In an era where professionals who can juggle more than one language enjoy success in the international business arena, Texas A&M International University is leading many universities in the nation with its cutting-edge MBA program offering students a choice of receiving instruction in Spanish.
A&M International started offering the MBA in Spanish option in the late 1970's in the hopes of providing Spanish-speaking students who lacked proficiency in English an opportunity to receive lectures in a familiar language, said Dr. Antonio Rodríguez, associate professor of finance, chair of the Department of Economics and Finance and MBA in Spanish coordinator. The MBA in Spanish follows the same curriculum of the standard MBA, with tests administered in English and readings assigned in English. Admission requirements are the same for all MBA students except that students in the MBA in Spanish do not have to submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score, he added.
Students who attended the early classes were mostly professionals from the neighboring Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, Rodríguez said. Over the years however, the classes grew to include a diverse mix of students such as those from other Latin American countries, Europe, and native English speakers wishing to experience a business class taught in Spanish, Rodríguez said.
Dr. John Kohl, dean of the College of Business Administration, said the MBA in Spanish is one of the College's programs with the highest potential for growth.
"Out of the 122 students currently pursuing a general MBA, 54 are in the MBA in Spanish. Our strategic location as well as the top-notch faculty members and comprehensive program attract the most ambitious and promising students to the College and A&M International," he said.
The MBA in Spanish is a unique choice that offers opportunities to a greater audience, Rodríguez said.
"This is a visionary program in that its purpose is to offer students who are still familiarizing themselves with the English language an opportunity to start receiving an MBA instruction in a language that is already familiar to them," said Rodríguez, "For many of these students, this is perhaps the only way through which they could enter an MBA program in the United States."
Since textbooks and materials used in class are in English, the MBA in Spanish classes also provide students a smooth transition into the standard MBA classes, Rodríguez said, adding that students must first pass the TOEFL test before continuing with the standard MBA.
Rodríguez emphasized that the MBA in Spanish choice is one of seven graduate programs in the College of Business Administration aimed at international communities.
Israel Merla, a student from Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, said the MBA in Spanish choice allowed him the opportunity to earn a graduate education in the United States while paying in-state tuition. Mexican students pay in-state tuition at A&M International as part of the Programa de Asistencia Estudiantil (Student Assistance Program). This program is designed by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the purpose of encouraging students from Mexico with limited financial resources to enroll in institutions located on the Texas-Mexican border. In short, the program allows students to pay tuition equal to the resident rate.
"I was very happy to know that A&M International offered this choice," Merla said, "I've researched other universities before coming to this one but it would have been virtually impossible for me to enter those other programs because I was not prepared to take classes in the standard MBA right away."
Merla, who plans to return to Mexico upon graduation, said he is grateful to A&M International for opening the doors to his graduate education.
"An MBA degree from a United States institution will give me a competitive edge over others in my country and will position me well for an attractive position," said Merla.
The increasing trade between the United States and Latin American countries is another reason why more institutions should consider offering choices like the one at A&M International, Merla said.
"I have noticed that American companies often look for employees who are familiar with Latin American countries including Mexico. This is another reason for having a choice like the MBA in Spanish," Merla said.
Mónica Brussolo, a student from Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico, said the MBA in Spanish makes the change in language and instruction style less drastic for students that come from Spanish-speaking countries.
"Pursuing an MBA in the United States for me would have been impossible without this MBA in Spanish choice offered at A&M International. Now that I'm reading the textbooks in English and I'm in an English-speaking environment, my English vocabulary is growing and I'm planning on continuing my studies through the standard MBA," she explained.
Brussolo said the MBA in Spanish program gives international trade its hallmark character.
"With economic integration plans like the North American Free Trade Agreement, programs like the MBA in Spanish have to be strengthened everywhere. NAFTA does not only mean exchange of money and resources between countries but also of personnel. Choices like these can open new opportunities for Spanish-speaking people who are interested in working on international trade in the United States."
Dr. Michael Patrick, professor of economics and one of the MBA in Spanish instructors, said he expects to see more choices like the one at A&M International offered in other universities in the future.
"The MBA in Spanish enhances people's ability to understand other cultures. In order for NAFTA to work for example, both Mexico and the United States have to be effective reasoning together and making decisions together. In order to do this, we have to communicate in both languages," Patrick said.
Patrick, a native English speaker, said he enjoys delivering lectures in Spanish and believes the MBA in Spanish is all about opening windows of opportunities for a greater variety of students.
"I think it's an excellent way to bring in additional students and accommodate students whose first language is not English. These students add to the diversity of the student population at A&M International, thus preparing graduates for an ever-changing global market," Patrick said.
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