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Doctor of Arts in Political Science at ISU Celebrates its 51st Year

August 1, 2022

Idaho State University’s Doctor of Arts in Political Science program is celebrating its 51st year. 

Idaho State was one of the first universities in the nation to offer the D.A. degree option, according to Mark McBeth, chair and professor of political science. 

The D.A. is regarded as a Ph.D. equivalent by the U.S. Department of Education. Sometimes referred to as “the teaching doctorate,” the D.A. was founded by the Carnegie Foundation in 1971 to better train students to be effective educators. Since its inception in 1971, over 100 students have graduated from the D.A. program in political science at Idaho State. 

A Doctor of Arts degree is designed to be interdisciplinary with an additional focus on teaching. D.A. students receive training in structuring courses, learning theories, the use of technology in classrooms, and effective assessment strategies. 

As such, ISU graduates often end up teaching at colleges and universities throughout the United States and internationally. 

“There is a niche market for D.A. graduates,” McBeth said. 

Elizabeth Kusko, a 2015 alumnus of the program,  is one such example. Currently she works as associate professor of political science and program director of criminal justice in political science and pre-law at William Peace University. 

 Kusko credits her success as an educator to being taught how to be an educator. She says that some of the best aspects of the D.A. educational experience include “the rigor and high expectations of the program, as well as a culture of collegiality, engagement, and nurturing of graduate student growth.”

 “The D.A. in Political Science at ISU was the single most important and incredible educational decision I ever made,” Kusko said. “It set me up not only for professional success, but also personal fulfillment, as my four years spent in Graveley Hall are some of my fondest.”

Graduates also work in state and local government administration, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. Tim Tingey, 2005 D.A. alumnus, works as city manager/Chief Executive Officer of Cottonwood Heights City and as an adjunct assistant professor at The University of Utah Programs of Public Affairs. 

“My confidence as a teacher and researcher was significantly enhanced by this degree and great program,” Tingey said. “It also enhanced my perseverance and gave me confidence to handle difficult tasks and issues throughout my career.”

 “In all of the reference checks that I have done over the past 28 years, the hiring institutions are glad to find faculty who are trained as generalists and whose primary focus is college teaching,” McBeth said. “The initial ideas of the Carnegie Foundation that led to the creation of the degree are still valid.”


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