Accreditation update: 68 and counting

Published December 01 2017

Benefits of accreditation

“The support of this program from both pedagogical and assessment perspectives has been instrumental in allowing us to build a dynamic and research-based BMB curriculum that prepares our students for futures in STEM careers.”
Michael J. Wolyniak
Hampden–Sydney College

“Accreditation adds perceived value to our degree for some students and can be useful as a recruiting tool.”
Joseph Ogas
Purdue University

“The biggest benefit of accreditation for us has been that we now have a set of guidelines, and accountability, around which to structure and restructure our degree to serve our students in a more practical way.”
Teaster Baird Junior
San Francisco State University

“Program accreditation allows our students to take the ASBMB accreditation exam and gauge themselves to BMB peers nationally. Several of our graduates have successfully completed the exam and have been highly sought after for graduate school and/or industry positions.”
Michael G. Borland
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

During the past year, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s accreditation program for baccalaureate degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology has continued to grow and has worked to improve its quality and impact. Since our last update appeared in the October 2016 issue of ASBMB Today, the number of accredited schools has grown to 68, an increase of 14. The list of accredited schools includes colleges and universities of all types and sizes, ranging from large research-intensive universities to masters-granting programs to primarily undergraduate institutions, distributed across 29 states.

History and revisions

The accreditation program was conceived, developed and implemented by and for biochemists and molecular biologists. Now in its fourth year, the program’s overarching objective is to recognize and promote excellence in undergraduate BMB education. The ASBMB’s annual certification examination offers participating students the opportunity to earn a nationally recognized, outcomes-based credential that is independent of institutional cachet. The exam also provides accredited programs with a source of independently generated student performance data for making knowledge-based assessments of curriculum and pedagogy.

In early 2017, a subgroup of the graduation team (Joseph Provost, John Tansey, Debra Martin, Diane Dean, Michael Carastro, Adele Wolfson and Peter Kennelly) surveyed school officials, industry representatives and graduates of accredited programs on several subjects, including the application process. In response to this feedback, the process was reviewed and revised to make the instructions clearer and more straightforward, as well as to reduce the volume of supporting information required. The complete results of this survey soon will be submitted for publication.

Exam 2017

This year, more than 650 students from 51 accredited programs took the ASBMB’s 2017 certification examination. More than half of the participating students (approximately 55 percent) exhibited the breadth of knowledge and the depth of critical thinking necessary to qualify for ASBMB certification of their degrees, including approximately 18 percent who were certified with distinction.

One of our major goals for 2017 was to enhance the process and increase the output by which new questions are developed for the certification exam. As a consequence, a question-writing workshop organized by Victoria Moore and Daniel Dries was held as part of the ASBMB special symposium Transforming Undergraduate Education in the Molecular Life Sciences in July at the University of Tampa. At this workshop, more than 30 volunteers worked together to develop new questions as well as to learn about the features that characterize questions compatible with the format, scoring and objectives of the certification exam.

Why not join us?

The ASBMB accreditation program was created by and relies upon the contributions of scores of volunteers from the biochemistry and molecular biology community. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude to the many volunteers that animate the ASBMB accreditation program. These volunteers are not only vital to the program’s growth and success — they shape its future direction. To get involved, contact Allison Goldberg.

Institutions with ASBMB accreditation

Berry College*
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
Boston University
Brigham Young University
California State University–Long Beach
Colby College
East Stroudsburg State University
Georgia Gwinnett College*
Goucher College
Hampden-Sydney College
Hendrix College
Hope College
Hunter College of the City University of New York
Miami University
Middle Tennessee State University
Minnesota State University - Mankato
North Dakota State University
Northeastern University
Oklahoma State University
Oregon State University**
Otterbein University
Pennsylvania State University
Presbyterian College
Providence College*
Purdue University
Rhodes College*
Roanoke College
Rowan University
Saint Cloud State University*
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
San Francisco State University
Shepherd University*
Smith College*
South Dakota State University
St. John’s University
St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Stockton University
Texas A&M University
Texas State University–San Marcos
Texas Tech University
Texas Wesleyan University*
The College of St. Scholastica
Towson University*
Tulane University
Union College
University of Arizona
University of California–Davis
University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
University of Montana
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
University of Nevada–Reno*
University of New Mexico
University of Richmond*
University of Saint Joseph
University of San Diego*
University of Southern Mississippi
University of St. Thomas
University of Tampa
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
University of Virginia
University of Wisconsin–La Crosse*
Villanova University
Virginia Tech
Viterbo University*
Wayne State University
Wellesley College
Willamette University
Winthrop University

*newly accredited in 2017
** received accreditation for a second degree program

Peter J. Kennelly Peter J. Kennelly is a professor of biochemistryat Virginia Tech.