A heartening holiday article in the NY Times this week: A Master’s for Science Professionals Sweeps U.S. Schools. The Professional Science Masters is catching on big time:
The degree, which a few universities quietly pioneered in the mid-1990s, combines graduate studies in science or mathematics and business management courses. In 2008, 58 universities were offering the professional science master’s degree, or P.S.M., according to the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington. By the start of this academic year, the number had nearly doubled to 103, and is set to climb further. The number is certain to grow because the professional science master’s degree is being adopted by at least six state university systems.
The great thing about the PSM is that interaction with industry plays a big role in the degree. Students spend time in internships so they learn skills that they can’t get in universities, and industry gets technology transfer through students. More importantly, to run successful programs, universities have to build relationships with local companies, which is a great way for faculty members to get clued in about what kinds of skills working scientists outside of academia really need.
Kudos to the Sloan Foundation for getting the ball rolling and to the NSF for additional funding.
A PSM + a PhD sounds like a much more effective ticket to a great industry job than a regular PhD. Given the ratio of PhDs to faculty positions, we’ll need a lot more PSMs.