Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2011 14:38:01 -0600
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Carl Fictorie <Fictorie**At_Symbol_Here**DORDT.EDU>
Subject: Re: ACS accreditation of undergraduate programs
In-Reply-To: <20110104193916.3DAA8126731**At_Symbol_Here**>
Ms. Bucherl,

I'm a prof at a small liberal arts college that does not offer an ACS 
accredited degree, plus I advise premed students at my institution, so I 
think I have a few useful insights for you and your daughter.

My memory of the ACS requirements are based on an older version (that I 
used as a reference for a review of our program), but as I understand 
them, they had structured their requirements around a chemistry core with 
various emphases in areas such as biochemistry or chem ed.  It is possible 
that School B has a curriculum built on these older standards, and in that 
older system biochem was a minor component, an add-on to the general 
chemistry core, and biology was not expected to contribute to a biochemistr
y emphasis in any significant way.  I also learned that the original 
purpose (80+years ago) of ACS accreditation was to satisfy potential 
employers of chemistry graduates, and had little to do with preparation 
for graduate work or medical school.  My skimming of the recent version 
suggests they are much more flexible in the requirements, but those 
changes take time to show up in any particular college's program.

A second factor you should note is that even within schools that have 
approved programs, only about 1/3 of chemistry graduates graduate with the 
certified program.  (Details are available on the ACS website:  http://port
5-49e7-a525-1b8944703cca)  Also, approved programs only produce about 2/3 
(guestimating!) of all chemistry graduates in the US, with non-approved 
programs (such as ours) accounting for the remainder.  In other words, no 
more than 1/4 of chemistry grads (including biochem) in any given year 
even get a certified degree, and a large percentage of those who do not 
are pre-professional health students (pre-med, pre-pharmacy, pre-dental, 
etc.).  Finally, I have not seen any science graduate programs give 
preference to certified grads in terms of admissions, and we have never 
had qualified applicants turned down by graduate programs in chemistry.

That allows me to switch hats to premed advisor.  My experience with 
mid-western medical schools is that they also do not concern themselves 
with certification of a particular major.  They are concerned that 
applicants have completed the prerequisite coursework for their program, 
and show only minor concern for other coursework.  Whether or not research 
is important depends on the particular medical school:  The University of 
Iowa (our state med school) likes research experience, The University of 
Minnesota at Duluth (a rural medicine oriented school) does not consider 
it.  In fact, the comments I hear from medical school admissions people 
suggest that broad based liberal arts is a more useful preparation than a 
strong but narrow science program, which BS programs tend to be.  
Therefore, I advise students to take fewer biology and chemistry courses 
and take more writing, social science, and arts courses to round out their 
experiences.  In my opinion there's no benefit to completing a certified 
degree in biochemistry en route to a medical career.

I hope you find these comments helpful and if you have more questions, 
feel free to ask.


Carl Fictorie, Ph.D.
   Professor of Chemistry
   Co-Director, Kuyper Scholars Program
   Premedical Program Advisor
Chemistry Department
Dordt College
498 4th Ave. NE
Sioux Center, IA 51250-1697  
phone:  712-722-6283
email:  fictorie**At_Symbol_Here**

>>> Stacy Bucherl  1/4/2011 1:34 PM >>>
Sorry this is a bit off topic, but a lot of you work in higher education 
I could use your help. 

My daughter's college choice was primarily driven by finding a school that
offered an ACS accredited BS in biochemistry.  At the last moment, she
switched from school A to B (school B offered a full ride). On arrival at
school B, she discovered that their particular ACS biochemistry program is
so rigidly chemistry-focused that it only allows 3 bio classes. After
several discussions with her adviser, she switched to the BA in
biochemistry, which gives her room to study the bio part of the degree.
Daughter is likely going to med school and she wants to do research. So...

I talked to ACS to gain an understanding of the accreditation process. Do
any of you have experience in developing the ACS accreditation curriculum
for your school? I would like to have a discussion with School B to try to
understand their rationale to minimize bio from the biochem degree, but
don't know where to start.

Advice? Suggestions?


Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.