One-of-a-kind master’s program at Colorado State University focuses on assisted reproductive technologies

Colorado State University recently launched the nation’s first professional degree program focused on helping both livestock and people achieve healthy pregnancies.

The one-year Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences in assisted reproductive technologies program awards master’s degrees and gives students additional education to prepare for careers, doctoral work, and entrance to medical or veterinary school. The program, called MSpro-ART, is offered in response to industry demand for professionals trained in such techniques for humans and animals.

“Graduates of the MSPro-ART program will be highly competitive for jobs in the human infertility field as well as in animal reproduction industries, particularly with livestock,” said Dr. Jennifer Barfield, assistant professor in the CSU Department of Biomedical Sciences and associate director of the program. “This unique degree will also enhance the applications of students who choose to apply to veterinary or medical school.”

The MSpro-ART program is a non-thesis course of study that features intensive training in assisted reproduction: in vitro production of bovine embryos, including in vitro maturation and fertilization of oocytes, and in vitro culture of embryos; embryo and semen cryopreservation; and micromanipulation of oocytes and embryos, including intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Students in the MSpro-ART program learn clinical techniques alongside faculty with CSU’s Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory. This world-renowned center investigates basic reproductive biology to better understand normal function; examines factors that challenge reproductive success; and develops products and procedures to enhance reproductive health for both humans and animals.

“For the MSpro-ART program we have taken that rich history and developed a course of study that gives students a strong foundation in reproductive theory, while teaching them the technical skills involved with assisted reproduction,” said Dr. James Graham, professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and program director. “This program is the first of its kind in the United States that offers the professional degree in assisted reproduction without requiring a research thesis.”

The program incorporates extensive laboratory and field work to reinforce classroom concepts. These practical experiences give students a strong working knowledge of assisted reproductive technologies, Barfield said.

Alyssa Grossnickle, the program’s first student, graduated in spring 2014 and immediately landed a job in human fertility as an embryologist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York.

“I am incredibly fortunate to have found the ART master’s program at CSU. It has positively impacted my future in a tremendous way, as I received hands-on training and one-on-one guidance in a field of science about which I am passionate,” GrossnickIe said. “I am excited about my future, and I couldn’t be happier with my experience.”

Application deadline for fall 2015: Application deadline for the next cohort of students is April 1, 2015. For more information, please visit the MSpro-ART website or contact Dr. Jennifer Barfield at Jennifer.barfield@colostate.edu.

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