Master’s Program Combines Biotechnology and Business

Master’s Program Combines Biotechnology and Business
The Professional Science Master's program would combine science and business education.

Cal Poly Pomona is developing a Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree program in applied biotechnology studies through a partnership with three Cal State universities.

The two-year graduate program, with a proposed launch date in fall 2009, would prepare scientifically trained, business-oriented professionals for the biotechnology industry. Students would attend classes at Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Dominguez Hills and would receive a master's degree from the home campus at which they enrolled.

“We're training somebody who literally forms a bridge between the science performed in the laboratory and the business activities involved in getting a product to the public,” says College of Science Dean Don Straney.

Supporting the development of the PSM program is a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which gave $474,000 in June and $891,000 in December 2006 to the CSU system. Nine additional campuses, including San Diego State, San Francisco State and San Jose State, are offering or planning PSM programs for 2009-10.

The CSU plans to train 1,050 science and technology professionals over the next five years with students receiving degrees in biotechnology, bioinformatics, environmental sciences, biostatistics, forensic sciences, computational science, biomedical science, medical product development management and genetic counseling.

With a combination of a science and business education, PSM graduates have the technical skills to communicate effectively with scientists in a laboratory as well as business people in creating and developing a product and bringing it into the marketplace.

Straney likens applied biotechnology and biology to engineering and physics; 200 years ago, the field of engineering emerged in order to manage physical processes for practical applications. In 50 years, Straney says, applied biotechnology PSM graduates will manage biological processes for practical applications. Professionals with this training have a competitive edge in the global economy and are in high demand in industry and the public sector.

“We think that getting a professional science master's degree is going to be a very useful degree for students. It opens up their options beyond just working on the lab end and moving them toward a management role,” says Jill Adler-Moore, professor of biological sciences.

After the curriculum is approved by the Academic Senate on all four campuses, the applied biotechnology studies PSM program will accept 15 students in fall 2009.

For more information about the Professional Science Master's program, visit