Bill would authorize CSU doctorate degrees

A new bill introduced in the state legislature would allow CSU administrators to offer clinical and professional doctorates.

“The bill language would give (the) CSU authority to offer what we’re referring to as clinical or professional doctorates in audiology, and doctorates in education,” said Jason Murphy, legislative aide to Senator Jack Scott (D-Altadena), who introduced Senate Bill 742. “It would be up to the Board of Trustees, CPEC (California Postsecondary Education Commission), which has a role in reviewing the programs.”

Current law requires the 23 CSU campuses to stop at master’s degrees, but the bill would allow CSUs to grant doctorates, which are currently offered by the University of California.

Under the bill, the California State University system would be able to authorize independently professional or clinical doctoral degrees, which the bill would define as “degrees awarded as part of a post-master’s degree program that prepares students for entry to professional practice, other than university faculty research and teaching.”

Current law requires that the CSU award doctorate degrees jointly with the UC, or jointly with independent institutions of higher education as long as CPEC approves the doctoral program.

However, the bill faces opposition from UCs, since there would be little meaning in the distribution of doctorate degrees from UCs if CSUs were to distribute them as well, said Ravi Poorsina, spokesperson for the UC.

“The current standards of receiving a doctorate from a UC would be eliminated,” Poorsina said.

With CSUs and UCs already working together on a joint doctoral program, there is little need for CSUs to grant doctorates, Poorsina said.

“There are some concerns, and we are committed to working with the CSU in our joint doctoral programs,” Poorsina said. “(CSUs awarding doctorates) would take away 400 to 500 students from these (joint doctoral) programs.”

More money would be spent by the state’s resources should CSUs try to match the levels of doctorate teaching credentials, Poorsina said.

The bill intends to include a provision about better preparation for audiologists, Murphy said.

“One of the problems we’ve encountered recently (is) there is a little bit of credential creep,” Murphy said. “People want their practitioners to be better prepared, and this is happening in audiology. There are areas that are statewide that are not met by the state of California.”

“We’re going to require (that) in order for an audiology student to get a degree, we want them to have a doctorate, because by 2007, you (won’t be able to) become an audiologist without a doctorate,” Murphy said.

There may be a tuition increase should CSU authorities choose to run these programs, Murphy said.

“It would entail a fee increase,” Murphy said. “I don’t think the Cal State (system) would increase the fees generally, but for those students seeking those programs. The CSU is not asking the state for more money.”

CSUN students have mixed emotions regarding the bill.

Samantha Gomba, junior accounting major, said awarding doctorates might not be the best idea right now.

“Right now, it’s not such a good idea with all the budget cuts,” Gomba said. “I heard (schools) were eliminating classes.”