Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Professional Science Master’s Initiative

PSM Provisions of the American COMPETES Act

Sloan initially provided $125,000 per institutional program track for startups in research universities. Later, as there was accumulated knowledge as to how to launch a PSM track, the amount per program dropped to $90-$100,000. Still, later, when the Master’s granting institutions were competing, the amount per program was $40,000 per track.

The NSF Director shall award grants to 4-year institutions of higher education to facilitate the institutions’ creation or improvement of professional science master’s degree programs.

Programs typically have industry advisory boards.

Programs may include linkages between institutions of higher education and industries that employ science-trained personnel.

Programs see potential employers as industry, government agencies, and nonprofits.


Programs are required to have a summer internship.


  1. Fields in the physical sciences, biological sciences, mathematics, and computer science. A particular effort was made to identify 12 bioinformatics programs. The scientific focus of a program track was identified by the institution. Very often they are interdisciplinary in nature.

  1. Programs should focus on high-need fields.

  1. PSM programs include a “plus” component that focuses on workplace skills: communication, project management, interdisciplinary teamwork, ethics, and—as appropriate—business, legal, or computational skills.

  1. Programs should have an emphasis on practical training and preparation for the workforce.

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