Sloan supports advanced science and business education for New York

SUNY’s Professional Science Master’s Program—which aims to increase the flow of scientific skills and innovation into the business-industry arena in New York state—got a boost recently with a $350,000 grant from the Sloan Foundation.

SUNY Oswego’s dean of graduate studies and research, Dr. David King, coordinates the 4-year-old program that has established 13 new master’s degree programs, with many more in the works, at 16 SUNY campuses across the state. Much of that progress occurred under an earlier Sloan Foundation grant.

Professional science master’s degrees fill a need for science-trained professionals to work in business and industry. The degree provides students with supplemental education in such areas as business, project management, marketing and communications.

Talking with people in the business community, King said, he and others hear that they have trouble hiring people who can bridge the knowledge gap between employees with technical backgrounds and employees with business backgrounds. “The engineers and the MBAs can’t talk to each other,” he said.

Graduates with degrees approved as “professional science master’s” will have that sought-after ability, he said.

Making it official

One goal under the new grant is to get the PSM designation approved by New York state’s Education Department, as it is in some other states. The 13 new SUNY degrees approved for the designation by the national Council of Graduate Schools currently exist as traditional master’s degree programs, like the M.S. or MPS (Master of Professional Studies), or tracks within them.

Oswego, for example, has professional tracks in its master’s degree programs in chemistry and human-computer interaction. Oswego students pursuing graduate study in these disciplines choose from two tracks, one requiring a thesis and pointing down an academic career path, and the other—the PSM option—providing a professional track designed to lead directly to employment in business or industry.

Other new PSM degrees in effect around the SUNY system range from forensic biology at Albany to instrumentation at Stony Brook to biophysics at Buffalo.

Another goal through the Sloan grant is to bring SUNY’s PSM Program under the purview of a SUNY Business Advisory Board. At the campus level, each PSM degree program has an advisory committee made up jointly of faculty members and representatives of business. The arrangement provides a mechanism that ensures faculty members regularly interact with the business community and keep in touch with its practical needs, King said.

“The PSM initiative dovetails beautifully with SUNY’s strategic plan, ‘The Power of SUNY,’ with its goal of economic revitalization for New York,” he added. “Chancellor Nancy Zimpher gave a very enthusiastic endorsement for the SUNY PSM programs as a model of university and business partnership to promote workforce and economic development.”

Additional goals for developing SUNY’s PSM initiative include system-wide objectives, such as creating online coursework that can be shared among institutions and partnering with U.S. Army/Fort Drum Educational Services, and campus-based objectives, like expanding the number of degree offerings and growing enrollment in them.

For more information about the SUNY-wide Professional Science Master’s Program, see http://www.suny.edu/provost/psm.

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(Posted: Nov 15, 2010)

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