Administrator takes lead in SUNY's professional science master's initiative

The State University of New York has a two-year $455,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to establish a number of new professional science master’s degree programs, and SUNY Oswego’s Dean of Graduate Studies and Research David King is coordinating the effort.

King is now director of the SUNY/Sloan Foundation Professional Science Master’s Program. In January, the program awarded $15,000 to each of six campuses and $10,000 each to three additional campuses to begin developing PSM degree programs. Another round of proposals will be considered in April.

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 and communications.

“It’s a full master’s in science integrated with nine to 12 hours of business or communication courses,” King said. “It’s a professional degree, an applied degree.”

One of the $15,000 campus awards went to Oswego to develop new PSM degrees from existing master’s programs in chemistry and human-computer interaction, King said. Students pursuing graduate study in these two disciplines will be able to choose from two tracks, with the PSM option providing a professional track designed to lead directly to employment in business or industry.

King has been party to SUNY Oswego’s discussions with senior management in Central New York business and industry in recent years aimed at developing academic programs relevant to workforce needs.

“They felt almost across the board that they couldn’t find qualified people,” he said. “There’s this incredible disconnect” between academic preparation and the world of work in certain fields, he said. The PSM degree “identifies a niche area in the job market which higher education typically hasn’t addressed.”

The Sloan Foundation has supported development of the innovative professional science master’s degree to bridge this gap for more than a decade at colleges and universities around the nation. In recent years, it has focused more on public university systems, with the University of North Carolina and California State University systems now providing models for PSM development.

At the campus level, each PSM degree program will have an advisory committee jointly made up of faculty members and representatives of business. “It’s a way of getting the higher education community more integrated with the business community,” King said.

In addition to Oswego, SUNY campuses funded so far through the Sloan grant to develop new PSM degrees include Albany, Binghamton, Brockport, Buffalo State, University of Buffalo, Institute of Technology, Plattsburgh and Potsdam.

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CONTACT: Dr. David King, 312-3152

(Posted: Mar 05, 2008)