Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics

Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics
""Research into heredity and diseases is no longer possible without programmers. 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 (Belgium) 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. A bioinformatics scientist is capable of retrieving the necessary information from databases and of using these to make predictions. As a bioinformatician you will look for application possibilities of informatics within the (biological/biomedical) laboratory.

  • Informatics scientist:
    application of informatics techniques to storage, organizing 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 training 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 of which you learn to process and interpret the 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, the role of the New Young Professional, in which the more generic competences of a bachelor (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.

ECTS-sheets

Passion for your future

Howest is much more than a university of applied sciences with its 25 undergraduate and 12 graduate programs.

It is a school with a passion for your future. It is a school where each student stands central and a place where they are personally guided towards the path to a diploma that will provide them with an edge in the labour market.

Pictures of the programme

A picture says more than a thousand words. We'd like to give you a sneak preview of what awaits you.

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Where are my classes?

Campus Brugge Station – BST5

Campus Brugge Station bevindt zich vlak bij het station van Brugge en op wandelafstand van alles waar de stad zo bekend om is: de Reien, de Grote Markt, de Burg of de vele winkeltjes, cafeetjes en koffiebars. Op de campus zitten trouwens bedrijven die er een lokaal huren – het werkveld is dus letterlijk vlakbij!

Contact details:

Rijselstraat 5
8200 Brugge
+32 50 38 12 77
brugge@howest.be
Meer info en routeplan

Frequently asked questions about the programme

Degree, enrolment prerequisites and prior knowledge

What is bioinformatics?

Bioinformatics is a recent and emerging discipline in which computer science techniques are applied within a biological (lab) environment. Partly due to the emergence of various high-throughput experimental methods and the need for automated analysis of biological data, bioinformatics has become indispensable in many laboratories.

What prior knowledge do I need to have?

You must have sufficient knowledge of molecular biology at least on 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. 

What are the admission requirements to enrol as a foreign student?

In first instance, we ask you to provide us with a transcript of records proving you have sufficient knowledge of molecular biology. After we have verified this, the admission office at Howest will also verify your English proficiency (at least B2 level) and will check the certification/legalization of your foreign diploma

Do I already need to have a bachelor's degree? Can I start the study directly after secondary school?

A bachelor's degree is required to be able to start the programme. If you don’t have a bachelor's degree, we recommend that you first follow a programme with molecular biology, such as Biomedical Laboratory Science. 

Do I need prior knowledge of computer science?

No, for every informatics/programming course we start from scratch. We do expect that, in general, you are able to use a computer fluently

I have not seen molecular biology during my previous education. How can I still register for the programme?

If you have no prior knowledge of molecular biology, but do hold a bachelor's degree, you can register for the various course units with the help of credit contracts. At the end, you will receive proof that you have passed these course units, but you will not receive a diploma. 

Programme variants: daytime programme and at home

Can I follow the programme via distance learning?

Yes, if you are already working (or looking for a job), you can register for the distance learning (@home) programme.

What is the difference between the day course and the @home programme?

Both variants give rise to the same diploma, but are organised in a different way. The day course is a one-year full-time programme that takes place on the campus in Bruges, Belgium. The @home programme is spread over two academic years and has only a limited number of contact moments. Moreover, these can be followed entirely from home.

When I follow the @home programme, am I expected on campus?

The @home programme only has a limited number of contact moments (three moments/course unit) and contact hours (two hours/contact moment). These are organized on the campus, but can also be followed and/or watched afterwards via live streaming online. 

Can I take the exams from home in the @home programme?

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. 

How is the traineeship organized in the @home programme?

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

Content and organisation of the study programme

How are the lessons organized?

The lessons are an alternation of theoretical input with practical exercises (on the computer). During the lessons there is a lot of interaction between the lecturer and the students and the students are encouraged to actively participate and ask questions.

An example of the academic calendar and class schedule can be found here.

What does the class schedule look like (day course)?

The lessons are organized in four blocks of six weeks. During each block three to four course units will be taught. These are scheduled as half or full days. This gives you a total of three to four days of lessons per week. After six weeks you have two weeks of exams, after which new course units start. During the fourth and last block you have a traineeship of eight weeks

What does the class schedule look like (via distance learning)?

In the @home programme the course units are spread over two years. The courses are organized sequentially. For each course a contact moment is organized every two weeks, three in total. The next course unit only starts after the previous course unit has been completed. The traineeship takes place at the end of the second year. 

Will there be a lot of programming during the programme?

The course units are always an alternation of bioinformatics, informatics and programming courses. In this way only one programming course per block is dealt with. In the first block you get basic programming through web technologies, after that you learn to process and visualize data in R to finally acquire a solid foundation of Python. During these courses there will be a lot of exercises to familiarize yourself with the different programming languages. 

I have no experience with programming, is that a problem?

No, the programming course units always start from scratch, so that everyone can follow. In order to prepare yourself even better for the first programming course unit, you will receive a link to a self-study course after registration. This self-study course will allow you to get acquainted with some standard programming concepts and skills before the start of the lessons. 

Is there a bachelor's thesis?

No, the closing assessment of the Bioinformatics programme is a full-time traineeship which concludes with a presentation and defense in front of a jury. Because the programme is organized as an Advanced Bachelor, you don’t have to write another Bachelor's thesis.

Is it possible to follow this course elsewhere?

No, we are the only University of Applied Sciences offering a Bachelor of Bioinformatics in Belgium. The Bachelor of Bioinformatics is organized as a one-year Advanced Bachelor programme

What is the main difference between the Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics and Master of Bioinformatics?

The Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics is a practice-oriented programme in which we give you an overview of the most important bioinformatics tools and skills and teach you how to apply them. The Master of Bioinformatics is a theoretical programme that focuses on a fundamental understanding of how the various bioinformatics tools work, rather than applying them in practice. In order to enroll with a professional bachelor's degree for the Master's programme, you will first have to follow a bridging programme and only then will you be able to enroll for the two-year Master's programme. With a professional bachelor's degree (and knowledge of molecular biology) you can directly enroll for the one-year Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics

What's the biggest plus according to the students?

In particular the practical orientation of the programme is found to be very positive. The students experience the programme to be really hands-on.  

Study material and costs

Do I need to buy books or other study materials?

No, all course units are accompanied by a written syllabus and/or presentations. All study material is made available free of charge via the electronic learning environment. You can then choose whether you want to print the study material or not. Each student must be in possession of a personal laptop that meets the requirements of the study programme. 

What requirements does my laptop have to meet?

It is possible to purchase a laptop that meets the requirements via Howest (category Creative Communication User). Of course you can always look for a laptop that meets (most of) these guidelines yourself. Especially the processor, RAM memory and size of the SSD disk are important. 

How much does the programme cost?

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).

For the next academic year (2020-2021), the cost of the day programme (60 credits) comes to €1.033,2 and for the @home programme (30 credits) to €652,2 (under reserve).

What software is included in Howest's software package?

The software package includes, among other things, a license for Windows 10, multiple licenses for Microsoft Office and a license for antivirus software.

Practical information

Studentenvoorzieningen (Stuvo)

De dienst studentenvoorzieningen (Stuvo) is een professionele dienst die alle studenten van Howest en UGent, campus Kortrijk de kans geeft om in optimale omstandigheden te studeren en die het leven aan de hogeschool of universiteit boeiend, aangenaam en zorgeloos wil maken.

Student secretariat

For information about your registration and administrative file, please contact the student secretariat.

Laptop project

Every student at Howest needs a laptop with legal software recommended by the study program. In order to facilitate future Howest students as much as possible, Howest negotiates the best possible conditions for hardware and service through an intermediary each year. This results in a significant price advantage over similar commercial devices.

Ready to enroll? Apply now

Testimonials

"The students were able to successfully complete these challenging projects and to go beyond what they learned in school."

Perry Moerland

"The students were able to successfully complete these challenging projects and to go beyond what they learned in school."

Perry Moerland

Advanced bachelor of Bio-informatics

Over the past few years our group (Bioinformatics Laboratory, Amsterdam University Medical Centers) has hosted several students of the Advanced Bachelor of Bioinformatics. Our experiences have been very positive. The students were highly motivated and due to their background able to quickly familiarize themselves with the topic of their internship. Examples of projects they worked on are the development of Galaxy pipelines for the analysis of omics data and a R/Shiny app for the Interactive visualization of DNA methylation and gene expression data. The students were able to successfully complete these challenging projects and to go beyond what they learned in school. 

Next to their professional skills, they also blended in very well in our group. Not to mention that the various Belgian specialties (chocolates, beers) they brought with them to Amsterdam were also well appreciated. ;-)
 

Wist je dat ...

Perry Moerland (left) with Howest alumna Laurence Dedrie (right) during a group outing at the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam

"I can work much faster and be more focused"

Steve Baeyen

"I can work much faster and be more focused"

Steve Baeyen

Advanced bachelor of Bio-informatics

In the molecular lab where I work as a lab manager, we started working on Next-Generation Sequencing techniques around 2008. I wanted to deepen and improve my know-how in this area, especially as this domain is developing rapidly. Hence, I made this advanced bachelor my choice, which moreover allowed me to combine studying with work and a family of four children. Initially, some subjects did not seem immediately usable to me for my job, but in the end, I was able to practically apply all the knowledge I had acquired in my work. I also got to know a lot about updates, insights and new methods for areas I already had a lot of experience with. This means that, today, I can work much faster and be more focused.

Now working at ...

ILVO

"So far, we have only had positive experiences with Howest’s trainees."

Kris Laukens

"So far, we have only had positive experiences with Howest’s trainees."

Kris Laukens

Advanced bachelor of Bio-informatics

This advanced bachelor’s degree fulfils a very clear need: it provides the field with multifunctional bioinformatics technicians. Specialists who bridge the gap between the laboratory world and the world of IT. Trainees are deployed for a variety of tasks: data configuration, setting up and maintaining bioinformatics workflows, performing genomic data analysis, and so on. So far, we have only had positive experiences with Howest’s trainees. What do they learn here? They have learned to work together within a multidisciplinary team and experience firsthand how you can contribute to a larger project in such a team.

Now working at ...

Antwerp University

"After completing this course, I intend to look for new professional opportunities, based on the new know-how that I have acquired, combined with the necessary self-study."

Maxine Vanvuchelen

"After completing this course, I intend to look for new professional opportunities, based on the new know-how that I have acquired, combined with the necessary self-study."

Maxine Vanvuchelen

Advanced bachelor of Bio-informatics

I have been working as a laboratory technician for three years now and thought it was time to deepen and expand my knowledge - especially in the field of computer science, a field that has been of interest to me for a long time. That’s why I thought this advanced bachelor’s programme was the right one, as it links computer science directly to the biomedical world. In this way, experiments can now also be designed on the computer, instead of just standard in a lab. After completing this course, I intend to look for new professional opportunities, based on the new know-how that I have acquired, combined with the necessary self-study.

"Thanks to the advanced bachelor I got the chance to have an amazing international experience that I’ll never forget."

Cedric Hermans

"Thanks to the advanced bachelor I got the chance to have an amazing international experience that I’ll never forget."

Cedric Hermans

Advanced bachelor of Bio-informatics

I’ve always wanted to go and study or perform a traineeship abroad. When I got the opportunity to do this during my advanced bachelor of bioinformatics, I went for it. I performed my traineeship at the Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona, PRBB in Barcelona, Spain. It was a unique experience where I learned a lot about bioinformatics. 

But besides only the biomedical applications in programming I also learned a lot about life in general that I’ll never forget. Besides the knowledge and practice that you get within the bioinformatics field, you also get to know a new culture which is vastly different from our own. Having the holiday like intermezzos in between the traineeship work was amazing and something you should at least experience once in your lifetime. 

"Going abroad really made me grow both personally and professionally"

Klaas Vandendriessche

"Going abroad really made me grow both personally and professionally"

Klaas Vandendriessche

Advanced bachelor of Bio-informatics

During my first bachelor in medical laboratory sciences, opportunities to go international for my traineeship were limited, so I stayed in Belgium. So when I enrolled in the advanced bachelor of Bioinformatics, I really wanted to perform my traineeship abroad, preferably in the United Kingdom.  Because of the hands on mentality and quick follow up by HOWEST I was able to perform my traineeship at the Thomas Keane lab, part of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), located on the Wellcome Genome Campus near Hinxton, a small village located in the neighbourhood of Cambridge. 

My project was writing Python scripts for the creation of pseudochromosomes of rodent species. There is a large amount of study groups at EMBL-EBI that offer a wide variety of tasks, from creating and following genome pipelines to database maintenance and writing scripts. The nine colleagues in my office were all great people with various international backgrounds (Chinese, Indian, Spanish, Finish, Ukrainian, British). 
I can say that I definitely enjoyed my stay in Cambridge and working at EMBL-EBI. I would recommend the experience to everyone who is still hesitating to go on an international traineeship. After this traineeship, I felt that I had become much more independent. My view on the world has also broadened a lot by coming in contact with so many different people and cultures.
 

"The courses were a combination of bioinformatics, programming, and data science: three aspects for which I developed a new passion."

Seppe Kelchtermans

"The courses were a combination of bioinformatics, programming, and data science: three aspects for which I developed a new passion."

Seppe Kelchtermans

Advanced bachelor of Bio-informatics

I am a biomedical lab technician passionate about technology. I started my career at the KU Leuven working as a lab technician at the Rega Institute. I liked this job as it gave me a lot of experience in Biomolecular technology, but after three years I wanted something more challenging. I looked around for new challenges and I stumbled upon the advanced bachelor in Bioinformatics.

Going back to college wasn't an easy transition, but I have not regretted it for one moment. Programming and Biomolecular technology seemed like a peculiar combination at first, but after a couple of lessons the possibilities unfolded. The courses were a combination of bioinformatics, programming, and data science: three aspects for which I developed a new passion.

"Thanks to this – in Flanders - unique advanced bachelor in the study of Bioinformatics, qualitative staff members now enter the labour market and they perfectly fit in this niche."

Pieter De Bleser

"Thanks to this – in Flanders - unique advanced bachelor in the study of Bioinformatics, qualitative staff members now enter the labour market and they perfectly fit in this niche."

Pieter De Bleser

Advanced bachelor of Bio-informatics

Biological experiments become more and more large-scale and the need for streamlined analyses increases. There is a transition from gene-central to genome-wide studies with implications for an advanced use of computer and statistics. Whereas large-scale experiments become cheaper and faster, the analysis of the results becomes ever more labour-intensive.

A possibility to close the gap between bioinformatics and traditional biology and biomedical research is the availability of ‘bioinformatics scientists’.
Howest plays an important pioneering role in this field. Thanks to this unique advanced bachelor in Flanders in Bioinformatics, qualitative staff members now enter the labour market and perfectly fit in this niche. We are convinced these people will contribute to scientific research in Flanders!

Now working at ...

expert Bio-informatica, VIB-UGent

"The student is perfectly coached in small groups."

Jasper Anckaert

"The student is perfectly coached in small groups."

Jasper Anckaert

Advanced bachelor of Bio-informatics

The Bioinformatics training is a unique training for people who want to approach sciences and laboratory work in a different way. Thanks to the increasing use of informatics, the field of bioinformatics comes more and more to the forefront. The student is perfectly coached in small groups. This way, a unique atmosphere is created and students learn a lot in a relaxed way.

In the beginning, many students might be discouraged by the informatics part of the training, but thanks to the good composition of the course package many pieces of the puzzle slowly form one integrated unit.

Wist je dat ...

Jasper graduated in 2010.

Now working at ...

Bioinformatic scientist at Centrum voor Medische Genetica

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