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July 21, 2008
Volume 86, Number 29
p. 11

Higher Education

Support For Masters Of Science

Professional science master's degree programs are vital and must be funded, NRC report states

Rochelle F. H. Bohaty

Congress needs to ensure that funds are directed to federal agencies to support professional science master's (PSM) degree programs in the natural sciences, according to a report released by the National Research Council at a press briefing on July 11. Like traditional master's programs, PSM programs offer advanced science courses, but they also include business skill components.

The report, "Science Professionals: Master's Education for a Competitive World," notes that PSM degrees play a vital role in the 21st-century workforce and science-based industry in the U.S. "Industry, government, and nonprofits need employees who have deep scientific knowledge, as well as skills to apply that knowledge in innovative ways," report committee Chair Rita R. Colwell, a former NSF director, said at the briefing. PSM programs provide this training (C&EN, June 16, page 65). And their importance is evidenced by the fact that graduates are being snatched up by biotech companies, Colwell tells C&EN.

Currently, NSF is the only agency charged with promoting PSM programs, although Congress has yet to make funds available for this purpose. The report calls on Congress to appropriate these funds and to direct other federal science agencies to support PSM programs. Federal agencies need to provide grant programs for four-year higher education institutions to establish PSM programs and offer need-based scholarships for PSM students, the report states.

In addition to its recommendations for the federal government, the report urges state governments, universities, employers, and philanthropic organizations to coordinate efforts to accelerate PSM programs.

Regarding the report, "what was really significant and extremely helpful was the call for very broadly based support" for these programs, says Carol B. Lynch, head of the PSM initiative at the Council of Graduate Schools.

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Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2009 American Chemical Society


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