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Sunday, December 10, 2023

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SDSU's Malcolm A. Love Library in the foreground. (SDSU Photo) SDSU's Malcolm A. Love Library in the foreground. (SDSU Photo)

Gov. Signs Bill, OKs CSU, SDSU to Offer Independent Doctoral Degrees

With the signing of Assembly Bill 656, work is already underway at SDSU to launch new, independent doctoral degree programs.
By SDSU News Team

Following years of San Diego State University leaders advocating for the ability to offer independent doctorates comes a major milestone. On Tuesday, October 10, California Gov. Gavin Newson signed Assembly Bill (AB) 656. The bill permits universities in the California State University (CSU) system, including SDSU, to now offer independent professional and applied doctoral degrees. 


“This is a revolutionary change for our system and for SDSU, and signals state-level support for our mission and priorities attached to student success, inclusion, diversifying the workforce, as well as innovations in teaching, research and learning,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre. “The educational and social-mobility opportunities this will provide Californians eager to become part of tomorrow’s advanced workforce is unprecedented.” 


Until now, CSU campuses were not authorized to offer doctoral degrees independently, and instead were required by state law to partner with private universities or those within the University of California system. The decades-old rule was established through California’s 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education. In fall 2022, Gov. Newsom signed into law SB 684, allowing California State University (CSU) campuses to offer independent Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) programs.


With the signing of AB 656, SDSU will continue its joint doctoral degree programs with various partner universities, but will now have the ability to expand its doctoral degree offerings by developing new professional and applied doctorate programs that will be independently offered by SDSU.  


“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,” said Hala Madanat, SDSU Vice President for Research and Innovation. “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.” 


De la Torre and Madanat also thanked many in the state for their advocacy and support. 


“We extend our gratitude to the faculty who have invested their creative and strategic energy to developing frameworks for future program offerings, as well as Nathan Dietrich, assistant vice chancellor for Advocacy and State Relations,” they wrote following the bill being signed. “We also extend appreciation to Gov. Newsom and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, who introduced the bill, and a special thank you to our Assemblymember in Imperial County, Eduardo Garcia, a principal co-author, and San Diego Assemblymembers Chris Ward and David Alvarez, who co-authored the bill.”