Story From Chron of Higher Ed On CSU Efforts to Start Offering EdD Degrees
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Subject: California's 2 University Systems Go Toe-to-Toe Over a Doctorate
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From the issue dated August 17, 2001
California's 2 University Systems Go Toe-to-Toe Over a
By JEFFREY SELINGO
In his three years as chancellor of the California State
University System, Charles B. Reedhas kicked up plenty of
controversy, clashing with professors over merit pay and with
students over a plan to get Cal State out of the
remedial-education business. For the most part, Mr. Reed has
gotten his way.
Now, the chancellor is gearing up for his biggest battle yet.
Mr. Reed is seeking approval to start Cal State's first
doctoral program, a domain that the state's master plan for
higher education has for some 40 years reserved for only one
public system -- the University of California.
The proposed Cal State program would confer a single doctorate
-- in education. It's the advanced degree that Mr. Reed
himself holds, and one that he maintains is a natural
extension for the 23-campus system, which educates
three-fifths of the state's teachers. It's also the degree
that U.C. cares the least about, Mr. Reed says.
"You would think that U.C. would support us because their
faculty don't want the Ed.D.," he says. "But it seems they
don't want anyone else to have it either."
The University of California has mounted an all-out effort to
block Cal State's proposal. University leaders, including the
system's former president, Clark Kerr, have lobbied lawmakers
on the issue, promising to bolster their own education
programs. They also have pledged to expand existing but tiny
joint doctoral programs with Cal State, which are permitted
under the master plan (as are joint programs with private
The Legislature is expected to take up Cal State's request
next year, when it reviews the master plan.
University of California officials say Cal State's proposal
would threaten the integrity of the master plan, which is
considered by many higher-education experts to be the
strongest such document in the United States. It clearly
divides the two public systems, giving U.C. the top students
and prestigious doctoral and professional degrees, and leaving
Cal State with a second-tier status focused on undergraduates.
If Cal State is permitted to award an education doctorate,
U.C. officials say, Cal State will in short order seek to
offer other advanced degrees, resulting in the so-called
mission creep that has blurred the distinction between public
systems of higher education in several other states.
"Allowing Cal State to have the Ed.D. would unravel the master
plan," says Bruce Darling, a senior vice president at the
University of California system. "Inevitably, Cal State will
need more money to do what we're already doing."
The state's private colleges have joined U.C. in opposing the
Cal State plan, largely out of concern for their bottom line,
because they award two-thirds of the education doctorates in
California. Together, the opponents argue that no demand or
need exists for more Ed.D. programs.
Mr. Reed disagrees, saying that the current programs produce
too few graduates for the state's growing public-school system
and are too expensive for most teachers and school
administrators to attend. The two sides cite different reports
to back up their claims.
The University of California and the private colleges point to
a study released in December by the California Postsecondary
Education Commission, a state agency. It concluded that
existing doctoral programs were sufficient to meet the needs
of California's schools, in part because demand for the
qualification has dropped. The study found that none of the
160 searches for school superintendents conducted in the state
during the past four years even sought a candidate with a
"Cal State wouldn't add anything to the mix," says Jonathan
Brown, president of the Association of Independent California
Colleges and Universities. "If we're worried about cost, then
the easiest way to fix that is to increase state support for
But Mr. Reed maintains that the state commission's report had
"several shortcomings." So Cal State issued its own study last
March. It determined that the demand for doctoral degrees in
education had been "artificially suppressed" by a lack of
affordable programs within driving distance for time-pressed
educators. The Cal State report also said that the state
analysis had failed to adequately study the needs of
California's higher-education system, particularly leaders for
its community colleges.
"The Ed.D. is out of reach both financially and geographically
for many teachers and principals at a time when there is a
tremendous need in California for educational leadership," Mr.
He wants Cal State to build a doctoral program that is more
affordable than those available at U.C. or private
institutions. Mr. Reed says the Cal State program would offer
classes on several campuses at night and on weekends, times
that appeal to working adults. Beyond that, he offers few
details, saying he would prefer to wait until the university
receives approval from the Legislature to offer the degree.
Officials at U.C. say they are already adding the
educational-leadership programs that Mr. Reed envisions to
their current graduate offerings in education. One of them,
pushed by Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, is modeled after an
M.B.A. program that crams most of its courses into the summer
months. About 200 educators have already enrolled in the
Governor's Principal Institutes -- which lead to a master's
degree in education leadership and an administrative
credential -- on the Los Angeles and Berkeley campuses.
"The Ed.D. is only one piece of the puzzle in addressing
leadership in K through 12," says Marvin C. Alkin, chairman of
the education department at U.C.L.A. "We can't just depend on
more Ed.D.'s because a lot of people get one for other reasons
than to go into a school."
Indeed, fewer than a third of those who earn education
doctorates in California go on to work at public schools in
the state. Creating more capacity won't necessarily persuade
more people to aspire to leadership positions in public
schools or community colleges, many education professors say.
In addition, applicants have recently been far more interested
in the Ph.D. in education, which focuses on research skills,
than in the Ed.D. and its practical applications. At U.C.L.A.,
for example, 183 students applied for the Ph.D. program last
fall, more than twice as many as applied for its Ed.D.
Some educators say that demand for the degree is down because
the accountability movement has made school-leadership
positions less attractive.
"People aren't clamoring for an Ed.D.," says Stephen Kay,
principal of an elementary school in Santa Clara, who received
his Ed.D. from Pepperdine University in May. "People don't
want the responsibility and the workload. Today, if your
school doesn't perform, you're out of a job. Who wants that
kind of pressure?"
Several students who recently completed Ed.D. programs in the
state say it already has several high-quality doctoral
programs in education that cater to working adults. They
wonder, along with some faculty members at U.C. and elsewhere,
whether Cal State has the ability to put together a good
program and attract qualified students, given its lack of
experience with advanced degrees.
"There already is this sense that the Ed.D. is one rung below
the Ph.D.," says Robin Lee, who graduated from U.C.L.A.'s
Ed.D. program in May and works on Cal State's Long Beach
campus. "Coming from U.C.L.A., you can't really question the
quality. But I wonder whether C.S.U. will screen the
applicants like U.C. does when there's pressure to churn out
But some students, particularly those at private colleges
where the price tag for an education doctorate can exceed
$40,000, say they would welcome an inexpensive alternative.
"This is a pricey degree for anyone employed in education,"
says Jack Nesbit, an Ed.D. student at Pepperdine who hopes the
degree will help him land a job. "It's not one of those
degrees that significantly helps your future salary prospects
In recent months, as Cal State has aggressively promoted its
proposal, Richard C. Atkinson, president of the University of
California system, has pledged to double the number of
education doctorates the university awards on its own or with
Cal State over the next decade, to 300 annually. He also
promised to speed up the review of five proposed joint
doctoral programs with Cal State campuses.
This is not the first time Cal State has asked for permission
to offer the education doctorate. A similar proposal in the
mid-1980's was rejected after state officials found no need
for additional degrees in the field, and U.C. promised to
expand its joint programs with Cal State (a new one was
established as a result).
"Historically, when C.S.U. has challenged the master plan,
U.C. has become more interested in the joint doctorate," says
Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public
Policy and Higher Education, an independent research group
with roots in California higher-education policy.
"What Dick Atkinson says, he does," Mr. Callan adds, "but the
question is whether he can deliver the faculty commitment to
The two systems' four joint-degree programs graduated only 10
students in 1999-2000 (118 students were enrolled at the
time). Professors blame the failure to produce more graduates
on laborious negotiations over the scope and structure of the
programs and over issues such as admissions, curriculums, and
Given the tepid response to the joint-degree programs, even
some of Cal State's own education professors hesitate over the
idea of offering an Ed.D.
"This is an idea coming from the top," says Marci J. Hanson, a
special-education professor at San Francisco State University
and coordinator of a joint doctoral program in special
education with Berkeley.
When the Legislature takes up the proposal, money is sure to
be a major issue. Mr. Reed says that Cal State cannot afford
to offer a doctorate without a change in the state's formula
for financing the university system. Cal State faculty members
agree, and conditioned their backing of the doctorate proposal
on receiving the necessary funds from the Legislature.
"If Charlie does his work in convincing a few legislators the
need exists," says State Sen. Jack Scott, a Democrat and
former community-college president, "the money will surely
Not if the University of California can stop it. A few U.C.
officials and faculty members wonder if Cal State's desire to
offer a doctorate isn't merely an effort to raise its profile
after Governor Davis chose U.C., rather than Cal State, to run
the new education-leadership institutes. For his part, Mr.
Reed says the proposal is a serious one and that he has no
desire for Cal State to mimic the University of California.
"I have said over and over again that we only want to offer
this one doctorate," Mr. Reed says. "The problem isn't that
we're not offering a doctorate; it's that we need more school
leaders. I think U.C. has overreacted."
ENOUGH DOCTORATES IN EDUCATION?
Private colleges in California awarded more than two-thirds of
the education doctorates in the state in 1999, the most recent
year for which data are available. Officials at the California
State University System, who want to offer their own education
doctorates, say the existing programs do not produce enough
graduates and are too expensive. The proposed program would
offer the first advanced degree for the 23-campus system,
which already runs some joint doctoral programs with the
University of California and a few private institutions. One
such program, at San Diego State University, appears in this
Note: Azusa Pacific University, the Fielding
Institute, Loma Linda University, and the Universities of
California at Irvine, San Diego, and Santa Cruz all had fewer
than five graduates in 1999. SOURCE: "Survey of Earned
National Opinion Research Center
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Copyright 2001 by The Chronicle of Higher Education