Oswego chemistry master's adds professional track

Students working in chemistry lab.In response to demand from business and industry in Central New York, SUNY Oswego has added a professional track to its master’s degree program in chemistry, incorporating courses in business.

Students may enroll in this new professional science master’s program beginning this fall. Three had already expressed interest while the program was being developed, said Dr. Fehmi Damkaci, the graduate program coordinator for Oswego’s chemistry department.

Approved by state education officials in June, the new program is the first in SUNY’s professional science master’s program initiative, which is partially funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The new program adds nine credit hours in business-related courses, incorporates an additional focus on oral and written communication skills, and replaces the research component with an eight-week, full-time industrial internship to prepare students for a non-academic work environment.

Students pursuing graduate study in chemistry at Oswego will now be able to choose among tracks leading to careers in education or in business and industry. Students in the earlier tracks typically went on to teach and earn doctorates, said Dr. Jeffery Schneider, chair of Oswego’s chemistry department.

“The professional track should serve local industry,” he said. “It gives our prospective students another option. It will give them a leg up on their competition.”

Heather Erickson, president of MedTech in Syracuse and a member of the SUNY professional science master’s executive committee, noted that Oswego’s new master’s option in chemistry responds to the needs of Upstate New York’s biosciences companies. “By offering this innovative degree program, Oswego is taking the lead in ensuring New York state has the workforce to respond to our region’s greatest commercial opportunities,” she said.

‘What works’

Damkaci led development of the new program over the past year, consulting both with professional science master’s coordinators at other colleges and universities around the country and with local business and industry representatives. “I learned what works and what does not and how to start a new PSM program,” he said.

Program developers assembled an advisory board that includes four industry representatives: Dr. Lee Henderson, president and CEO of Vybion; Dr. Charles Montgomery of AMRI Global; Dr. Marsha Oenick of OrthoClinical Diagnostics; and Dominick Danna, a research fellow at Blue Highway, a subsidiary of Welch-Allyn.

“We met with them to discuss the program and business skills they would like to see. Based on their recommendations and our School of Business offerings, we developed a draft proposal,” Damkaci said.

Professional science master’s programs around the country typically attract a higher proportion of female and underrepresented students and increase enrollment of international students, Damkaci said. He said he expects to see interest in Oswego’s chemistry PSM from prospective students in such countries as Turkey and India.

Oswego’s chemistry programs

Oswego was the first SUNY college to be accredited by the American Chemical Society. The chemistry department’s programs include bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry, chemistry and geochemistry; undergraduate minors in chemistry and forensic science; three tracks in the master of science program; and a master of arts in teaching chemistry.

All of Oswego’s science disciplines will have new, state-of-the-art facilities under a $110 to $120 million building project set to begin next year.

SUNY’s PSM initiative

The professional science master’s degree fills a need for science-trained professionals to work in business and industry. The degree provides students with supplemental education in such areas as marketing, management and communications. Regional industry partners serve on advisory councils that provide guidance on skill sets and workforce needs.

More than 30 PSM degrees are in development at campuses across New York under the SUNY/Sloan professional science master’s initiative, according to Dr. David King, dean of graduate studies and research at Oswego as well as director of the SUNY PSM program.

For more information, see www.suny.edu/provost/psm/.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Lab work—Students work in the lab of Fehmi Damkaci, graduate program coordinator for the chemistry department at SUNY Oswego, which has added a professional track to its master’s degree program in chemistry. Students can enroll in the new professional science master’s program this fall.

Contact: Dr. David King, 312-3152

(Posted: Jul 08, 2009)