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University of Massachusetts Online


The University of Massachusetts Amherst boasts a number of accomplishments and maintains a prestigious ranking among public universities within the United States. Founded in 1863 as the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system, UMass Amherst ranks within the top 30 public institutions in the country according to U.S. News and World Report. The school offers a wide variety of traditional and online programs while its online division awards degrees at the certificate, undergraduate and graduate levels. The online nursing and MBA degrees have been recognized within the top 15 programs for these fields nationwide. Non-degree students can also enroll in any of the hundreds of online courses available.

University of Massachusetts Online Accreditation Details

As a whole, the University of Massachusetts holds accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The school offers 38 online programs comprising certificates, completion programs, undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees. Several of the university’s individual colleges and programs have been accredited by field-specific boards. For example, the College of Nursing holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education while the School of Public Health and Health Sciences maintains accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health. Students who want to pursue a specific program should check out that program’s individual website to learn more about accreditation.

University of Massachusetts Online Application Requirements

Because UMass Online offers courses to students who aren’t enrolled formally in a specific program, anyone with a high school diploma or GED can enroll in classes that are offered online. However, graduate students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Those seeking a bachelor’s degree or certificate program must also adhere to stricter application guidelines. There are no residency requirements for online students. Also, students should keep in mind that not all credits are transferrable between the five physical campuses of the UMass system.

UMass Amherst uses a program called SPIRE for student registration, but not everyone is eligible to use the program. For non-degree and non-credit students, the school offers a separate website that students can use to sign up for classes throughout the year. Individual programs require application procedures that differ from traditional undergraduate or graduate enrollment processes. To learn more about the application requirements, students should find their program in the school’s directory and follow the appropriate procedures.

Students residing in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Maryland and Minnesota should note that UMass Amherst’s online division does not admit applicants from these states due to federal regulations regarding authorization of online programs. The school is working on obtaining authorization, but at the time of this publication, students from these states will not be able to apply.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Unlike many traditional four-year schools, UMass Amherst Online implements a fee structure that varies based on individual programs. In general, undergraduate students and non-credit students will pay between $125 and $1,980 per course while graduate students will pay between $1,230 and $2,250 per course. Each physical campus may also charge different fees for various aspects of a student’s education, and students should check with their intended campus to determine if there will be extra fees. As an example, the school’s Master of Public Policy degree, which is offered as an online program and a traditional program at the Dartmouth campus, requires the following tuition and fees for a standard 3-credit course:

  • Course tuition: $1,518
  • Technology fee: $150
  • College fee: $39
  • Semester registration fee: $30
  • Library access fee: $18
  • Total: $1,755 per course

All students pay the same tuition and fees regardless of residency. The University of Massachusetts offers several options for financial aid and assistance to students who qualify, but non-degree-seeking and those pursuing certificate plans are not eligible for financial aid. Degree-seeking students can apply for loans, grants, scholarships, work-study programs, tuition waivers or payment plans to help pay for school. Both institutional aid and federal aid are available, and students should check with individual programs to see if they offer program-specific awards.

Under the Continuing & Professional Education program at UMass, which supports the online branch of the college, students have two specific scholarships available. The Miriam Williford Scholarship Fund assists students who “demonstrate a lifelong commitment to learning” according to the guidelines while the David A. Cole Scholarship for Continuing & Professional Education and University Without Walls is designed for students who are changing careers and need financial assistance.

Online Degree(s) Available

UMass Online allows students to take online classes without enrolling in a formal degree program, but those who wish to pursue online education have a wide range of options depending on their desired level of education. At the certificate and completion levels, students can complete programs such as the Certificate in Java Development, a Graduate Certificate in Public Management or a Certificate of Journalism. Undergraduate students can undertake bachelor’s degree programs in fields like English, global affairs and information technology. For graduate-level students, the online college offers degrees in industries such as accounting, nursing and education. Below, we discuss two particular focuses: public health and public policy.

Public Health Degrees

Students can explore several options within UMass Online’s public health programs. There are two master’s degree programs available and one graduate certificate. The Master of Public Health in Nutrition requires 44 credit hours and is unique among public health programs in the U.S. The Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice is a broad program that requires 42 credits to complete. Unique to UMass, the online graduate certificate program in Public Health Laboratory Sciences is the first of its kind. This program helps nurses and other health care professionals develop a deeper understanding of lab techniques and procedures.

Public Policy Degrees

UMass Online offers a Master of Public Policy program at its Dartmouth campus, but students can enroll in this program entirely online. The primary objective of this degree program is to help students better understand “policy process, public management, and public finance” while developing their analytical, reasoning and methodological skills. Students will choose a concentration within the public policy curriculum, and they can apply for additional certifications in environmental policy and educational policy as well.

For students who want to enhance existing careers or begin new ones, the University of Massachusetts Online offers ample opportunities in a wide array of subject areas.