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 analysed 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, Universität Bern
Number of credits: 90 ECTS credits
Degree programs: Mono 90 ECTS credits
Duration: 3 semesters
Language: English
Beginning studies: Fall semester

First semester

Mandatory for all students ECTS Course-No.
Applied biostatistics I. With practicals. 4 104207
RNA-seq Course 4  
Cancer genomics 3 47009
Bioinformatics (practical course, in silico) 3 BC.7107
Introduction to R programming and analyses 2.5 103567
'Omics', From genomes to metabolomes 3 2216
Intro Digital Sustainability 1 466951
Intro to HPC 1  

Mandatory for biologists
Basic programming for non-informaticians. With practicals 5 104189
Introduction to UNIX/Linux and scripting with Python and R (Fribourg) 2.5 BC.7106

Mandatory for non-biologists
Molecular biology and genetics for non-biologists 7.5 104206

Programmierung 1 5 2416
Computational Epidemiology 1.5 467294

Second semester

Mandatory for all students ECTS Course-No.
Applied biostatistics II. With practicals 4 104224
Bioinformatics algorithms 3 410495
Classical models in biology (lecture) (Fribourg) 3 BL.6002
Classical models in biology (exercises) (Fribourg) 1 BL.6003
Evolutionary genomics 3 104225
Introduction to Signal and Image Processing 5 102191
Lecture Series and Journal Club (Fribourg) 2 BC.7101
Machine learning in bioinformatics. With practicals (Fribourg) 4 BC.7102
Mass spectrometry to systems biology 3 104283

Beyond genetic inheritance 3 27339
Four weeks research project 7.5 407010
Genomics of microorganisms 1.5 405520
Introduction to docking of small molecules to large macromolecules and molecular graphics (Fribourg) 1.5 BC.7104
Introduction to protein structure and protein homology modelling (Fribourg) 1.5 BC.7105
Mass spectrometry to systems biology (practicals) 0.5 104283
Pattern recognition (Fribourg) 5 IN.8608

Third semester

Mandatory for all students ECTS Course-No.
Master thesis 30 396293


Important notes

  • Detailed information about the lectures can be found on KSL ( for the lectures in Bern and on GESTENS ( for the lectures in Fribourg.
  • Please note that there is required an inscription for some courses  (ILIAS, KSL, GESTENS) and all exams (KSL, GESTENS).
  • To register for exams and courses at the guest university, students must register at their home university for the BeNeFri program.
  • The registration for BeNeFri has to be renewed every semester. Please check the corresponding deadlines, as late inscriptions will not be accepted.

Class schedules


First semester (30 ECTS)

Complemented by individual courses tailored to your needs, students with a BSc in biological sciences will learn applied programming and the use of Linux from the experts. 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. Both groups of students will then follow the same compulsory courses introducing statistical and computational approaches commonly used when analysing large biological data sets with a focus on data from large scale sequencing or systems biology projects.

scheme first semester

Second semester (30 ECTS)

This semester focuses on the preparation, statistical analysis and interpretation of large scale biological data by applying and extending the tool aquired in the first semester.

scheme second semester

Third semester (Master thesis, 30 ECTS)

Each student works on an individual research thesis in one of the research groups, 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.

BeFri programme

  • 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.
  • The inscription to the exams in Bern occurs via KSL, whereas the inscription to the exams in Fribourg occurs via Gestens. Late registrations are not accepted.
  • To transfer grades from Gestens to KSL, send a request to After obtaining the confirmation, send a copy to the study administration.

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 90 ECTS for the master. A list of possible elective courses can be found under "Study content". Students have the possibility to propose additional elective courses to the study administration.

Master thesis and four-weeks research project

  • In the course of the second semester, a list of possible master thesis and four-weeks research projects will be uploaded on the ILIAS page of course No. 434857 "Four weeks research project and master thesis proposals".
  • The four-weeks research project is not mandatory but highly recommended.
  • The four-weeks research projects need to be evaluated with the "Four-weeks project evaluation" form.
  • After choosing the project for their Master thesis, students need to hand in a copy of the "Start of master thesis" form within three weeks after starting the master thesis.
  • The master thesis needs to be designed according to the guidelines of the Dean's office of the Faculty of Science.


  • 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 curriculum prepares you for a career in the life science industry, in health care, in governmental or NGO organizations, or in academia. Bioinformatics and Computational Biology have direct and highly sought applications in basic and applied research ranging from conservation biology and modelling molecular networks to epidemiology, biomedical engineering and drug design, artistic data visualization and developing human-computer interaction.

We wish to promote exchange and interaction with people from many different fields. Contacts established during the master thesis provide valuable networking opportunities that will widen your job prospects.