May 4, 2011

UW Tacoma to pursue doctoral program as Gregoire signs bill

News and Information

On April 29, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law HB 1586, unanimously approved by both the House and Senate. The bill clears the way for branch campuses of the states research universities — the University of Washington and Washington State University — to offer doctoral degree programs with the approval of the states Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The UW Tacoma is working on a proposal to offer a doctor of education degree, or Ed.D. The proposal must first be submitted to the UW and UW Tacoma faculties, the Graduate School, and the Office of Educational Outreach, before it can be considered by the HEC Board. The governors signature will make it possible for this degree to be offered.

Washington faces a significant ongoing shortage of nurse educators, community college administrators and K-12 administrators with doctorate-level preparation. These professionals typically work full-time jobs and need a program near them that caters to their schedules.

Ginger MacDonald, UW Tacoma professor of education and one of the authors of the Ed.D. proposal, said dozens of letters from hospitals, schools and community colleges testify to the need for a doctoral degree in the South Sound area.

In a letter of support, one community college president wrote, “Our community colleges face a growing leadership challenge. … There are simply not enough people sufficiently advanced on the experiential education pathways to these levels of leadership to fulfill our needs.”

A school district superintendent wrote, “The time is right and the demand for such a program in this area is high. I regularly encourage my most talented principals to pursue their Ed.D. and superintendent certification. Many are interested, but the choices of institutions available are limited, difficult to commute to, or lack flexibility in their programs to accommodate school administrators who work very long hours.”

A survey of potential graduate students in the South Puget Sound region found strong interest in the degree, and 90 percent of respondents indicated that having a program near to their location is important to them. Other important considerations are the reputation of the University (93 percent) and relevance to their current jobs (93 percent).

Once approved, the three-year UW Tacoma program will have seats for 30 doctoral students, who will meet for classes on Fridays and Saturdays once a month, with two- to three-week intensive sessions during the summer. Students and faculty would use electronic communication such as online course management systems between sessions.

UW Tacoma administrators hope to begin accepting applications as early as December and begin courses in summer 2012.

UW Bothell has no current plans to pursue doctoral programs.