Berkeley doesn’t have one. UCLA doesn’t have one. In fact, no university in the country has a program like the one UCSB hopes to introduce next school year.

The Chicano Studies Dept. recently gained approval from the Academic Senate to establish a graduate program leading to the Master of Arts/Doctor of Philosophy degree. UCSB will become the first university in the nation to offer a graduate program in Chicano Studies if it is approved by the UC Office of the President. Both the department and the university expect that approval by Fall 2003.

The proposal has already gained approval from multiple on-campus organizations on its way to the President’s office, including the Committee on Educational Policy and Academic Planning, the Library Committee, the Graduate Council and the Academic Senate, which approved it at its last meeting on June 6, 2002. In a statement, Chancellor Henry Yang said he was “pleased and proud” that the proposal made it through the campus review process.

“It was a very long process,” said Chicano Studies Dept. Chair Maria Herrera-Sobek. “But at each stage we got good input and ideas.”

The department, which currently has an undergraduate enrollment of 150, has been seeking a graduate program since 1993, and submitted its first proposal in 2000. Along the way, the department has had to answer many questions regarding the function of the program.

“We have dealt with a lot of professors from more traditional disciplines, and they all had questions,” Herrera-Sobek said. “They asked, will there be enough jobs out there for your graduates, will there be enough professors, will the program be interdisciplinary? We couldn’t get approval until we answered those questions.”

Before the proposed Fall start date, department faculty must recruit students and prepare courses. The 12 faculty members have been charged with designing two courses each, and the department plans to publish advertisements and brochures to get information out regarding the program.

The department plans to accept five students per year for the first five years, then keep the number static at 25 thereafter.

The UC Office of the President’s approval process includes sending the proposal to several different UC campuses for review by other Chicano studies professors, though Herrera-Sobek believes approval should be an easy decision.

“There are 40 million Chicanos and Latinos in the U.S.,” she said. “We need to address the history, contributions, productivity and creativity of a population of this magnitude.”

Chancellor Yang said the program would “contribute to the intellectual vitality and diversity of our campus.”