College of Veterinary Medicine |
advance featured stories 2012

Healthy Animals, Healthy People, Healthy Planet

  • Preparing Students for the Careers of the Future


    by Marcia Hill Gossard '99, '04


    As a manager of a clinical laboratory with the US Air Force (USAF), Captain Cordy Herring needs to have science, business, and managerial expertise to do his job well. After he was selected to further his education in a USAF program, he looked at universities that would broaden those skills and the WSU Professional Science Master’s Program rose to the top of his list.

    Preparing Students
    Captain Cordy Herring (right), with Dr. Sita Pappu of
    the WSU Research Foundation. Captain Herring will
    finish his professional science master’s degree in the
    spring of 2013.

    “I called WSU and when the program was described to me it was exactly what I was looking for,” said Herring, who has served with the USAF for 19 years and will be promoted to major later this year.

    Students working toward a Professional Science Master’s degree (PSM) through the WSU School of Molecular Biosciences complete science classes and coursework in professional areas such as ethics, management, communications, business, and professional skills. Students also complete an internship during their final year.

    “Before, getting an MBA was the only option,” explained Norah McCabe, a clinical associate professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences and director of the Professional Science Master’s program. More versatile than the MBA, the PSM gives students the opportunity to expand their scientific knowledge and learn needed business and communication skills.

    “It is truly an interdisciplinary degree,” said McCabe, who helped develop the new master’s option in 2010. Designed for recent graduates and returning professionals, it has grown from one student to 21 students in just two years. The program has already graduated two students, both of whom are now employed full-time.

    While a traditional science master’s degree may be better suited for those wanting a career in a scientific laboratory, many students are interested in applying their scientific knowledge in different ways in the workplace. And that is what appealed to Captain Herring.

    “My job in the clinical laboratory is a blend of science and business,” said Herring. Because leaders and policy makers may not always have a background in science, Herring believes the education he is receiving at WSU can help bridge that gap.

    “I will be able to help explain the science to people who develop policy,” said Herring. “It will add understanding between leaders, R&D people, and clinicians.”

    In his final year of the program, Herring is an intern with the WSU Research Foundation, which works to license WSU-developed technologies in the private sector.

    “It is a great fit for me because I wanted more experience with the business side,” said Herring. “I can’t wait to go back and tell the Air Force leaders about the program and how well it fits with what we do.”


    To learn more about the professional science master’s program in the School for Molecular Biosciences, visit www.smb.wsu.edu/academic-training/graduate-studies/professional-science-master's-degree.



Washington State University