The pursuit of a doctorate


Rut Ortiz

An executive meeting of the Board of Trustees gathered to discuss the pros and cons of executing a doctoral program at NEIU.

Rut Ortiz, News Editor

A proposed doctoral program in Linguistics may be making its way to NEIU.

The Board of Trustees convened with Dr. Shahrzad Mahootian and Dr. Judith Kaplan-Weinger of the NEIU Linguistics department on Oct. 31 to discuss the approval and implementation of NEIU’s newest academic program. This would be the first program of its kind for the university.

“There will be a few bumps in the road,” said Interim President Richard Helldobler. “But I think four to five months on the fast track, we could get it to the Board.”

The program would require approval from the Illinois Board of Education and accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission after it is funneled through the Linguistics department, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Board of Trustees.

Helldobler said that if the IBHE and HLC approved the program by May 2017, recruitment materials could be developed in summer of 2017 and the inaugural class would begin in the fall of 2018.

Currently out of the nine Illinois public universities, NEIU is one of two not to offer doctoral programs. The other institution that does not offer a doctorate program is Eastern Illinois University.

When compared against private universities who offer the same degree for higher tuition, NEIU would be the competitive choice for students in terms of affordability. The budget for the program would be a definitive factor.

“The first year we really have to invest $79,250. Where do you come up with that money?” Helldobler asked. “The way Northeastern budgets their new programs is they take in their commitments, which is the money off of the top.”

NEIU would figure out commitments such as salaries and utilities that would be paid out. These figures, in addition to tuition, would fund and supplement the program after its launch.

The program is projected to turn around a profit of less than $20,000 in its third year. Students from other institutions would be able to transfer into the program.

“The M.A. by itself is 36 hours,” Kaplan-Weinger said. “For students coming in with M.A.’s, we can take in up to 18 hours of transfer credit.”

Mahootian gave examples of marketable careers for Linguistic majors such as teaching, data mining, and language documentation and preservation.

She also described employers such as Accent Language Services, Microsoft and Rosetta Stone, “these are the companies that are now hiring linguists. It’s really all over the map in a good way.”

NEIU would enable students to teach as graduate assistants at the undergraduate minor level.

The doctorate would take a total of 58 credit hours to complete for students who do not possess a master’s degree including a dissertation.

“I think it does bring a lot of cachet to the university just to be mentioned in the same breath with the U of C or Northwestern,” said Trustee Jonathan Stein. “I would certainly like to see this go forward as quickly as possible.”

The Board will move the topic for approval from all of the members at the next Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 17.

“Let’s do it,” said Chair Carlos Azcoitia. “I support it.”