Appendix A
Charge to the Study Committee

The National Research Council will undertake a study exploring the role of master’s education in the natural sciences and whether and how master’s programs might be enhanced to bolster our workforce and our nation’s science-based industries. The study committee will explore and answer, as possible given the data available, the following questions:

  1. What are employer needs for staff trained in the natural sciences at the master’s degree level? Are they able to find or develop the staff they need at this level?

  2. How do employers communicate their employment needs to educational programs and how can this communication be enhanced?

  3. What is known about students who pursue and obtain master’s degrees in the natural sciences? What are their educational and career goals? How do master’s programs meet or support these educational and career goals?

  4. How do master’s-level professionals in the natural sciences contribute in the workplace? What are the employee characteristics that employers seek in staff with advanced training? Do master’s-level professionals enter the workforce with a master’s degree or do they enter with a bachelor’s degree and earn a master’s degree later?

  5. What can be learned from efforts already under way to reshape master’s education in science? What effective practices have been identified that could be adopted by others? What can master’s-level programs in the natural sciences learn from each other?



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Appendix A Charge to the Study Committee The National Research Council will undertake a study exploring the role of master’s education in the natural sciences and whether and how master’s programs might be enhanced to bolster our workforce and our nation’s science-based industries. The study committee will explore and answer, as possible given the data available, the following questions: 1. What are employer needs for staff trained in the natural sciences at the master’s degree level? Are they able to find or develop the staff they need at this level? 2. How do employers communicate their employment needs to edu- cational programs and how can this communication be enhanced? 3. What is known about students who pursue and obtain master’s degrees in the natural sciences? What are their educational and career goals? How do master’s programs meet or support these educational and career goals? 4. How do master’s-level professionals in the natural sciences con- tribute in the workplace? What are the employee characteristics that employers seek in staff with advanced training? Do master’s-level profes- sionals enter the workforce with a master’s degree or do they enter with a bachelor’s degree and earn a master’s degree later? 5. What can be learned from efforts already under way to reshape master’s education in science? What effective practices have been identi- fied that could be adopted by others? What can master’s-level programs in the natural sciences learn from each other? 

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 SCIENCE PROFESSIONALS 6. What can they learn from the way graduate-level professional programs in fields such as business, public policy, public health, and engineering developed to meet employer needs? 7. What findings and conclusions about appropriate goals and effec- tive practices for enhancing master’s education in the natural sciences can be drawn from the answers to the preceding questions? 8. What recommended next steps can the committee provide for stakeholders—students, faculty, department chairs, university adminis- trators, employers, federal agencies and policymaking bodies—concerned with enhancing master’s-level professional education?