Martinez, who earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas-El Paso, is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Spanish graduate program but said she was immediately interested in the master's degree program in Mexican American Studies when she first heard it would be offered.
"It's a great opportunity for the Rio Grande Valley that this program will be offered here. While other Mexican American studies programs exist, our area is unique because of the close proximity to the border," Martinez said. "I believe having graduates of this program here locally will make people in our area experts in this field, as opposed to other schools that have 'borderland' type programs that are not located near the border. It would also mean that future Valley educators, if they go on to teach, can use what they learned from such a program in public schools."
Another new master's degree program - a MAIS in art history - will also be offered at UTPA in Fall 2013. These additional degree program options are among several other master's programs at UTPA that have been revised recently with added or modified features to ensure more opportunities for graduate education.
"We are looking at ways to expand and enhance the University's graduate offerings so that it does grow. We can increase these offerings by adding new programs or offer more opportunities within our existing degree programs," said Dr. Cynthia Brown, vice provost for Graduate Studies in the Division of Academic Affairs. "It's a conscious effort and we believe these changes provide more opportunities for our students."
Other master's programs that have undergone revisions are:
• Master of Science in Accounting, added new concentrations in taxation and consulting;
• Master of Arts in Spanish, added concentrations in two areas - health care interpreting and creative writing;
• Master of Education in Special Education, reduced number of hours from 39 to 30; and
• Master of Accountancy, with a focus on auditing, to be offered online in 2014.
"Graduate certificates allow a student to have it shown on their transcript a particular competency. In graphic design, for example, students can come in and get the certificate only if they already have their bachelor's degree and are eligible for master-level work or they can do it as part of their Master in Fine Arts degree," Brown said. "If they are studying the MFA (in art) and want to be able to demonstrate they have, and that they've earned a certificate in graphic arts or art history, students can do that within the degree. They can do either one as a stand-alone to show they have taken a body of work in that particular area."
Having a master's degree or a doctorate has become more necessary due to the ever-changing demand of the workforce and the additional opportunities a graduate degree provides, Brown said.
"If you look at the marketplace now, there are more and more jobs valuing a graduate degree of some sort," she said. "It's becoming more of a requirement in many different areas. A graduate degree opens up many opportunities for new careers and great pay for our students."
UTPA currently has 53 master programs and three doctoral programs, in addition to a cooperative doctoral in pharmacy with UT-Austin and a cooperative in Spanish with the University of Houston.