ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Facing a growing Latino student population and pressure to increase its graduation rates, the University of New Mexico is launching an online degree program in Chicana and Chicano Studies beginning this fall just as ethnic studies programs are facing challenges in neighboring Arizona.
Officials say the online classes will allow nontraditional students with busy schedules to get a bachelor’s degree in Chicano studies. The new program covers the history, sociology and literature of Mexican Americans and is aimed at students who already have 24 hours of college credit.
The move comes a year after Chicana and Chicano Studies became an official department at the school and amid pressure from New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez to get state colleges to cut the number of hours needed to earn a degree.
Director Irene Vasquez said the department wants to keep classes small and intends on monitoring students closely so they can complete the program. “We are getting interest from folks in their late 30s and early 40s who maybe have a year left but were never able to finish their degrees,” Vasquez said.