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Research into heredity and diseases is no longer possible without programmers. If you are wondering how you can apply IT and biology skills to lifelike problems in health and disease, then the unique Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics in Bruges is something for you!

Bioinformatics is a new and spectacular field which uses methods from informatics to store and process molecular biological information (DNA, proteins, functions). In bioinformatics, molecular biology is combined with informatics and programming. Bioinformatics scientists are capable of retrieving the necessary information from databases and using these to make predictions. As a bioinformatician you will look for application possibilities of informatics within biological/biomedical laboratories.

  • Informatics scientist:
    application of informatics techniques to storage, organising and sharing (molecular biological) data
  • Bioinformatics scientist:
    data processing and (statistical) analysis by means of bioinformatics tools in a dry lab
  • Programmer:
    integration by scripting and automation of bioinformatics tools

In the course of the Bioinformatics programme, 3 roles are covered: the role of programmer, the role of informatics scientist and the role of bioinformatics scientist. You learn several programming languages like PHP, Python and R, and you use the most relevant databases from which you learn to process and interpret data. During the programme there is a special emphasis on the application of open source tools, both in a Windows and in a Linux environment. During the traineeship (without a bachelor’s thesis) a fourth role is addressed, that of the new young professional, in which the more generic competencies of a bachelor's training (such as working in team, clear communication, …) are pursued.

As the training progresses, you become more and more familiar with the processing of complex biological data, like the analysis of next generation sequencing data (NGS data) or the application of machine learning techniques and you are able to apply these within a professional framework.


Nanopore sequencing experiment Bioinformatics analysis
Bioinformatics for IT professionals @home

Bioinformatics distance track for IT professionals

Your timetable

There are only a limited number of contact moments for each course unit in the distance learning programme.

Each course unit consists of 3 contact moments + an examination:

  • The contact moments take place every two weeks on the campus in Bruges (Belgium) from 6 PM to 8 PM CET. These contact moments (3 in total) can also be followed remotely via live streaming and are recorded.
  • After the contact moments, an examination is organized from 6 PM to 9 PM CET. For students who live far away from campus (e.g. abroad), we provide the possibility to also take the exams from home.
students in aula

The course units are organized sequentially and alternate between bioinformatics, informatics and programming courses. The next course only starts after the previous course was completed.

All study materials (including recordings of the daytime classes) are made available at the start of a course. This way you can process the study material at your own pace. Only the exam of each subject takes place at a set time, shortly after the contact moments.

Our new, powerful learning environment allows students who live far away from campus (e.g., abroad) to participate in all contact moments and take all exams from home. As a result, the programme can be followed completely remotely (@home)!

Academic calendar

The academic calendar provides a timeline that outlines important dates and events within the educational programme. It typically includes information about the start and end dates of academic terms or semesters, holidays, breaks, examination periods, registration deadlines, and other significant academic milestones. The academic calendar serves as a guide for students, faculty, and staff to plan and coordinate their activities and ensure a smooth functioning of the educational institution throughout the academic year.

Review the academic calendar of the bioinformatics @home programme

Bioinformatics via distance learning programme

If you are 21 years old and already working (or looking for a job) you can register for the bioinformatics via distance learning (@home) programme.

The @home training programme is particularly suitable for:

  • Employees within (biomedical/biological) laboratories who need an applied knowledge of bioinformatics.
  • Employees from other sectors who are looking for a new challenge within a future-proof field of work.
  • International students who are not able to come to the campus in Bruges, Belgium.

Roles within the programme


The informatics course units focus on the application of informatics techniques to organize our data in database systems. To analyze (biological) data, we learn to work on a Linux system, and to apply machine learning techniques in the context of big data.


The bioinformatics course units provide an overview of tools and techniques for biological data processing and (statistical) analysis. You learn to process next-generation sequencing data, to analyze and compare molecular sequences in the context of evolution, to model the structures of biological macromolecules, and to analyze biological processes and pathways on the systems level.


During the programme, several programming languages are covered. You learn to create a web interface for your (bioinformatics) analysis using HTML, CSS and PHP, to integrate and automate bioinformatics tools by means of scripting in Python, and to analyze and visualize biological data with the statistical programming language R.

Bioinformatics @home - 4 semesters (start 2024)

If you wish to start in September 2024, you can follow the @home program in 2 years or 4 semesters.

Check out the educational programme

Bioinformatics @home - 5 semesters (start 2025)

If you wish to start in September 2025, you can follow the @home program in 2.5 years or 5 semesters.

Check out the educational programme

Course unit descriptions for this study programme

For whom?

Everyone who holds a diploma of higher education testifying that the knowledge of molecular biology is present (at least) on a bachelor’s level (e.g. Biomedical Laboratory Science, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Biomedical Sciences ...) can join this Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics training programme. If you hold a foreign degree, the level must be equivalent to a European bachelor's degree.

  • Enrolment via a credit contract is possible if you don’t have the necessary prior knowledge of molecular biology.
  • No prior knowledge of computer science is required, but we do expect that, in general, you are able to use a computer fluently.

Books, laptop and (legal) software

All course units are accompanied by a written syllabus and/or presentations, which are made available free of charge via the electronic learning environment. You can then choose whether you want to print the study material or not. Therefore, you don’t have to buy books.

In many course units, we work in the Linux operating system, which we install as a virtual machine in Windows or Mac OS. This installation will not only require a decent amount of (fast) disk space, but also resources to run smoothly.

The laptop requirements can be found at the bottom of this webpage. You can choose to purchase a laptop via Howest or you can search for a laptop with similar specifications yourself.

When enrolling at Howest, each student pays for legal software. This software package includes, among other things, a license for Windows 11, multiple licenses for Microsoft Office and a license for antivirus software.

The bioinformatics software we use throughout the training programme is open source and therefore free of charge. This software is downloaded and installed during the lectures.

Like a lab technician with a white lab coat, a bioinformatician needs a good laptop!


What is distance learning?

Distance learning or @home is a training variant with a minimum of location-based learning and evaluation activities, in which the student is given maximum flexibility to achieve the intended learning outcomes. A reduced study load allows the student to combine this training programme with a (fulltime) job.

With the aid of a powerful learning environment and adjusted study material, such as recording, the student is supported in self-directed learning in the form of guided self-study. An overview of the course content is provided during the limited number of contact hours, after which the student depends on online support (via discussions, e-mail or chat) to progress through the course material.


You can already register online for 2023-24. After completing registration, you will receive an email with all the info needed to complete your enrolment. Book your place at Howest now!

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How to apply as an incoming international student

All information on nominations, applications and tuitions can be found here.

Info day
Saturday 29 June
FROM 10h TILL 16h
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Have you decided? We look forward to welcoming you to our Howest community! 
You can find all information about registering via the link below.

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Can't find what you're looking for or do you have any specific questions about this course? Do not hesitate to reach out! We would love to assist you further.

Jasper Decuyper

Jasper Decuyper

Contact person

Olga Belyaeva

Olga Belyaeva

International Admissions Officer

In the case you buy a laptop through Howest, you can look here which laptop is recommended by your course. In the case you already own a laptop or wish to buy a new one yourself, it needs to qualify to the same specifications.

You must have sufficient knowledge of molecular biology at least at a bachelor's level. You can also register for the programme with a master's degree or PhD, as long as molecular biology has been covered during your studies. No prior knowledge of computer science is expected; for every informatics/programming course we start from scratch. We do expect that, in general, you are able to use a computer fluently.

The @home programme only has a limited number of contact moments (3 moments/course unit) and contact hours (2 hours/contact moment). These are organized on campus, but can also be followed via live streaming online, and are recorded to be reviewed afterwards.

Yes, for students who live far away from campus (e.g. abroad), we provide the possibility to take the exams from home. However, we do recommend taking the exams on campus – if possible – so that we can help if technical problems arise.

Taking exams from home requires to buy a Respondus Monitor license of $15 USD (plus applicable tax). This license is valid for 365 days.

Preferably, the traineeship is carried out with your current employer. A project is proposed by your employer and approved by us. If it is not possible to carry out the traineeship at your work, we will search for an alternative traineeship subject together. If necessary, the traineeship can be phased over a longer period of time, reducing the number of hours per week.

The cost of the programme consists of three parts: a fixed administrative cost, a variable cost based on the number of credits taken and a cost for the compulsory software package of Howest (in the context of legal software). The tuition fees can be found here: