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Educating Mathematical Scientists: Doctoral Study and the Postdoctoral Experience in the United States APPENDIX C PROFESSIONAL MASTER'S DEGREE PROGRAMS IN THE MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES There is a great need within government, business, and industry for well-trained professional mathematicians educated beyond the level of a bachelor's degree, but below that of a doctorate. Making available a professionally recognized stopping point short of the PhD, such as the Diplom in Germany and the diplôme in France, could make the mathematical sciences more attractive to students. Currently, the master's degree in the United States is a valued degree in various areas of statistics, operations research, scientific computing, and elementary-and secondary-level mathematics education. It is important for positions in business, industry, government, and education that fully utilize the holder's mathematical talent and education. It does not, however, have the same status in pure and applied mathematics. In these areas, it is often viewed as being a poor second choice to a PhD rather than an important degree in its own right. In these areas, candidates who complete the doctoral program core courses but fail to pass the first qualifying examination may opt for a master's degree. Doctoral programs would benefit from being complemented by a successful master's degree program. Success for a master's degree program is created by the same things that create success for doctoral programs—a focused and realistic mission, a positive learning environment, and professional development for the future careers of the students. A successful master's degree program could attract domestic students who do not yet have the confidence to attempt doctoral studies. Some students who finish master's degrees would seek to further their studies in a doctoral program. Some PhD students in engineering and social sciences who obtain master's degrees in mathematics or statistics to raise their status would be attracted to continue studies in the mathematical sciences. The doctoral program would benefit by having attracted students who would otherwise not have continued their studies or who would have chosen to continue in another discipline. The key to all of this working is that the master's degree must be perceived as having intrinsic value itself and not as being a second choice.
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