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Grads Earn Dual Degrees from US, China Schools in Four Years

Ten American college students received two college degrees in business in four years -- one from a New York university and the other from a college in Dalian, China.

The dual-degree program is offered by New York’s Hofstra University and China’s Dongbei University of Finance and Economics.

Hofstra’s Business School Dean Herman Berliner said he believes it is the first time American undergraduate students received degrees from an American and Chinese university simultaneously.

Under the program, some business and finance classes are taught by visiting Dongbei professors at Hofstra. Students also attend a six-week summer internship at an international company in China and attend education programs put on by Dongbei.

Global economy requires global education

“Nowadays, a good business education should be global because it is a global economy,” Berliner said. “And it should be hands-on, because hands-on gives our students more exposure to the reality they will find in the business world.”

Soon Berliner expects Hofstra to welcome Chinese students to study and take internships at American companies.

Tori Rae Matisoff of Monroe, New Jersey, is one of the Hofstra students to graduate with the two degrees.

Last summer, she worked in the human resources department of Pfizer Inc. in China. Pfizer is one of the world’s largest producers of pharmaceuticals.

“This kind of experience really opens up your mind,” she said.

In China, Matisoff, who knows Mandarin, said she met regularly with Pfizer workers who wanted to improve their English skills. So, they would have bilingual discussions.

Chinese anxious to discuss U.S.

They asked her, “What kind of President Donald Trump will be?” And whether she and her family had guns because, she says, “no one carries guns in China.”

They also asked questions about how she signed onto to Facebook. In China, the social media site is blocked by the government. It is easily accessed in the United States.

Matisoff also helped a human resources director at the Chinese facility better understand reports from Pfizer officials in the U.S. and elsewhere.

“She spoke English very well, but somethings you need a little context,” Matisoff said

She is continuing her business studies at Hofstra, working on completion of a master’s degree.

Stuart Rabinowitz is Hofstra’s president. He told the students that learning about another culture and how to communicate when “you don’t speak the language well” will help them as they leave Hofstra for jobs or graduate school.

“These are experiences and skills that will set you apart,” he said.

While Hofstra appears to be the first undergraduate program to offer dual degrees with a Chinese university, many colleges offer students a chance to study outside the United States for part of a school year.

And some colleges offer dual graduate school degrees with colleges outside the U.S.

Northwestern University in Illinois, for example, offers a master’s of science degree in engineering with Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies offers a dual master’s program in global politics and economics with Tsinghua University in China.

At the Hofstra graduation, the 10 recent Hofstra graduates were given a red stole from Dongbei University, along with their Hofstra diploma.

Donbei University is located in the northeastern port city of Dalian, and has an enrollment of about 20,000 students. Hofstra has over 11,000 students. It is located in Long Island, just outside of New York City.

Hofstra students in the dual-degree program take all their courses in English. Knowledge of Chinese in not required.

Still, Berliner wishes more American students would develop better foreign language skills. Most Chinese students learn English, he said, while a small percentage of American students can speak and read Chinese.

“That’s a disadvantage,” Berliner said.

A 2015 study by the Modern Language Association found that students taking foreign language classes at American colleges dropped from nine out of every 100 students in 2009 to 8 per 100 students in 2013.

While study of Spanish and French was down, there were increases in students attending classes in Korean, American Sign Language, Portuguese, and Chinese, the association reported.

A group of Princeton University educators recently proposed that all students be required to take a foreign language class, even if they already speak a 2nd language. It would help them better understand the world, the educators said.