What is a PSM?

The Professional Science Masters is an innovative degree program combing advanced training in science and technology with the professional skills needed to succeed in the business, non-profit, or government sectors. A PSM is geared towards those students who wish to enter the workforce and not conduct research or pursue a PhD.

Starting in 1997 with grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to 14 universities, the PSM concept has spread rapidly with 300 PSM programs online at 137 institutions across the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia as of July 2013. In order to be considered a PSM, a program must apply for and receive affiliation from the Keck Graduate Institute and must re-affiliate every five years in order to ensure that the programs continue to meet the high standards of what a Professional Science Masters is. SUNY Cortland received its most recent PSM affiliation in the summer of 2013.

The three most defining aspects of a PSM degree that helps to set it apart from a traditional research masters include:

  1. The plus courses that build professional skills that compliment the deep technical knowledge built by the core classes. In the SUNY Cortland PSM the three plus classes (MGT 624, MGT 651, and ENG 661) focus on business skills needed at small to medium sized companies common in the sustainable energy field such as marketing, finance and accounting, and project management as well as technical writing and professional communication which is critical for successful customer communication. 
  2. The creation of an external advisory board made up of representatives from the business, non-profit, and government sectors who help to shape the curriculum of the program to ensure that it is properly preparing students for the ever changing job market. At SUNY Cortland our advisory board currently consists of eight members representing renewable energy, building performance, and sustainable engineering firms as well as regional non-profits and economic development organizations. The list of current advisory board members for the PSM in Sustainable Energy Systems and their backgrounds can be found on the Advisory Board Page.
  3. The inclusion of a substantial professional internship as the culminating experience in order to provide students with real-world experience while allowing them to build partnerships with their host business or organization and to refine the technical and professional skills they developed within the curriculum. The internship experience for the PSM in Sustainable Energy Systems consists of a minimum of 24 hours per week working with a host organization on semester long projects. The internship will be supervised by a faculty advisor who will help students to identify their internship partner and help to ensure the experience is a success for both the students and their host organizations.