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Professional Science Master


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

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Title: Professional Science Master

Professional Science Masters Degree Background
and Overview
  • Institutional Perspective
  • Revised 11/12/10
  • Council of Graduate Schools

Professional Science Masters (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!

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.

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

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.

Professional Science Masters Degree - Why?
  • Prepares students for careers in less time than a
  • 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

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.

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.

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
  • Florida - 11 PSM programs planning nearly 20
    additional programs as part of regional economic

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 masters
    programs in Natural Sciences.
  • Masters 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.

Guidelines for PSM Development
  • Total credits equivalent to a standard masters
  • 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.

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
    masters programs.
  • The Report language states, The Committee
    recognizes the importance of masters 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

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
  • Dept. of Energy submitted request for PSM-type
    masters as part of RE-ENERGYZE.
  • Dept. of Labor through regional agencies.
  • NOAA interested in providing internships.
  • Be creative in looking for funding sources!

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
  • Encourage states to endorse PSMs.
  • Philanthropic institutions should continue to
    play role in creating and sustaining PSMs.

National Research Council Report Supports PSM
  • Professional and industry associations should
    include PSMs in their higher education
  • Higher education should support development of
    PSMs and seek employer partners.
  • Employers should partner with higher ed
    institutions to create and sustain PSM programs.

  • 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.

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
  • (
  • Sally Francis, Co-Director, Professional Science
    Master's Project
  • (
  • Leontyne Goodwin, Program Manager
  • (
  • Josh Mahler, Program and Operations Associate
  • (