the acceptability of the thesis or whether any revisions must be made before final acceptance. Should the two readers be unable to reach agreement about the evaluation of the thesis, a third reader may be appointed. Ordinarily there is no oral defense of the thesis.

The final version of the thesis must have a format check done by Theresa Tucker ([email protected]), the GSLIS departmental format checker, and receive a format approval form before it can be deposited in the Graduate College.

Please see the Computer Literacy Requirements for information about expected technical competencies - http://www.lis.illinois.edu/future-students/requirements/mslis/tech





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