Accreditation,
three years on

Published October 03 2016

During year three of the accreditation program for baccalaureate degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 54 new colleges and universities joined the program.

For those who don’t know about the ASBMB accreditation program, it was conceived, designed and implemented by members of the biochemistry and molecular biology educational community. All aspects of the program, from application screening and question development to exam scoring, are driven by the time, effort, ideas and community spirit of nearly 100 volunteers, who are ably assisted by a handful of ASBMB staff members. You can see how far the accreditation program has come by reading earlier reports in ASBMB Today.

The ASBMB is extremely grateful for the support of our many volunteers. It is with pride and pleasure that we acknowledge their contributions by appointing them ASBMB Education Fellows. Our 2016 appointees include:


The 54 accredited institutions encompass a broad spectrum of types (as categorized by the Carnegie classification for universities and colleges) and sizes.


A vehicle for independent program assessment

The ASBMB certification exam provides institutions with an independently developed and scored assessment of student performance that can be utilized for evidence-based program review and development. In addition to its intrinsic value, independent program assessment of this type is currently, or will soon be, required by regional college and university accreditation bodies.

A valuable credential for students

For students, ASBMB certification provides a credential that is performance based, national in nature and independent of institutional name recognition. As the accreditation program grows and its alumni move on to graduate schools and the job market, we are confident that the visibility and value of this rigorously earned certification will continue to rise.

2016 exam

This year, 637 students from 43 accredited programs took the ASBMB’s 2016 certification examination. Of these students, 232 (36.4 percent) exhibited the breadth of knowledge and the depth of critical thinking necessary to qualify for ASBMB certification of their degrees. Among those who qualified, 65 (10.2 percent) were recognized as certified with distinction.

We had planned to administer the 2016 examination online. Unfortunately, during the first day that the online version was available, a potential technical glitch was discovered that caused us to shut down the online version and use paper evaluations instead. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the participating programs and their students for their understanding and assistance with this last-minute change.

Will the examination for 2017 be delivered online? Barring some unforeseen development, yes. We will be working with online vendors to remediate the problems we experienced this year.

Volunteers were recognized as the 2016 Education Fellows reception during the ASBMB annual meeting in April in San Diego.

Looking ahead

Accreditation is an evolving program that we are working actively to improve. The past three years have taught us much. Additional volunteers have enriched the program with new ideas and perspectives. As we look ahead to 2017, we have set our sights on constructing and validating additional questions and improving the online delivery of future assessment examinations.

Join us

The volunteers who participate in the ASBMB’s accreditation program are not only vital to its success; they are stakeholders who help shape the program. For more information on accreditation, including a list of accredited schools, click here. To get involved in constructing future questions, scoring student responses and other activities in the program, please contact ASBMB’s education department.

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