Isn’t it about time inventors started getting a piece of the action? And isn’t it high time that business people have a substantial expertise in the products they are offering?
Rutgers University is answering a resounding yes to both questions with the introduction of its new Professional Science Masters program. Founded by David Finegold, dean of Rutgers’ School of Management and Labor Relations, the program combines the MS and MBA into a tightly packed, year-and-a half, master of business and science degree.
Traditionally, master’s programs have focused on steering students toward doctoral and further academic careers. Now, due to urging from the National Science Foundation and others, a wealth of PSM programs are developing nationwide. It is the ultimate in cross-training for management, communication, and a numerous scientific fields.
Offered for the first time this fall, Rutgers’ MBS program is quickly filling up, reports the program’s new director, Deborah Silver. “The bulk of the students signing up are coming from the sciences — would-be entrepreneurs wanting to learn business applications for their work,” she says. “But we also see two fringe groups — Ph.D.s with entrepreneurial dreams or a certificate goal, and English majors looking to ground themselves in some practical communications science.”
Those interested in such career training can learn more about Rutgers’ MBS by visiting www.psm.rutgers.edu. Or, stop by Rutgers’ student orientation on Monday, August 30, at 6 p.m. at Bush Campus Center in New Brunswick. Additionally, PSM is participating in three career and outreach events on the New Brunswick campus: engineering and computer science on Friday, September 24, at 10 a.m.; math and actuarial on Friday, October 8, at 10 a.m. at the Busch Center; and business and liberal arts, on Friday, October 15, at 10 a.m.
“About 10 years ago,” says Silver,” the National Academy of Sciences saw the need to reinvigorate its scientific training with business curricula. That gave birth to the professional science masters movement.” Rutgers’ program has received grants from the National Science Foundation, Sloan Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education.
As a 20-year veteran computer professor, Silver has witnessed the ever-increasing meld of academic technology with business applications. A native of New York City, Silver was the first in her family to venture into the technical realm. She attended Columbia University, earning her engineering bachelor’s in 1984, and then took her Ph.D. in the same field at Princeton University.
“That was back in the days when the Internet was called ARPANET, and it took a lot of skill and a lot of patience to communicate with your fellow academics,” Silver says. For the last two decades, as a professor in Rutgers’ Engineering and Computer Science Department, she has been keeping students abreast of the web’s juggernauting evolution.
The blended masters. If you are applying for Rutgers’ new MBS degree, be prepared for a truly tough grind. Unlike most masters programs involving 30 credits, this one demands 43. The year-and-a-half includes a full semester in the summer. The final thesis is replaced by each student devising a practical, workable business plan.
Within the science curricula, 20 different concentrations are offered, ranging from chemical and biochemical engineering and industrial mathematics, to IT for Pharmaceuticals, statistics, urban development, and actuarial sciences. This array allows students to work within their specific fields and from there learn their industries’ business applications.
“If a researcher fully understands phases I through IV in getting a drug to market, he not only improves his own research ability, he broadens his career choices,” says Silver. The program also offers certification degrees in science and technology management and pharmaceuticals and clinical trials management.
On the business side, the entire, essential MBA has been concentrated into 19 credits of core and elective courses. finance and accounting, marketing, communications and leadership, ethics and professionalism, and a capstone course for entrepreneurs. To enhance the roster of business school faculty who will handle these courses, Rutgers has enlisted business leaders such as Steve Parent (formerly with Merck) and Gregory Ford(formerly with Bristol-Myers Squibb) to teach “Drug Development from Concept to Market.”
“We go beyond what’s strictly business here,” says Silver. “Several courses have strong instruction in intellectual property. It’s more legal than commerce, but for scientists and technological people, its vital.”
It matters little whether you approach Rutgers’ PSM program from an entrepreneur’s or scientist’s vantage point. Graduates from such programs will continue to blur the artificial line between businessperson and scientist. And in today’s competitive market, it’s brings a benefit for all.
The idea of combining both business and science training is scarcely new. More than 20 years ago, the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology mandated many of the humanities and business electives for all graduating students. When asked why by an inquiring New York Times reporter, he replied “Because too many graduates from M.I.T. end up working for graduates from Harvard and Yale.”