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Applied Genomics

Program Overview


What is the Professional Master's Degree in Applied Genomics?

The past several years have marked many milestones in genetics research with the sequencing of the genomes of humans and a number of other model organisms. These milestones in genetics research have introduced new paradigms for addressing problems as diverse as solving crimes, improving aquaculture, and developing new drugs. There has been an explosion of new biotechnology companies and an expansion of genomics-related activities in well-established pharmaceuticals. In addition to the needs in these genomics-related industries themselves, it has become increasingly clear that members of the law enforcement, legal, and political communities must have first-hand knowledge of the applications and ramifications of genomics. The University of Connecticut Professional Master's Degree in Applied Genomics will train scientists with interdisciplinary competency in genetics, molecular biology, and computational analysis. The Applied Genomics program was established with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The degree program is somewhere between a traditional coursework M.S. (with its emphasis on discipline competency through formal, theoretical coursework), and the traditional thesis M.S. (with its emphasis on research, teamwork, and scientific presentation skills). The Professional Master's Degree captures the best of both traditional degrees and also provides substantial cross-training elements for successful performance in a business or corporate environments. The degrees are two-year (four semester) programs, with options for part-time completion as well. The program has its foundations in the existing strengths of more than 20 faculty members, campus-wide, who conduct genomics-related research and training.

Is this degree program the right one for me?

The target clientele for the Applied Genomics Master's are baccalaureate students with degrees in biology or other appropriately related fields who wish to pursue careers in the genomics industry, forensic sciences, or genomics-related public service or law. Such students may be recent graduates, or non-traditional students who wish to update training for new career opportunities or for advancement with current employer. Each of our graduates to date has had multiple offers and several have already been promoted or recruited into new, higher level positions.

How are internships and contacts with potential employers made?

The Applied Genomics Professional Master's Program has an External Liaison who assumes leadership roles in developing interactions with corporate partners, arranging internship opportunities, matching students with positions, and obtaining ongoing corporate feedback on the effectiveness of the training programs. The program for the Professional Master's in Applied Genomics has been developed and implemented in close communication with corporate partners and utilizes a Corporate Advisory Board for advice and evaluation. In addition, there is an annual "Career Day" for interactions between corporate partners and students.

What do I need to know about Exit Examinations?

The final requirement for Professional Master's Degree is passing performance on an innovative exit exam that will require an original, scholarly piece of work that may take many forms. A comprehensive review paper on an appropriate topic could be assigned. Alternatively, the student could be requested to formulate a solution to a problem encountered in the particular career track chosen. It might be appropriate for the student to write a mock journal article or technical report on work encountered during an internship or other research-training phase of the degree. We envision that some students may already have positions secured prior to completion of the exit exam. In these cases we would consult with the appropriate corporate partner to determine the type of exercise that would be most beneficial to the student's preparation for employment. The student and the Advisory Committee will determine the nature and time frame for completion of the final exam. The Advisory Committee will evaluate the exam per University guidelines. It is the intent of this innovative exit exam to reinforce the discipline-specific competency and to provide an evaluation tool for relevant problem-solving abilities and writing skills.

What do I need to know about an Advisory Committee?

Three members of the Graduate Faculty in the field of study of genetics will be appointed to serve as the advisory committee for candidates for the Professional Master's of Science in Applied Genomics. The Advisory Committee assists the student in the selection of courses best suited to meet career aspirations.

When do I prepare a Plan of Study?

Near the end of the first year of study, students in the program will prepare a Plan of Study containing the courses he or she will take to gain mastery of the body of knowledge of the field, including the required or core courses. The advisory committee and the Executive Committee of the Graduate School must approve this plan.