A new dual master's degree program that began this fall allows students to simultaneously earn masters' degrees in English as a second language from both UNT and the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, or UAEM.
It is the first dual degree offered in partnership by the two universities, and is a demonstration of UNT's ongoing commitment to globalization, collaboration and diversity.
Manuel Goel, director of national and international academic cooperation at UAEM, says, "We figured that since language might be a barrier to some potential students, it would be easier to do this program as our first one. UNT's Department of English and the Facultad de Lenguas, or languages department, at UAEM came together to work on this program."
"We have three students this year enrolled in this program at UNT. They will spend their second year in Mexico, and when they graduate they will each get a dual master's degree from both universities," Goel says.
Patricia Cukor-Avila, UNT associate professor and chair of the linguistics program in the English department, says the dual degree program has benefits for both UNT and UAEM students.
"When our students are able to teach English as a second language in another country, it is a great opportunity for them, personally as well as professionally. Living in a foreign country broadens students' understanding and opens their eyes to different cultures. In addition, the fact that the UAEM students earn a degree from a university in the United States gives them a professional boost in Mexico," she says.
Jean Shaake, associate dean for academic affairs with UNT's College of Arts and Sciences, looks forward to this dual degree serving as a model for the development of other partnership programs or degrees.
"The development of UNT-UAEM degree program has been a faculty initiative resulting from multiple exchange visits," she says. "The collaborative effort of the both faculties has generated an enthusiasm and commitment that will make the implementation of the dual degree successful for students."
In July 2002, UNT and UAEM signed an agreement to collaborate on the academic training of students from both institutions and in research projects in materials science, environmental science, physics and related fields.
Goel says the collaboration has expanded to include political science, psychology and languages.
The agreement also called for both universities to establish joint postgraduate degree programs in materials science, environmental science and physics. However, the teaching English as a second language program is the first dual degree offered by the universities.
The office for UAEM at UNT opened in 2005.
"Many universities in Mexico have collaborative academic agreements with colleges and universities in the U.S., but UAEM is the only one with an academic liaison office on the campus of an American university," Goel says.
The office promotes the exchange of students and scholars between UNT and UAEM by providing information, contacts and other assistance.
Located in Toluca, a city of two million people 45 miles west of Mexico City, UAEM is one of the largest public universities in Mexico. The university has been educating professionals in all disciplines for 177 years, and offers a high school program, 58 undergraduate and 74 graduate degree programs. Total enrollment is about 49,000 students.
UNT News Service Press Release
Rafael McDonnell can be reached at RMcDonnell@unt.edu.