How to apply


The program is flexible and intended to accommodate the diverse backgrounds of students wishing to enter it. Students who apply must satisfy the admissions requirements of graduate studies at the university they are applying to (UBC or SFU). Students entering the program generally have a first class or high second class bachelor’s degree. Note: Applications to UBC and SFU must be submitted to their respective UBC or SFU program. The application process is separate for UBC and SFU students.

While there is no requirement for a specific training background, most successful applicants are majoring (or have a degree) in one of the following areas, as well as significant training or experience in a complementary area; or an undergraduate degree in Bioinformatics (or equivalent).

  • Biological disciplines (e.g. biology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, medicine)
  • Quantitative sciences (e.g. computer science, mathematics, physics, engineering, statistics)

Because a key step in admissions is identifying a faculty member who will sponsor your application, the requirements of the faculty member are ultimately an important factor in determining if you are eligible.

Students from countries where their undergraduate degrees are not taught in English are required to take an English-proficiency exam, with the results submitted by the deadline for application. Further information for international students can be found here (UBC) and here (SFU).

Admissions are competitive and we regret that we cannot provide advance opinions as to whether your application would be successful.

Please read over the material below and the FAQ section, and contact us by e-mail if you need more information. Enquires are accepted at any time.

Application deadlines

It is recommended you start contacting potential faculty supervisors at least 4 months before the relevant admissions deadline. For open applications not targeted at a specific faculty member, simply submit your full application by the deadline.

All applications must be submitted before the deadlines indicated below. This allows time to meet scholarship application deadlines and for space and supervisory commitments to be planned. International students should be aware that it may require up to four months to process visa applications, so that early submissions are encouraged.

UBC M.Sc. Graduate Program:
For September 2020 (International): February 14, 2020
For September 2020 (Domestic and US): March 13, 2020

UBC Ph.D. Graduate Program:
For January 2020: September 5, 2019
For May 2020: January 20, 2020
For September 2020: March 13, 2020

Note that NSERC CREATE Scholarship Applications (M.Sc. or Ph.D. Program) are solicited only once per year, and only after a student is accepted. PhD students who are starting in January, May or September are eligible for our NSERC CREATE scholarships. The deadline for 2020 scholarship applications is April 30, 2020. Thus you should start discussions with your faculty sponsor about Internship possibilities in parallel with your admissions application.

Application Procedures

The recommended procedure is to directly contact potential faculty supervisors. To maximize your chances of success, do not spam all the faculty with a form email. Instead, carefully consider your research and training interests and target your enquiries carefully at specific faculty, explaining your motivation for approaching them. You do not need to provide a full application package for these initial enquiries, though including a CV is recommended. If the faculty member is interested they will follow up and tell you what other information they need to evaluate you prior to completing the formal application process described below.

Alternatively, you may submit an application without identifying a faculty supervisor. Your application will assessed by a committee to determine whether you meet basic eligibility criteria and then will be made available to all the faculty for consideration. However, a targeted approach is more likely to lead to a successful application.

  1. Once you have secured a supervisor from the list of program faculty, or decided to apply without identifying a supervisor,
  2. Once you have an arrangement with a supervisor, we will assist you in the university-specific process for admissions (UBC or SFU, depending on your supervisor’s affiliation). Apply on-line at either UBC or SFU, making sure that you apply to the University where you would like to study or where your potential supervisor has a faculty position.
  3. For qualified students, NSERC-CREATE scholarship applications will be considered following your acceptance to the program. Students apply for the scholarship with the assistance of their supervisor.

The graduate studies programs with which we are affiliated are:

  • UBC Bioinformatics Graduate Program (Faculty of Science)
  • SFU Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (Faculty of Science)
  • SFU Department of Computing Science (Faculty of Applied Science)

UBC Program Coordinator Email:
Sharon Ruschkowski –