Professional Science Master's Degree

PLEASE NOTE: New grant proposals are no longer being accepted in this program.
Photo: Penn State University (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Graduate student Lin Fang observing an active growing culture sample at the biofuels laboratory on Penn State's University Park campus.

Launched in 1997 and completed in 2010, this program aimed to create and promote a new two-year degree designed to prepare students for scientific and technical work in the private sector.

Most Ph.D. programs in the sciences are designed to prepare students for work in academic labs.  Scientific jobs in private sector industries like pharmacology, metallurgy, and computer engineering require practical skills like budgeting, project management, and risk assessment, that are infrequently included as part of the standard Ph.D. curriculum.  In response to this rising need, the Sloan Foundation committed some $23 million from 1997 to 2010 toward the creation and adoption of a new degree, the Professional Science Master's degree (PSM).  Developed in cooperation with industry leaders, PSM degrees combine intense, cutting-edge scientific training with coursework in business, communications, or regulatory affairs.  Like many MBA programs, they also include internships with industry employers to provide hands-on experience in a private sector setting.  Foundation grants supported individual PSM initiatives at select university systems, curriculum development, partnerships between universities and industries, workshops for practitioners, and efforts to set uniform-standards for degree programs.  With Foundation support, more than 100 PSM programs at more than 50 universities had been created by 2010.  As PSM programs began to both proliferate and gain wide acceptance, the Foundation made a final grant to enable the Keck Institute to become an independent accreditor of PSM programs, ensuring that affiliated programs would continue to meet the highest standard of academic excellence. 

Grantmaking in this program ended in 2010. 

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