UMass Boston Mass Media - Opportunities Online for UMass Students

UMass Boston Mass Media - Opportunities Online for UMass Students

By Raleigh Keagan -

UMass Boston prides itself on being a commuter school, but a great number of students are removing the issue of travel altogether from their college experience. UMass Online, which was founded in 2001, has been gaining popularity, shown with this year's growth rate higher than has been recorded in over three years.

UMass Online is a fully accredited online university, as various teachers from all five UMass campuses have taken on the challenge of teaching in a very different setting. As well, the revenue received from a professor's online course is directed back to the campus they work at.

The online network of the five UMass campuses has been awarded many distinctions, among them "Excellence in Distance Teaching Education" and "21st Century Best Practices Award" by the United States Distance Learning Association.

"As the founding CEO of UMassOnline, I take special interest and pride in the growth and success of UMassOnline, which today is as integral to the University as its actual campuses," UMass President Jack Wilson said in a message on the UMass Online Web site. "Because we understand the essential role of continuous learning in today's economy and society, we measure our success as a university by how well we are able to broaden access to a UMass education. With UMassOnline, we are achieving that success."

UMass Online offers almost 70 degrees and certificate programs. Of those areas, 25 are undergraduate studies. Also available are 17 master's degrees and one doctoral degree.

Students of all ages are taking advantage of the university opportunities available to them through the Internet. Interested graduates, undergraduates and non-degree seeking students, as well as post-graduates have the chance to enroll in online classes, which may better fit a busy schedule while still providing lessons from accredited professors.

"[Students] can enroll through Wiser for any of the online courses they are eligible for," Katherine Galaitsis, Director of Online Education, explains. She goes on to say how UMass Online has proven quite beneficial to a number of students originally attending UMass Boston. "Students here really seem to like it because it [UMass Boston] is a commuter school, especially in the spring when there's snow on the ground."

Enrollment increased by a staggering 25 percent, with even more impressive numbers for the UMass Online branch: from 17,661 enrolled students in fiscal year 2005 to 21,202 students in fiscal year 2006, and finally 26,627 at the start of this fiscal year.

Profits brought in by the UMass system from the program increased by 32.1 percent in the fiscal year, which ran from July of 2006 to last June. Revenue specifically from online programs increased $7 million, up from $21 million from the 2006 fiscal year.

Though many would assume the majority of students who partake in online courses are older individuals with responsibilities such as a family or a full-time job, statistics show that 38 percent of UMass Online students are under the age of 25, while only 11 percent are in the oldest age bracket of 45-54. It has also been determined that 53 percent of the student population is female, and that 71 percent of students reside in Massachusetts.

A survey conducted by the Sloan Consortium, an organization dedicated to improving online education, showed that 60 percent of the employers they polled believed that online education is as good as, or better than, a campus-based education. The survey also showed that 62 percent of academic leaders believe that online learning quality is equal to or better than in-class instruction.

UMass Lowell offers the most online programs at 26; UMass Boston offers 19, while UMass Amherst offers 15, UMass Dartmouth offers 3 and the UMass Medical School offers one.

Date: 10/01/07

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