CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY KENYON
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 22, 2001
UI launches unique joint B.A./M.A. degree program in linguistics
IOWA CITY, Iowa A new joint-degree program at the University of Iowa
gives linguistics students a chance to earn both a bachelor's and a master's
degree in five years with a specialization in Teaching English as a Second
William Davies, chairman of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department
of Linguistics, said current graduates of the undergraduate program who focus
on TESL already are just as qualified as, and in some cases more qualified
than, those who complete the master's degree at another institution. But in
order to teach at the college level, a terminal degree is required, which
in this case is the M.A. To teach ESL in U.S. public schools, students must
obtain K-12 certification from the College of Education.
By allowing selected students to complete some undergraduate requirements
with graduate-level courses and then continue on to finish the graduate program,
Davies said the university will be better positioning its students for employment
or graduate work.
"It's a way to give our undergraduates a better shot in the job market,"
he said. "Even though our B.A. students are fully prepared to teach English
as a second language, without that M.A. credential most U.S. employers won't
even look at them. Alternatively, the new program provides a faster track
to a Ph.D. program and gives students the credential that would allow them
earn a living teaching as they complete the doctorate."
In the past, M.A. graduates in linguistics with TESL specialization have
achieved nearly 100 percent employment teaching at U.S. institutionsincluding
University of Arkansas, University of Maryland, University of Missouri, University
of Oregon, Ohio University, Coe College, and Dana Collegeand abroad
in such countries as Czech Republic, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Saudi
Arabia, and Slovenia.
To be eligible for the B.A./M.A. program, students must be linguistics majors
with a G.P.A. of 3.5 or higher. They will apply to the program after completing
80 hours of undergraduate work (typically, the end of the fifth semester.)
In place of elective courses, students will take three graduate-level courses
as undergraduates, and those credit hours will be applied to the M.A. as well
as the B.A. Students in the new program will also gain valuable practical
experience through a practicum in teaching English as a second language and
subsequent work as teaching assistants in the UI ESL program.
Since the students will only take courses that are already part of the linguistics
curriculum, no additional monetary or faculty resources will be needed to
maintain the program, Davies said.
Both Linda Maxson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and
John Keller, interim dean of the Graduate College, expressed support for the
new joint degree.
"I applaud the linguistics department for its innovation and leadership
in developing this new program," Maxson said. "Equally remarkable
is that they have created this new opportunity under the tightest budget constraints
and are offering this value-added program without additional funding from
"This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to enhance their education
by earning a graduate degree with only one additional year of study after
the B.A.," Keller said.
Davies said that no other university in the country offers this type of program
and that his colleagues who wrote letters of support to be submitted with
the proposal for the program said they hoped their own institutions would
follow the UI's lead in this academic innovation.