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California State University Receives $2.1 Million from National Science Foundation for Innovative Science Masters Programs

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(June 11, 2010) – The National Science Foundation has awarded the California State University three grants totaling $2.1 million to support rigorous and innovative science masters programs that prepare students for careers in industry settings. The NSF received more than 200 applications for funding, and awarded only 21 grants across the nation. In this highly competitive funding climate, the three CSU programs represent the only California-based projects funded by NSF with CSU receiving 14 percent of the overall funding awarded across the nation.

CSU's science masters programs are designed to prepare a scientifically trained workforce for the nation’s high growth science and technology industries. Over the past five years, CSU has developed 25 specially-designed Professional Science Master’s programs on 18 campuses that function as distinctive graduate programs in the sciences. They involve industry partners in program design, instruction, and evaluation and create strong corporate partnerships through industry advisory boards that help to ensure graduate education is relevant. In addition, each student is required to complete an internship, typically in an industry setting.

"The industry partnerships help ensure our graduates are highly trained in science and technology, and also understand the applications of that knowledge in the work setting," said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. "Students operate as comfortably in a lab within an industry environment as in a lab on the university campus, and they seek to be well-equipped for the rapidly increasing number of science positions in the corporate world."

NSF provided funding to three CSU campuses in its first-ever initiative supporting science masters programs, authorized by the America COMPETES Act. One program is led by San Diego State University and includes three other CSU campuses (Chico, East Bay and San Jose State). It develops bioscience professionals with specialized expertise in regulatory affairs in biostatistics, biotechnology, computational sciences, environmental biotechnology and biomedical physics. These areas are in high demand in the growing bioscience and biotechnology industries and fill significant workforce needs in the expanding life sciences sector.

The second program is at San Francisco State University and is an innovative two-year interdisciplinary science master's program that is preparing students for professional careers in applied life sciences fields that are growing rapidly in the San Francisco Bay area. The program focuses on biotechnology, and includes the emerging area of stem cell research, which has the potential to fuel economic growth in the Bay area and California.

The third program is the Environmental Resources Engineering Professional Master’s of Science at Humboldt State University. It addresses the state’s need for professional engineers technically trained in the areas of renewable energy and water resources. The program’s goals are to prepare graduates who are qualified to enter professional practice in engineering in the green jobs sector.

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The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 433,000 students year round and 44,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded nearly 2.5 million degrees, about 90,000 annually. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. A recent economic report found that more than 100,000 Californians are employed in pure life sciences production and research. Additionally the report states that the number of CSU students studying biological sciences has increased by 33 percent since 2003. The mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California.

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