Western Carolina University


A newly approved master's degree program at Western Carolina University that blends fundamental business skills with a traditional science curriculum is designed to produce graduates who can fill upper-level positions in technology-related businesses or successfully launch their own entrepreneurial ventures.

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors approved the new degree program – the master of science in science and entrepreneurship – as part of its February meeting.

The professional science master's degree is among the first of its kind in the UNC system and one of only a handful across the nation. Each program is unique and is tailored to take advantage of the strengths of the institution offering the degree.

Western's degree is grounded in a specific scientific discipline – biology, biotechnology, chemistry or environmental science – but also offers students additional business courses and professional training that a traditional master's degree in science cannot, said Kyle Carter, provost at Western.

“The goal of the program is to provide bachelor-level scientists with graduate training in science, real-world-experiences through internships and other professional experiences, and the fundamental business skills that are in demand by today's employers,” Carter said. “Students will graduate with both the advanced knowledge of their scientific discipline and with the ability to apply that knowledge in a commercial setting, either by creating their own companies or helping existing businesses expand.”

The program, scheduled to begin in August, is part of Western's ongoing effort to make significant contributions to regional economic development through an institutional philosophy embracing entrepreneurship, engagement and innovation, said Western Chancellor John W. Bardo.

 “It is critical for those of us in higher education to understand that many of the old ways of doing things simply do not work anymore,” Bardo said. “We must embrace a new form of entrepreneurial thinking so we can knock down those barriers that often exist between academic areas – obstacles that can make it difficult for faculty members from different disciplines to work together for the good of the students and for the good of regions we serve.”

The newly approved master's degree program, which builds upon the university's existing strengths in the natural sciences and entrepreneurship, is an example of Western's focus on creating a “more entrepreneurial university,” he said. “By entrepreneurial, I mean a university that looks ahead, anticipates the future and capitalizes on it.”

Western is developing the new program through $35,000 in grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Council of Graduate Schools that funded a yearlong feasibility study examining the pros and cons of adding new professional science master's degrees to the university's mix of graduate-level offerings and provided initial funding to implement the program.

Jonathan Snover , an assistant professor of chemistry and physics who earned his doctorate at Princeton University, will direct Western's graduate degree program in science and entrepreneurship.

For more information on the new program or any of the more than 50 graduate degrees offered at Western, contact the Graduate School at (828) 227-7398 or (800) 369-9854.

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Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Western Carolina University