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Beryl Lieff Benderly

Survey Finds Continued Growth in Professional Science Master’s Degree Programs

The numbers of students applying to, attending and graduating from professional science master’s (PSM) degree programs continue to grow, according to a report released today by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). Programs offering the innovative two-year degrees — which combine science studies with business, regulatory or other real-world training — received more than 6300 applications for fall 2011 enrollment and accepted 44% of them. Nearly 1700 new students entered PSM programs in 2011, bringing total enrollment to almost 5500. PSM programs granted 1573 degrees in the academic year which ended this past June — up from 1102 the previous year.

Because changes were made in the demographics surveyed, however, direct comparisons with last year’s overall performance are not possible, the report notes. Programs that responded in both 2011 and 2010 experienced a 13% rise in applications, a 4% gain in new enrollments, and a 27% jump in degrees awarded.
The current PSM student population is about 55% male and 45% female, the report shows, and about 80% are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Almost 20% of the 2011 graduates are members of underrepresented minorities.
“We know from student outcome data that PSM graduates are highly successful in finding employment in their field,” adds CGS president Debra Stewart in a statement, but the survey presents no evidence on this question. Just last week, however, Science Careers reported reported on industry interest in scientists with master’s degrees.