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Letter: Let State Universities Offer Doctoral Programs

State Rep. Tom Murt talks about House Bill 1343, which would allow State System of Higher Education schools to offer independent doctoral programs

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Editor's note: The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by State Rep. Thomas Murt (R-152).

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Some of Pennsylvania’s very best resources in post-secondary and higher education, are in our State System of Higher Education. 

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) includes our 13 state universities which are run by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

They include:

  • Bloomsburg State University
  • California State University
  • Cheyney State University
  • Clarion State University
  • East Stroudsburg State University
  • Edinboro State University
  • Indiana State Universit
  • Kutztown State University
  • Lock Haven State University
  • Mansfield State University
  • Shippensburg State University
  • Slippery Rock State University
  • West Chester State University

These institutions provide an excellent and high quality educational experience at affordable tuition rates. Their mission transcends providing top-quality undergraduate education. Many of these institutions in the PASSHE currently offer Masters-level graduate programs, and soon, may also be authorized to offer doctoral programs throughout the system. 

At the present time, the only institution in the PASSHE that is authorized to offer doctoral level programs independently is the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).  IUP currently offers some very well-regarded doctoral programs that are renowned in their respective academic disciplines.  No other institution in the PASSHE, other than IUP, is authorized to offer doctoral level courses, unless they do it as a joint-degree program with IUP, or through another institution that is authorized to offer such doctoral level work.  

This lack of authority of institutions in the PASSHE to offer high-quality and lower-cost doctoral programs is a great drawback for the citizens of our Commonwealth.  This is especially true in some of the rural areas of the Commonwealth where our PASSHE institutions are located.  Pennsylvanians are being deprived of wider access to doctoral level degree programs.  As a result, we are not properly utilizing the outstanding resources we have in the PASSHE.  Although, at present, none of the other institutions in the State System of Higher Education offer doctoral programs, these institutions certainly have the resources, faculty expertise, capability, and academic strength to do so.   

I have co-sponsored House Bill 1343 which is a recent legislative proposal that amends the Public School Code of 1949 to allow all the institutions within the PASSHE, to offer doctoral degrees after meeting certain high standards. 

House Bill 1343 will allow all PASSHE institutions to provide doctoral level instruction in areas of study leading to professional doctoral degrees, also known as Applied Doctoral degrees such as a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.).  IUP will remain the only PASSHE institution with authority to offer a Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.). 

House Bill 1343 requires that these doctoral degree programs be approved by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board prior to being offered.  The proposal also requires compliance with all the criteria established by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board.  Such doctoral programs must satisfy all the requirements that the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board deems necessary, including the documented need for the program, the adequacy of university resources to offer the program, evidence of cooperation with other institutions, agencies, or organizations, and the means of assessment and accreditation. 

This approach taken in House Bill 1343 to expand doctoral level graduate study opportunities in Pennsylvania will create a level playing field for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and to all geographic sectors of higher education across the Commonwealth.  House Bill 1343 will facilitate a return to the original intent of the 1965 statute by giving state universities the right to offer Applied Doctoral programs independently, and not solely through the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

House Bill 1343 will permit all the universities in the PASSHE to offer Applied Doctorate programs independently.  This will meet the documented current and future workforce needs of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  House Bill 1343 is a means by which high quality doctoral level study can be extended across the Commonwealth.

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Rep. Thomas P. Murt serves the 152nd Legislative District.  The 152nd Legislative District includes the townships of Lower Moreland, Upper Moreland, as well as the Boroughs of Hatboro and Bryn Athyn.  The district also includes portions of Upper Dublin Township, and the Philmont Heights neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia.

Bob Guzzardi July 14, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Each year, the General Assembly votes about a BILLION dollars of taxpayer money to Favored Four Big Business Billionaire Tax Exempt Corporations, UPENN, UPITT, TempleU and Penn State (each with billion dollar annual operating budget). As we know. Penn State did not give us the best value for our taxpayer dollar, did it? It seems to me that allocating money to smaller, local schools with lower overhead and lower staff promotes education opportunities to more people at lower cost to students and taxpayers.
Junk Chuck July 16, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Difficult to take seriously someone who doesn't even know the names of the schools about which he's commenting. "Indiana State University" is in Terre Haute, IN. California Sate U. is in--drum roll--California (swimmng pools, movie stars)--not Pennsylvania. IUP stands for Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Tom Winterberg July 16, 2012 at 02:22 PM
"Junk Chuck" It is difficult to take anyone seriously who doesn't use their real name when criticizing someone who is trying to help out the people who elected them. If you would do some searching on Google, you would see the following: California University is . . wait for it . . . in California, Pa!!! As for IUP you are correct but, your criticism would be more believable if you would use your real name and not hide behind your computer screen!!
Frankie DeCat July 16, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Dont You hate people who hide there real name ?
Bob Guzzardi July 16, 2012 at 04:15 PM
There are reasons to remain anonymous, mainly, to avoid retaliation.

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