The Research Unit in Bioinformatics at Rhodes University (RUBi), South Africa, offers a Masters of Science in Bioinformatics. Growing demand for bioinformatics qualifications results in applications from across Africa. Courses aim to bridge gaps in the diverse backgrounds of students who range from biologists with no prior computing exposure to computer scientists with no biology background. The programme is evenly split between coursework and research, with diverse modules from a range of departments covering mathematics, statistics, computer science and biology, with emphasis on application to bioinformatics research. The early focus on research helps bring students up to speed with working as a researcher. We measure success of the programme by the high rate of subsequent entry to PhD study: 10 of 14 students who completed in the years 2011–2013.