Chemistry Lab with glassware

LSSU Launches Nation’s First Cannabis-Specific Chemistry Program

Lab Equipment with Student and Faculty

Lake Superior State University is launching the country’s first degree program focused squarely on the chemistry of cannabis. A bachelor’s degree with a major in cannabis chemistry will be offered beginning in fall 2019, along with an associate’s degree program in cannabis science. Students can opt in for an American Chemical Society (ACS)-endorsed degree.

LSSU aims to be a premier training center for the next generation of quantitative chemists for the cannabis industry, ready to start work as soon as they graduate. More than 500,000 jobs will be created in the cannabis industry by 2022, outpacing technology and healthcare.

“LSSU’s core mission is to equip graduates with knowledge and practical skills for meaningful employment so that they can enhance not only the quality of life in Michigan, but throughout North America as well,” says LSSU President Dr. Rodney Hanley. “Our cannabis chemistry graduates will lead the cannabis agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors by developing standards for production, regulation, and safety, just as chemists develop and qualify processes and products that form the backbone of any modern society.”

An LSSU cannabis chemistry degree goes beyond just meeting an expanding market demand in cannabis. The program incorporates a solid foundation in organic chemistry, instrumental analysis, and biochemistry. Graduates will gain skills – often to develop new techniques – that set benchmarks for cannabis production, and quality control, including safety and testing.

“Laboratory chemists develop and implement techniques using highly sensitive tests to detect and measure specific chemical compounds that are critical to law enforcement, regulatory affairs, and to ensure the public’s health and safety,” says Barbara Keller, professor and past chair of the School of Science and Medicine.

Lake Superior State University brings to bear a solid track record in training analytical chemists who have gone on to careers in industry, government, and academics. LSSU chemistry grads enjoy placement in public and private-sector jobs or admission into graduate school within one year of graduation.

The same knowledge and lab expertise mastered by all LSSU chemistry students –cannabis track included -are in demand by employers who look for crucial natural and physical science skills.

What makes LSSU’s cannabis chemistry tract unique to North America?

LSSU’s cannabis chemistry degree devotes 14 credits of specialized cannabis coursework, starting in the first year, on top of all the other coursework a conventional analytical chemistry degree provides. At the degree’s core are 50 credits of chemistry content, along with courses in fundamental biology and horticulture. The degree also offers 24 free electives that lets students focus on other areas such as business, marketing, and criminal justice.

LSSU is also in the early stages of developing a cannabis emphasis for a bachelor’s and associate degree in business administration. Aside from a standard business core, the degrees will include cannabis-specific coursework in economics, law and policy, entrepreneurship, business policy, with attention to cultivation and dispensary operations. Details will be announced later in the spring.

“The cannabis industry is expected to experience tremendous growth in the near future,” says LSSU Provost Lynn Gillette. “Our Cannabis Business degree will prepare our graduates for jobs in this emerging industry.”

These cannabis initiatives join an array of other Lake Superior State University programs unique to North America, if not the world. A new Center for Freshwater Research and Education opens in 2021. The Center will be a major research and teaching resource in environmental science, aquatic wildlife biology, and fisheries management. LSSU students receive individualized attention leading to outstanding career placement in engineering, robotics, fisheries and wildlife management, nursing and computer science, and more.

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