Professors and students line up after commencementThe University of Arkansas - Fort Smith has taken another step toward increasing student success, retention and graduation – initiatives outlined in its latest strategic plan – through a fast track completion program in the Department of World Languages.


Students seeking a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish may now earn up to 15 credit hours – the equivalent of a full semester of college – with the fast track, which allows Spanish-proficient students the opportunity to complete a Spanish degree in seven semesters.


"Interested students declare Spanish as their major and then register for two nationally recognized proficiency tests which assess writing and speaking," said Dr. Mary Sobhani, head of the Department of World Languages. "Successful completion of the two tests with the required minimum scores can save students thousands of dollars."


Paulina García Zavala of Fort Smith participated in the fast track program and graduated from UAFS in May 2019 with her B.A. in Spanish. "I saved money, and I saved time, and when you're a college student, both of those things are precious."


This pathway is not limited to students seeking a B.A. in Spanish. UAFS Spanish teacher education majors can also take advantage of the program. Juan Alex Velázquez of Alma found out about the program and took the assessments. "It has always been my dream to become a Spanish teacher. With the fast track, that dream is becoming a reality, and my bank account is happier."


The fast track is best suited for native Spanish speakers or those with advanced Spanish language skills, according to Sobhani. "By finding effective ways to reduce the time to degree completion without sacrificing quality, we help our Spanish majors pursue their career goals more efficiently," Sobhani said. "It's a win-win for everyone."


Sobhani added that this program could also be a viable option for students wishing to add Spanish as a second major, thereby making them more marketable to employers once they graduate. "A Spanish degree is a valuable credential in the job market," Sobhani said. "Arkansas is estimated to have the second-fastest growing Latino population in the United States. Being bilingual is a skillset that's highly valued by employers."


For more information on the fast track degree completion program, contact Sobhani at 479-788-7979 or

Date Posted: 
Friday, June 21, 2019
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