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Enhancing the Master's Degree in the Natural Sciences

REPORT RELEASE: The Board on Higher Education and Workforce announces the release of “Science Professionals: Master’s Education for a Competitive World.” 

News Release
Listen to the Public Briefing  
Briefing Powerpoint Presentation
Report Brief
Full Report
Article by Rita Colwell in Science

 
View project record in the Academies' Current Project System

Project Scope

This study describes the goals and characteristics of students who pursue and obtain master's degrees in the natural sciences, assesses the needs of employers for staff trained in the natural sciences at the master's degree level, and examines how these staff contribute in the workplace. The project will lead to a consensus report that will provide findings, conclusions, and recommendations about appropriate goals and effective practices for enhancing master's education in the natural sciences to meet employer needs. It will identify general principles that can be developed to guide efforts to re-shape or enhance master's education in the sciences. It will also discuss what can be learned from efforts already underway to re-shape master's education in the sciences and what programs can learn from the way graduate-level professional programs in fields such as business, public policy, and public health developed to meet employer needs.

The committee appointed to oversee the study will gather and analyze data and information to explore and answer, as possible given the data available, the following questions in a consensus report:

- What are employer needs for staff trained in the natural sciences at the master's degree level? Are they able to find or develop the staff they need at this level? How do employers communicate their employment needs to educational programs and how can this communication be enhanced?

- How do master's level professionals in the natural sciences contribute in the workplace? What are the employee characteristics that employers seek in staff with advanced training? Do master's level professionals enter the workforce with a master's degree or do they enter with a bachelor's degree and earn a master's degree later?

- What is known about students who pursue and obtain master's degrees in the natural sciences? What are their educational and career goals? How do master's programs meet or support these educational and career goals?

- What can be learned from efforts already underway to re-shape master's education in science? What effective practices have been identified that could be adopted by others?

- What can master's level programs in the natural sciences learn from each other? What can they learn from the way graduate-level professional programs in fields such as business, public policy, public health, and engineering developed to meet employer needs?

- What findings and conclusions about appropriate goals and effective practices for enhancing master's education in the natural sciences can be drawn from the answers to the preceding questions?

- What recommended next steps can the committee provide for stakeholders-students, faculty, department chairs, university administrators, employers, federal agencies and policymaking bodies-concerned with enhancing master's level professional education?

Meetings & Events

REPORT RELEASE: The Board on Higher Education and Workforce announces the release of “Science Professionals: Master’s Education for a Competitive World.”  The report was released at a public meeting on Friday, July 11, 2008, at 11:00 am, in Room 100 of the Keck Center of the National Academies, 500 Fifth St., NW, Washington, DC 20001.

Past Events:
Committee Meeting One
March 28-29, 2007, Washington, DC

View meeting agenda
(with links to speakers’ PowerPoint presentations)

Committee Meeting Two
July 13-16, 2007, Washington, DC

View meeting agenda
(with links to speakers’ PowerPoint presentations)

Committee Meeting Three
September 10-11, 2007, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
(Closed Session Meeting)

 

Reports

Science Professionals: Master's Education for a Competitive World (2008)


 

COMMITTEE Membership

Dr. Rita R. Colwell - (Chair)
Chairman, Canon US Life Sciences, Inc., and Distinguished University Professor at both the University of Maryland at College Park and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Dr. David S. Chapman
Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Geology & Geophysics, University of Utah

Dr. Jung Choi
Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Faculty Coordinator of the Bioinformatics Masters Degree Program, Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Daryl E. Chubin
Director, Center for Advancing Science and Engineering Capacity, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Dr. Mary E. Clutter
Assistant Director for Biological Sciences, National Science Foundation (retired)

Paul G. Gaffney II
President, Monmouth University

Dr. Lee L. Huntsman
President Emeritus, University of Washington, Professor, Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, and Executive Director, Life Sciences Discovery Fund Authority

Jonathan Kayes
Chief Learning Officer, Central Intelligence Agency

Dr. Donald N. Langenberg
Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of Maryland-College Park, and Chancellor Emeritus of the 13-member University System of Maryland

Dr. George M. Langford
Dean, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dr. Henry Riggs
Founding President of Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences

Dr. James C. Spohrer
Director, Almaden Services Research, IBM Almaden Research Center

Dr. Richard A. Tapia
University Professor, Maxfield-Oshman Professor in Engineering, Director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education, and Associate Director of Graduate Studies, Rice University

Dr. Thomas Tritton
President-in-Residence, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Dr. Philip Tuchinsky
Applied Mathematician, Analytics and Complexity Research Group, Ford Research & Advanced Engineering (retired)

Sponsors

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

External links

Science Master’s Degree: Web Sites:

Science Master’s Degree (sciencemasters.org)
http://www.sciencemasters.org/

Professional Science Master’s (sciencemasters.com)

http://www.sciencemasters.com/

National Professional Science Master's Association (NPSMA)

www.npsma.org

Council of Graduate Schools, Professional Master’s Initiatives

http://www.cgsnet.org/Default.aspx?tabid=120

American Institute of Physics, Professional Master’s Programs in Physics

http://www.aip.org/professionalmasters/

Professional Master's Degree Programs in the Mathematical Sciences

http://www.ams.org/tools/masters.html

Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences

http://www.kgi.edu/

California State University, Professional Science Master’s Degree Program

http://www.calstate.edu/psm/

Services Science, Engineering, and Management, IBM

http://www-304.ibm.com/jct09002c/university/scholars/skills/ssme/learn.html

The America COMPETES Act (S. 761)
[Note: Sections 3114 and 4004 address master’s education programs.]

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:s761pcs.txt.pdf

or

http://thomas.loc.gov/
(search on S. 761)

View more Links...