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Professional Science Master's (PSM) Degree Programs: Wikis


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A Professional Science Master's (PSM) is a graduate degree program that typically consists of two years of academic training in an emerging or interdisciplinary area of science, mathematics, or technology. The degree program also contains a professional component that may include internships and "cross-training" in business, project management, and communications.


PSM Students and Graduates

More than half of the current 2600 degree program students concentrate their studies in the biosciences, making it one of the most popular disciplines in this respected graduate degree program.

Students earning Professional Science Master’s degrees find employment in fields such as biotechnology, the chemical industries, entrepreneurship, the financial sector, food safety, forensics, health care, higher education, medical laboratories, the nuclear industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and water treatment facilities. Other graduates find employment in environmental and government agencies as well as in the various branches of the US armed forces.

PSM Employers

Degree programs are located across the United States, allowing employers to align their geographic recruitment goals and workforce development strategies with highly customized and effective university training that can contribute substantially to industry’s hiring and internal recruitment efforts.


In 1997, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation began issuing competitive grants for the planning and implementation of Professional Science Masters degree programs under their Science Education program.

Concurrent with this effort, the W. M. Keck Foundation built an all-new master's-only graduate school designed to educate leaders for the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, healthcare product and biosciences industries. The resulting Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences enrolled its first class of 28 students in August 2000.

In 2001, a Sloan Foundation grant to the Council of Graduate Schools [1] extended the PSM initiative to master's-focused institutions. The CGS sponsors bi-annual conferences for the PSM academic community and, through its government relations division, promotes the PSM to national leaders and policy makers as a key component of American graduate education.

In November 2005, a call for volunteers to explore the establishment of a professional association to represent the various PSM constituents was greeted with enthusiasm. A steering committee composed of program directors and administrators successfully applied to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for an officer’s grant, thus setting the groundwork for the development of the association.

Professional Association

In July 2007, The National Professional Science Master's Association (NPSMA) was awarded a development grant by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. NPSMA is a collaborative of Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree program directors, faculty, administrators, alumni, and students that supports PSM degree program initiatives.

National Policy

In The America COMPETES Act of 2007, signed into law by President George Bush, Congress authorized the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a new program of grants to help four-year institutions create or expand PSM degree programs. This followed on the heels of the National Academies publication of Rising above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future [2].

In its 2008 report Science Professionals: Master's Education for a Competitive World [3], the National Research Council (NRC) endorsed PSM degree programs, stating that policymakers, universities, and employers should work together to speed the development of professionally oriented master's degree programs in the natural sciences. Graduates of these programs, which build both scientific knowledge and practical workplace skills, can make a strong contribution to the nation's competitiveness, according to the committee that wrote the report.

Recently, PSM degree programs have been included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The stimulus bill signed by President Barack Obama allocates $15 million for PSM degree programs to be administered by the National Science Foundation.


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