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Science Professionals: Master‘s Education for a Competitive World
degrees awarded in fields such as education and business administration, however, has indicated the professionalization of master’s education. This trend has recently touched natural sciences such as the biological sciences and mathematics where traditional master’s programs continue—as they should—alongside the recent development of professional science master’s programs.
Higher education institutions are responding to the increased need for professionals who bring both scientific knowledge and professional skills to the workplace by developing professional science master’s programs in the natural sciences that provide:
Advanced education in the sciences;
Opportunities for more interdisciplinary training, often in informatics, computation, or engineering, than a typical science degree;
Hands-on experiential learning through internships and team projects;
Professional skills and experience in communication, teamwork, project management, business administration, innovation and commercialization, legal and regulatory issues, ethics, and/or the international environment; and
Strong links with employers in industry, government, and nonprofits through external advisory boards, curriculum development, internships/co-ops, mentoring, sponsored team projects, and employment.
Examples of PSM programs that were presented to the committee showed that professional master’s education in the sciences can provide tailored, cost-effective, and attractive education and training to meet student and employer needs.
Professional master’s programs can and do attract students who want to work in nonacademic sectors, interdisciplinary careers, team-oriented environments, managerial or other professional-level positions, or emerging areas of science and scientific discovery. They appeal to students who typically do not pursue doctoral education, but seek career advancement, look to gain a competitive edge, or want to refine professional and technical skills in order to reenter the workforce.
Salary and placement data for PSM and MBS graduates indicates strong and growing current demand for master’s-level science professionals. Testimony to the committee provided specific examples of the demand for these graduates from biotechnology companies, banks and financial corporations, information technology firms, and government agencies. There is, moreover, broad support for expanding PSM education, voiced by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the National Science Board, the National Governors Association, the Council