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California State University’s Doctorate of Education Degree to Address State’s Growing Need for Educational Administrators

(September 6, 2007) Addressing the need for well-prepared public school and community college administrators, the California State University will launch this fall the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree at seven of its 23 campuses. Offering the higher degree at CSU marks an historic change in California since the creation of the master plan for higher education.

The new programs were made possible by ground-breaking legislation, California Senate Bill SB 724, which was authored by Senator Jack Scott (D-Pasadena) and enacted in September 2005. The bill granted the CSU for the first time since its founding independent authority to offer doctorate degree programs.

“The CSU’s comprehensive Ed.D. programs are designed to develop the theories, research and practices essential to improving California’s P-12 schools and community colleges,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “These programs provide a national model for the reform of educational leadership, and our students will be well prepared to make substantial impacts on the future of education in California.”

Seven CSU campuses will launch programs this year:  Fresno State, CSU Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, Sacramento State, CSU San Bernardino, San Diego State, and San Francisco State. While five of the campuses will offer both P-12 and community college specializations this fall, CSU Fullerton and CSU San Bernardino will begin with P-12 programs and add a community college specialization in the future. Four additional CSU campuses will launch Ed.D. degree programs in 2008.

“With its long and successful history in training teachers and administrators, CSU can now offer the Ed.D. to educators. This will provide educational professionals access to affordable, high quality doctoral programs in California without requiring them to go out of state or to private institutions,” said Senator Scott.

CSU’s Ed.D. programs are designed to prepare candidates to provide leadership and use research tools in order to bring about educational reform and improvement in student achievement. Individual campus programs are built on the integration of theory and research, and focus on the central issues of educational practice in their regions. For example:

  • Fresno State’s program is designed specifically to address education reforms that will contribute substantially to the growth of California’s Central Valley region.
  • CSU Fullerton’s program draws on its strengths in developing instructional reforms proven to advance learning in its partner schools.
  • CSU Long Beach’s program reflects its nationally recognized community college program, which includes a strong focus on student development theory.
  • Sacramento State’s Ed.D. has a distinct emphasis on preparing leaders for educational reform in their own institutions and contributing to public policy.
  • CSU San Bernardino’s Ed.D. program is suited to the needs of educators in its geographically dispersed region. It also features innovative web-based support tools.
  • San Diego State students will examine intervention strategies that have proved successful in overcoming the achievement gap.
  • San Francisco State is offering a unique interdisciplinary program that addresses the complex problems of leadership in diverse urban schools.

More than 350 students applied to Ed.D. programs at the seven campuses, with approximately 175 students enrolled.  About two-thirds of the enrolled students will be in the P-12 specialization with the remainder focused on preparation for community college leadership.  Enrolled students reflect the diversity of the CSU system overall, with 20 percent being Latino, 15 percent African-American and 6 percent Asian-American.  The annual fee for the 2008/09 academic year is $11,844, the same fee rate as the University of California doctoral programs in education. 

Background on Program Development
CSU’s Ed.D programs also address issues highlighted by the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED), and reflect standards for excellence outlined in Arthur Levine’s and the Education Schools Project’s renowned 2005 and 2007 reports “Educating School Leaders” and “Educating Researchers.” (PDF). 

The CPED was created in 2005 to foster a redesign and transformation of doctoral education for the advanced preparation of leaders for the nation’s schools, colleges and the institutions that support them. The CPED is engaged in creating a national framework of quality and relevance for Ed.D. programs.

Core concepts addressed by the CSU’s Ed.D. programs include managing complex organizations, facilitating collaborative change, advancing diversity and equality of opportunity, and data-driven decision making. Each program features the following distinguishing attributes that relate directly to the areas of focus of the CPED including:

  • Commitment to rigor and excellence in professional preparation: Candidates are prepared to apply leadership skills and research tools in order to bring about educational reform and improvement in student achievement.
  • Partnerships with local P-12 schools and community colleges to develop best practices: All of the programs have been planned in strong partnership with local educators and the resultant laboratories will study effective strategies that are responsive to regional needs.
  • Involvement of expert practitioners: Practitioners are involved in program design, candidate selection, teaching, and program assessment and evaluation.
  • Distinctive capstone experiences: All programs require a unique research-based dissertation, with emphasis on applied research that leads to reforms locally.
  • Integration of theory and research to address key problems of practice: Each campus program is designed to address the specific educational challenges of the area.

Levine’s earlier report, “Educating School Leaders” provided a critical examination of educational leadership programs today and a roadmap for future improvement. The report identified several significant problems found in the majority of programs preparing educational leaders in the U.S. and recommended substantial changes. Two years later “Educating Researchers” focused on the preparation of the scholars and researchers who conduct the nation’s educational research. That report also identified current problems and, like the earlier report, defined “attributes of excellence” for judging the quality of doctoral programs in education.

The findings of Levine’s studies were given thorough consideration in the development of the CSU independent Ed.D. programs. The attributes of excellence identified are integrated into the CSU Ed.D. programs and include clarity of purpose, curricular coherence and balance, faculty composition, admissions, graduation and degree standards, research, finances, and assessment (details are here).

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, more than 417,000 students and 46,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded nearly 2.5 million degrees, about 86,000 annually. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity, and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See


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Last Updated: Sept. 6, 2007

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