The University of Missouri is currently the only higher education institution in the state that can offer doctorates in certain fields.

Rep. Melanie Stinnett, R-Springfield, has filed a bill to change this. She wants to let other four-year universities offer certain doctorates.

“So, we’re talking about programs like dentistry programs, like optometry, pharmacy, veterinarian medicine, law, and engineering. All of these are important degrees, certainly doctorate level degrees, but don’t necessarily need to be done only in one university,” Stinnett told Missourinet.

Why these specific fields?

“It was something that was included in statute previously and has been in place for quite some time. This (bill) just removes that statute,” she said.

Stinnett said her legislation could keep more students in Missouri after high school.

“I think it looks like additional opportunities and potentially increased enrollment for all of those programs that are allowed to then operate within different areas of the state and gain a pool of students from an area that may just not be choosing to go forward for those degrees,” she said. “The distance to go to a university in our state that offers that currently could be a challenge. And so, many people have chosen not to go forward for these higher level degrees. I think when we look at workforce shortages today, we want students to have every opportunity to gain the degree that they feel like is a match for their passions.”

According to Stinnett, Missouri is the only state with restrictions on where doctorates can be offered.

“We have a Coordinating Board of Higher Education that makes these decisions for every other degree and program in the state,” said Stinnett. “And I think we should allow them to continue to do that for these other degrees as well. And, you know, follow a pattern that I think is tried and true and has worked and give opportunity to other areas of the state to grow those programs.”

Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, is sponsoring the Senate version.

The University of Missouri opposes the bill, saying that duplicating doctoral programs will drive up costs.

Stinnett’s bill has been assigned to a House committee for further review.

For more information on House Bill 2673, click here.

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