Master's in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Computer-based approaches are becoming increasingly important in biological research. The study of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Bern gives you a good basic knowledge and prepares you for a career in a large amount of working fields.

The information necessary to build and control any living organism is written in its genome and stored in the language of the genetic code. It took 13 years and 3 billion dollars to decipher the human DNA blueprint. A single decade later, sequencing a whole genome takes but a few hours on a machine that fits on a tabletop and it costs just shy of 5000 dollars. Consequently, biological and medical sciences are now collecting enormous amounts of information. This tsunami of data generates new problems: it needs to be analyzed properly to unearth and retrieve the exciting knowledge it contains. And, most importantly, it also has to be made available to the scientific community in a useful way.

Scientists with skills in biology and in computer technology are challenged to extract the relevant information out of this phenomenal sea of data. Information technologies are essential for a proper understanding of the regulatory modalities of cells, organisms and even entire ecosystems. Developing algorithms and sound statistical tools to grasp the folding of macromolecules are the first steps on our way to model the mechanisms behind the pure DNA sequence. Ultimately, we want to understand how organisms that are as complex as a human being work.

Bild von DNA
Basic information
Degree: Master of Science in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, University of Bern
Number of credits: 120 ECTS credits
Degree programs: Mono 120 ECTS credits
Duration: 4 semesters
Language: English
Beginning studies: Fall semester

The program requires 90 ECTS credits from courses, followed by a 6-months MSc research project that culminates in a written thesis (30 ECTS). Full-time students can complete the program in four semesters.

The first semester offers courses specially designed to complement your existing knowledge: an introduction to programming and Linux (7.5ECTS) for people with a background in biology or life science, and an introduction to the fundamentals of biology and lab work (7.5 ECTS) for those with a background in computer science, mathematics, statistics or a related field. 

1st semester (fall) | 30 ECTS

Students with a BSc in biology or life sciences will learn applied programming and the use of Linux from the experts (7.5 ECTS). Similarly, students with a non-biology scientific BSc will have hands-on experience in state-of-the-art biological methods and learn the essential aspects of biology (7.5 ECTS). Students further complement their background with elective courses (10 ECTS) tailored to their needs.

Both groups of students will then follow the same set courses introducing statistical and computational tools fundamental to bioinformatics and get their first experience in analyzing big data from large scale sequencing or systems biology projects.

scheme first semester

2nd (spring) and 3rd (fall) semester | each 30 ECTS

The following two semesters provide in-depth training in the latest statistical approaches and machine learning, and provide training in the analysis of big data from the entire breadth of the life sciences, including genomics, personalized medicine, proteomics and metabolomics. To gain more hands-on experience, students will further complete a semester project (7.5 ECTS).

scheme second semester

4th semester (spring, master thesis | 30 ECTS)

Each student works on an individual research thesis in one of the research groups at either the University of Fribourg or the University of Bern, thus specializing in a chosen area. The master thesis can also be carried out in collaboration with one of the affiliated institutes, e.g. the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB). Governmental and corporate institutions will also be considered as hosts.

BeNeFri program

  • This study programme is a collaboration between the Universities of Bern and Fribourg. As such, students have to inscribe to the BeNeFri programme. Information about the registration can be found at the Admissions Office Bern (for Bern Students) and the BeNeFri website in Fribourg  (for Fribourg Students).
  • The inscription to the course and exams in Bern occurs via KSL, whereas the inscription to the exams in Fribourg occurs via Late registrations are not accepted and is mandatory for all students.

Course composition

  • Students have to attend all mandatory courses.
  • In addition to that, students have to choose a few elective courses to complete the required 120 ECTS for the master. A list of possible elective courses can be found under "Details of program". Students have the possibility to propose additional elective courses to the study administration.


  • All informations regarding the graduation can be found on the website of the Dean's office of the Faculty of Science

Individual academic requirements

The following academic qualifications are required for admission to the master's degree program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (mono):


Bachelor's degree from a recognized Swiss university or an equivalent degree with at least 90 ECTS credits in one of the following branches of studies: 

  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Life Sciences and Technologies
  • Applied Biosciences
  • Computational Science and Engineering
  • other Swiss degree recognized as equivalent
b) Bachelor's degree from a Swiss university in another branch of studies, provided that the additional attainments do not amount to more than 60 ECTS credits.
c) Bachelor's degree from a Swiss university of applied sciences in Computer Science: Additional attainments of 40-60 ECTS credits will be required.
d) Bachelor of Science or an equivalent degree from a foreign university. Admission may depend upon evidence of additional knowledge and expertise.

Deadlines will be set for fulfilling the additional attainments. If you do not fulfill the admission requirements by the deadline, you will be excluded from the master's degree program.

The degree used for assessment purposes may not be more than ten years old.

For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office.

Current UniBE students

Apply for a change to the M Sc in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Universität Bern by self-service as part of the re-registration for the next semester.
Renewal of semester registration → Self-service
Recognition of academic achievements
Procedure and timing of the renewal of semester registration

Application with a Swiss degree

Online application
Steps from application to registration

Application with an international degree

Online application
CHECKLIST - Documents for your application / Important information
Steps from application to registration

For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office.

Carreer outlook

Our Master programme in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology will trim you fit for a career in the life sciences, health science or in food technology, both in industry or in governmental or non-governmental organizations, as well as for a PhD in academia. Bioinformatics and computational biology have direct and highly sought applications in basic and applied research ranging from conservation biology and modeling molecular networks to epidemiology, biomedical engineering and drug design, artistic data visualization and developing human-computer interaction. Our programme further promotes the exchange and interaction with people from many different fields, which will considerably widen your job prospects in academia as well as in the private sector. Contacts established during the master thesis provide valuable networking opportunities that will widen your job prospects.