Science Management Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Course Info

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Master's and doctoral degrees in science management can lead to careers in academia, government or the private sector. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and online options, and find out what you can do with your degree.
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Studying Science Management: Degrees at a Glance

If you are interested in becoming a science manager, you may want to consider a graduate degree in professional science or a joint science/Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. These programs combine the research methodologies of science with the business skills needed to be an effective manager. Regardless of the degree you earn, management positions typically require experience.

Two possible career options include natural science manager and postsecondary teacher. Natural science managers supervise other scientists and direct research projects. Postsecondary teachers work at 2-year and 4-year schools, often splitting time between teaching, researching and publishing. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), national employment opportunities for natural science managers were expected to increase eight percent from 2010-2020. The projections are better for postsecondary teachers; the BLS predicted a 17% increase in employment over the same time period.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? Experienced scientists who want to become managers Individuals who want to teach or research at the university level
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Natural science manager ($115,000)**
-Materials scientists ($85,000)
(In addition to the jobs available to master's students)
- Physics professor ($78,000)
- Biological science professor ($74,000)
- Chemistry professor ($71,000)
Time to Completion Two years (full time) 3-5 years (full time)
Common Graduation Requirements -Final exam or project
-Internship
- Qualifying or proficiency exams
- Student teaching
- Doctoral dissertation and defense
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- GRE scores
- Bachelor's or master's degree
- GRE or GMAT scores
Online Availability Yes No

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2011 figures, **Position requires experience in addition to degree.

Master's Degrees in Science Management

Master's programs combine a core business curriculum with electives in a specific area of science. Many programs collaborate with scientific industries to provide access to business training and scientific research. For a capstone requirement, you may have to complete an individual or group project related to formulating a business plan based in science or technology.

Pros and Cons of a Master's Degree

Pros

  • Many offer concentrations in specific scientific areas
  • May offer internship opportunities in scientific industries as a requirement or for credit
  • Access to research is still available

Cons

  • Require coursework that students with a science or engineering background may not be familiar with, such as accounting or finance
  • Some programs have prerequisites that vary by scientific concentration
  • Experience may still be required for some positions

Courses and Requirements

Both professional science and Master of Business and Science programs include core curricula in business topics. Some of the business courses may be tailored toward science or technology. Potential courses you may take include:

  • Innovation management
  • Science and technology management
  • Accounting and finance for scientists
  • Research ethics

Online Programs

Several online programs are approved by the National Professional Science Master's Association. These programs often have the same coursework as traditional ones and can be completed in two years of full-time study. An internship may still be required.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

While in a program, you should gain experience relevant to your professional interests. If internships aren't required, you may consider pursuing one if you are not already a working professional. If you are interested in a research or academic career, then you may pursue those opportunities. Through research and internships, you may gain technical expertise with laboratory equipment and scientific computer programs.

Doctoral Degrees in Science Management

Doctoral programs in science management can come with many different titles. Curricula often cover the study of technology or science-based businesses and prepare students to teach or research at the university level. In addition to coursework, you pursue advanced research that leads to the publication of your dissertation.

Pros and Cons of a Doctoral Degree

Pros

  • Prepares you for an academic career
  • Some programs offer minors
  • Some doctoral degrees are joined with MBA programs

Cons

  • May not lead to increased salaries as compared to a master's degree
  • May not be required for jobs in private businesses
  • Must meet writing proficiency and other examination requirements

Courses and Requirements

In addition to coursework and research, many programs require you to have experience in student teaching. Your coursework includes topics in both your interest area and research. Some of the courses you may take include:

  • Scientific research methods
  • Statistical models or methods
  • Management of innovation and technology
  • Culture and organizations

Online Programs

Due to the research and teaching requirements, doctoral programs specific to science management are not readily available online. None were found as of September 2012.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

To set yourself apart, you may want to consider pursuing research in an emerging area, such as biomedical devices, which may increase your odds of finding employment. Additionally, you may want to consider schools that offer professional development opportunities such as workshops, seminars and non-credit courses. You may also consider taking coursework in computer programming to familiarize yourself with different modeling and programming languages that may be used in science or technology research.

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