University of Arizona Spanish/English Translation Certificate Program Receives Outstanding Non-Credit Program Award

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University of Arizona Spanish/English Translation Certificate Program Receives Outstanding Non-Credit Program Award

Office of Continuing & Professional Education
November 16, 2021

The University of Arizona Spanish/English Translation Certificate Program was the recipient of the 2021 University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) West Region Outstanding Non-Credit Program Award.

The program was designed and is managed by Dr. Sonia Colina (Regent’s Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese and Director of the National Center for Interpretation at the University of Arizona).

The non-credit Spanish/English Translation Certificate Program helps bilingual speakers turn their language skills into a rewarding career. It also produces trained translation professionals who can provide Spanish/English translation services in medical, legal, and business settings. The program launched in 2016.

As Dr. Colina says, the UPCEA award affirms that it is possible to offer "high quality academic content and sound pedagogical design in the form of practically-oriented professional courses."

The program is delivered in collaboration with the University of Arizona office of Continuing and Professional Education. Rebecca Cook, Director of Continuing and Professional Education says “This program demonstrates that great things can happen when university faculty and continuing education programs collaborate to expand access to university expertise and meet local labor market demand. The UPCEA award reflects the rigorous academic standards of the non-credit program, the alignment of the program to local and regional labor market needs, and – most importantly – the positive impact on participants' careers.”

Demand for Translation

Dr. Colina designed the Spanish/English Translation Certificate program in response to the need for trained translators in the local and regional labor market.

Nationwide, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that demand for interpreters and translators will grow 24% in coming years, much faster than other occupations.

Translation is particularly in-demand in Arizona: the state has one of the highest concentrations of translation jobs in the country, according to BLS data. Regionally, the other border states with large Spanish-speaking populations and high levels of trans-border commerce also have a need for Spanish/English translators.

Expanding Access

The University of Arizona is a federally-recognized Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), committed to meeting the needs of Arizona’s vibrant and increasingly diverse communities. The Spanish/English Translation Program is part of that commitment.

As Dr. Patricia Cook, Program Manager, Academic Noncredit Programs at the University of Arizona office of Continuing and Professional Education says: "The Spanish/English Translation Certificate Program extends the university’s mission of service and is part of the University’s commitment to the diverse communities of Arizona. The pool of potential bilingual participants in the state is large, as is the need for translators in every sector of the Arizona economy."

Dr. Colina agrees and notes that the online non-credit certificate program: "expands beyond traditional academic and professional contexts to reach participants such as immigrants, minoritized populations, working professionals, and working parents who would not otherwise have access to traditional university courses."

About the Spanish/English Translation Certificate Program

The fully online Spanish/English Translation Certificate program is designed for Spanish/English bilingual participants with no formal translation training who want to improve their written translation knowledge and skills.

The Certificate program is composed of three 16-week, fully online classes: Medical Translation, Business Translation, and Legal Translation. Participants can choose to take just one course (e.g., medical office employees may take only the Medical Translation class) or all three courses (earning a Certificate in Spanish/English Translation).

Feedback from participants who completed the program has been overwhelmingly positive, with many sharing they have begun new careers as entry-level translators. “I enrolled in this program for professional and intellectual enrichment, and I was more than satisfied! I've completed these courses…feeling enriched in the field of study, and poised to advance my career,” said Owen Kinney who completed the Spanish/English Translation Certificate program in 2020.


"UPCEA is the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA now serves most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. For 100 years, the association has served its members with innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities and timely publications."

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