Northern Valley Beacon

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Thursday, September 22, 2005


South Dakota ranks absolute last in Ph.D. programs

It plans to double the number it offers. But a question: If some of its bachelor degrees carry low credibility among the educated, how will its Ph.D.s be regarded.

Anyway, on to the story, which is running in a whole bunch of newspapers.

South Dakota is dead last among the 50 states in the number of Ph.D. programs offered by public universities but is making a push to reduce the gap.

The Board of Regents added three new programs this year and split an existing one, bringing the state's total to 17. The goal is to double the number of Ph.D. programs during the next five years."If we keep adding three or four a year, by the time we get to 2010, we will be pretty close to that," said Board of Regents Executive Director Robert T. Tad Perry.

South Dakota lags light years behind other states in Ph.D. offerings and research. Just North Dakota State University has 41 Ph.D. programs - more than twice as many as South Dakota's six public universities combined. And the University of North Dakota has 19 and two pending.

"Doctoral programs are notoriously expensive, so everyone adds them gradually," said Joseph Benoit, dean of the graduate school at UND.

South Dakota's lower numbers aren't a direct reflection of population. The state has 130,000 more residents than North Dakota, according to 2004 U.S. Census estimates.

But here, state officials hope federal grants and private money will grow in conjunction with the expansion of Ph.D. programs. In turn, that could stimulate the economy, generate job opportunities and improve chances of attracting and retaining bright people.

(Attracting and retaining bright people? Snicker, snicker, gasp, gasp, wheeze, wheeze. Read the damn blogs.)

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