1 Reinhardt University (UNITED STATES)
2 The University of Salamanca (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 3654-3660
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Establishing a joint master’s degree accredited in both Europe and the United States is fraught with difficulties: credit translation, the intricacies of finances, issues of immigration, the logistics of travel and residence, and accreditation with its attendant concerns with faculty and institutional autonomy. Despite these and other problems, the University of Salamanca (Spain, founded 1218; 40,000 students) and Reinhardt University (Georgia, USA, founded 1883; 1100 students) have been pursuing negotiations to offer a summer-intensive joint degree in Spanish language and culture for teachers of Spanish in the United States. The process has been long, and it may take another two years for the joint program to be fully implemented.

The process began when one of the authors (then a department chair at another university in Georgia) participated in meetings hosted by the Education Office of the Embassy of Spain that resulted in the M.A. in Spanish Language and Culture now delivered by Cursos Internacionales, University of Salamanca. After retiring, the former department chair, a colleague in a local school district and another colleague at the USal, persuaded the faculty at the USal to begin offering the master’s program in Atlanta, despite the lack of affiliation with a university in the United States. The Cobb County School District agreed and Walton High School in Marietta, Georgia, began hosting the program now know as the “Máster Atlanta” and welcomed the first cohort of 28 students in 2007 with the blessing of the Georgia Non-Public Postsecondary Education Commission, whose aim is to offer Spanish teachers the opportunity for post-graduate training in teacher-friendly summer sessions.

The choice of this high school as the venue was logical: a Spanish teacher there has been taking an average of 100 Advanced Placement students of Spanish to the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca every February for the past 11 years and, in the process, has formed friendships with faculty at the University of Salamanca as well as at the Pontificia. However, the logistics of offering a graduate program at a high school in the summer without food service and residence halls proved a challenge, and the lack of U.S. accreditation for the program also stymied possible enrollments since teachers were unable to get financial support.

Consequently, the former department chair (now retired and teaching part time at Reinhardt) and the USal faculty began courting the interest of Reinhardt in offering a joint degree accredited in both Europe and the United States. Consequently, a dean from Reinhardt accompanied the group of Walton High students to Salamanca last February, and four months later, Reinhardt has made its classrooms, library, and residence facilities available to the USal faculty and students as guests. Daily interaction has cemented inter-institutional relationships and given both parties ample time to discuss both the academic and financial aspects of the joint venture.

Given the inherent difficulties, inertia could certainly have killed the venture long ago. But strong personal relationships, the love of the Spaniards for the Atlanta area, the love of the Americans for Salamanca, and the great need of Spanish teachers in the U.S. for a summer-intensive master’s degree program have impelled the negotiators in the direction of success.