MA in Biomedical Informatics

The Free Standing Master of Arts (MA) program prepares students for practical, hands-on careers in informatics. Alumni have gone on to work at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University, entered industry, or enrolled in our PhD program.

Enrollment may be pursued full- or part-time. Completion takes approximately 2 years of full-time study. For part-time students, the degree must be completed within 4 years per the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Degree Requirements


Transferring points: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will permit transfer of up to 15 points of graduate courses previously taken at Columbia University if they were not used toward another degree at Columbia. No transfer credit is granted toward the MA degree at Columbia for courses taken outside of Columbia University.

Residence units: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences requires 2 residence units for the MA degree.  These accrue based on the number of courses for which you enroll (see Tuition and Funding section below). Master’s students are responsible for monitoring their transcript and addressing any discrepancies with the number of residence units with Student Administrative Services.

Oral I/Breadth Examination: For postdoctoral NLM funded MA students, it is a one hour oral exam given by three DBMI faculty members.  MA students may take this examination no more than twice. Failure of two consecutive examinations may result in dismissal.

Essay & MA Degree Application Deadlines: After enrolling in BINF G6001 Projects in Biomedical Informatics, students submit a master’s essay, the culmination of a research or practicum project. The essay requires two faculty readers, one of whom is the research advisor from the projects section in which the student enrolled; the other is a faculty member appointed within the department chosen by the research advisor and student. The content of the MA essay and deliverables is at the sole discretion of the research advisor. Fulfillment of the MA essay is designated by successful completion of the MA essay form found on the DBMI website. The MA essay form must be completed and submitted to the relevant faculty (research advisor, 2nd faculty reader appointed as faculty in DBMI, chair) a minimum of one month prior to the GSAS degree conferral dates (February, May, October) found online through the academic calendar on the University Registrar’s website. Students must also apply for the MA degree online through the Registrar’s website one term before desired conferral date.  Failure to adhere to these deadlines may result in delay of graduation to the next eligible degree conferral period.

Tuition and Funding

Tuition costs are set by the Board of Trustees each summer and vary depending on a student’s full-time or part-time status.  Cost is dependent upon number of courses in which students enroll and divided into categories based upon residence unit status in the following increments: 1/4 residence unit = up to 2 classes, 1/2 residence unit = up to 3 classes, full residence unit = 4 or more classes up to 20 points.  After you accrue the mandatory 2 residence units the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) requires for the MA degree, students enroll in the extended residence unit category such that any additional classes each term are charged a set fee.  Should students enroll in classes that exceed 20 points per term, there is an additional per point charge.  Information on cost of the tuition and fees for free standing MA programs within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is available from the Student Financial Services website.  Issues with residence unit status may be directed to the CUIMC Student Administrative Services office (Black Building, 1st Floor, Room 1-141, tel. 212.342.4790).

With the exception of postdoctoral fellows funded by our National Library of Medicine Training Grant, DBMI does not provide financial support for those in the Master’s Program. Eligible students may apply for educational loans. Master’s students seeking financial support should visit the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Student Financial Services website.

For international students, the ability to work while pursuing a degree may depend upon visa status (see International Students and Scholars Office and information specific to international student applicants provided by their office). There is no course in our department for which you may qualify for CPT while enrolled.  Internships are not required for our MA degree. Previous graduates have been able to apply for OPT post-degree as permitted by the University. You may consult with the ISSO office on main campus once enrolled for policies and procedures on how to apply for OPT.