Biomedical Sciences one year master's picture

Dr. Walter Hsu and his lab class, methods in biomedical sciences, a three-credit course that is part of the spring semester of the master's degree.

A young master’s program is creating new opportunities for Iowa State students.

The biomedical sciences department is offering a one-year, non-thesis master of science program that helps students prepare for work in industry, academia or research. It also assists students with building a more competitive résumé for professional school or graduate programs. The program is in its fourth year of existence and has an impressive track record of success.

“We thought that we should come up with some program that would help to prepare the students that would serve as credential improvement,” said Anumantha Kanthasamy, biomedical sciences department chair and Clarence Hartley Covault Distinguished Professor, W.E Lloyd Chair in neurotoxicology. “Because of our knowledge in this area we wanted to extend it to the undergrad students that are coming out and just graduating and help them to get into a professional program.”

The program is especially beneficial for students who are looking to improve their credentials for a professional school or graduate program by improving their résumé with a master’s degree or improving test scores for entrance exams into professional programs like dental school or medical school.

“Typically if their GPA isn’t quite there to get into med school or other students who didn’t do as well on the MCAT or DAT, because it is such a science-heavy program that they are definitely going to improve their scores,” Emma Hashman, graduate program assistant for biomedical sciences, said. “In Iowa, we are the only post-baccalaureate, pre-med program listed on the Association of American Medical Colleges website.”

The first four years of the program have come with tremendous success for the students.

“87 percent of students who apply to professional school from our program are admitted,” Hashman said.

Part of the success of the program is the structure. The fall semester includes classes on anatomy, physiology, cell biology and microbiology, while the spring semester builds on that knowledge with classes in pharmacology, pathology, methods in biomedical sciences and a creative component.

“Part of the creative component is that you have to analyze data and have some hands-on experience with the research labs, and when you have that experience, it allows them to get into graduate Ph.D. programs,” Kanthasamy said.

While many of the students are looking to go to a professional school or graduate program after completing this master’s degree, the program also prepares them for work in the health industry.

“Health science-related industries, pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, those companies do not hire a lot of [applicants with bachelor’s degrees]," Kanthasamy said. "They are looking for if you have a master’s degree, if you have any experience with drug development … do you have any experience handling, injecting and dosing animals, and those are the things that we teach."

After completing the 30 credit hours in two semesters, the students earn their master of science degree in biomedical sciences. Another benefit to this program is the price. For this upcoming school year, the program will cost $9,861.90 for in-state tuition and $23,573.90 for out-of-state tuition, which is less than other programs, Hashman said. Applications for the program are due by May 1.

“We want to take this opportunity to empower students graduating from Iowa State to place them in career opportunities or professional schools,” Kanthasamy said.

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