Legislation requested by the HECB that would authorize research universities to propose and develop doctoral programs at their branch campuses has been introduced in House and Senate bills.
SB 5315 and HB 1586 address a key goal of the state’s Strategic Master Plan for Higher Education: significantly increase graduate degree production—including doctoral degrees—to provide the research and innovative skills required to remain competitive in the modern economy.
Washington lags well behind the national average in the production of graduate and professional degrees among its younger citizens. In 2007-08, the state ranked 42nd in the number of degrees produced per 1,000 residents aged 20-34.
The System Design Plan adopted by the HECB in 2009 and endorsed by the Legislature last year established a process for boosting degree production, in part by making full use of existing capacity in the state higher education system. Among other things, the plan recommended expanding graduate education at comprehensive institutions and branch campuses.
Under the legislation requested by the HECB, the UW and WSU would be authorized to develop doctoral programs at branch campuses, subject to approval by the HECB. Currently, branch campuses are authorized to provide only baccalaureate and master’s programs.
The Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee has scheduled a public hearing on SB 5315 on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 3. The proposed legislation was discussed in an article in today’s Olympian.