NSU to offer Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry in fall 2021

Science students in white coats working in a lab

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Starting in fall 2021, Northern State University will offer a new Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, which combines components of the biology and chemistry programs.

The degree will provide a strong background for health-related professional schools and careers, and will help prepare students for qualifying exams. It will also streamline the path to graduation for students, providing another option for those who double major in biology and chemistry.

“We’re creating a program that’s going to fit the needs of our students coming here for our pre-health programs,” said NSU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dr. Alyssa Kiesow. “When you get into medical, dental or veterinary school, you have a better foundation than a student who would just have a chemistry degree or a biology degree because biochemistry bridges the two degrees.”

The biochemistry program will also better prepare students for the qualifying exam to be accepted into a graduate program – for example, the MCAT for medical school, said Dr. Elizabeth Haller, associate dean, who oversees curriculum for CAS.

The creation of the biochemistry degree is an example of Northern responding to student needs. In the past, Kiesow said, only one biochemistry course was offered. But Dr. Jon Mitchell, associate professor of biology, kept hearing how much the course helped alumni in graduate school. So the course was expanded to two, and now, the entire program has been created. 

That decision-making process is what NSU science programs strive for, Kiesow said. Similarly, faculty listened to student needs when the decision was made to have a full cadaver lab in the new Jewett Regional Science Education Center.

“We’ve been pushing to build our programs based on what the students have said and what students’ needs are,” she said.

That’s also an indication of the kind of individualized learning students receive at Northern.

“We’re a small institution really centered on student needs,” Kiesow said. “We have one-on-one communication with our students and one-on-one activities in the lab.”

That doesn’t happen in bigger schools, where graduate students often teach in labs and classrooms.

“We don’t have that here,” Kiesow said. “It’s faculty teaching the lectures, faculty teaching the labs, faculty really shepherding the students through the process and providing the mentorship and guidance they need to get into the graduate schools.”

One of the reasons Northern’s acceptance rates for medical and dental school is well over 80 percent is because of that faculty support and guidance, she said.

Haller said Northern also provides numerous opportunities for undergraduate research, working directly with faculty.

“You’re working literally side by side with a faculty member rather than with graduate students,” she said.

For more information on the new NSU Biochemistry Program, contact NSU Admissions at 605-626-2544 or admissions@northern.edu.

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a student-centered institution that provides an outstanding educational experience, preparing students through the liberal arts and professional education for their future endeavors. A regional university, Northern offers rigorous academics; diverse civic, social and cultural opportunities; and a commitment to building an inclusive environment for all points of view. Northern also offers a broad-based athletics program, sponsoring 15 NCAA Division II intercollegiate varsity sports that compete in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NSIC). The university strives to enrich the community through partnerships such as its Educational Impact Campaign, which opened a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; new athletic and recreation fields; and, soon, an on-campus regional sports complex. With the $55 million campaign, NSU has been the recipient of more than $120 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.