Independent Doctoral Program

AB 656 (McCarty) – CSU Independent Doctoral Authority

California’s Master Plan of Higher Education, adopted in 1960, created three segments of public higher education with different functions among the University of California (UC), the CSU, and the California Community Colleges. UC was given exclusive authority to offer any doctoral degrees, while CSU may do so only if UC or a private Californian university agrees to partner on a joint doctoral program. Consequently, each time the CSU seeks an exception to offer a doctoral degree to address workforce or accreditation needs, separate legislation must be formally adopted. For example, since 2005, individual legislation has been necessary to grant the CSU authorization to offer doctoral degrees in Education, Audiology, Physical Therapy, Nursing Practice, Occupational Therapy, and Public Health. The CSU currently awards more than 600 doctoral degrees each year in these disciplines.

Goal of AB 656

To expand affordable access to post-graduate education to students and to address workforce needs in California by allowing California State University (CSU) campuses to offer doctoral degrees. Such offerings would not duplicate University of California’s offerings in high-demand professional fields.

Requirements of AB 656

AB 656 would provide broad authority to CSU to offer independent applied or professional doctoral degrees that do not duplicate UC doctoral offerings. The bill requires CSU campuses desiring to offer doctoral degrees to provide data on workforce need and enrollment projections to the Board of Trustees (BOT) prior to approval. The bill also sets out a clearly defined process for handling duplication concerns with the UC.

Benefits of AB 656

AB 656 would allow the CSU to offer applied or professional doctoral programs without having to go to the Legislature individually for each program authorization. This will allow CSU doctoral programs to be developed in a timely manner in order to meet the state’s workforce needs and provide affordable access to a practical doctoral degree to more California students.

Propose an Independent Doctoral Program

Learn more about what is needed to propose a new independent doctoral program.

Questions about Proposing an Independent Doctoral Program?

Here are some frequently asked questions about the new legislation and what it means for SDSU.

Contact Us

For more information, or if you have any additional questions, please contact Tracy Love at [email protected].