postdoc professional masters degree

Postdoc Professional Masters Degree

I spent some time traveling in the car this weekend and my wife and I got into an interesting conversation regarding a new academic program provided by the Keck Graduate Institute; the Postdoc Professional Masters Degree or PPM for short.  (Yes, you read that right).  KGI touts the PPM program as a specialized MBA in biological sciences for PhD’s or MD’s.    As stated on their web page the PPM program, “will help students develop MBA level skills in management areas of key importance to the bioscience industry. They will also help familiarize students with industry dynamics across different segments of the bioscience industry.” 

My first reaction….why wouldn’t I just get an MBA?

My second reaction….really?  REALLY?!?!

Do I really need to spend more time, money, and effort to add another degree to my already lengthy resume?  Let’s see. 

Bachelor of Science….check

Masters….check

PhD….check

Postdoc Professional Masters….uhhhhh???

Enough already.  What comes next?  The doctoral program in post doctoral training.  A DPPD?  I just can’t fit any more degrees on my resume. 

Honestly, this sounds like a scam to fool down-on-their-luck postdoctoral students into thinking they need yet another degree to land a career.  Do you really need to take out more student loans to earn ANOTHER degree in the hopes of landing a job interview?      

Even the program’s title sounds like a veiled attempt at career success.  Let’s examine the title of the program.  We’ll take it word by word. 

Postdoc?  You couldn’t spell the whole word out?  Five more letters people.  Postdoc is a term you use when talking amongst peers in a lab setting. 

Example:  “Who’s that?”  “That’s Jim. He’s the new postdoc in the department.”  

When used as the title of your program, it simply sounds demeaning.  We have a doctoral degree!  We are professionals in our chosen discipline.    This brings me to the next word.  Professional.  Isn’t this redundant?  Even Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines postdoctoral as, “professional work beyond a doctoral degree.”   I feel like the term “Professional” is used solely to add legitimacy to the program.    

And then the final term.  Masters.  I have a PhD, Do I really want to get a Masters Degree for my PhD.  At least I can start arranging my diplomas in a bell shaped curve on my wall:  BS, MS, PhD, MS.

In all seriousness though, maybe I’m being too harsh on this program.  The program does require a team based project sponsored by a biotechnology company.  Teams are provided office space and a budget to focus on their project, which often involves market research, business development and sometimes lab based research.   This could be an invaluable introduction into a corporate environment and a chance to make some great business connections.   

 With an estimated 100,000 postdoctoral researchers in the US and only a handful of tenure track positions, it’s inevitable that a large number of PhD’s will try to transition from academia into pharmaceutical or biotech companies.   With all these candidates competing for limited positions in a struggling economy, what better way to stand out from the crowd than proving to potential employers you have experience in a business setting.

But, the real question is, do employers consider this type of training relevant experience?  Or, does human resources merely view this as another degree; a fancy piece of paper that can be framed and hung on the wall? 

Has anyone gone through the program?  I would love to hear what you or anyone else thinks about this concept.  Please post your comments below.  

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