PSM in Nanoscience Degree Program: FAQ's
Frequently Asked Questions
PSM in Nanoscience
John A. Venables Department of Physics, Arizona State University,
and London Centre for Nanotechnology, University College London, UK.
This page contains comments and a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
related to the PSM in Nanoscience at Arizona State University. I was the Program Director of this new
degree program, which started in the Fall Semester 2008, until July 2012. We are still actively recruiting for Fall 2012,
and it is also a good time to let us know if you are interested in starting in Spring 2013. If you haven't
yet seen an overview of the degree program, application instructions, etc. and/or contact details, please
return to my PSM index now. Click on the logo to reach the National PSM homepage.
The above short list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) is a "work in progress", which may help you decide
if the PSM in Nanoscience at ASU is the course for you. For further questions or assistance, contact us at
firstname.lastname@example.org. You will likely be answered by either our
graduate coordinator or by myself, or Dr Liu as program director, depending on the nature of your query.
Who is this degree program really for?
This program is specifically tailored for working professionals who wish to retrain in nanoscience and
nanotechnology as well as for students with traditional bachelor's and master's degrees. In both cases
the nanoscience program is a fast-track program toward a career in nanoscience, nanotechnology and related areas.
What are (4+1), Integrated or Accelerated, BS-PSM or BSE-PSM degrees?
The (4+1) BS-Physics PSM Degree Program is designed for current ASU physics undergraduates only. The similar
(4+1) BSE-Materials Degree Program is designed for current ASU Materials Science and Engineering undergraduates only.
These programs are described on the Nanoscience web site in the relevant pages under the Future Students tab, and are
not discussed in detail here. If you are at ASU as Juniors or Seniors, please get in touch via email, and attend an Information
Session during the Academic Year.
Do you currently have any students?
Yes, we do: the first two students started in the 2008-09 Academic Year. As of Spring 2012, we have 15 current
students and 15 alumni. Several students are working professionals, often a few years out of college, who are
employed in the Phoenix metro area (The Valley of the Sun), and are studying part-time to achieve the PSM degree
within two years. Other students have recently received their Bachelor's degree and are preparing for careers
in industry or other external organizations. Several PSM students have gone on to research training and careers.
We have made over ten offers for Fall 2012, and we believe that there will be more applications before the semester
starts in August. We are actively looking for applications for Spring 2013 and beyond on a continuous basis.
Do you accept foreign students, or is this degree just for US Nationals?
Yes, we do accept students from abroad, and foreign nationals working in the USA, there is no limit.
Applicants from abroad are welcome to make an application to the PSM-Nanoscience program. Please note that because
this is an intensive program, it may take longer than one calendar year for international students to complete the
degree program while they familiarize themselves with the USA, the English language and/or the subject matter.
How broad is this degree program? Will it be too difficult?
No-one, literally no-one, can be expert in all the subjects studied. So that needs to be understood from the
outset. But typically, each of the students will have a different background and you can learn from your
fellow students as well as the course professors, visiting lecturers in seminar series, and from members of
our Advisory board. One of the main aims is to add breadth to the depth of your previous speciality.
Yes, but will I be judged adversely against brilliant PhD students?
Well, you will be studying courses alongside PhD and MS (Thesis) students in Physics, Chemistry, Materials
Science and Engineering. But the fact that we have a separate Nanoscience (NAN) degree designation means
that we can take these different backgrounds into account, and provide backup as needed. In particular,
the NAN 591: Professional Seminar is there to provide this backup, and to share ideas and expertise between
all parties involved. We need to remember that this is an integrative degree, where networking and the
big picture are important skills; you are not being measured on your research contribution to new knowledge,
but are being asked to think about the uses of (and later to apply) new knowledge, in the context of
innovation and social change.
Can I get a scholarship to study the PSM in Nanoscience?
Yes, in some cases you can. This last year we had our first student on a Fulbright scholarship (from Italy), and
we have foreign student applications which indicate that their government may pay for their stay in the USA. Several
of the part-time students have their Tuition costs paid by their employers. We are actively approaching industrial
partners with a view to supporting or sponsoring students for the degree. But we are at an early stage in such
discussions, so most of the students are self-funded.
Does this mean that the future of the funding is uncertain?
Well, all new ventures are uncertain, but we should however watch this space, since recent developments
on the (US) national scene, notably the America Competes Act, have made the PSM a "hot topic". For example,
there is a recent report "Science Professionals: Master's Education for a Competitive World", that highlights
PSM degrees and the usefulness of PSM graduates. These discussions can be accessed via the
Sciencemasters homepage and the
National Professional Science Master's Association.
What about TA or RA support?
There is nothing in principle against this, but in practice TA and RA support is (often, as in the Department of Physics)
aimed primarily at students studying for the traditional PhD degrees. You are free to approach individual
faculty members and other potential employers about such support, but the PSM degree is not currently based
on there being such support available.
Does ASU's PSM Nanoscience program charge a program fee?
Many PSM programs across the USA charge a additional degree fee that can be substantial. As of Spring 2012, the
PSM-Nanoscience program charges a modest program fee of $500/ semester ($250/semester for part-time students).
The program fee will be used to add value to the PSM Nanoscience student experience.
Do I have to wait until my application is complete before I express an interest?
No, we would much prefer to know that you are interested in the PSM before your application is complete.
That way, we can establish email contact, and answer your questions, in parallel with you completing your
application. For that reason, we do not have a cut-off date for applications as the traditional PhD
degrees do. Once we recieve your full application materials, then we can review the papers formally, and
either accept or reject your application. However, we may have been able to assess whether your
background is suitable on an informal basis sometime before this stage. So prepare your application and let us
know that you have submitted it; then we will get into a dialog with you as soon as practicable after that.
Latest version of this document
15th July 2012.