Professional Science Master’s
Degree: Background and
Revised – 11/12/10
Council of Graduate Schools
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 employer-oriented coursework
in business, management, policy,
communications, law, or other fields - “Science
Why the PSM?
Employers want personnel with advanced science skills
but not necessarily a PhD.
PLUS, PSMs provide unique skills that employers need:
Interdisciplinary teamwork, flexibility, and leadership
Basic business skills
Legal and Regulatory issues
How is the PSM Different?
Emphasizes the written and verbal communication
skills, leadership, and team-building required in
More science (and math) than MBA; more professional
skills than a traditional science master’s degree.
Includes project or team experience vs. thesis: real
Provides connections to potential employers through
internships and employer/industry advisory boards.
PSM programs are interdisciplinary in fields such as:
Seek interdisciplinary careers.
Thrive in team-oriented environments.
Seek career advancement.
Desire to work in emerging areas of science and
Find excitement in bringing scientific discovery
to commercial reality.
What Can PSMs Provide?
Productive employees on day one.
• Science, Math, Computation, and Business
• Project Management
• Team Building.
Flexibility to changing industry demands.
Career advancement for existing workforce.
Technically trained cadre of workers for local and
Who are the Students
About half are women.
More than two-thirds are U.S. citizens and/or
About 10% are underrepresented minorities
(African American, Hispanics, Native
Increasingly include working professionals.
Connections with Industry
Unusually nimble in adjusting to shifting
workforce demands and to rapidly changing
research strategies and technologies.
With input from advisory committees of local
and regional employers, curricula are designed to
be responsive to workforce needs.
Where are the PSM programs?
PSM in Federal Legislation
America 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 nonprofit sectors and intends that proposals to implement or expand
innovative professional science master's programs remain eligible
for funding …”
National Academies Report
A National Academies report recommends “concerted
action to accelerate the development nationally” of
PSM education among all stakeholders.
Recommendations geared toward employers include:
Higher education should support development of
PSMs and seek employer partners.
Employers should partner with higher education
institutions to create and sustain PSM programs.
Why Consider Supporting PSM
Industry has the opportunity to shape
curriculum to meet specific and immediate
Graduates contribute to workforce development
through their ability to manage and grow science
and technology based industries.
Vital for U.S. competitiveness.
How Can Employers Help
Serve as Advisory Board Members.
Help in curriculum development.
Serve as Guest Lecturers, Adjunct Faculty.
Provide feedback for continually improving
Become champions re. regional economic
How Can Employers Help
Mentor PSM students.
Provide Internships and Subsequent Jobs.
Provide Financial Support, e.g. scholarships
and/or tuition reimbursement for employees.
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
Sally Francis, Co-Director, Professional Science Master's Project
Leontyne Goodwin, Program Manager
Josh Mahler, Program and Operations Associate