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Priority Statements - Offsite Doctoral Programs

Priority Statements Relating to Offsite Doctoral Programs in South Carolina (Section A-8)

1. Doctoral programs represent the pinnacle of higher education. Thus, quality control over electronically delivered doctoral coursework and live, off-campus doctoral coursework must remain the Commission's and the colleges' and universities' highest priority. Moreover, as a means of ensuring access to as well as quality in doctoral programming, inter-institutional collaboration should remain a priority in planning for the delivery of any new offsite doctoral coursework in South Carolina. In programmatic and geographical areas identified as requiring additional coursework, current doctoral providers in the state (Clemson, MUSC, USC-Columbia, and SC State in educational administration) should work closely with local universities and technical colleges in maintaining adequate course coverage.

2. Doctoral programming in educational administration/leadership is the main area where additional need exists in some areas of the State. The need for doctoral programming in the area of education should be addressed in a format that will accommodate 'place-bound' working professionals (e.g., school principals, technical college administrator, technical college faculty). In terms of specific concentrations within education, educational leadership administration is frequently cited by institutions as being of great interest. Curriculum and instruction is also mentioned as a concentration where some additional coursework may be needed. Importantly, though, need also exists in varying degrees in fields of study outside education, especially in speech pathology and perhaps in psychology-related fields in some locations.

3. As the needs of the State change in the coming years, the Commission and the public institutions in the State should consider undertaking a comprehensive, statewide survey of students and potential students to define better the fields of study and specific geographical areas where additional doctoral coursework may need to be offered. Results from such a survey would be reviewed carefully in order to determine the difference between needs and demands. All research for determining doctoral programming in the state should include a strong planning component to reflect both short-term and long-term needs and would ideally involve a strong commitment to a formal sequence of courses for specific programs over time.

4. Since educational administration/leadership remains a primary curricular area of need, particularly for teachers and administrators in the public schools, the Commission and colleges and universities in the state should collaborate closely with the State Department of Education, which establishes certification and licensure guidelines for K-12 educators.

5. In some regions of the State, administrators and faculty of the State Technical College system may require additional doctoral coursework in higher education administration in order to understand better the unique leadership demands of the comprehensive community college. According to representatives from the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education, such coursework is particularly needed in the Columbia, Rock Hill, and Spartanburg areas, and to a lesser extent, in the Charleston area. Again, coursework should be made available to these professionals in a format accessible on a regional basis. Institutions should consider the possible use of a limited-time cohort model for delivery of such coursework to technical college personnel.

6. College and universities should consider using distance education technologies as a means of providing coursework to underserved areas. Such delivery is cost effective and can reach a greater number of students at a lower cost than traditional delivery methods. To this end, consortial arrangements among institutions should be explored. In any event, distance education programs should retain significant physical contact with students and should ensure that the advising and learning needs of students are their chief concerns. Distance education programming should be held responsible to the same accountability and program quality standards as on-campus programs.

7. Colleges and universities should remain mindful of the fact that certain doctoral courses are better suited to offsite and/or distance delivery than others. For example, some laboratory science courses may not be suitable for offsite delivery because of intensive scientific equipment demands.

8. The Commission should monitor carefully the South Carolina offerings of out-of-state and private higher education institutions in keeping with its licensure responsibilities. Also, public colleges and universities in South Carolina should monitor carefully the influx of out-of-state and private providers in their regions and should report inappropriate behavior to the Commission.