After one of my recent talks at a graduate school, an immunology student asked how she could get writing experience and develop samples for a portfolio. Many students who want to write or pursue a business career, for example, wonder whether they should get additional degrees. "Do I need a journalism degree for science writing? An education degree to teach? An MBA for a biotechnology job?

A second masters gave me practical experience and a place to meet a network of colleagues. Some new programs anticipate such needs, giving graduate students and even some postdocs more options to explore.

The Science Masters program ( is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in about 30 colleges and universities for master study in eight disciplines: bioinformatics, biotechnology, chemistry, computational sciences, environmental science, mathematics, medicine, and physics.

Marc Doble, a Sloan student at the Keck Graduate Institute, says the...

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