Considering a PSM degree? Comparing it with a PhD or MBA?

Guest Post by Daniel Chatham – Former Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences and Director of Admission and Recruitment for the University of California’s Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. He blogs about Higher Education at  insidetheadcom.com

Lots of information is available for PhD and MBA applicants, but the PSM degree option is less well known and lacks some of the resources in these other areas.  I’ve been working on a guidebook for PSM applicants to help fill this resource gap and would like to share a preview with HSB readers.

If you are considering a PhD or MBA and the PSM alternatives to either of those degrees, please comment below on what your biggest challenges are in making that decision.

How would this resource help you most?  What problems would this guide solve for you?  What else would help you if it were here?  Please share your thoughts because the goal is to provide something very useful for applicants.

Here is the table of contents for your review and consideration.

  1. INTROSPECTION FIRST
  • WHY ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT GOING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL?
    • Career enhancer
    • Career changer
    • Cultural expectations
    • Requirement of specific career path
    • To find yourself
  • WHAT IS THE PAYBACK ON A GRADUATE DEGREE?
    • Time to complete a graduate degree
    • Direct costs of attending graduate school
    • Opportunity costs of graduate school options
    • Graduate school return on investment
  1. WHY PURSUE A PSM DEGREE?
  • WHAT IS A PSM DEGREE?
  • WHAT A PROFESSIONAL SCIENCE MASTERS ISN’T
  • WHO OFFERS PROFESSIONAL SCIENCE MASTERS PROGRAMS?
  • WHY PURSUE A PSM?
  1. CHOOSING PROGRAMS
  • MANY PSM FOCUS AREAS
  • RESEARCH SCHOOLS
  • HOW TO CHOOSE A PROGRAM
    • Career services and outcomes
    • Delivery format
    • Program reputation
    • Course offering
    • Student body
  • VISIT AND LOOK FOR YOURSELF
  • OTHER RESEARCH METHODS
    • Alumni feedback
    • Current students
    • Faculty
    • Staff
    • Where are they?
  1. ADMISSIONS COMMITTEES
  • ADMISSIONS COMMITTEES ARE STEWARDS
  • HOW ADMISSIONS COMMITTEES WORK
  • WHAT ADMISSIONS COMMITTEES WANT
  1. PLANNING YOUR APPLICATION PROCESS
  • GRADUATE SCHOOL
  • APPLICATION TIMELINE
    • When to submit applications?
    • What do different deadlines mean?
  • HOW TO ENGAGE THE PSM PROGRAM
    • Email do’s:
    • Email don’ts:
    • Campus visit
    • Telephone interaction
    • Social media interaction
  1. ESSAYS
  • WHAT ARE ADMISSIONS ESSAYS?
  • WHEN ARE ESSAYS REQUIRED?
  • HOW IMPORTANT ARE ESSAYS?
  • HOW ARE ESSAYS EVALUATED?
  • HOW TO INTERPRET DIFFERENT KINDS OF ESSAY QUESTIONS
    • Specific essay questions
    • Vague essay questions
    • Statement of exceptional circumstances
  • HOW TO WRITE STRONG ESSAYS
    • Four degrees of detail: an essay framework
    • Recycling can be obvious
    • Proofread your essays
    • How to overcome a weak essay
  • ESSAY DEVELOPMENT CHECKLIST
  1. TRANSCRIPTS
  • HOW IMPORTANT ARE GRADES FOR ADMISSION?
  • HOW ARE UNDERGRADUATE GRADES INTERPRETED?
  • OVERALL GRADE TRENDS AND HOW THEY MATTER
    • Low at the beginning, gradually improving
    • High grades at the beginning, then lower overall
    • Low grades in one year, but high grades in all others
    • High grades only in courses unrelated to your PSM goal
    • Low grades in specific courses
    • Low grades overall
    • Wild grade fluctuations
  • CONTEXT FOR GRADES IS IMPORTANT
  • HOW CAN YOU OFFSET A LOW GPA?
  1. RESUME
  • WHAT IS A RESUME?
  • HOW IMPORTANT IS A RESUME?
  • HOW ARE RESUMES EVALUATED?
    • Quality of work experience
    • Quantity of work experience
  • WHAT FORMAT IS BEST?
  • HOW TO TREAT INTERNSHIPS AND PART TIME WORK
  • EXAMPLE RESUME – RECENT GRADUATE
  • EXAMPLE RESUME – EARLY CAREER PROFESSIONAL
  • WHAT ABOUT LINKEDIN?
  1. REFERENCES
  • WHAT ARE ADMISSIONS REFERENCES?
  • HOW IMPORTANT ARE REFERENCES?
  • HOW TO GET STRONG LETTERS OF REFERENCE
  • WHAT ABOUT CHARACTER REFERENCES?
  1. STANDARDIZED TESTS
  • MOST COMMON STANDARDIZED TESTS
  • WHEN ARE THEY REQUIRED?
  • HOW IMPORTANT IS THE GRE?
  • HOW ARE THEY ASSESSED?
  • HOW TO ADDRESS A WEAKNESS IN THIS AREA
  • HOW AND WHEN TO PREPARE FOR THE GRE
    • New GRE test format
  1. ADMISSIONS INTERVIEWS
  • WHAT ARE ADMISSIONS INTERVIEWS?
  • WHAT KINDS OF ADMISSIONS INTERVIEWS ARE THERE?
    • Assessment interviews
    • Informational interviews
    • Marketing interviews
    • Relationship interviews
  • HOW TO PREPARE FOR ADMISSIONS INTERVIEWS
  • HOW ARE INTERVIEWS ASSESSED?
  • HOW ARE ADMISSIONS INTERVIEWS USED IN DECISIONS?
    • What if you have a weak interview?
  1. INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CONSIDERATIONS
  • PROGRAM GOALS
  • LANGUAGE TESTS
    • TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language
    • IELTS – International English Language Testing System
    • PTE – Pearson Test of English – Academic
  • HOW LANGUAGE TESTS ARE USED
  • GRADES
  • ADMISSIONS INTERVIEWS
  • ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
    • Likely application scenarios
  • VISA PROCESS
  1. POSSIBLE OUTCOMES
  • THREE POSSIBLE OUTCOMES
  • WHY IS APRIL TH AN IMPORTANT DAY?
  • CONDITIONAL ADMISSION: YOU’RE IN – SORT OF…
  • FULLY ADMITTED, NOW GO SOMEWHERE!
    • Important factors to consider:
  • CAN YOU DEFER (AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN, ANYWAY)?
  • WAITLISTED, BUT WHY?
  • DENIED, NOW WHAT?
  1. WHAT MAKES A “BAD” APPLICATION?
  • CASE STUDY

Your Comments

Dan, like to know if you want additional information to be included in the book.

Also, if you have any questions about US admission, PSM, Biotechnology programs, post them below in comments. Dan will be following this thread to answer your questions.