Boston, Mass. — A new report from the National Research Council (NRC) sug­gests that pol­i­cy­makers, uni­ver­si­ties, and employers should work together to speed the devel­op­ment of pro­fes­sion­ally ori­ented master’s degree pro­grams in the nat­ural sci­ences. Titled “Sci­ence Pro­fes­sionals: Master’s Edu­ca­tion for a Com­pet­i­tive World,” the report under­scores North­eastern University’s com­mit­ment to inter­dis­ci­pli­nary sci­ence and research through its Biotech­nology Ini­tia­tive and three Pro­fes­sional Sci­ence Master’s (PSM) Degrees in Bioin­for­matics, Biotech­nology and Marine Biology.

Master’s degrees in many fields of the nat­ural sci­ences tra­di­tion­ally have been embedded in the path to a doc­torate rather than viewed as ends in them­selves. But over the past decade, foun­da­tions and uni­ver­si­ties have worked together to develop new master’s pro­grams for stu­dents seeking pro­fes­sional skills for the global economy. These PSM pro­grams typ­i­cally build com­mu­ni­ca­tion and problem-​​solving skills along with advanced sci­en­tific knowl­edge, and empha­size inter­dis­ci­pli­nary training. Such pro­grams do not replace tra­di­tional master’s pro­grams, the NRC report notes, but aug­ment them by serving stu­dents who have a dif­ferent sci­en­tific career path in mind.

Through an inno­v­a­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion, chemists, physi­cists, phar­ma­ceu­tical sci­en­tists, researchers, biol­o­gists, and engi­neers at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity are working to solve today’s pressing med­ical and bio­log­ical dilemmas. Along with the University’s PSM pro­grams, the Biotech­nology Ini­tia­tive was cre­ated to encom­pass these efforts.

Biotechnology’s emer­gence at the inter­sec­tion of a number of pros­perous dis­ci­plines is high­lighted by mem­bers of the Ini­tia­tive,” said Dr. Graham B. Jones, Pro­fessor and Chair of the Depart­ment of Chem­istry & Chem­ical Biology and Director of the Biotech­nology Ini­tia­tive. “As we con­tinue to add fac­ulty in biotech­nology research and edu­ca­tion, and as we pro­duce highly skilled workers for the industry, the Ini­tia­tive will play an impor­tant role in fur­ther posi­tioning North­eastern as one of the nation’s top research universities.”

The Biotech­nology Initiative’s inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research and edu­ca­tional effort add immea­sur­ably to the intel­lec­tual vitality of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity and the Boston area’s thriving biotech­nology land­scape. The Col­lege of Arts and Sci­ences, the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, the Bar­nett Insti­tute, the Col­lege of Engi­neering, the Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion, and the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence col­lab­o­rate in the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Biotech­nology Initiative.

Built on tra­di­tions that have been sus­tained for over a cen­tury, the Biotech­nology Ini­tia­tive empha­sizes North­eastern University’s lead­er­ship in expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion; record of edu­cating intel­lec­tu­ally dynamic, achievement-​​oriented stu­dents; and com­mit­ment to cul­ti­vating mutu­ally rewarding part­ner­ships with busi­nesses in our urban community.

Pro­fes­sional Sci­ence Master’s Degrees at North­eastern University:


The major edu­ca­tional objec­tive for stu­dents in the Pro­fes­sional Sci­ence Master’s in Bioin­for­matics pro­gram is the attain­ment of a common core of knowl­edge in bioin­for­matics, with par­tic­ular emphasis on the ability to inte­grate knowl­edge from bio­log­ical, com­pu­ta­tional, and math­e­mat­ical dis­ci­plines. Because Bioin­for­matics as a field is changing rapidly, we must also inspire our stu­dents to engage con­tin­u­ously in self-​​education so that they can per­form at the highest level of pro­fes­sional com­pe­tence throughout their careers.


The Pro­fes­sional Master’s in Biotech­nology has three tracks: Mol­e­c­ular Biotech­nology, Phar­ma­ceu­tical Biotech­nology, and Engi­neering Biotech­nology. Mol­e­c­ular Biotech­nology training focuses on genomics, pro­teomics, and drug dis­covery path­ways, Phar­ma­ceu­tical Biotech­nology training focuses on drug devel­op­ment and eval­u­a­tion, and Engi­neering Biotech­nology focuses on process engi­neering. The pro­gram con­sists of didactic and lab­o­ra­tory courses and a course in Biotech­nology Man­age­ment that pro­vides com­pre­hen­sive training in busi­ness aspects of biotech­nology, pro­fes­sional skills, and eth­ical con­sid­er­a­tions. The four-​​month paid intern­ship pro­vides “real-​​world” learning oppor­tu­nity in the local phar­ma­ceu­tical or biotech­nology industry.

Marine Biology

The Pro­fes­sional Master’s in Marine Biology pro­vides the advanced skill set needed to pursue an entry–to mid-​​level career in marine research, or can serve as a spring­board into the nation’s top Ph.D. pro­grams in marine biology. This 15-​​month full-​​time pro­gram is offered in con­junc­tion with North­eastern University’s Three Seas Pro­gram in which stu­dents who wish to move beyond the con­fines of the tra­di­tional class­room spend an exciting year of field and lab­o­ra­tory studies at three very dif­ferent loca­tions in the United States and the South Pacific.

The NRC study was spon­sored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foun­da­tion. The National Academy of Sci­ences, National Academy of Engi­neering, Insti­tute of Med­i­cine, and National Research Council make up the National Acad­e­mies. They are pri­vate, non­profit insti­tu­tions that pro­vide sci­ence, tech­nology, and health policy advice under a con­gres­sional charter. The Research Council is the prin­cipal oper­ating agency of the National Academy of Sci­ences and the National Academy of Engineering.

For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact Samantha Fodrowski at 617–373-5427 or at s.​fodrowski@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.