STEM: The Professional Science Masters (PSM) Degre

The Professional Science Masters (PSM) Degree

The Professional Science Masters (PSM) degree is an innovative graduate degree, a response by higher education to address the need for highly skilled scientists and mathematicians who also have developed skills in business, technology transfer, regulatory affairs, information technology and/or communications.  In today’s work world, this type of cross-training across academic disciplines is highly marketable and desired by employers.  Many PSM degrees train students in emerging and growing fields, such as bioinformatics, bioengineering, financial mathematics, and computational science.

The PSM may be of interest to state legislators for a variety of reasons.  Graduate students in all areas, including math and science, tend to stay in the state where they graduate, rather than seek employment nationally as Ph.D. students do.  PSM degrees are designed to place graduates in regional business and industry.  Prior to their establishment, a needs assessment is conducted among area businesses and industry for establishing employment opportunities for graduates, and leaders in area businesses and industry serve on advisory boards of PSM programs.  Additionally, the flexible and practical nature of the degree has the potential to attract more students to the study of math and science.  In fact, the PSM degree attracts a higher percentage of women than other graduate programs in STEM.

There are 120 PSM degree programs at nearly 60 universities in 25 states. There are approximately 2,500 students enrolled nationally with 2,100 PSM graduates so far.

NCSL staff is available to assist states as they learn about the PSM degree and consider this as a strategy to address workforce needs, economic development, and advancing science and math education.  Please contact Heather Chikoore at 303.364.7700.

  • Visit the Science Masters website for comprehensive information on the PSM, including locations, employers, and information for policymakers.
  • The National Research Council recommends that states should provide funding for the creation and expansion of PSM programs to target particular state and regional needs.
  • A wide variety of businesses have hired PSM students, including Amgen,
    Cisco Systems, Johnson & Johnson, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Lockheed-Martin, Motorola, Inc., and many others.  
  • NCSL has published a LegisBrief on the PSM degree.
  • The National Governor’s Association has prepared an Issue Brief on the PSM degree. 
  • The Council of Graduate Schools is supporting PSM degrees nationally. 

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