The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved a new OU Arabic degree Thursday morning in Oklahoma City.
This is the first time a bachelor's degree in Arabic will be offered in the state of Oklahoma.
"Arabic is important for many obvious, important reasons," said Zach Messitte, vice provost of international programs. "Not only is there national security, but also a major percentage of the world speaks this language."
Messitte speaks some Arabic, and though he's not an Arabic professor, he and a colleague helped establish the Arabic Language Flagship Program at OU.
This program offers funding to students who want to understand the language.
OU currently offers an Arabic minor, according to the OU course catalog.
Messitte said many students choose to study Arabic, so he expects many will take the opportunity to graduate with the degree.
"When they go out to apply and say that not only can they speak the language but also understand the culture, what department won't be taking a second look at that resume?" he said.
According to the Regents' agenda, Arabic is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. More than 300 million people in the 20 Arab states speak it today. Also, about 1.3 million Muslims speak it every day in religious ceremonies.
The degree will require 120 hours, according to the agenda. At least 12 people must enroll in the program, and five must graduate by 2014-2015 for final approval by the State Regents.