In most fields in the natural sciences, master's degrees have long been viewed mainly as milestones en route to a doctorate, rather than destinations in their own right. But about a decade ago, foundations and universities began experimenting with new master's programs that develop advanced scientific knowledge and professional skills such as communication, project management, and commercialization. Most of these innovative Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree programs are interdisciplinary and provide hands-on learning through internships and team projects. They are not intended to displace traditional programs. Instead, they aim to engage students with professional goals and help them become scientists uniquely suited to the 21st-century workplace, equipped with a deeper and broader scientific knowledge than that acquired with a Bachelor of Science degree and the skills to apply it.Dr. Colwell concludes:
PSM programs can make a vital contribution to this century's work force, which needs employees who can work well in teams and across disciplines (3). It is time for leaders in government, education, and industry to show similar teamwork in supporting these programs--an investment to yield a talented group of scientists with the skills our nation requires most to meet the global challenges of the 21st century.Dr. Colwell recently chaired a National Research Council committee that wrote the report Science Professionals: Master's Education for a Competitive World.