Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a bill in September that authorizes the California State University system to independently offer a doctorate of education degree.

“This legislation marks perhaps the most significant change in the CSU system’s role in the last four decades,” CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed said in a press release.

“We are extremely grateful to Sen. Scott and to all of the supporters of this bill who understand the importance of creating access to high quality programs that prepare leaders of California’s schools,” he said.

Previously, the University of California system was the only public university system in the state that was authorized to offer independent doctorate programs.

However, the demands for qualified educators in California’s public elementary and secondary schools and community colleges greatly exceeds the state’s ability to provide them.

In the past, primarily private institutions offered doctorate of education degrees. Now, educators will have affordable access to the knowledge gained through a doctorate program.

Cal Poly currently offers a joint doctorate in education degree with the UC Santa Barbara.

“We don’t know if we will continue on as we are or if we will offer our own doctorate program,” said Pat Repas, budget analyst for the dean of the College of Education.

It is not known at this time which of the CSU campuses will be selected to offer the program or how many students will be admitted into the program, said Cara Potes-Fellow, CSU manager of media relations. A decision is expected by early next year.

“The program will be flexible and accommodate the needs of Californians by offering classes that accommodate working adults,” Potes-Fellow said.

The program will add flexibility to the needs of kindergarten through 12th grade and community college administrative leaders who are looking for advancements at work.

“It is a very defined degree,” Repas said. “It has a very limited scope.”

At this time, the UC system will remain the only public university system in the state that offers independent doctorate programs in non-education programs.

The law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2006 and the new program is expected to be in place by fall 2007.

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