SAN DIEGO (KSWB) — Prospective students looking to pursue doctoral degrees will soon be able to do so at new programs offered by the California State University system.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into a law a bill that would broaden the CSU system’s ability to offer professional and applied doctoral degrees in areas where there is an identified workforce or accreditation need.

Assembly Bill 656, introduced by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), builds off of earlier measures to expand the types of post-graduate degrees offered at schools within the school system outside what was outlined in the 1960 “Master Plan of Higher Education.”

The master plan established the three segments of public higher education in the state: University of California, CSU and California Community Colleges. Out of the three, the UC system was given the exclusive authority to offer independent doctoral degrees.

Under the original master plan, CSU schools were allowed to offer joint doctoral programs with UC or another private university. Starting in 2005, however, legislators expanded their ability to offer specific doctoral degrees including:

  • Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Doctor of Audiology (AuD)
  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)

Each of these new doctoral programs were approved individually by the legislature. AB 656 changes this approval process by allowing the office of the Chancellor and CSU Board of the Trustees to authorize implementation of new doctoral programs.

“This thoughtful expansion of the CSU’s doctoral granting authority means more Californians will have greater access to advanced degrees that benefit their personal and professional growth and allow them to apply the knowledge they’ve learned to better their communities and the state,” CSU Chancellor Mildred García said in a release on Tuesday.

The university system will be not be able to approve more than 10 new disciplines per year and have a cap on the number of doctoral programs at 25%, the total number of all other programs offered at a CSU campus under the new law.

Any new professional or applied doctoral degrees are also not permitted to duplicate existing UC doctoral programs. According to the measure, “duplicate” programs will be assessed based on curriculum, as well as the postgraduate job objectives for students in the proposed program.

“The CSU is committed to not duplicating doctoral degrees offered by the University of California and looks forward to continuing to further our state’s diverse workforce,” ​García continued in her statement.

More than 600 doctoral degrees are currently awarded throughout the CSU system with the already established disciplines, according to the Chancellor’s office.

“I hear regularly from major industry partners, here in San Diego, and throughout the region, of the need for skilled and trained professionals to address California’s growing workforce needs,” Hala Madanat, SDSU Vice President for Research and Innovation, said in a release. “AB 656 is a monumental leap forward for SDSU, the CSU as a whole, the students we serve and the industry and community leaders who we are fortunate to call partners.”