Mass High Tech - UMass online courses net $23M

Mass High Tech - UMass online courses net $23M

By Catherine Williams -

Students of the University of Massachusetts, from the Bay State and as far as Turkey, helped boost the school's online program by 23 percent last year.

Revenue of the online course program run by the state's university system grew by 32 percent, to $23 million for the 2005-2006 academic year, officials said.

"It's just indicative of increasing demand from adult students for more accessible and flexible learning opportunities," said David Gray, the CEO of UMass Online.

Over the year, 28 new programs were launched, including two certificate programs in plastics engineering and forensic criminology. Enrollment grew to 21,682 students, officials reported.

All five of the university campuses host online courses. The Lowell campus administers the most at 25.

There are 31 graduate programs and 28 undergraduate programs on subjects including information technology and clinical lab sciences. Seventy-one percent of students are based in Massachusetts.

Jack Wilson, president of UMass, served as the program's first CEO when it was officially launched in 2000. Gray took over the reins in 2003.

In 2001, online student enrollment was 5,009, and revenue was $3.1 million, said Gray. The UMass bloom in online enrollment mirrors what universities are reporting nationwide.

Overall online enrollment nationwide increased from 1.98 million in 2003 to 2.35 million in 2004, according to Needham-based Sloan Consortium.

In the future, UMass plans to expand health care and technical professional programming, said Gray.

"We're very excited about plastics engineering. I am hopeful that it is a precursor to a full engineering program online," said Gray.

Date: 09/08/06