Apr 24, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 
    
Graduate Catalog

Bioinformatics, Ph.D.


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Admission Requirements for Ph.D.

Applicants are expected to have a minimum of a four-year undergraduate degree (BS or BA) in the life sciences, statistics, or information/computer sciences. Students with an undergraduate degree in another field may be considered for admission if they have either relevant work experience in one of these three areas or complete sufficient remedial course work as defined below. Students who have not satisfactorily completed the following courses or their equivalent as part of their academic studies will be required to complete them on a remedial basis:

  • Biology/Chemistry/Genetics

A junior-level, life science course equivalent to UALR’s BIOL 3300 Genetics.

  • Statistics

A junior-level, calculus-based course equivalent to UALR’s STAT 3352 Applied Statistics I.

  • Programming

Some programming experience; a sophomore-level introduction to Java programming equivalent to UALR’s IFSC 2300 Object-Oriented Technology course is preferred.

  • Databases

A junior-level course equivalent to UALR’s IFSC 3320 Database Concepts is recommended.

Students will have to meet the minimum admission requirement of a GPA of 3.0 or a GPA of 3.3 or greater on their last 60 credit hours as an undergraduate. GRE scores, a letter of intent, a résumé, and letters of reference are considered in the admission process; TOEFL scores are required of international students who have not matriculated from a university in a country where the primary language is English. (Please see the UALR Graduate School’s requirement for English proficiency exams.)

Program Requirements

The Ph.D. program admission requires completion of the M.S. degree in bioinformatics or a closely related field. Students pursuing the Ph.D. need to demonstrate good research potential in their culminating master’s project or thesis. The completion of the Ph.D. program requires enrolling in a minimum of two credits of the BINF 7193 Bioinformatics Seminar, taking a minimum of 32 credit hours of research, culminating in the successful defense of the student’s dissertation research. Students completing the M.S. degree in bioinformatics or its equivalent at another institution may be admitted directly in the Ph.D. program, but may need to complete additional course work to cover all four cores of the UALR/UAMS M.S. degree program.

Within the first six months of entering the Ph.D. program, students must have an approved advisory committee and defend their dissertation proposals. The dissertation proposal should be written according to standard grant format as would be used for submitting a proposal to NIH or NSF.

Important Program Information

Transfer of Credit and Advanced Placement

Transferability of credit is determined by the program director, based upon the applicability of the courses to the student’s educational goals and research project. Transfer of credit may not be granted when courses have been used to meet other degree requirements. Additionally, students with relevant graduate degrees in related fields may petition the program director for an Advanced Placement which reduces the total credits required for a master’s degree to 29 credits.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships that support research opportunities are available to qualified full-time students on a highly competitive basis. Tuition is paid, and a stipend is provided for living  expenses. Students must pay registration fees, buy textbooks, and purchase any necessary support materials. For more information about graduate assistantships, the application process, and other financial assistance opportunities, visit the website.

A student supported by a graduate assistantship may not take less than nine credit hours during the Fall and Spring semesters and is prohibited from any other employment.

Writing Requirement

A student’s English Writing Proficiency will be assessed during the program. A student who requires improvement is required to take the English Writing Proficiency Laboratory (EWPL) or equivalent training until he/she passes

International Student Requirements

International students whose native language is not English must take the English proficiency exam and have an official score that meets the minimum standards established by the UALR Graduate School. (Please see the UALR Graduate School’s website for information on approved exams and minimum required score.) Only students who have studied full-time for two or more years at a college or university where English is the language of instruction located in a country where English is the native language are exempt from this English proficiency exam.

Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the UALR Graduate School.

Dissertation Defense

Students will orally defend their research before their Doctoral Advisory Committee. Printed copies of the penultimate draft of the dissertation must be delivered to the Advisory Committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense. The defense will be open to the public and must be announced at least two weeks in advance by the program director. Following the open presentation session (including the typical question-and-answer period) will be a closed examination of the candidate by the Doctoral Advisory Committee. The examination can be wide-ranging but will usually utilize the student’s research as a starting point. At the completion of the examination, the student will be temporarily excused and the Doctoral Advisor and Advisory Committee will vote to either pass or fail the student.

Doctoral Advisory Committee

The student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee will be composed of a minimum of five members, including the student’s doctoral advisor who will serve as the committee chair. Four of the committee members, including the chair, must hold bioinformatics graduate faculty status. The fifth member must be an external member who is not affiliated with the program, UALR, or UAMS. The Bioinformatics graduate coordinator in conjunction with the Bioinformatics Steering Committee, must approve the committee constituency.

The dissertation subject should be selected by the student and Doctoral Advisory Committee at least two years prior to the oral defense of the research. It must be a scholarly contribution to a major field of bioinformatics and involve all four core courses of the program. The written dissertation format must follow the UALR Graduate School’s Dissertation and Thesis Guide found on the Graduate School website. Changes may not be made to the student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee within six months of the dissertation defense. In event of extenuating circumstances, an appeal may be made to the Bioinformatics program director to change this requirement.

Graduation Requirements

  • Successful completion of an approved program of study (including completion of the Master of Science 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.

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