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Project Title:

Enhancing the Master's Degree in the Natural Sciences
PIN: BHEW-Q-05-01-A        

Major Unit:

Policy and Global Affairs

Sub Unit: Board on Higher Education & Workforce

RSO: Henderson, Peter

Subject/Focus Area: Biology and Life Sciences; Chemistry; Computers and Information Technology; Earth Sciences; Education; Math, Chemistry and Physics

Project Scope
The NRC's Board on Higher Education and Workforce proposes to undertake a 12-month project to develop a guide for enhancing professional education at the master's degree level in the natural sciences in response to the needs of employers in industry and, to the extent possible, in government, and non-profits. The committee appointed to oversee the study will gather and analyze data and information to explore and answer, as possible given the data available, the following questions in a consensus report:

*What are employer needs for staff trained in the natural sciences at the master's degree level? Are they able to find or develop the staff they need at this level? How do employers communicate their employment needs to educational programs and how can this communication be enhanced?

* How do master's level professionals in the natural sciences contribute in the workplace? What are the employee characteristics that employers seek in staff with advanced training? Do master's level professionals enter the workforce with a master's degree or do they enter with a bachelor's degree and earn a master's degree later?

* What is known about students who pursue and obtain master's degrees in the natural sciences? What are their educational and career goals? How do master's programs meet or support these educational and career goals?

* What can be learned from efforts already underway to re-shape master's education in science? What effective practices have been identified that could be adopted by others?

* What can master's level programs in the natural sciences learn from each other? What can they learn from the way graduate-level professional programs in fields such as business, public policy, public health, and engineering developed to meet employer needs?

* What findings and conclusions about appropriate goals and effective practices for enhancing master's education in the natural sciences can be drawn from the answers to the preceding questions?

* What recommended next steps can the committee provide for stakeholders-students, faculty, department chairs, university administrators, employers, federal agencies and policymaking bodies-concerned with enhancing master's level professional education?

This project is sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The project start date is Jaunary 1, 2007. The project duration has been extended. The report is expected to be issued by Summer 2008.

Project Duration: 12 months    

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Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 03/28/2007
 Meeting 2 - 07/13/2007
 Meeting 3 - 09/10/2007


Reports having no URL can be seen
at the Public Access Records Office
Science Professionals: Master's Education for a Competitive World