Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2011 08:05:11 -0500
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: Steven Funck <sfunck**At_Symbol_Here**MESSIAH.EDU>
Subject: Re: ACS accreditation of undergraduate programs

Stacy:  Below are some comments from my Chair who has a lot more experience in this area than I do.  Good luck.

"For years, the ACS accredited degree in Biochemistry has been just what you described - a complete chemistry degree with a few additional biology courses.  This has been what the ACS has required.  For this reason, some schools that really wanted a more interdisciplinary biochemistry degree decided the ACS degree in biochemistry was not what they wanted and they didn't pursue it.  At my first position, we had some significant scholarships for ACS degree bound students, and so we had both programs accredited, even though we didn't like the looks of the ACS biochemistry degree.  I mention this to show that some schools will have good reasons for using the ACS accredited degree, even though it seems quite lopsided. And certainly some chemists feel that the rigorous training in chemistry will serve any student well (but likely for graduate school, not necessarily when pursuing alternate careers.)
< br>In 2008, the Committee on Professional Training for the American Chemical Society made significant changes to the curriculum requirements for accredited degrees, leaving the door open for degree programs in all sorts of areas:  environmental chemistry, biochemistry, materials, forensics, etc.  Any accredited program requires a core course in each of five disciplines:  organic, inorganic, biochemistry, analytical and physical chemistry.  Four upper level courses must build on these.  But it has seemed to most everyone that this leaves more room for interdisiplinary programs.  The upper level courses can be outside of chemistry if they have significant chemistry content and build on introductory courses.  For this reason, I think that a course like molecular biology would work in this new system, as well as others.

For schools that are now pursuing accreditation, this is the most certain route to go.  But for schools that are already accredited, they know that their program is strong, and acceptable, and there may be no reason to change.  It is also possible that some of the faculty have strong feelings about the chemistry content as well.

I think the B.A. option is a good one for your daughter.  She is the very kind of student that we hope to attract with a new B.A. degree that we just developed.  Yes, an accredited degree looks good, but for her, it doesn't have the courses that she needs the most.  What you do know is that all the courses at institution X are strong and meet the standards of the American Chemical Society.  That's what will count when medical schools look at her transcript and when she takes the MCAT.  

R oseann K. Sachs
Professor and Chair
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Messiah College
Grantham, PA  17027

Steven S. Funck
Messiah College
Natural Sciences Laboratory Programs Manager
Box 3049
1 College Ave
Granth am, PA 17027
717-796-1800 ext. 2079
>>> Stacy Bucherl <stacy**At_Symbol_Here**BUCHERL.NET> 01/04/11 2:36 PM >>>
Sorry this is a bit off topic, but a lot of you work in higher education and
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-f ocused 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
unders tand their rationale to minimize bio from the biochem degree, but
don't know where to start.

Advice? Suggestions?


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