In the first action of its kind since it became an accredited institution in 2002, Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center approved an agreement with California University of Pennsylvania, which will accept all academic credits for a foreign language program.
The five-year articulation agreement, signed by the commandant of DLIFLC May 3, allows students who earn an associate's degree in modern standard Arabic from the institution in Monterey, Calif., to transfer 45 credits toward Cal U.'s Arabic Language and Culture bachelor of arts program.
"We have spent the last four years working with this particular institute to develop this partnership," said Cal U. Executive Director of Graduate Admissions and Global Online Stephanie L. Franks-Helwich. "This is the very first time (DLIFLC) has articulated Arabic with an accredited university."
The online program, established in fall 2011, accompanies more than 40 other degree and nondegree options in Cal U.'s nationally recognized Global Online program.
"When we look at new programs, we consider two things – do the students want to enroll in that specific program? And, if students graduate with a degree from a certain program, will they find jobs? Those are the criteria, and that was the reason the Arabic program was developed," said Cal U. spokeswoman Christine Kindl. "In general, we found that there was a demand for people to speak and understand the culture of Arabic. There are a growing number of Arabic speakers in the United States, and there was a demand among employers from the government, military and the private sector."
The acceptance of these credits will not only allow students the ability to earn their bachelor's degree in the Arabic Language and Culture program in two years, it continues the university's growth in reaching more students globally in all demographics.
"We wanted to provide another platform option for students who couldn't physically be here," said Franks-Helwich. "The goal was to provide a quality education on a platform that was conducive while balancing a life."
A balanced lifestyle remains the vital asset of online programs, as many of Cal U.'s 2,000 online students are primarily adults looking for career advancement or enhancement.
"With Global Online, if someone is an active duty member and gets orders to report to training or go for active duty, they can continue their studies in all those locations," said Franks-Helwich. "We have people doing their work while they are overseas. We have people doing their work in the Middle East. Our online program is perfect for people's lives with that kind of uncertainty."
According to Dr. Razak Abedalla, program director of Arabic Language and Culture at Cal U., the importance of understanding the Arabic philosophy heightened since the Gulf War.
"Arabic is considered one of the most critical languages and has been important in the United States since the 1990s," said Abedalla.
DLIFLC, which currently has 850 students enrolled in its Arabic program, teaches more than 20 different languages and awarded more than 12,000 degrees. It also provides language and cultural training to the Defense Department and other federal agencies.
"An agreement like this is critical for the Defense Language Institute for multiple reasons," said DLIFLC Commandant Col. Phillip Deppert. "It ensures continued recognition, validity and acknowledgement of the quality and effectiveness of our foreign language instruction by the wide U.S. and international academic communities. Subsequent to that, these agreements also ensure that no matter how long a service member stays in uniform, their hard work and success is verified, recognized and transferrable to civilian institutions."
According to Deppert, the agreement with Cal U. might be one of many introduced by the DLIFLC, but the Global Online program separated itself from many within the United States.
"Arabic isn't offered in many schools," said Franks-Helwich. "In most cases, there are maybe only one or two levels that will earn you an associate's degree or some type of certification. From our knowledge, we are the only 100 percent online Arabic bachelor's degree program."