MGM M.S. Programs in the College of Medicine

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A Call for Change in Graduate Education

Although the system of graduate education in the United States is one of  the best in the world for training scientists and engineers, it has  lately come under attack for its inflexibility and for turning out a  steady stream, if not flood, of academic researchers during a time when  government support of research is dwindling and the demand for new  researchers is dropping.

The attack is from three sides.  Young scientists are increasingly  critical of the system as they become mired in the mud of perpetual postdoctoral fellowships or (as 50% of them do) seek employment in a  non-academic or even non-science field.  The government has criticized  the system as inflexible, and unwilling or unable to prepare scientists  to contribute to our present national needs.  Industry, which absorbs much  of the overflow of academic researchers, complains that new Ph.D.’s are  often too specialized for the range of task that will confront them in a  non-academic environment.

Because of these real or perceived inefficiencies in the way we now train  future scientists, the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public  Policy of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published a  lengthy report on “Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and  Engineers.”  They offer two broad recommendations to those institutions  involved in the training of scientists and engineers, the essence of  which is to educate our students much more broadly and prepare them for  careers outside of, as well as inside, academia.  They say, 1) To  produce more versatile scientists and engineers, graduate programs should  provide options that allow students to gain a wider variety of skills; and  2) Graduate scientists and engineers and their advisers should receive  more up-to-date and accurate information to help them make informed  decisions about professional careers.”

They also recommend that more students be offered the option of a  Masters’s degree or a new type of Ph.D. degree in preparation for work in  a non-traditional field.  They indicated that Master’s degrees have been  typically undervalued, under promoted, and underused. Both the Master’s  degree and the novel Ph.D. would be based on research that required less  time than would a thesis or dissertation in preparation for an academic  career.  Presumably, the novel Ph.D. degree would also contain some  non-traditional courses.

Response to Call for Change

The nation’s institutions of higher education have responded to the NAS  report in a variety of ways.  A number of schools have developed programs  that would more specifically train scientists for the newer  biotechnological industries.  Several schools have specifically developed  new Master’s degree programs as a result of the NAS report.  Northwestern  University has developed a Master’s degree program in Biotechnology to  equip students for work in major pharmaceutical firms such as  Northwestern’s neighbor, Abbott Labs.  Course work in scientific  techniques, research and “corporate survival skills” such as teamwork,  budgets, and federal regulations are all required.  Penn State offers a  B.S./MBA program with a similar goal.   Their program familiarizes students  with some science basics and also awards them an MBA.  The University of  Maryland in Baltimore County offers an M.S. in Applied Molecular Biology  that is also designed to prepare graduates to work in the biotechnology  industry, but primarily as technical support personnel.  Their program  requires intensive laboratory work and no business exposure.  Cornell  University has developed a MBA for scientists who already have advanced  degrees but who wish, for reasons of need or desire, to work in  management.  In this program the MBA is obtained in one year.  The  University of Rochester offers a two year M.S./MBA program in which  students earn both an MBA and an M.S. in Microbiology and Immunology.

The University of Florida Programs

The University of Florida has also responded to the call for change.  In 1995, the College of Medicine began accepting M.S. students in the  Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.  Prior to this, only  students declaring interest in a Ph.D. were accepted into the College.  In 1997, this program became college-wide and interdisciplinary.  Under  this program the MS given is in Medical Sciences.  Specialties are no  longer designated on the MS degree.  With cognizance of a growing number  of businesses engaged in the sophisticated biotechnological sciences, and  desiring to give students a full scientific research experience along  with a complete training in business skills, the University of Florida  also offers a joint M.S./MBA.  Sponsored by the Florida MBA Program, the  Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, and the Biotechnology  Program, the joint program culminates in two standard degrees, an M.S. and  an MBA, in three years.  Both the M.S. and M.S./MBA require laboratory  research and the writing of a thesis.  The goal of both the M.S. and M.S./MBA  programs is to train bright and enthusiastic students who want to work at  the interface of science and business in either research or management of  companies involved in the production and promotion of modern biological  products for use in the solution of global human problems.

In 1999, a new four-year M.S./JD program was approved for individuals interested in patent law or other legal aspects of the biotechnology industry. In 2000, a new two-year MSM program has been introduced  to train masters students in various disciplines (not just M.S. students) MBA business courses outside the  traditional MBA program to better prepare them for careers involving business.  This program is not limited  to those with 2+ years work experience and offers many of the same courses and instructors as MBA students.

In 2010,  grant funding was received from NSF to establish a new  interdisciplinary Masters Program called “Science Master’s Program in Translational Biotechnology. This is a two-year thesis program that is interdisciplinary (biosciences and business),   is research intensive, has deep industry involvement,  and includes a formal internship at a company.

Applicants must meet the minimum requirements for the University of Florida Graduate School: GPA 3.0 and a score on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) of 1000 Combined verbal and quantitative for the old scale, and a minimum score of 300 for the new scale. Note that for students accepted into the Masters the average GPA is 3.5, GRE is 310 (new) or 1220 (old). The program requirements 3 letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and “official” transcripts.

Deadline for applications is March 31 of the current year fall admission.

If you are interested in other graduate and/or research opportunities, go to The Office of Research and  Graduate Programs

Contact for  more information, or phone 352-273-6380