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