Master of Professional Science
About the Program
The Master of Professional Science is an innovative graduate degree at the University of Miami, intended for students who seek advanced training in marine and atmospheric science. As part of this unique program, students will also develop a blend of team-building and communication skills, legal and regulatory knowledge, and business savvy, that are highly valued by potential employers. This program prepares students for science careers in business, government, or non-profit organizations, where employment demands are growing. The curriculum is structured to allow students to complete their degree in as little as 12 months, with the training and real-world experience necessary to prepare them for entry to mid-level careers in today’s professional job market.
The MPS is a professional degree, rather than a traditional research-based MS degree. It is designed for students who major in the sciences as undergraduates and seek careers which require both applied scientific knowledge and professional skills. By emphasizing applied training and internships, rather than research, the MPS offers students a direct and more efficient route into business and industry.
The curriculum combines rigorous study in select areas of marine and atmospheric science with interdisciplinary coursework in business, communications, law and other professional domains. In place of a research-based thesis, all MPS students complete a 3-6 month internship in a business, government, or public sector enterprise where students learn to apply their skills in a "hands-on" setting. All MPS graduates must complete 30 credits, consisting of 24 credits of graduate coursework and 6 credits of internship training.
In 1997 the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation helped launch the first Professional Science Master’s degree in response to a growing need for a scientifically-trained workforce that was not being met by traditional research-based graduate education. MPS programs were developed to meet the increasing national demand for students with interdisciplinary training in science and industry. Their goal was to better prepare scientists for employment in new and emerging industries that lie at the intersection of science and business, law, media, and other non-traditional fields. As described by Dr. Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation, MPS programs “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”.
Rather than emphasizing specific research skills, MPS programs emphasize hands-on training and an interdisciplinary curriculum targeted at the application of science in various settings. In place of a research thesis, students get real-world experience through internships, which provide them with the opportunity to apply and further develop the industry-relevant skills they acquired during the program. To date, over 180 professional science masters programs have been developed at over 90 colleges and universities in the US, which boast over 4,000 enrolled student and 6,000 graduates. These science-trained professionals go on to careers in the administration, management, and conservation of coastal and marine resources; find work in emerging fields of risk management in human health, fisheries, agriculture, water management, natural hazards, and coastal zone sectors; or combine weather and business training to work for the private sector in insurance, energy, or other weather-impacted industries.
MPS degrees give students a distinct advantage in both obtaining employment in their field of study and in the salary they make once employed. Private industry and government agencies have both testified to the need for employees with these skills and, according to a recent National Research Council study, the salaries of those who hold master’s degrees in science and engineering have grown faster over the last 10 years than salaries of those with either B.S. or Ph.D. degrees.
- Outcomes for PSM Alumni: 2010/2011
- New York Times, July 22, 2011
- Hurricane Article — MPS 2011
- Science Magazine: “Mastering the Job Market”
- Inside Higher Ed: “Scientists for a New Age”
- The Daily Evergreen: “Unique Option for Advanced Degree in Science”
- Science Magazine: “Taken for Granted: Doing Something Different with your Science”
- A Master’s for Science Professionals Sweeps U.S. Schools
- National Professional Science Masters Organization
- National Research Council: “Science Professionals: Master’s Education for a Competitive World”
- American Association for the Advancement of Science: “The New Masters of Science”
- Science Magazine: “An Alternative to the Ph.D. Track”
- Science Magazine: “Professional Science Masters Merit Wider Support”
- Inside Higher Education: “Promoting Professional Science Master’s Degrees”
- Science News: “Professional Science Master's is 21st century MBA”
- The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Needed: Support for Professional Science Master’s Degrees”
- Institute of Physics: “A new model Masters’s”
- Council of Graduate Schools: “Number of Universities Offering PSM Programs Surpasses 100”