Doctor of Philosophy in Bioinformatics

While the M.S. degree in bioinformatics is breadth-focused, the Ph.D. program is depth-focused. This degree is offered jointly by UA Little Rock and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Combining the academic, clinical, and research resources of UAMS with the computational, scientific, academic, and research capabilities of UA Little Rock, this program prepares students to function in an interdisciplinary research environment.

Program Requirements

Students seeking the doctoral degree in bioinformatics must complete the M.S. in bioinformatics or a closely related degree that covers:

  • Curriculum cores of bioinformatics tools and techniques
  • Biostatistics
  • Molecular biology
  • Machine learning

Students who have some but not all of the required background must take coursework during their first year to address any missing prerequisites. Subsequently, students concentrate almost exclusively on their research and must complete a minimum of 34 additional credit hours. While most of these credit hours will be earned doing their doctoral/dissertation research credit hours, two credits must be for participation in BINF 7193: Bioinformatics Graduate Seminar series. However, the student may have to take additional advanced coursework if their advisory committee feels it is necessary for the student to effectively conduct his/her research.

From Master’s Degree to Doctoral Degree

Our program seeks students who have done an outstanding job on their master’s degree in bioinformatics (or closely related field). Only by completing the master’s degree, and excelling on the master’s capstone project and its defense, will students be admitted to the Ph.D. program.

During the first eight months in the Ph.D. program, students prepare and submit a written grant request. The goal is to secure funding for their dissertation research. The funding source may be internal (e.g., the UAMS CAGSRF grant program) or external (e.g., a fellowship request or an NIH or NSF doctoral dissertation research support grant). The proposal submission to the funding source and to the program director, the student’s oral proposal presentation, and the student’s oral exam by their committee constitute the typical Ph.D. candidacy exam.

Students should begin focusing their research efforts early in the graduate program. By identifying a research topic and mentor during the first year’s research lab rotation, students may be able to expand upon this research within class projects. Research may be continued in the master’s capstone project under the direction of the student’s project mentor. Students going into the Ph.D. program may turn this project first into the grant request and then into their dissertation research.

View the academic catalog to see the full curriculum.

Graduation Requirements

  • Successful completion of an approved program of study (including completion of the M.S. in Bioinformatics or a closely related degree) with a minimum GPA of 3.0 with no more than one grade below a B
  • Successful completion of the dissertation proposal defense; proposal should be written using a grant proposal format; the dissertation proposal defense will also serve as the candidacy examination;
  • Successful completion of the dissertation and oral defense; and
  • Successful completion of the writing requirement

Admission RequirementsRequest More Info