Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

PSM | Professional Skills


The Sloan Foundation, in developing the Professional Science Master's Program, recognized the need for professional skills training to enable students to work well in multiple settings. Students enrolled in American University's PSM program will participate in such training.

Based on the interviews with industry and government representatives, the following skills were considered to be valuable to scientists and technologists in government and industry:

An ability to write and present clearly and effectively
The comments showed that written and oral communication skills are universally valued in government and industry. Many interviewees stated that it is the most important skill for students to master.

An ability to collaborate and work on a team
Professionals in biotechnology and computer science considered this skill to be very important. It was less commented on by professionals in the environmental science industry, although one interviewee noted with enthusiasm the movement toward matrix management at her agency, which would require greater collaboration skills.

An awareness of the basics of project management
Professionals in all three industries considered project management skills to be important, although the exact methods vary considerably depending on the organization. Professionals in biotechnology and computer science appeared to describe more formal project management processes, while several of the environmental science professionals described less formal processes.

An ability to lead and motivate employees
Leadership and motivation was considered by most to be an important skill related to project management.