UNT is exploring the creation of new, innovative master's degree programs that will combine advanced training in science and mathematics with key business skills so graduates are even better prepared to meet industry workforce needs.
A $45,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to President Gretchen M. Bataille is supporting the exploration and development of Professional Science Master's degree programs at UNT and other UNT System institutions.
The degree programs are designed to provide science-trained professionals with an understanding of business so they may fill the next generation roles in industry that will require both technical and practical skills.
Project coordinators Art Goven and Jean Schaake are working with business executives in the sectors of aerospace and semiconductor manufacturing, biotechnology and health care, logistics, and finance and banking to discuss future workforce and employment needs.
Complex modern industries need employees who are able to work in interdisciplinary teams to solve interrelated science and technology problems, who are proficient in computational techniques, who are able to communicate scientific and technical issues to others and who have an understanding of business, regulation and legal issues.
Goven and Schaake will survey upper division undergraduate students enrolled in science, technology and math programs, as well as recent alumni and other people in the workforce about career goals and interest in potential programs.
Data from meetings and surveys will be analyzed to determine if, and which, programs should be developed. UNT's existing master's programs will be used as a basis for the new degree programs that will be developed over the next year to better meet the demands of industry and government.
Once the analysis is complete, up to six faculty members will work on stipends to create curriculum for the new degree programs.
These programs would be implemented at UNT and other UNT System campuses for Fall 2008.
The business executives participating in the process also will be asked to serve as long-term advisers to the degree programs and to provide internships and potential employment opportunities for program graduates.
The grant also will support the creation of guidelines for how other Texas universities may develop and implement similar degrees within their regions. To develop the guidelines, UNT representatives will meet with the four Texas universities currently offering at least one Professinal Science Master's degree. They are:
- Rice University
- Texas Tech University
- University of Texas - San Antonio
- University of Texas - El Paso.
The development and implementation of the degrees across Texas would help keep the state competitive with science, technology and math-based businesses because it would be producing graduates who understand both science and business.
Currently, Texas is ranked as the best state for business by Chief Executive magazine and is the second best region for business expansion and relocation. The Dallas-Fort Worth region also is one of the fastest growing regions and is the fourth largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States.