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Bioinformatics (Crop Sciences Concentration) (M.S.)

Course Description

The Department of Crop Sciences offers a concentration within the campus-wide M.S. program in Bioinformatics that focuses on the agricultural and life sciences.

The discipline of Bioinformatics addresses the need to manage and interpret the data that is being massively generated by genomic and proteomic research. This discipline represents the convergence of biology, computer and information technology sciences, and encompasses analysis and interpretation of biomolecular data, modeling of biological phenomena, and development of algorithms and statistical approaches. With current technology, scientific discovery occurs in a global arena and data are stored and archived massively in databases, disseminated through cable or wireless conduits, and analyzed. This includes information on genomes, biomolecules, biomolecular circuitry, and biological processes at the molecular, cellular, organismal and population levels. Our world expects substantial pay-offs from the analysis of multi-dimensional data structures, including proactive control and clear understanding of chemical, biological and cosmological processes. Ultimately, we expect a better life. The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and the Department of Crop Sciences have a comprehensive mission that relates to agriculture, food, and environment, and is driven mainly by a human-community dimension. This involves addressing important issues in biology. Within this framework, bioinformatics plays an important role in the management and exploitation of microbial, plant and animal genomic resources.

Creative experiences are boundless when you opt for advanced education in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. We offer advanced degree programs tailored to your specific interests that will prepare you for enriching and stimulating careers with a spectrum of public and private organizations in a global agricultural industry.

Our graduate degree recipients hold positions of leadership throughout the world. Our degree programs provide state-of-the-science education to match nearly every interest and career aspiration in crop sciences.

Department faculty is positioned at the leading edge of a growing knowledge base in crop sciences. We are committed to providing you with a nurturing environment for personal and professional growth.

[[Degree Requirements For the M. S. In Bioinformatics]]
The Crop Sciences concentration within the M.S. in Bioinformatics is offered in both thesis and non-thesis versions.

The thesis option, requires a minimum of 32 hours, including 28 hours of coursework with at least 12 hours at the 500-level and 8 hours within the Department of Crop Sciences. Of the 32 hours, a minimum of 12 hours must be within a General core, equally distributed between Fundamental Bioinformatics, Biology, and Computer Science courses. The General core complies with the requirements of the campus-wide Master of Science in Bioinformatics. In addition, a minimum of 7 hours of courses in Computational, Quantitative and Statistical Biology must be completed, together with a minimum of 5 hours of electives. Within the Computational, Quantitative and Statistical Biology core, the students must take CPSC 440 (Applied Statistical Methods I) or CPSC 540 (Applied Statistical Methods II). No double counting is possible; the same course cannot be used to satisfy the General core and the Computational, Quantitative and Statistical Biology core requirements simultaneously.

The courses approved for the General core and the Computational, Quantitative and Statistical Biology core are listed below. Electives can be satisfied with any graduate-level course; however, students must select elective courses in consultation with their departmental advisor and are strongly encouraged to select from among courses offered by the Department of Crop Sciences. Students must also complete a minimum of 4 hours of thesis within Crop Sciences research (CPSC 599). Students are required to register each semester for 1 hr of seminar in one of the sections of Crop Sciences. A student may be exempted from seminar for the semester or register for a seminar in another department upon the recommendation of his/her advisor and approval of the graduate coordinator. Students are required to present a seminar on their thesis research during the last semester of their study program.

With the permission of their advisor, students in the Department of Crop Sciences may choose to pursue a non-thesis option within the M.S. in Bioinformatics. The non-thesis option requires a minimum of 36 hours with the same course requirements specified in the thesis option. Supplementary requirements towards satisfying the 36 hours include an additional minimum of 3 hours of General Core courses, an additional minimum of 3 hours of Computational, Quantitative and Statistical Biology core courses, and an additional minimum of 3 additional hours of elective courses, for a minimum total of 9 hours. The student may incorporate supervised research experiences including internships and projects to complete the remaining required hours of the non-thesis option. No course can be used to satisfy more than one requirement.

International applicants whose native language is not English must score a minimum of 570 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Applicants who are not U.S. citizens also must submit evidence that they have sufficient financial support for their entire program of study.

Prospective students are urged to apply by February 15 for the following summer or fall, or by November 1 for the following spring. However, applications are accepted at any time; they are considered and acted upon by the departmental graduate applications committee monthly.

[[Financial Aid]]
To apply for fellowships, assistantships, and tuition and fee waivers, prospective students should indicate their desire to be considered for financial aid on the admission application form. Credentials submitted with the form are used in determining financial aid.

Students already enrolled in the graduate program without financial aid from the University of Illinois may apply for financial assistance. Demonstration of exceptional ability in their studies and/or research activities is an important criterion in selecting students for available fellowships and assistantships.

Fellowships are awarded to graduate students in the Department of Crop Sciences in recognition of superior achievement and potential. Funding comes from a number of sources, each with specific criteria and opportunities.

The Department of Crop Sciences offers part-time positions to study with departmental faculty on research, teaching, or extension activities. Research assistantships are offered based on availability of funds and space in an appropriate faculty member's laboratory. Teaching assistantships require meeting University standards of English language skills, excellent teaching potential, and competence in the area being taught.

These assistantships include an annual stipend and can be awarded at different levels of time commitment. In addition to the stipend, assistantships of at least one-quarter time carry a waiver of all tuition and most fees. These waivers are worth several thousand dollars over and above the stipend. The department will be pleased to provide current values for assistantships and waivers.

Entry Requirements

Students interested in our Bioinformatics program may come with undergraduate training in one of the following areas: (a) biological and agricultural sciences, (b) statistical, mathematical and computer sciences, (c) informatics and engineering sciences. Graduates from the bioinformatics program will be able to integrate basic and applied concepts in the three areas and applied them to biotechnology and medical research.

Course Fees

Please visit http://www.registrar.illinois.edu/tuition-fees for more details.

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