Spanish is the official language of 20 nations and is the second most spoken language in the world, with more than 400 million native speakers. Students at East Carolina University now have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of Spanish and to prepare for a successful career with the new Master of Arts in Hispanic Studies.
Approved in March, the program is accepting applications through July 15 for the fall semester. The program is unique in that it is not divided into traditional language, culture and literature courses but takes a holistic approach to teaching, said Dr. Dale Knickerbocker, professor of Hispanic studies and director of the new graduate program.
“The M.A. graduate will develop a transcultural understanding of Hispanic studies, defined as the ability to comprehend and analyze discourse – the cultural narratives that appear in every kind of oral and written expressive form,” Knickerbocker said.
ECU students come to the Hispanic studies program with a wide variety of professional interests, from health to banking and communications to criminal justice.
Through the graduate program, students will be matched with a partner in the state that aligns with their interests and professional goals on an active-learning research project. A few partners include Vidant Health Care, the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina, El Centro Latino and the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project.
“Students will learn to communicate with the degree of formality needed to succeed in professional environments,” said Knickerbocker.
Once they graduate, students are highly competitive in pursuing many careers, including health care, education, banking, media, social work and law enforcement.
According to the 2010 United States Census Bureau, Hispanics and Latinos constitute both the largest and the fastest growing minority in North Carolina and the U.S., growing from 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2000 to 16.3 percent in 2010, or from 35.3 million to 50.5 million individuals – an increase of 43 percent.
The master’s program will give ECU students the linguistic and cultural competency to provide goods and services to this rising demographic.
In addition, beginning in fall 2019, the program will offer online, distance education courses, continuing 20 years of distance education success by ECU Hispanic studies faculty. This opens up the possibilities for professionals and K-12 educators to continue their education on a more flexible basis, Knickerbocker said.
Once distance education classes begin, ECU’s online program will be the only online master’s of Hispanic studies offered in North Carolina or the southeastern United States. Currently, New Mexico State is the only other institution to offer an online master’s program in Hispanic studies.
For more information or to apply for the fall 2018-19 academic year, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cs-cas/foreign/mahispanic/ or contact Knickerbocker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications