University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee:
Master of Arts in Language, Literature, and Translation
This is the first installment in a series on translation and interpreting programs in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.
The Translation & Interpreting Studies (TIS) MA concentration within the Master of Arts in Language, Literature, and Translation (MALLT) program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is an ATA-approved online degree program offering professional and research tracks as well as joint Master degrees with the School of Information Studies (MLIS/MALLT-Translation Professional Track) and the Lubar School of Business (MBA/MALLT-Translation Professional Track); the different tracks allow alignment with a student’s professional goals. A Graduate Certificate program is also available. Language pairs offered include Arabic to English, English to Spanish, French to English, German to English, Russian to English, Italian to English and Spanish to English. Students complete the program in two to seven years, depending on their degree.
TIS courses include language-specific introductory, advanced translation and literary translation courses as well as non language-specific courses such as editing for translation, translation theory, comparative systems for translation, project management in translation, computer-assisted translation, consecutive interpreting, ethics in interpreting, and an internship in translation.
All applicants to the Translation concentration must pass a two-part qualifying exam including a translation and an essay written in English; see http://www4.uwm.edu/letsci/translation/admissions/ for more information on eligibility requirements.
Kate Scholz, Senior Lecturer, Lorena Terando, Chair of Translation and Interpreting Studies, and Leah Leone, Assistant Professor, answered MATI’s questions on the program.
Q. What draws students to the program?
A. The intense pace of globalization—which remains strong even in times of economic slowdown—creates demand for qualified translation and interpreting professionals that far exceeds the supply of qualified linguists. Many students are attracted to Translation and Interpreting Studies because they are passionate about language, and they are excited about gaining the skills and knowledge needed to build a long-term career on that passion.
Since UW-Milwaukee’s program is fully online, our community of online students currently includes students in the Midwest, throughout the United States, and in South America, Europe, and the Middle East. As long as students have reliable Internet access, they can fully participate in our courses. The diversity of our student population is a tremendous asset to our online classrooms, as students contribute linguistic, cultural, and professional perspectives that enrich discussion and collaborative projects.
Many students find UW-Milwaukee to be an affordable option for graduate study. UW-Milwaukee charges a flat fee for all graduate courses in Translation & Interpreting Studies. This means that non-residents of Wisconsin pay the same tuition rates as our in-state students. Also, full-time students in the Milwaukee area can earn tuition remission by working as part-time Teaching Assistants for undergraduate language courses at the university. Teaching experience often proves to be a rewarding form of professional development for our students and opens up additional career prospects after graduation.
Q. How has the program evolved over the years?
A. From its beginning as an on-site Master’s/Graduate Certificate program in 1997 with a limited number of language pairs, UW-Milwaukee’s program has evolved into a fully online program with seven language pairs and a broad array of course offerings. Our student population has grown from three students in 1997 to 20 by 2001, all located in Southeastern Wisconsin, to more than 50 students located on four continents now. This diversification of our student population is one of the most exciting aspects of our program’s growth, and we look forward to collaborating with an even broader range of students—both local and remote—in the coming years.
Q. How does this program prepare students for their chosen career paths?
A. The Translation and Interpreting Studies curriculum at UW-Milwaukee is designed with the diverse global marketplace for language services in mind. Students in the Master’s and Graduate Certificate programs tailor their coursework to align with their unique set of professional goals. Our Professional and Research tracks enable students to choose courses that prepare them to navigate careers in industry or academia. The joint degrees offer them a competitive edge in niche markets in the language services industry.
Many of our students begin UW-Milwaukee’s program after completing their undergraduate degrees, but many others come to us with an extensive professional background. The flexibility built into our online instruction and our course array enables students to craft a graduate experience that aligns with their areas of interest and expertise—whether that’s healthcare interpreting, video game localization, project management, entrepreneurship, teaching and research, or the many other professional paths that our alumni pursue.
Students work one-on-one with a faculty advisor to select courses that advance their professional goals. Students also complete an internship, which is a required course for all students. The internship is an opportunity for students to gain experience in their area of specialization. Students in our interpreting courses also observe practicing interpreters or spend time interpreting in their own communities as part of their coursework.
Q. What facets of the program do students seem to find the most valuable?
A. Based on feedback we get from our alumni, we’ve learned that students in the professional track benefit from the industry focus of the program. Those in the research track benefit from the industry focus as well, but add an academic twist by completing a required thesis and critical theory courses that prepare them to enter PhD programs around the world. UW-Milwaukee’s program aims to prepare well-rounded translators and interpreters with linguistic expertise, cultural knowledge, and critical thinking skills—as well as a firm grasp of business trends, professional ethics, quality assurance practices, technology, and entrepreneurship that drive the translation industry. One of the most valuable aspects of the program is its flexibility: the many track options allow students to craft an MA that helps them achieve their individual goals.
Many students have a chance to apply the skills they learn in the classroom by working as UWM Language Service translators and interpreters. UWM’s Language Service employs graduate students to deliver translation and interpreting services under faculty supervision. Clients include UWM faculty and students as well as local businesses and organizations, so students can gain valuable professional experience that reinforces their learning and enhances their readiness for the job market.
All students complete an internship at the end of their degree/certificate program. Many students have reported that this is one of the most rewarding and valuable aspects of their graduate experience. Our internship partners include hospitals, legal clinics, language service providers, museums, manufacturing companies, schools, government agencies, NGOs, non-profits, libraries, research institutes, freelance translators, and two zoos. Since our students are all over the world, our internships are, too. Just as the plan of study can be tailored to a student’s interests, we encourage students to pursue an internship that will provide a meaningful, well-rounded professional development experience.
Q. Any particular success stories from graduates?
A. Yes! Since the launch of UW-Milwaukee’s graduate program in 1997, we’ve been fortunate to attract a remarkable population of students who continue to make valuable contributions to the profession in both industry and academia. Many current members of the MATI board are graduates of our program, as is Hélène Pielmeier of Common Sense Advisory and Jennifer Flamboe, Chair of World Languages at Alverno College—both featured speakers at MATI’s 2014 conference. Other noteworthy alums are Selase Adzima, General Manager for CETRA Ghana and the many alumni who’ve earned PhDs in Translation or related fields and now teach at universities throughout the United States, including Monica Rodriguez, Tatiana Batova, Kathleen Farrell-Whitworth, and our own Leah Leone and Nina Familiant. Our alumni network also includes a growing list of entrepreneurs who run their own freelance businesses.