Skip to main content

USD Offers Three New Specializations in Graduate Biology

PHoto of biology students in greenhouse. USD graduate biology students can now specialize in three new areas: bioinformatics (Ph.D.), integrative biology (Ph.D.) and conservation and biodiversity (MA).

VERMILLION, S.D. – The South Dakota Board of Regents has authorized the University of South Dakota to offer three new specializations in graduate biology programs starting in the fall of 2017. Doctoral students can now specialize in bioinformatics or integrative biology while master of science students in biology can specialize in conservation and biodiversity. Specializations within a degree program appear on a student’s transcript.

“Biology is a gigantic topic with everything from molecules to ecosystems and everything in-between,” said Hugh Britten, professor of biology and chair of the graduate program. “A Ph.D., in particular, is a form of extreme specialization where students spend three-to-five years trying to answer one question on that spectrum. These specializations will help focus that research.”

The bioinformatics doctoral specialization concentrates on analyzing large data sets originating from a variety of sources. Courses will focus on biology, as well as mathematics, statistics, and computer science, enabling doctoral students to collaborate on high-level research projects. The integrative biology doctoral specialization emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach to the study of diverse biological systems.

The conservation and biodiversity masters specialization concentrates on content knowledge and research in ecology, conservation, and biodiversity. Courses will focus on the conservation and variability of organisms and their environment, equipping degree holders with a more specific set of marketable skills and competencies compared to a master’s degree in biology without specialization.

“We believe the specializations will allow students to better brand and market themselves,” said Karen Koster, associate chair of biology.

“These programs combine our existing strengths and expertise with demand from current and prospective students,” said John Dudley, associate dean of Arts & Sciences. “We’re excited about what they offer our students.”


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News