April 13, 2016

Ami Zusman Will Discuss the Creation and Expansion of New Doctoral Degrees in Health Fields

BERKELEY, CA, April 13, 2016 – In a growing number of fields, particularly in health areas, professionals now need a doctorate.  For example, new U.S. audiologists and physical therapists, who until recently just needed master’s degrees, now must have doctorates to enter professional practice.  As a result, doctoral enrollments in these areas have skyrocketed since 2000.  On April 14th at Berkeley, Ami Zusman, Research Associate at the Center for Studies in Higher Education, will give a talk on who and what are driving these new degrees and how they compare to older doctoral degrees.  Zusman will examine the outcomes and implications of these new doctorates for access to the professions, institutional missions and resources, and costs and benefits to clients and the public.

The newly created degrees in these fields are neither research-oriented PhDs nor classical professional doctorates like the MD.  Rather, they are a new type of “professional-practice doctorate” (PPD) that is typically an extension of (rather than different in kind from) the master’s degree they replace.

There are now over 650 new programs in new PPD fields in the U.S.; over 13,000 doctoral degrees were awarded in these fields last year.  While this is a relatively small percentage of all U.S. doctoral degrees, PPD enrollments continue to grow, and more professional fields continue to adopt doctoral credentials. Moreover, these programs are often costly, and students appear to be bearing the brunt of increased program costs through higher tuition.

In her talk, Zusman will present an analysis of case studies in three fields: audiology, nursing practice, and physical therapy, which have seen the largest growth in PPD programs, degrees, and enrollments to date.

Zusman will present findings from her studies that suggest that the leading players in the creation of these new kinds of doctoral credentials are professional associations and professional school administrators and that their main motivation for doing so was to increase the professions’ or practitioners’ status, autonomy, and income  -- rather than to respond to changing labor market needs.

Carol Christ, Director at Center for Studies in Higher Education, will moderate the discussion.

Sponsored by: The Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley and the Social Science Matrix, UC Berkeley, on the 8th Floor Barrows Hall, Thursday, April 14th, from 4:00pm-5:30pm. Reception to follow. 


Ami Zusman is a Research Associate at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley. Her research at CSHE has been primarily focused on the emergence and expansion of new kinds of professional doctoral degrees (many in fields that had never had doctorates). Zusman previously served as Coordinator of Graduate Education Planning and Analysis for the University of California system, where she directed graduate and professional education planning and policy, as well as student outcomes assessment. Zusman has published on various higher education topics, including the growth of professional practice doctorates, university-state conflict, teacher education, community college policy, and challenges facing higher education in the 21st century. Zusman received her Ph.D. in higher education policy from UC Berkeley.

Carol Christ, is the Director, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley; former President, Smith College; and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UC Berkeley.

Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) was established in 1956 and was the first research institute in the United States devoted to the study of systems, institutions, and processes of higher education.  The Center’s mission is to produce and support multi-disciplinary scholarly perspectives on strategic issues in higher education, to conduct relevant policy research, to promote the development of a community of scholars and policymakers engaged in policy-oriented discussion, and to serve the public as a resource on higher education.  http://cshe.berkeley.edu