What skills does a research scientist need to get ahead in the profession? Sometimes it's what you know outside of science that fits the bill. There is a growing need in the biotech and biomedical industries for science-trained professionals who also have practical computing skills and business acumen--graduates with hands-on experience and an interdisciplinary background.

To fill that need, some institutions are offering various versions of a professional master's degree (PMD). Designed to blaze new career paths in an ever-shifting science job market, these degrees also promise a solution to what has been referred to as the Ph.D. glut, or too many doctorates for the employment market. "The professional master's degrees are terminal degrees with breadth and direction, and not just a degree one gets on the way to a Ph.D.," explains science education consultant Sheila Tobias. For the most part, these are two-year, in-residence programs that will lead...

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