MS & PhD FAQ

Graduate Program Applicants 

 

General Information

 

1. What makes a strong candidate for your program?
Motivated students with evidence of critical thinking and research skills, solid academic performance, and research interests that align well with our faculty, are ideal candidates.

 

 2.  What type of background do your students have?
Our students come from diverse backgrounds, including biological and health sciences, information and computer science, engineering, as well clinical and public health practice.

 

3. What types of careers do your graduates have?
The majority of our graduates go on to have various careers in academic or research settings—in universities, health care, government, and private industry. Many of our PhD graduates have obtained positions as faculty or research scientists. MS graduates have obtained positions as project managers and specialists in design, implementation, and evaluation of informatics applications in pharmaceutical companies, research and development divisions in information technology companies, and private and public healthcare organizations, foundations and medical centers.

 

4. I have a master’s degree. Can my credits be transferred for the PhD degree?
If you enter our program with an appropriate master’s degree from an accredited institution, 30 credits may be transferable by approval of the program.

 

5. Is it possible to work full time while working on the MS degree? Can I enroll in the program part time?
It is possible to work full time while working on the MS degree if you are able to have a flexible work schedule, as the core courses that take place during the first year usually take place in the morning or afternoon. During each quarter during the first year (except for summer), two to three core courses are required; these courses usually are about 1.5-2 hours in length and meet twice a week, for 3-4 credits each (1 credit is generally equivalent to 3 hours of work). You may see our course catalog for links to our course time schedules. With prior program approval, a student may enroll in the MS program part time, and would be expected to complete the program within three years.

 

6. Can any portion of the program be done online?
Our research-focused MS and PhD programs are fully residential. We do have an online, applied MS program, the Clinical Informatics and Patient-Centered Technologies (CIPCT) program, which is a joint program with the School of Nursing. Please visit the CIPCT website for more information. Please contact the CIPCT program directly with any questions.

 

7. What is the difference between the various master’s programs in informatics at the UW?
Our Biomedical and Health Informatics (BHI) MS program offered by the School of Medicine is research focused, highly multidisciplinary, and covers a broad range of subareas within the field, including clinical informatics, translational bioinformatics, public health informatics, and consumer health informatics. It is geared towards students who want to pursue a research interest in one of these areas. The program requires completing and presenting a thesis, and prepares students for careers in research, development, and evaluation (see Q3). It is a fully residential program at the UW Seattle campus.

 

The Clinical Informatics and Patient-Centered Technologies (CIPCT) MS program offered jointly by the School of Medicine and School of Nursing is geared towards clinicians and focuses on the implementation, management, and evaluation of informatics tools in clinical settings to improve patient care. The program is offered through online courses and one weekend session on campus per year. Graduates obtain positions as informatics specialists and analysts.

 

The Master of Health Informatics and Health Information Management (MHIHIM) program offered by the School of Public Health is focused on health care data management, and is designed for working professionals with clinical or administrative experience in medical records. It requires completion of a capstone field project, and prepares students for management and technology roles in the health care industry. It is offered through a mix of onsite (at Bellevue) and online classes.

 

The MS in Information Management offered by the Information School is not specific to the health care or biomedical fields.

 

Please contact the individual programs directly for additional information.
8. I’m interested in computational biology. Would I be a fit with your program?
Our program includes bioinformatics from a translational perspective (i.e., how to improve health care with bioinformatics tools). If you have a research interest that aligns with that of our core faculty, in addition to working with that faculty member, you may work with faculty outside of our department, and take electives from other departments such as Computer Science & Engineering to meet your interests. If you are interested in in-depth training in computational biology, you may also want to consider UW’s Computational & Synthetic Biology program or Computational Molecular Biology program. We encourage you to explore the available options to determine the best fit for you.

 

9. What if I have more questions? May I visit the department and meet with an adviser or faculty member?
Due to time constraints, we regret that we are not able to accommodate individual visits to provide general advising or tours for prospective applicants.  If you have general questions about the graduate program or the admissions process that are not answered on our website, the best method to contact us is by email at informat@uw.edu.  If you have questions related to our faculty members and their research, you are welcome to contact them directly, mentioning that you are a prospective student. Please note that many of our faculty members have joint appointments with other departments and are located in different locations across the main UW campus and our administrative office in South Lake Union. Those who are located near UW are welcome to attend our quarterly research colloquia, which are open to the public.  In addition, applicants who are admitted to the program will be invited to attend an open house in the spring.

 

Application Requirements

 

10. When will I hear back about a decision?
The admissions committee will notify applicants by approximately mid-April.

 

Prerequisites

 

11. Do all prerequisites need to be completed before I can apply?

If you are missing any prerequisites, you may still apply, but they must be completed prior to enrollment should you be admitted. In the “Complete Prerequisites” portion of the online application, please indicate when, where, and what course you plan to complete to fulfill the requirement. Transcripts or official course certificates must be submitted upon completion.

Work experience will not substitute for course work.

12. What types of courses fulfill the biology, math, and computer programming requirements?
The biology course may be any course in biology including those in the clinical or health sciences, biomedicine, or public health. Courses in environmental science would not apply.
The computer programming course can be in any programming language (e.g., Java, C, C++, Python, Visual Basic, Visual C++); query languages such as SQL would not count. It does not matter what the specific programming language is, but rather that applicants have been exposed to a course that teaches how to program (including symbols, algorithmic thinking, coding).
The math course should be an advanced-level math course, in calculus or above or statistics.
All prerequisites courses may be taken online, at a community college, or any other accredited higher education institution. If any courses are taking through an online course such as Coursera, course certificates must be official and ID-certified.

 

GRE Scores and GPA

 

13. Do I need to take the GRE?
Please view our application requirements for details on test requirements. Work experience will not allow any exemption from the requirement.

 

14. I have/will be finishing a master’s degree and my GRE scores have expired – will I need to retake the test?
Yes, only individuals with an earned U.S. doctorate are exempt from the GRE requirement. Test scores must not be older than five years old.

 

15. ETS sent my GRE scores to UW, but my application says they haven’t been received?
After your application is submitted, it will take several business days for the Graduate School to link your test scores with your application. The name and birth date on your application must exactly match the information on your scores. If the scores do not appear on your application after several business days, please contact the Graduate School at uwgrad@uw.edu or 206-685-2630.

 

16. I have a low GPA/GRE scores. Can I still apply?
The admissions committee considers all components of the application as a whole, including the personal statement, CV, recommendation letters, individual course grades, in addition to GRE scores and GPA. We do not have cutoff scores for the GRE or GPA. However, you may highlight in your personal statement the circumstances for the low performance and how this would not relate to your future performance.

 

International Students and English Proficiency Requirement

 

17. What can substitute for the TOEFL?
Please view all English proficiency requirements and exemptions at the Graduate School website, attending a school where all instruction is in English, and completion of a UW Intensive English Program. Work experience will not serve as a substitute. NOTE: IELTS scores will not be accepted by our department.

 

18. I will be finishing a bachelor’s/master’s degree at a U.S. institution this spring – do I need to take the TOEFL?
No. If you are admitted, the Graduate School will request that you submit your transcript with the completed degree prior to enrollment.

 

Personal Statement
19. What guidelines do you have for the personal statement?
The personal statement should highlight why you chose our program, your career goals, and potential research interests. There are no restrictions in page length; however, on average they are no longer than five pages.

 

Funding

 

20. What funding opportunities are available?
Please see our Funding and Tuition page for information.
21. Do you offer funding for international students?
We do not offer any type of guaranteed funding for international students at this time. International students may pursue funding from other sources, such as research assistantships on campus and scholarships. UW International Students Services also provides information on potential sources for financial aid.