It’s long been a touchy subject between sibling rivals in California academia: The state allows one public university system--but not the other--to give out the most prestigious degrees in the land.
For 40 years, the California Master Plan for Higher Education has made doctoral and professional degrees the sole domain of the University of California.
Whenever its younger upstart, the California State University, has sought to encroach on UC’s turf, it has been slapped down.
But now that the Legislature is rethinking the master plan, Cal State Chancellor Charles B. Reed is once again pushing the idea that his 22-university system should share in the glory. He limits his proposal to one advanced degree that UC seems to care the least about: the doctorate of education, or EdD.
“It’s not the most prestigious degree in higher education,” said Reed, himself an EdD recipient. “We need more EdD programs that are affordable and accessible. And frankly, UC really doesn’t want to do it.”
He envisions at least half a dozen programs, at Cal State campuses in Northridge, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Fresno, Sacramento and San Francisco, that would offer part-time doctoral programs with weekend and evening classes for working educators at a fraction of the cost of what’s offered by UC campuses or private universities.
To do any less, he said, shuts out many African American, Latino and nontraditional students who cannot afford to quit their jobs to pursue a doctorate full time.
“We need to train more people to work in leadership positions in the schools who look like their students,” he said.
UC officials, meanwhile, say it’s a misconception that the doctorate in education is a low priority. They point to a highly successful EdD program for working adults at UCLA and several joint doctoral programs in education fields that have been worked out among UC and Cal State campuses. They also say five more joint EdD programs are in various stages of discussion or planning.
At the same time, they maintain that there’s little need for more EdD programs, pointing to a new study that shows existing doctoral programs are sufficient to meet the needs of California’s elementary and secondary schools. The report did not evaluate the needs of the state’s colleges and universities for EdD holders.
UC officials question whether Cal State can independently put together high-quality doctoral programs or attract a sufficient number of qualified candidates. They also wonder how much an education doctorate can help an administrator address the problems in California’s public school system.
“Doctoral training can be pretty removed from the problems facing school superintendents and administrators,” said Julius Zelmanowitz, UC vice provost for academic initiatives. “It’s not all that clear what these programs are doing for the schools. UC is committed to developing advanced programs, whether it’s EdDs or other advanced programs, that would make a difference in the quality of the schools.”
UC officials are experimenting with new Principal Leadership Institutes, pushed by Gov. Gray Davis, which lead to an administrative credential and a master’s degree. These institutes, launched last year at UC Berkeley and UCLA, are designed for working educators, with most of the work concentrated during the summer break.
It rankled Cal State faculty and administrators that the governor selected UC--rather than Cal State--campuses to launch the institutes.
They point out that the Cal State system, with its roots as a collection of teachers colleges, is more closely linked to the public schools. The system trains about 60% of the state’s teachers. UC campuses, by comparison, educate less than 5% of California teachers.
To be sure, Cal State universities have chafed for years over their second-tier status, as set out in 1960 by the master plan.
Cal State focuses primarily on undergraduate education and can offer master’s degrees, while UC educates doctors and lawyers and has exclusive rights to grant PhDs--except when it is willing to set up joint doctoral programs with Cal State campuses.
The master plan remains a model around the nation, credited with helping California avoid the rancor, infighting and unnecessary expenditures that have harmed competing universities in other states. It is also seen as a major factor in turning UC into the nation’s greatest collection of research universities.
Velma Montoya, a former Cal State professor and now a UC regent, said educators continue to stream in from around the world to marvel at what the document has produced.
“The master plan is the most important document in California, besides the Constitution,” she said, adding that it would be a “disservice” to alter the blueprint for the state’s success.
Reed agrees that the master plan has prevented fractious arguments by laying out a clear path for each institution. “Except after 40 years, it could stand some very modest adjustments,” he said. For Cal State to offer any doctoral program would require a change in the law.
Reed recently presented the idea to a special legislative committee that is reviewing the higher education master plan and trying to expand it to include kindergarten through high school.
State Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Dede Alpert (D-Coronado), who is leading the review, said she plans to explore Reed’s proposal. She said she has heard from enough public school and community college administrators to believe that the education doctorate has been neglected by public universities.
“Charlie [Reed] is right that UC has not been all that interested in these programs,” Alpert said of the EdD. “At the same time, they are very interested in being the only ones who offer doctorates.”
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Doctorates in Education
Private universities grant more than two-thirds of the education doctorates (EdDs) in California. The Cal State system wants permission to launch its own EdD programs.
Institution EdDs % of all EdDs USC 104 22.8% UCLA* 64 14.0% University of San Francisco 53 11.6% University of La Verne 40 8.8% Pepperdine 32 7.0% Stanford 28 6.1% UC Berkeley* 20 4.4% UC Santa Barbara* 20 4.4% UC Davis* 17 3.7% Claremont Graduate School 15 3.3% University of San Diego 14 3.1% UC Riverside* 12 2.6% University of the Pacific 9 2.0% San Diego State** 7 1.5% U.S. International 4 0.9% Azusa Pacific 3 0.7% Biola 2 0.4% Fielding Institute 2 0.4% UC San Diego* 2 0.4% UC Santa Cruz* 2 0.4%
In addition, Caltech, the California School of Professional Psychology’s campuses in Los Angeles and San Diego, the Graduate Theological Union, La Sierra University, the School of Theology of Claremont and UC Irvine* each graduated one student with an EdD in 1998.
* Public universities
** Joint doctoral programs with research universities.
Source: Survey of Earned Doctorates, 1998. California Postsecondary Education Commission