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Ole Miss Modern Languages Department offers new doctoral program

By Michael Newsom

University of Mississippi

Beginning this fall, the University of Mississippi’s Department of Modern Languages will offer a doctorate in second language studies.

The degree is designed to educate professionals who can provide second language training for firms that conduct business globally and need workers who can speak Spanish and other languages. The program also will train future modern language administrators for universities and other institutions.

“We aim to train language professionals to meet certain needs today in education and in the private sector,” said Daniel O’Sullivan, professor of French and interim chair of modern languages. “There is an increasing need for people to administer language programs. Also, companies with international business require a cadre of language professionals to help them train their workers.”

The degree program has two tracks. One is in applied linguistics, which is geared toward understanding empirical data about languages, the evolution of languages and various dialects in the media and across the nation, among other aspects.

The second track is in Spanish. It focuses on meeting the growing demand for professionals and academics who understand the language and culture of Spanish-speaking communities, O’Sullivan said.

Many different faculty members from the department, which teaches 11 languages, will be involved in the new classes. The goal is to have a cohort of five people enter the program per year.

“It’s the first new Ph.D. in the College of Liberal Arts in a very long time, and we’re very proud of that,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s going to highlight the achievements of the faculty, who are very active in research.

“We’re going to build a name for ourselves for developing language programs to train those who run programs at other universities and institutions.”

The degree will prepare students to be leaders locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, said Felice Coles, the program’s graduate coordinator and professor of modern languages.

“The emphases in applied linguistics and Spanish will give students a greater understanding of how to learn, teach and work with speakers of many languages around the world,” Coles said.