New graduate programs give foreign flavor

Aly Van Dyke

The UA journalism department has reopened admission to its graduate program, with a few new additions.

Beginning this fall, would-be graduate students have the option to obtain a dual master’s degree with either Latin American or Near Eastern studies.

“”Anybody who is going to want to be a foreign correspondent or cover major issues in Latin America or Middle East and goes through this program is going to be that much farther ahead,”” said Celeste Gonzalez de Bustamante, chair of the department’s Graduate Program Committee.

The program reflects the international focus the department has had for the past 30 years, said department head Jacqueline Sharkey, who started the bilingual university newspaper El Independiente in 1976.

“”Given our history with teaching students about international affairs and our partnerships with the center for Latin American Studies and the Department of Near Eastern Studies, this was a natural next step,”” Sharkey said.

The journalism department, the Center for Latin American Studies and the department of Near Eastern Studies have been working together for several years on preliminary work for a dual master’s program, Sharkey said.

The journalism department suspended its graduate program in 1997. Both Latin American Studies and Near Eastern Studies have offered graduate-level courses since then, the latter within only the last five years.

“”We truly are in a global information environment, and we need journalists who are trained to work in these kinds of cross-cultural situations,”” Sharkey said. “”The ability to speak directly to people in their own language is something that breaks down a lot of barriers.””

The dual master’s program takes an estimated three years and requires 51 credit hours – 18 for journalism, 18 for regional studies and 15 dual-credit classes.

So far, about 20 students have applied to the graduate program, including those who intend to pursue only a conventional journalism master’s, Sharkey said.

She did not provide a cap number for newcomers, adding that that she isn’t concerned about over-enrollment.

To graduate with a dual master’s degree, candidates must have third-year proficiency in either a Near Eastern language or Spanish or Portuguese.

“”Being able to speak Spanish and Portuguese will broaden the student’s horizons and opportunities,”” said Raul Saba, assistant director and academic advisor for the Center for Latin American Studies.

He noted the various study abroad opportunities and field studies available in Brazil that would be options for those who receive the dual master’s degree.

“”Journalism professionals with a strong background in the region and the language or languages of the region will make better reporters,”” Saba said. “”Their reports will be more reliable, accurate and have a greater impact they might not otherwise.””

“”Language is culture,”” Gonzalez de Bustamante said. “”Without being able to speak the language, you have to go through a translator, and it just removes you one more step from the process of reporting.””

More information about the dual degrees is available at journalism.arizona.edu/curriculum/dualmain.php.