MINOT, N.D.-Knowledge in both medicinal and non-medicinal chemistry is a growing need all across the country and Minot State University is taking the step to help meet the call. Beginning in their spring semester of 2019, a new option under their bachelor of arts in chemistry will be offered: medicinal plant chemistry.

Minot State University will be the first in the state and in the Upper Midwest to take on the degree. They are also only the second four-year university in the country to offer it.

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In a press release on the topic, Minot State President Steven Shirley said, "Minot State University has a strong history of excellence in the sciences. This new rigorous academic option in chemistry further solidifies that tradition by ensuring the next generation of graduates entering new and emerging fields have the knowledge and skills required to succeed."

Christopher Heth, assistant professor of chemistry at MSU, explained that the program will allow students to leave with a variety of skills that can be applied to a variety of different career paths.

These paths include the regular degree options plus new paths in the pharmaceutical industry, in craft brewing, in food science industry, and medical cannabis.

"There is a huge call nationwide for those with these experiences," Heth said.

The current two options in chemistry at MSU are professional or general chemistry. Medicinal plant chemistry will fall between the two in the course work required and the paths it will open up.

The program will require students to take various chemistry, math, and physics courses along with students gaining over 600 hours of lab experience learning about extraction, separation, and analysis of compounds and chemicals from plant material.

"It's a little bit more applied than the other options," Heth noted.

New classes focusing on medicinal and plant chemistry are also being added to the classes offered at the university to help those studying the new program succeed.

"Skilled professionals are, and will continue to be, needed to perform extraction, purification, and analysis of products originating from plants," Minot State Vice President for Academic Affairs Laurie Geller said in a press release. "This new option creates additional opportunities for current and future students who want to pursue these emerging career fields."

The new program is expected to help students meet the growing need in a variety of industries requiring the skills they will learn in the program.