Master of Science in Bioinformatics

Thesis Option


Students in the Computational Emphasis Area or Clinical Research Emphasis Area must complete either a 6 credit hour Thesis or a 3 credit hour Practicum Project plus one additional elective. Students in the Genomics Emphasis are required to do a 6 credit hour thesis.

What is a thesis?

A thesis is a paper on a particular subject in which one has done original research. The ultimate goal is to publish the thesis so the final product should be close to “journal ready” so that it can be reformatted, submitted to a journal and then considered for publication. Most journal articles are about 3,500 words in length and are very well referenced. Select a style for your thesis that most closely matches the journal where you would like to publish your paper. Be sure and use their recommended format for references. You and your thesis committee members will be co-authors on your eventual publication.

When should a student start working on their thesis project?

Students must have two members to their thesis committee and a UMKC faculty member must chair the thesis. The second member must be expert in statistical analysis who will likely be based in the IMPH department. Full-time students should have picked their thesis chair and proposed topic by the end of the first year.  The chair of the thesis should be approved by the Emphasis Area director and be available to help the student formulate research questions and design their project.  Many projects may need human subjects approval and research should not begin until this is received.

How do I organize my thesis work?

In most cases there are seven stages to your thesis project.

    • Stage 1:  Pick your topic and do a review of the literature. Your topic should be of great interest to you.
    • Stage 2:  Organize your committee and obtain their approval for the  project
    • Stage 3:  If required, obtain human subjects approval
    • Stage 4:  Establish a realistic timeline and then conduct your research
    • Stage 5:  Complete your thesis and submit to the IMPH Department for approval
    • Stage 6:  Graduate–Congratulations!
    • Stage 7:  Submit the thesis for publication

The thesis research project MUST be possible to complete in a relatively short period of time. Thus analysis of data that have already been collected for other studies at UMKC is a good choice for a thesis. Also there are many publically available population-based datasets from sources such as the National Center for Health Statistics, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, Medicaid programs, and the Centers for Disease Control that provide excellent data for student projects. Meta-analyses (reviews of combined published data on a research topic) are also appropriate. Some students may submit their thesis for publication prior to graduation but this is not required.

What am I supposed to learn from the thesis project?

Part of the learning in doing a thesis is to establish good habits for time management and project completion.

Students will improve their writing skills.

Students will learn how to formulate hypotheses.

Students will have a hands-on experience with research project design.

Some students will learn how to apply for human subjects approval.

Some students will learn how to create and analyze a research database.

Publication of the thesis will make students better candidates for professional positions because of their improved communication skills.