How will Math­em­at­ics and In­form­at­ics help you un­der­stand Nature?

Life Sciences is one of the strategic research fields at the University of Helsinki. The multidisciplinary Master’s program in Life Science Informatics (L.S.I.) integrates research excellence and research infrastructures in the Helsinki Institute of Life Sciences (HiLIFE). As a student, you will gain access to active research communities on three campuses: Kumpula, Viikki, and Meilahti. The unique combination of study opportunities tailored to the offering of the three campuses provides an attractive educational profile.

Goal of the pro­gram

Life Sciences is one of the strategic research fields at the University of Helsinki. The multidisciplinary Master’s program in Life Science Informatics (L.S.I.) integrates research excellence and research infrastructures in the Helsinki Institute of Life Sciences (HiLIFE).

The Master's program is offered by the Faculty of Science. Teaching is offered in co-operation with the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences. As a student, you will gain access to active research communities on three campuses: Kumpula, Viikki, and Meilahti. The unique combination of study opportunities tailored to the offering of the three campuses provides an attractive educational profile. The L.S.I. program is designed for students with a background in mathematics, computer science, and statistics, as well as for students with these disciplines as a minor in their bachelor’s degree, with their major being, for example, ecology, evolutionary biology or genetics. As a graduate of the L.S.I. program you will:

  • Have first class knowledge and capabilities for a career in life science research and in expert duties in the public and private sectors
  • Competence to work as a member of a group of experts
  • Have understanding of the regulatory and ethical aspects of scientific research
  • Have excellent communication and interpersonal skills for employment in an international and interdisciplinary professional setting
  • Understand the general principles of mathematical modeling, computational, probabilistic and statistical analysis of biological data, and be an expert in one specific specialization area of the L.S.I. program
  • Understand the logical reasoning behind experimental sciences and be able to critically assess research-based information
  • Have mastered scientific research, making systematic use of investigation or experimentation to discover new knowledge
  • Have the ability to report results in a clear and understandable manner for different target groups
  • Have good opportunities to continue your studies for a doctoral degree

In­form­a­tion on the lan­guages of in­struc­tion

All teaching is in English.

Pro­gram con­tents

The Life Science Informatics Master’s program has six specialization areas, each anchored in its own research group or groups.

Algorithmic bioinformatics with the Genome-scale algorithmics, Combinatorial Pattern Matching, and Practical Algorithms and Data Structures on Strings research groups. This specialization area educates you to be an algorithm expert who can turn biological questions into appropriate challenges for computational data analysis. In addition to the tailored algorithm studies for analyzing molecular biology measurement data, the curriculum includes general algorithm and machine learning studies offered by the Master's programs in Computer Science and Data Science.

Applied bioinformatics, jointly with The Institute of Biotechnology and genetics.Bioinformatics has become an integral part of biological research, where innovative computational approaches are often required to achieve high-impact findings in an increasingly data-dense environment. Studies in applied bioinformatics prepare you for a post as a bioinformatics expert in a genomics research lab, working with processing, analyzing and interpreting Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) data, and working with integrated analysis of genomic and other biological data, and population genetics.

Biomathematics with the Biomathematics research group, focusing on mathematical modeling and analysis of biological phenomena and processes. The research covers a wide spectrum of topics ranging from problems at the molecular level to the structure of populations. To tackle these problems, the research group uses a variety of modeling approaches, most importantly ordinary and partial differential equations, integral equations, and stochastic processes. A successful analysis of the models requires the study of pure research in, for instance, the theory of infinite dimensional dynamical systems; such research is also carried out by the group.

Biostatistics and bioinformatics are offered jointly by the statistics curriculum, the Master´s program in Mathematics and Statistics and the research groups Statistical and Translational Genetics, Computational Genomics and Computational Systems Medicine in FIMM. Topics and themes include statistical, especially Bayesian methodologies for the life sciences, with research focusing on modeling and analysis of biological phenomena and processes. The research covers a wide spectrum of collaborative topics in various biomedical disciplines. In particular, research and teaching address questions of population genetics, phylogenetic inference, genome-wide association studies and epidemiology of complex diseases.

Eco-evolutionary Informatics with ecology and evolutionary biology, in which several researchers and teachers have a background in mathematics, statistics and computer science. Ecology studies the distribution and abundance of species, and their interactions with other species and the environment. Evolutionary biology studies processes supporting biodiversity on different levels from genes to populations and ecosystems. These sciences have a key role in responding to global environmental challenges. Mathematical and statistical modeling, computer science and bioinformatics have an important role in research and teaching.

Systems biology and medicine with the Genome-scale Biology Research Program in Biomedicum. The focus is to understand and find effective means to overcome drug resistance in cancers. The approach is to use systems biology, i.e., integration of large and complex molecular and clinical data (big data) from cancer patients with computational methods and wet lab experiments, to identify efficient patient-specific therapeutic targets. Particular interest is focused on developing and applying machine learning based methods that enable integration of various types of molecular data (DNA, RNA, proteomics, etc.) to clinical information.

Se­lec­tion of the study track

During the first three study periods, each specialization area gives an introductory course and at the beginning of the Spring semester, the student is assumed to have decided his/her own study direction.

Pro­gram struc­ture

Studies amount to 120 credits (ECTS), which can be completed in two years according to a personal study plan.

  • 85 credits of advanced studies from the specialization area, including a Master’s thesis, 30 credits
  • 35 credits of other studies chosen from the program or from other programs (e.g., computer science, mathematics and statistics, genetics, ecology and evolutionary biology)


The program includes a mandatory Master´s thesis, a scientific research project. The project can be theoretical or practical in nature, including biological or medical data-analysis from an ongoing research project. The resulting thesis is a written work that demonstrates your ability for scientific reasoning and your familiarity with the relevant scientific literature. You will be appointed a supervisor who will hold regular meetings with you to ensure that your thesis work is proceeding smoothly and on schedule. The thesis is worth 30 credits (ECTS), corresponding to full-time studies during one semester. Although the thesis is an independent work, it is often done as part of a research group.

Ca­reer pro­spects

The Master of Life Science Informatics degree provides excellent opportunities to apply and perform postgraduate studies either at the University of Helsinki, at other universities in Finland, or abroad. As a graduate, you might also find employment, for example, in health sector enterprises, such as bioindustry.


The Life Science Informatics MSc is an international program, with international students and an international research environment. The researchers and professors in the program are internationally recognized for their research. A significant fraction of the teaching and research staff is international.

As a student, you can participate in an international student exchange program, which offers the possibility to include international experience as part of your degree. Life Science Informatics itself is an international field and graduates can find employment in any country.

In the program, all courses are given in English. Although the Helsinki region is very international and English is widely spoken, you can also take courses to learn Finnish via the University of Helsinki’s Language Centre’s Finnish courses. The Language Centre also offers an extensive program of foreign language courses for those interested in learning new languages.


The Life Science Informatics MSc program collaborates with HiLIFE, Institute of Biotechnology, FIMM, Biomedicum, HIIT, and other Master’s programs:

  • Data Science
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Computer Science
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Translational Medicine
  • Genetics and Molecular Biosciences

The flexible study rights program (JOO) allows you to study at other Finnish universities as part of your degree.

Re­search fo­cus

The research groups offering the Life Science Informatics MSc program specialization areas are included in three Centres of Excellence of the Academy of Finland:

  • The Centre of Excellence in Analysis and Dynamics Research
  • Metapopulation Research Centre
  • The Finnish Centre of Excellence in Cancer Genetics Research

The Academy of Finland's Centres of Excellence are the flagships of Finnish research. They are at the cutting edge of science in their fields, carving out new avenues for research, developing creative research environments and training talented new researchers for Finnish research and Finnish business and industry. A CoE is a research and training network that has clearly defined research objectives and is run under a joint management. Funding is provided for a six-year term, which means that a CoE can work toward long-term objectives and even take risks. CoEs are jointly funded by the Academy of Finland, universities, research institutes, the private business sector, and many other sources.

Post­gradu­ate stud­ies

After completing the MSc program in Life Science Informatics, you can apply for doctoral studies at the University of Helsinki, elsewhere in Finland or abroad. The high level of international recognition of the University of Helsinki and the Life Science research groups offers you excellent opportunities for doctoral studies at top universities. The additional education and practical skills gained in doctoral studies are useful not only for an academic research career but also for working in the private sector. At the University of Helsinki, suitable doctoral programs include:

  • Doctoral program in integrative life sciences
  • Doctoral program in mathematics and statistics
  • Doctoral program in computer science
  • Doctoral program in wildlife biology research
  • Doctoral program in population health
  • Doctoral program in biomedicine
  • Doctoral program in brain & mind
  • Doctoral program in microbiology and biotechnology

Qualified students who intend to pursue a research career can apply for the Integrative Life Sciences (ILS) doctoral program during their second year of Master's studies.

For more information, please see

Tuition fees

Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, who do not have a permanent residence status in the area and pursue their studies in English, are liable to pay tuition fees. You can check from FAQ at the Studyinfo website whether or not you are required to pay tuition fees.

Program taught in:
University of Helsinki

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Last updated August 2, 2018
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Aug 2019
2 years
- Tuition fee per year (non-EU/EEA students) 15000 €
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Master's Programme in Life Science Informatics