Professional Science Master (PSM) - Are they worth it?
I am at a crossroads trying to determine how to break into the biotech industry, and have come across the PSM degree, has anyone heard of it? I graduated with a Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics (MIMG) degree and decided to go into industry rather than pursue med school right before I graduated. Sales seemed like the only option available to me at the time and I was enticed by the high figures reps can make, but have come to the conclusion I do not want to pursue a career in sales. I want to get into more of a consulting/analyst role but have been having trouble meeting qualifications while job hunting. At 1 year of experience, I am wondering are these PSM degrees worth it? They seem to be for people like me, who want to develop business acumen while pursuing an advanced scientific degree. Do they carry any weight on a resume compared to an MBA or some other MBA programs that have a scientific focus? Can they compete with someone that has a PhD?
As you stated you want to develop business acumen and want to more, i guess "management consulting", is what you meant by consulting? I don't know, my recommendation is to go the path of the MBA.
Choose a reputable MBA, that will help you get into a well established consulting firm as a first step (one that provides services to life science/biotechs). No sure a PSM or whatever that is will help you with your objective. Depending what you want, sure a scientific background combined with a MBA would put you, at least from a formal education perspective (still zero experience) in fair competition to a newly minted PhD also looking at the same path (some firms will and have hired PhD folks without MBA at least that as the trend a long time ago, don't know if it still is today).
But where as I don't recommend MBAs in general to PhD holders (unless they have solid experience under their belt and that seems like a logical steP, in your case with a undergrad degree with your stated career objectives, a MBA can make sense.
See if you can get some from of business experience during your application period, whatever that could be, even if it is a basic sales job (sales is a really really great asset to have no matter what) or grunt market research or business analyts internship or something.
Based on my experiences, DX statement is true. Thus, "in fair competition to a newly minted PhD also looking at the same path (some firms will and have hired PhD folks without MBA at least that as the trend a long time ago, don't know if it still is today)," try to Boston Consulting Group or McKinsey. Might want to look at the big accounting firms too. Let them comp. the MBA degree. Ask the local MBA programs which employers have MBA benefit programs; ask the alumni groups and professor who attend these meetings.
My experience is that the PSM or Professional Science Masters program carries almost NO BENEFIT, or almost zero understanding among hiring managers.
It is simply a cash cow offered by several universities to try and generate a sort of person that really few companies need . . . Yes, they'll show examples of people who have gone off into jobs in biotech, but every one of those examples could have gotten into the company and the job type without the PSM and via cheaper, shorter routes.
I would strongly reconsider if I were you,
Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
Bio Careers Forum
First, we need to clarify what a PSM is. What I am thinking and I think what Dave is thinking are programs like Keck Institute for the Biosciences in LA or the professional programs at John Hopkins for policymakers, which include MS programs like Bioterrorism. The another is at the Institute for Paper Science at Ga Tech and the few programs at Michigan State. You might also find a few programs at some community colleges like in Austin, TX and Durham, NC for manufacturing and regulatory coursework. These programs are essential useless and would be considered like continuing education. They may enhance your professional experience if you have a job in the biotech industry. However, educational administrators don't consider that when they create these programs. This is not the same as getting a PhD in the life sciences from a solid program or a MS with a thesis. This would not help you get a consulting positions versus a sold MS or PhD from a good science program. Also, this would be the same as if you compared a good MBA (e.g. UT Austin) versus a PSM (e.g. Keck).
Please take note; McKinsey and BCG often recruit PhD and MS credentialed scientists for positions as analysts.
I have a question for Dave and DX, there are some excellent PhD programs affiliated with various research institutions:
3) Van Andel
4) Sanford Burnham
5) Cold Springs Harbor
The quality of science is top notch in these programs and there is a better research focused culture than some top ranked medical schools and research universities. Are these programs considered in the same light as PSMs or do they fair well with the traditional PhD programs, like University of Florida, Ohio State, or UCLA?
PS: No offense to those PSM grads. Speak up if you disagree.
Those PhD programs would be considered no different to other PhD programs at all, i wouldn't leap and say they're any better or worse culture wise, some, if not most are affiliated with universities, I know Cold Spring Harbor for example, and I an say they had great colloaboration with research universities/or research programs linked to centers of medical research and education, not to mention government labs. My grad school, linked to a medical center of research and education excellence had a amazing research culture though its internal centers and external collaboration, was great. Depends on what you want, where you want to live and whose's lab you want to be in.
Now no body goes to do a PhD to consulting, that we figure out later, other paths to take than a PhD right? And consulting firms don't stop with McKinsey, BCG, etc. Know plenty to went that route, plenty of other life science management conulting firms out there. My partner ended up in different type of consulting firm very very very well known in Pharma doing drug pricing, later to a smaller one doing all sorts of stuff for pharma - science background from foreign, university, MBA from a reputable school with a program well known at the time in the industry....so all how you manage and what dealing with what you have.
I'm sure those are fine PhD programs and they would be treated as any other PhD. Agree with DX on that.
PSM programs or "Professional Science Masters" degrees are not so much in vogue any longer and really never fulfilled their promise. I would pass on those and move on to a Masters or PhD degree if I were considering what education to go into Biotech with . . . Yes, one of the early instigators of this was Keck. Talk about a seriously bad investment.
Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
Bio Careers Forum