Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.


Biomedical Studies

Director, 2012-13: Jean Porterfield (Biology)

Biomedical studies is a multidisciplinary program offering a contract concentration that can be earned in conjunction with any B.A. academic major. The concentration is intended as a plan of study that will enhance the preparation of students entering careers in the biomedical arena ranging from medicine to sports science to hospital administration. The concentration offers students an opportunity for a broad and thoughtful exposure to biomedical studies. Students develop a biomedical studies concentration by implementing a plan of study to match their individual needs. Students must first consult with the Biomedical Studies Program director and develop a contract anytime between the end of their first year and the beginning of their junior year. The contract may be altered by mutual consent at any time.

overview of the concentration

With such a variety of careers in health care today, it can be difficult for undergraduate students interested in human health and medicine to find the path that fits them best. The biomedical studies concentration was designed and implemented in 2000 in order to provide students with an academic experience that helps them not only research but also prepare for careers in health care. This concentration includes course, practical, and experiential requirements which together help the student explore many aspects of potential health careers.



The biomedical studies concentration consists of both courses and non-course experiences, is arranged by individual contract, and is achieved through submission of a completed portfolio by May 1 of the senior year. The portfolio requirements include four courses, an experiential learning component, career research activities, and a senior capstone.


The four required courses are in the categories of: 1) foundation course in human biology (either Biology 123 or 243); 2) practical application course outside the student's major; 3) ethical considerations course; 4) level II or III elective course outside the student's major. Course selection and justification should involve consultation with the program director upon initiation of the concentration. However, some examples of courses that might be appropriate for categories 2 and 3 above are provided below.

Practical Application: Courses in this area focus on the practical aspects of Biomedical Studies and must be outside of your major. Possible courses include:

  • Art 103: Foundation 3-D Media
  • Art 207: Ceramics
  • Chemistry 260: Medicinal Chemistry in Jamaica
  • Dance 201: The Body Movable
  • Dance 232: Movement Analysis
  • Economics 245: Economics of Health Care
  • Exercise Science 255, Prevention and Care of Sport Injuries
  • Exercise Science 373: Motor Learning
  • Exercise Science 374: Biomechanics
  • Exercise Science 375: Physiology of Exercise
  • History 296: Medical Vocation in Historical Perspective
  • Nursing 110: Nutrition and Wellness
  • Nursing 302: Health Care Issues
  • Psychology 238: Biopsychology
  • Psychology 375: Clinical and Counseling Psychology
  • Psychology 390: Psychophysiology
  • Social Work 258: Social Policy
  • Sociology/Anthropology 267: Medical Anthropology
  • Statistics 212: Statistics for Science

Ethical Issues: This will most likely be the course that you take for your EIN general education credit. Consider selecting an EIN offering that is directly related to human and well-being such as:

  • Exercise Science 290: Sports Ethics in Society
  • Philosophy 250: Biomedical Ethics
  • Philosophy 252: Ethics and the Good Life
  • other EIN courses offered on a temporary basis (e.g., through the Integrative Studies department)


Students must participate in at least one significant experience that provides immersion in the biomedical field(s) being considered. This requirement may be met by an appropriate off-campus course, an academic internship for credit, or an experience (paid or unpaid) that is not for credit. In order to select the best option(s) for this requirement, students should consult with the program director upon initiation of the concentration.

Career Research Activities

Please note that the biomedical studies concentration also consists of non-course requirements, including participation in some (Piper Center for Vocation and Career) workshops, attendance at career-related events, preparation of a resume, interviews with professionals, and career research. Details are available at the Biomedical Studies web page.

Senior capstone

Students must write a one-page review of how their work in the Biomedical Studies Concentration has helped formulate next steps for after graduation from St. Olaf College. This review must include future plans, and be accompanied by a document that supports those next steps. More information is available at the Biomedical Studies web site at


Biomedical Studies honors a limited number of graduating majors with distinction. Distinction applicants complete an approved project, which is evaluated along with the concentration portfolio by the program director and a committee of faculty and staff. More information is available at the Biomedical Studies web site at