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Higher Education in California

History:  Master Plan for Higher Education (MPHE)

  • The Donahoe Act, also known as the Master Plan for Higher Education (MPHE), was adopted in 1960

  • Established principle of universal access and choice

  • Expresses the state’s intent that higher education remain accessible, affordable, high-quality, and accountable.

  • Provided clear differentiation among the 3 public postsecondary education segments:

      • The University of California (UC) is designated the State's primary academic research institution and is to provide undergraduate, graduate and professional education. UC is given exclusive jurisdiction in public higher education for doctoral degrees (with the two exceptions--see CSU below) and for instruction in law, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine (the original plan included architecture).

      • The California State University (CSU):  Primary mission is undergraduate education and graduate education through the master's degree including professional and teacher education. Faculty research is authorized consistent with the primary function of instruction. SB 724 (2006) authorized CSU to award a specific Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in educational leadership. Other doctorates can be awarded jointly with UC or an independent institution.

      • California Community Colleges:  Primary mission is providing academic and vocational instruction for older and younger students through the first two years of undergraduate education (lower division). In addition to this primary mission, the Community Colleges are authorized to provide remedial instruction, English as a Second Language courses, adult noncredit instruction, community service courses, and workforce training services.

  • Eligibility Targets Specified in the Master Plan:

      • CCC:  All persons 18 years or older who can “benefit from instruction” are eligible to attend CCC.

      • UC:  The top 12.5 percent of all graduating public high school students are eligible for admission to UC.

      • CSU:  The top 33.3 percent are eligible for admission to CSU

Subsequent policy has modified the Master Plan to provide that all California residents in the top one-eighth or top one-third of the statewide high school graduating class who apply on time be offered a place somewhere in the UC or CSU system, respectively, though not necessarily at the campus or in the major of first choice.