California State University to Offer Independent Doctoral Degrees

A new state law will allow California State University to offer professional and applied doctoral degrees if the degree program does not replicate a doctoral degree program offered by the University of California.
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Published on November 2, 2023
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  • California State University will be allowed to offer independent doctoral degrees.
  • Degree programs must not duplicate a doctoral degree program offered by the University of California.
  • Previously, the CSU could only offer specific doctoral programs, including doctor of public health.

California State University (CSU) campuses will be able to offer independent doctoral degrees thanks to a new state law signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Assembly Bill 656 gives the 23-campus system the authority to offer professional or applied doctoral degrees in areas where there is an identified workforce or accreditation need, given that they do not duplicate a doctoral degree program offered by the University of California (UC).

"This thoughtful expansion of the CSU's doctoral granting authority means more Californians will have greater access to advanced degrees that benefit their personal and professional growth and allow them to apply the knowledge they've learned to better their communities and the state," CSU Chancellor Mildred García said in a statement.

The legislation is an exception to the State of California Education Code, which gives UC the "sole authority in public higher education to award the doctoral degree in all fields of learning."

Previously, CSU campuses were allowed to offer doctoral degrees in a joint program with UC or a private college or university in the state. More recently, in fall 2022, Newsom signed legislation into law allowing the CSU to offer independent doctor of public health programs.

The new law will allow no more than 10 doctoral programs to be approved every year, and fees for established programs may be similar, but not higher, than fees charged for UC doctoral programs.

It also clarifies that any start-up or operational funding for new programs must not take away from undergraduate programs, and doctoral enrollment should not affect undergraduate enrollment within the CSU.

San Diego State University (SDSU) is one of the 23 campuses in the CSU and offers a variety of joint doctoral degrees, including engineering and clinical psychology doctoral programs with UC San Diego.

The university said it will continue to offer joint doctoral degree programs but will develop new doctoral programs independently under the new law.

"This is a revolutionary change for our system and for SDSU, and signals state-level support for our mission and priorities attached to student success, inclusion, diversifying the workforce, as well as innovations in teaching, research, and learning," SDSU President Adela de la Torre said in a statement.

"The educational and social-mobility opportunities this will provide Californians eager to become part of tomorrow’s advanced workforce is unprecedented."