Biomedical Informatics




Description of program

The department offers two Master of Science (MS) program options:

  • MS Thesis
  • MS Non-Thesis

Master's Non-Thesis Option

The Non-Thesis Option of the Master of Science degree was designed for, among others, active clinicians who prefer not to engage in a research project, or who prefer not to prepare a thesis.  The GRE is not required.

Master's Thesis Option

The Thesis Option of the Master of Science degree provides in-depth course work in biomedical informatics and a research project leading to a thesis. Students may tailor their course work and research project to meet their interests and goals.

Application Requirements

(See also Application Instructions)

Department Requirements:

  1. Bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited university or college
  2. Minimum GPA of 3.3
  3. GRE scores (thesis option only)
  4. Three references
  5. Fulfillment of prerequisite courses, which are one college-level course in each of the following:
    • Programming language
    • Statistics
    • Basic biology

Overview of degree requirements

The MS Thesis Option degree typically requires a total of 30 semester hours of coursework and the successful completion of a thesis. At least 23 hours must be formal coursework with a grade of B- or better and a minimum of 6 hours must be research hours leading to a thesis. The MS thesis must involve original research that formally addresses a current issue in the student's specialty. An MS student must pass a Written Comprehensive Exam after the first year of study, and write and defend an MS thesis. The University of Utah General Catalog Graduate Information section contains more detailed information on Graduate School requirements.

The Non-Thesis Option requires 30 semester hours of coursework made up of

  • 18 hours of BMI coursework
  • 3 hours of electives
  • 3 hours of Research in Progress classes
  • 3 hours of seminars
  • 3 hours for the Capstone project course

Review the Program of Study for the Masters program for more details.

Finding a project & supervisory committee

Finding a project and supervisory chairperson (Both Thesis and Non-Thesis Option)

Students can obtain information on possible research projects from the Biomedical Informatics Department web site as well as from information posted in the Biomedical Informatics Department. Once a student has an idea of what research projects are available, it is recommended that they interview different faculty members about research opportunities of interest, availability of funding, research expectations, etc. As stated in the Graduate Information in the General Catalog, it is strongly recommended that only regular faculty members from the tenure track and within the student's Department (Biomedical Informatics) serve as a committee Chairperson. Exceptions to this rule may be possible, but will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Choosing other members of your supervisory committee (Both Thesis and Non-Thesis Option)

MS supervisory committees consist of three faculty members, the majority of whom must be regular faculty members in the student's major department. Committee members can be other members of the Biomedical Informatics Faculty, members of other Schools or Departments of the University of Utah, and in special cases faculty from other academic institutions. Committee members must be faculty members who hold an academic or professional doctorate, the terminal degree in the relevant field, and/or must have demonstrated competence to do research and scholarly or artistic work in the student's general field. Students are required to form their supervisory committee by March 31 of their first year in order to take the Written Comprehensive Exam. It is the responsibility of the student to approach prospective committee members to ascertain their willingness and availability to serve on the committee.

(Thesis Option ONLY) students should then prepare the "Request for Supervisory Committee" form and have each committee member initial it. It is then submitted to Jo Ann Thompson.

(Non-Thesis Option ONLY) students must submit the course matrix prior to their Capstone Course term, to indicate when required courses were taken. Course Substitution Matrix Form

Committee meetings & defense

Students are required to have a committee meeting at least once each semester (Fall and Spring). A quorum of the committee members is required at the meeting. The student is required to submit a Semester Report each Fall and Spring Semester. The Semester Reports will be reviewed and supplemented by the Chair of the Student's Supervisory Committee and then forwarded to the Director of Graduate Studies. Voting committee members are required to be physically present and/or present by video teleconference for the student's thesis defense. The department chair, vice chair and director of graduate studies will also attend (please check their schedules). Any travel or expense involved will be borne by the faculty and/or funds provided by the Chair of the committee, excluding Department of Biomedical Informatics funds.

Application for Candidacy

The student must file the Application for Candidacy with the Department no later than the semester before graduation and no sooner than one year before graduation. The Application must include the courses that will be counted towards the student's Master's program. The form must be signed by all members of the student's supervisory committee. The form is available in the Program Overview in Canvas.

Thesis requirements

MS candidates must prepare an original thesis which details their MS research project. Students work closely with their supervisory committee on the thesis topic and research. The thesis must be defended at a public defense in front of the student's supervisory committee. The committee also approves the final version of the thesis. After committee approval, the student must submit the thesis to the University of Utah Graduate School Thesis Office, which has additional requirements and rules.
As an alternative to the traditional thesis, a student may prepare and submit a journal-quality manuscript. Manuscripts must be approved by the student's supervisory committee and submitted to an approved journal. Publication, though desirable, is not required. The text of the submitted manuscript then forms the central part of the student's thesis. The thesis must also include an abstract, introduction, conclusions or discussion, references and other required pages in the same manner as a traditional Master's thesis.

Minimum registration requirements

All graduate students must maintain minimum registration from the time of their formal admission through completion of all requirements for the degree they are seeking unless granted an official leave of absence. Students who are not on campus and not using University facilities are not expected to register for the summer term. Master's degree students in Biomedical Informatics must maintain a minimum registration by registering and paying applicable tuition and fees for at least three credit hours (Thesis Research, BMI 6970, may be used to fulfill this requirement) per semester during the academic year from the time they are admitted to the Graduate School until they have completed all requirements for the degree (up to 10 hours of course number BMI 6970 may be counted toward the Master's degree).