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Professional Science Master’s Degree: Background and Overview Institutional Perspective Revised – 11/12/10 Council of Graduate Schools

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Presentation on theme: "Professional Science Master’s Degree: Background and Overview Institutional Perspective Revised – 11/12/10 Council of Graduate Schools"— Presentation transcript:

1 Professional Science Master’s Degree: Background and Overview Institutional Perspective Revised – 11/12/10 Council of Graduate Schools

2 Professional Science Master’s (PSM) Degree An innovative degree that:  Prepares graduates for science careers in business, government, or non-profit sectors.  Combines rigorous study in science or mathematics with workforce skills-based coursework in business, management, policy, communications, law, or other fields - “Science Plus!”

3 PSM Programs…  Emphasize the written and verbal communication skills, leadership, and team- building required in professional settings.  Include project or team experience vs. thesis: real world experience.  Provide connections to potential employers through internships.  Often include cross disciplinary courses.

4 Program Examples  Biotechnology  Forensic Science  Financial Mathematics  Nanoscience  Environmental Science  Biosecurity  Bioinformatics  Analytical Chemistry  Applied Systematics  Science Entrepreneurship  Genetic Counseling PSM programs are interdisciplinary in fields such as:

5 Connections with Industry  With input from advisory committees of local and regional employers, curricula are designed to be responsive to workforce needs.  Unusually nimble in adjusting to shifting workforce demands and to rapidly changing research strategies and technologies.

6 Professional Science Master’s Degree - Why?  Prepares students for careers in less time than a Ph.D.  Retains students in science who might not be interested in going on to the Ph.D.  Offers more science and math than a MBA and more professional skills than a Ph.D. or traditional master’s.

7 Who are the Students The PSM is for students who:  Want to work in business, government, or nonprofit sectors.  Seek interdisciplinary careers.  Thrive in team-oriented environments.  Seek career advancement.  Desire to work in emerging areas of science and scientific discovery.

8 Major PSM Initiatives  California State University System – over 20 programs, with more under development. Received NSF/SMP Funding.  North Carolina – 13 programs, with more under development. Received NSF/SMP Funding.  University of North Texas – 3 PSM programs were developed at the flagship campus at Denton.  University of Illinois – 3 PSM programs at Urbana-Champaign with more planned.

9 Major PSM Initiatives  SUNY – 12 PSM programs on 6 campuses (3 in existence from first Sloan grants), with 23 planned; 16 campuses involved.  Rutgers, the State U. of New Jersey – 6 PSM programs with 8 under development (received NSF SMP award).  University of Massachusetts – 14 PSM – many collaborative – on four of the five campuses in the UMass system, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and Amherst.  Florida - 11 PSM programs; planning nearly 20 additional programs as part of regional economic development.

10 Why Consider Establishing PSM Programs  The bulk of new jobs being created are in the non- academic sector.  PSM programs are more popular with women and domestic students than traditional master’s programs in Natural Sciences.  Master’s graduates are more likely to be employed in the state in which they earned a degree compared to Ph.D. graduates.  Graduates contribute to workforce development through their ability to manage and grow science & technology based industries.

11 Guidelines for PSM Development  Total credits equivalent to a standard master’s degree.  Majority of program course work in graduate-level science and/or mathematics courses.  Professional skills component developed in consultation with prospective employers.  Professional skills are usually enhanced by internships and problem-based projects sponsored by employers.  Employer advisory board engaged.  Formal recognition granted by CGS.

12 PSM – American Competes Act Reauthorization  As part of NSF authorization, has as an allowable use of funds, “creation, improvement or expansion of innovative graduate programs such as science master’s programs.”  The Report language states, “ The Committee recognizes the importance of master’s programs to prepare future science professionals for careers in the business, government and non-profit sectors and intends that proposals to implement or expand innovative professional science master's programs remain eligible for funding …”

13 Other agencies with interest:  Dept. of Education – FIPSE had invitational priority for PSMs and has funded others as well.  Dept. of Homeland Security – working with CGS to interest DHS Centers of Excellence to develop PSMs.  Dept. of Energy – submitted request for PSM-type master’s as part of “RE-ENERGYZE”.  Dept. of Labor – through regional agencies.  NOAA – interested in providing internships. Be creative in looking for funding sources!

14 National Research Council Report Supports PSM NRC report recommends “concerted action to accelerate the development nationally of” PSM education including:  Expand beyond the NSF to other federal science agencies.  Encourage states to endorse PSMs.  Philanthropic institutions should continue to play role in creating and sustaining PSMs.

15 National Research Council Report Supports PSM (con’t)  Professional and industry associations should include PSMs in their higher education strategies.  Higher education should support development of PSMs and seek employer partners.  Employers should partner with higher ed institutions to create and sustain PSM programs.

16 Summary Win, Win, Win  Win for the student – alternative way to remain in science without getting a PhD.  Win for the university - provide students with another career option and help solve community workforce needs.  Win for the employers – local, regional, state – have a technically trained cadre of workers.

17 For further information: Contact the CGS PSM Project Staff  Carol B. Lynch, Senior Scholar in Residence and Project Director (  Eleanor Babco, CGS Consultant and Associate Program Director, Professional Master's Initiatives (  Sally Francis, Co-Director, Professional Science Master's Project (  Leontyne Goodwin, Program Manager (  Josh Mahler, Program and Operations Associate (

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