University to install education doctorate

After almost two years of planning and curriculum development, Murray State has begun to finalize aspirations for a new doctorate program from the College of Education set to be implemented by the fall of 2014.

The impending addition of a doctorate of education program will become the second doctorate Murray State offers, the first having been the doctorate of nursing practice which began to be offered in the fall of 2012.

Jay Morgan, associate prvost of graduate studies, said the idea of creating the curriculum for a doctorate of education program at Murray State has been around for several years.

“We felt that there was a need for this program in the region,” Morgan said. “We think this program will create a new pool of students here for us, create new revenue for us and also be a new signature program right alongside our doctorate of nursing practice.”

Morgan said creating a doctorate program typically takes two years. The majority of the work completed thus far has concerned the creation of new curriculum and syllabi for the doctorate, which will be reviewed by multiple organizations before being applied.

“We have to design the syllabi and adhere it to core standards and also to any state mandates which are present for doctoral degrees,” he said. “Right now we’re going through the academic council approval process where faculty approve it and make sure the content is appropriate and the syllabi are in place.”

Once the curriculum and syllabi, known as the pre-application, have been approved by the academic council, the next step will be to submit the proposal to the Council for Post-Secondary Education. The CPE will survey the material for approximately three months, after which time it will be returned to the University with feedback. Next, any suggestions or changes from the CPE will be made to the proposed curriculum and syllabi, creating the complete application. This final draft will then be submitted to the Board of Regents in the fall for approval and then for final approval again by the CPE.

“We’ve got a ways to go, but the College of Education has worked very hard on this and received a lot of support all the way from myself, the provost up to Dunn and others,” Morgan said. “We think we’re going to submit to the Council of Post-Secondary Education in the spring, probably in the next month or two.”

According to Morgan, the proposed doctorate of education will include three different specializations.

The first specialization is K-12 leadership for those wishing to become high school principals or superintendents.

Post-secondary education is the second specialization, which would provide the training for students wishing to pursue careers as university administrators or faculty members.

The final area of specialization is in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for individuals at community colleges and on campus who are interested in the STEM disciplines.

Morgan said the University decided to pursue the development of a doctorate of education instead of other possible doctorates because of how simple they perceived its implementation.

“We felt like the doctorate of education was one we could implement reasonably well,” he said. “We thought that we could do it without hiring a lot of new faculty, and although we may have to repurpose some faculty and we may have to make a hire or two, we didn’t need to go out and hire 6 or 10 people.”

Robert Lyons, chair of educational studies, leadership and council, was responsible for organizing the faculty and staff who worked on this project and for making sure the proposal was consistent with state regulations.

He said while creating the curriculum and syllabi, they surveyed teachers and administrators in the surrounding area and also looked at universities across the country to see how other schools structured their doctorate program.

“We don’t want to put forward a degree that isn’t distinctive,” Lyons said. “We want it to be distinctive to us and so we’ve examined other universities doctorate programs to really be sure that we’re not just duplicating what they’re doing.”

According to Lyons, until 2004 there was a law in Kentucky that stipulated that the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville were the only two public institutions in the state which had permission to offer doctorates.

He said when new legislation was introduced in 2004 granting other universities the ability to offer doctorate programs, the University discussed immediately taking advantage of this, but ultimately decided there wasn’t an immediate demand.

“I think we have a better program now than we would have had five or six years ago,” Lyons said. “We’ve had the benefit to come along behind these other universities and maybe not step in some of the traps they did and also see what they did particularly well.”

As it is set up now, the doctorate of education program will take three years to complete, possibly more depending on the difficulty of the student’s dissertation. The program will be in a cohort model format, which means students will enroll together and take the majority of their classes with those who enrolled at the same time.

Morgan said the students a doctorate in education will attract to Murray State will be a major asset as well as the revenue they will bring.

“Doctorates bring excellent top-notch students who are dedicated to their particular discipline,” Morgan said. “It also brings in students who are also doing grant writing and research. As doctoral students, many will be teaching undergraduate courses as part of their doctoral program within the college of education.”

Morgan said it was his hope after the doctorate of education is established that then the University will be able to implement a third doctorate in the next year or two, possibly from the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

“We’re looking at a couple of areas but we don’t have any that are ready to go right now,” he said. “We have some groups who are doing some exploratory work on it now. It would be my belief that the College of Humanities and Fine Arts could have the resources and the personnel and the good faculty to deliver a doctorate.”

Morgan said it was an exciting time to be at Murray State and the surrounding community.

“The doctorate program is really in my opinion a win-win,” he said. “It’s a win for Murray State, a win for the students and a win for the region. It brings a new dimension to Murray State.”

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.