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KGI’s Master of Business and Science Now a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) Affiliated Program

In September 2015, KGI School of Applied Life Sciences’ Master of Business and Science (MBS) business of bioscience career major was approved for affiliation with the Professional Science Master’s (PSM) initiative, making it the first internationally approved PSM program with a business focus. The PSM is a new type of graduate degree designed to provide students with advanced training in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or computational sciences while developing professional skills highly sought-after by potential employers. Students in PSM programs undergo two years of academic training in an emerging or interdisciplinary area, participate in internships, and complete a capstone employer-based project during their second year. A defining feature of PSM programs is the blending of technical science education with a strong emphasis on business areas like management, policy, and entrepreneurship. Allowing students to gain real-life, career-oriented knowledge and professional workplace skills through experiential learning better prepares them for leadership roles in various business, government, and non-profit organizations.

The emergence of PSM programs arose from the need for graduate-level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs suitable for non-academic careers. Founded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 1997, the PSM initiative sparked a surge of master’s-focused science-based institutions focused on professionalization. PSM affiliation, overseen by the PSM National Office, requires that PSM programs meet minimum requirements for curricular content in STEM subjects, as well as professional skills content and employer engagement. In recent years, emphasis on expanding PSM programs in the U.S. has garnered notable government and public support. The U.S. Congress, the National Research Council, and the National Science Foundation have all encouraged funding for PSM programs with the collective goal of improving America’s economic competitiveness through the strengthening of STEM education. KGI was selected by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to administer the PSM affiliation process with all five of its MBS program majors.

Dr. Kiriko Komura, administrative director for the PSM National Office, oversaw the affiliation process for all five of KGI’s MBS program majors and is pleased with the new approval. As KGI continues to expand and gain recognition as a world-renowned institution, professional affiliation to programs like the PSM can help elevate KGI’s status both locally and internationally. Dr. Komura explains, “We hope that this PSM recognition helps strengthen curricula utilizing corporate partnerships, with such examples as the TMP, and will increase opportunities for the students to broaden their future opportunities in the STEM workforce.” Dr. Jim Sterling, faculty director for the PSM National Office, shared similar sentiments, stating that “approval of the business of bioscience major as a PSM program confirms that KGI is committed to maintaining a strong base in the sciences for all of its programs. This is not a business degree; it is a professional science master’s degree.”

As of September 2015, all five KGI MBS career majors are PSM-affiliated programs: the bioprocessing, clinical and regulatory affairs; pharmaceutical discovery and development; and medical devices and diagnostics majors were all approved earlier this year in June. The newly approved business of bioscience major, which underwent rigorous structuring to meet the PSM’s technical science component, has the distinction of being the first business or interdisciplinary program to be approved for PSM affiliation. Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the Henry E. Riggs School of Applied Life Sciences Dr. Jane Rosenthal states: “The PSM recognition, which is the first for a business-focused program, demonstrates the value and rigor of KGI’s interdisciplinary approach. It is more than a business degree; this recognition brings to light KGI’s work of bringing together technical science knowledge and the art of business, which is the heart of innovation.”

Students in the MBS program undergo two years of schooling in the career major of their choice, complete a paid summer internship in the life sciences industry, and during their second year participate in a yearlong capstone Team Master’s Project (TMP) sponsored by various life sciences companies. An emphasis on active and team-based learning is the foundation of KGI’s mission statement: education and research aimed at translating into practice the power and potential of the life sciences for the benefit of society. This fifth and final PSM-affiliation marks a huge achievement for KGI’s flagship MBS program.

To see all affiliated PSM programs, please visit: