Professional Science Master's Degree Celebrates 300th Program

Nationally gaining on the MBA, the number of PSM programs exploded from 2008 to 2013, including new programs at large state institutions

Oct 24, 2013, 14:57 ET from National Professional Science Master’s Association (NPSMA)

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- When Kyle Mak— now a supply chain manager at biotech giant Amgen— was thinking about his career path, he took some advice from his brother, who cautioned him against incurring a lot of debt to get a PhD, which he might not even use. So, Mak, who had always been interested in science and who had earned an undergraduate degree in microbiology, decided to pursue a Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree.

"I only had a year of professional experience before I went back to get my PSM degree," Mak said, "so it was a great opportunity for me to continue developing my professional skills and get a better understanding of the biotechnology industry."

Established in 1997 with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, PSM degrees provide training in areas such as management, marketing, communications, regulatory affairs, intellectual property and business ethics with an emphasis on experiential learning components such as internships and capstone projects guided by industry advisors.

In fact, Mak is part of growing trend of students with an interest in science and business who are opting to pursue the two-year PSM degree. In just 15 years, the PSM has rapidly expanded to 300 programs at 127 institutions, integrating business skills with advanced scientific training to meet the demands of a high-tech workforce.

Recently, the Sustainable Energy Systems program at State University of New York at Cortland became the 300th affiliated PSM program. This milestone will be celebrated at the National Professional Science Master's Association (NPSMA) conference on Tuesday, November 12 from 2 to 4 p.m. at The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

"It was very exciting to find out we were the 300th PSM. The PSM idea is one of the more unique ideas to come to graduate education in the last couple of decades and to be the 300th program in such a short time really shows how fast the PSM concept is expanding and how important it is to graduate education and to economic development," said Dr. Brice Smith, associate professor & chair, physics - SUNY Cortland.

PSM graduates represent the next generation of STEM leaders who are able to translate research into commercialization, according to Michael Teitelbaum, senior advisor to the Sloan Foundation. "This milestone is an indication that this effort developed strategically with a lot of enthusiasm from various stakeholders," he said, citing support from academia, private industry, the nonprofit sector and government. (In 2007, Congress passed the American COMPETES Act, providing additional grants through the National Science Foundation to create or expand PSM programs.)

Such interdisciplinary training keeps the U.S. globally competitive. Nearly 6,000 students were enrolled in PSM programs in the fall of 2012, with most of them attending U.S.-based institutions, according to a survey conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools last year.

A comprehensive PSM program list and resources are available at

SOURCE National Professional Science Master’s Association (NPSMA)