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Bioinformatics is a new and spectacular field that utilizes methods from computer science to store and process molecular biological information (DNA, proteins, functions). In bioinformatics, molecular biology is combined with computer science and programming. Bioinformaticians are capable of retrieving necessary information from databases and using it to make predictions. As a bioinformatician, you explore the applications of computer science within biological/biomedical laboratories.

The new >Bioinformatics for IT professionals @home track focuses on four crucial roles:

  • Biologist: The programme starts with a solid foundation in molecular biology, which will prove essential in later stages of the programme.
  • Informatician: On your computer system, you will learn everything about storing, organizing, and sharing (molecular biological) data. Additionally, you will apply machine learning to these data to solve biological research questions.
  • Bioinformatician: The majority of the programme is dedicated to the (statistical) analysis and processing of biological data. You will gain skills in working with biological sequences, 3D structures of macromolecules, and models of biological systems.
  • Programmer: Throughout the programme, various programming languages are covered. Specifically, you will use R for biological data processing and be responsible for the integration and automation of bioinformatics tools using scripting in Python.

During the programme, special emphasis is placed on the application of open-source tools, both in a Windows and a Linux environment. During the traineeship (without a bachelor's thesis), a final role is addressed, that of the New Young Professional, focusing on more generic competencies of a bachelor's programme (such as teamwork, clear communication, etc.).

The programme is offered entirely in English through distance education. The programme starts only once every two academic years. The next start of the programme is scheduled for September 2024!


Your class schedule

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

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

  • The contact moments take place every two weeks on the campus in Bruges (Belgium) from 18:00 to 20:00 CET. These contact moments (total of 3) can also be attended remotely via live streaming and are recorded.
  • After the contact moments, an exam is held from 18:00 to 21:00 CET. For students living far from the campus (e.g., abroad), we offer the option to take exams from home. Please note: Taking exams remotely incurs additional costs!

Attending the contact moments alone is not sufficient to grasp the course material; in addition to the contact moments, you will need to independently work on the study material.

students in aula

The course units are organized sequentially. The first two course units focus on molecular biology; thereafter, we alternate between bioinformatics, informatics, and programming courses. The next course begins only after the completion of the preceding course.

All study materials (including recordings of the day sessions) are provided at the beginning of each course. This allows you to process the study material at your own pace. Only the exam for each course unit takes place at a fixed time, shortly after the contact sessions.

Our new, powerful learning environment enables students living far from the campus (e.g., abroad) to participate in all contact moments and exams from the comfort of their homes. This allows the programme to be fully undertaken remotely (@home)!

Academic calendar

The academic calendar provides a schedule outlining key dates and events within the educational programme. It typically includes information about the start and end dates of academic terms or semesters, holidays, breaks, exam periods, and other significant academic milestones. The academic calendar serves as a guide for students, faculty, and staff to plan and coordinate their activities, ensuring the smooth operation of the educational institution throughout the academic year.

View the academic calendar of the Bioinformatics @home programme

Bioinformatics for IT professionals through distance education

If you are 21 years old, have already obtained an IT diploma, and are either working or seeking employment, you can enroll in the Bioinformatics for IT professionals through distance education (@home) programme.

The @home training programme is particularly suitable for:

  • IT professionals with a deep interest in life sciences, perhaps due to the emergence of technologies such as genomics and personalized medicine.
  • Individuals seeking a new challenge within the life sciences sector to meet the growing demand for experts with both IT and biological knowledge.
  • International students with an IT background who are unable to come to the campus in Bruges, Belgium.

This programme is specifically designed for those already holding an IT diploma (bachelor or master) with knowledge of Linux and web technologies (HTML, CSS, PHP, and/or JavaScript).

If you possess a bachelor's degree that includes sufficient molecular biology, then the "Bioinformatics for Life Sciences @home" track is tailored for you!

Roles within the educational programme


In the first two course units, you will be immersed in the world of molecular biology. Here, you will acquire the fundamental principles necessary throughout the programme to process biological results accurately. Upon completion, building blocks such as nucleotides and amino acids, the central dogma of molecular biology, gene expression, and the latest technological developments will no longer be a mystery to you!


The informatics courses focus on the application of computing techniques to organize data in database systems. This includes important fundamental principles of FAIR and data management. Later in the programme, you will learn to apply Machine Learning techniques in the context of big data.

Note: The programme requires a basic knowledge of the Linux operating system, as we will extensively use the Linux system for many analyses. Instructional videos for installing Linux as a virtual machine will be provided.


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


Likely, you have already been introduced to various (object-oriented) programming languages during your pre-education. During the programme, we focus on the integration and automation of bioinformatics tools through scripting in Python, as well as on the analysis and visualization of biological data using the statistical programming language R.

Note: The programme requires a basic knowledge of web technologies (HTML, CSS, PHP and/or JavaScript). Creating a web interface for a (bioinformatics) analysis is an important final competency, but it is no longer covered in this elective track of the programme.

Educational programme Bioinformatics for IT professionals @home

Those who begin the programme in September 2024 can complete it in 2 years or 4 semesters.

View the educational programme

Because the programme only starts every two academic years, you cannot commence the programme in September 2025.

Admission requirements

Diploma requirements

Anyone holding a higher education diploma demonstrating proficiency in Linux and web technologies (HTML, CSS, PHP, and/or JavaScript) at least at the bachelor's level (Applied Computer Science, Electronics-ICT, etc.) is eligible to enroll in this Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics. If you have a foreign diploma, its level must be equivalent to a European bachelor's degree.

  • If you hold a bachelor's degree that includes an adequate coverage of molecular biology, you are eligible to enroll in the "Bioinformatics for Life Sciences @home" programme.
  • Enrolment via a credit contract is possible if you do not have the required background knowledge of Linux and web technologies.
  • No prior knowledge of molecular biology is required, but we do expect a strong interest in the life sciences.

Language requirements

The programme is entirely offered in English, thus requiring proof of sufficient English language proficiency.

  • Those in possession of a secondary education diploma awarded by the Flemish government (excluding BSO and CVO) meet the language requirements.
  • If you possess a different secondary diploma, you can demonstrate your English proficiency through alternative means. Various types of supporting documents can be found in the Education and Examination Regulations.

Books, laptop, and (legal) software

All course units are accompanied by written syllabi and/or presentations, which are provided for free through the electronic learning environment. You can then decide whether you want to print the study material or not, eliminating the need to purchase books.

In many course units, we use the Linux operating system, installed as a virtual machine in Windows. This installation requires not only a substantial amount of (fast) disk space but also resources for smooth operation.

The laptop requirements can be found via this link. You can choose to purchase a laptop through Howest or independently find a laptop with similar specifications.

Upon enrollment 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 install during the academic year is open source and therefore free. This software is downloaded and installed during the lessons.

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


What is distance education?

Distance education or @home is a training variant with minimal on-site learning sessions and evaluation activities, providing students with maximum flexibility to achieve the intended learning outcomes. Reduced study load allows students to combine this training programme with full-time employment.

Utilizing a powerful learning environment and customized study materials, such as recordings, students are supported in self-directed learning through guided independent study. An overview of the course content is provided during the limited contact hours, after which the student relies on online support (via discussion forums, email, or chat) to progress through the course material.

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