Tuesday, April 3, 2001

Stan State weighs doctoral degree

By Alejandra Navarro
Bee Staff Writer

California State University, Stanislaus, may be able to help the region cultivate school administrators and university professors by offering a doctoral degree.

The doctoral program, which could be offered if lawmakers approve a bill being debated in Sacramento, would give teachers and school administrators a convenient and less expensive way to earn an advanced degree, said California State University officials.

The graduate degree now is available only through the University of California and private universities.

Irma Guzman-Wagner, dean of the Stanislaus State Education Department, said a CSU program could offer practical doctoral programs for working educators, community college administrators, and others interested in entering academia.

"What we're seeking is an Ed.D., where theory is applied to practice," said Guzman-Wagner.

California is well-aware of the need for more teachers to accommodate the growing student population and to replace the wave of retiring teachers. But the demand for classroom teachers also increases the need for education professors.

"We need to build the pool of future faculty, the teachers for the teachers," she said.

CSU campuses, many having begun as teacher's colleges, now train about 60 percent of the teachers in the state and about half of the school administrators.

Educators use doctorate degrees to move into higher positions, such as school superintendent or university professor in education.

"In the valley, we're very limited in terms of where we can go to get a doctorate," said John Borba, associate professor of education administration at the Turlock university.

Currently, a Modesto resident would have to drive to Stockton or Fresno for a doctoral program. Another option would be to take extension classes from universities outside the region, which may not be accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Four CSU campuses have partnerships with other universities to offer a doctoral program, and a few others are in the works. California State University, Fresno, offers a doctoral program through the University of California at Davis.

But the University of California and private institutions doubt the need.

"The demand, in my judgment is being met right now," said John Nagel, dean of the Benerd School of Education at the University of the Pacific. "There's not this overwhelming need for doctorate degrees."

He said private universities offer now what the CSU system proposes: flexible programs for working educators and hands-on experience.

"The California State University system doesn't need to get into that business," Nagel said.

The cost of a doctoral program, especially at a private university, may deter people from enrolling, said Borba.

At $661 a unit, a full-time student at UOP would pay about $21,150 for two semesters, excluding some student fees. Graduate students at Stanislaus State pay $1,735 for two semesters.

Borba worked as a teacher and administrator for 22 years before enrolling in a graduate program at UOP. He earned his doctorate in education in 1993.

A doctorate is not a requirement for community college administrators or school superintendents, but it is often preferred, Borba said.

"Usually, it's the ticket that has to be punched in order to be a superintendent," said Bob Stammerjohan, assistant superintendent of personnel for the Turlock Joint Union High School District. "Having a doctorate is not necessarily going to make you a better principal."

Bee staff writer Alejandra Navarro can be reached at 578-2339 or

Copyright © The Modesto Bee.