The origin of PSM programs?

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The origin of PSM programs?

Postby Tom » Mon Feb 21, 2005 11:08 pm

I know PSM programs have been discussed on this board before and criticized for its ambiguity and deficiency. But why have these programs become so popular(or is it more advertised)recently? I was looking at the National Postdoctoral Association website and reading a report on trends of early life scientist careers ( it made this recommendation:

"We recommend that universities identify specific areas of the biological and biomedical sciences for which Master's level training is more appropriate, more efficient and less costly than PhD training. We recommend that focused Master's Programs be established in those areas.

A vigorous master's-degree program that produces highly skilled laboratory technicians for industry, government, and academe could potentially contribute to righting the imbalance between PhD training and the labor market. When the committee recommended constraint in further growth in training in recommendation 1, it was fully aware that graduate students are needed in the labor-intensive life-science research enterprise and to teach undergraduates. One way to resolve this dilemma is to effect a modest shift toward a more permanent laboratory workforce by replacing some fraction of the existing training positions with permanent employees such as MSc-level technicians and PhD-level research associates. "

Are these PSM programs and perhaps the Community College degrees specializing in biotech applications (mentioned in another thread) a response to these statements and observations?

The origin of PSM programs?

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Feb 23, 2005 12:23 pm

Hi Tom,

You could be right about the origins of these programs. But often, programs are developed by universities and colleges just because something is "hot" and not always for the best of reasons.

I'm going to really tick off some educators here, but my belief is that the Professional Science Masters programs have often failed for graduates because they are developed by universities without a lot of input from companies. Sure, there are a few corporate advisors who are on the boards, but there isn't any effort to broadcast the quality of their grads to the world of employers. Hence, people get the MS in Biotechnology, for example, and go off looking for work only to find that there are companies out there -- a lot of them -- that don't even phone interview them because they have NO IDEA what it is that these people have been working on.

The graduates who have been successful from these programs have actually developed their own marketing skills. They're reworked their resumes to answer the question of what they've been studying, they've developed excellent networking skills, etc.

One comment on the way the above is worded . . . "Replacing some faction of the existing positions with permanent employees such as MS level technicians . . . " Do you really think that people want to be a "technician" as a career choice? Tom, in industry, a tech is a person who assists the PhD. They don't get to do their own work, they don't get to use much of their creative juices, and they basically are "BS/MS level" employees doing the grunt work for the PhD's.

Is that a career worth shooting for? Not until THE EMPLOYERS start seeing the MS scientist in a different way will things improve,

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
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