WHAT IS UMASS FLEX?

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The UMass Flex wordmark is shown on a laptop screen.

The UMass Flex initiative expands the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s world-class academics and rich co-curricular experience beyond the borders of campus. This initiative offers students greater flexibility in when, where, and how they learn by presenting courses in person, in remote locations and asynchronous online. UMass Flex also opens doors to make other aspects of the UMass experience–from student groups to academic advising to career guidance–more adaptable to the needs of today’s students. 

 

 

WHY FLEX MATTERS

By accommodating students with varied backgrounds and commitments, flexible learning allows for a broader range of individuals to pursue a college education, breaking down barriers related to time and location. This approach not only empowers students with different needs but also enriches the educational environment for all. The diverse experiences and perspectives brought into the classroom by these students enhance the learning experience, creating a more vibrant, inclusive, and dynamic academic community.

 

PIONEERS IN ONLINE LEARNING

UMass Amherst’s flexible learning initiatives date back nearly half a century. In 1974, the Video Instructional Program (VIP) was established in the School of Engineering, allowing students around the world to experience UMass engineering classes. In the 1980s, the VIP program began beaming live classes via satellite (and later via the Internet) to off-campus students.

Since then, UMass Amherst has continued to lead the way in flexible learning, adopting tools and technologies to enable remote access to education such as PLATO—one of the earliest programs in computer-aided instruction—in the 1980s, and OWL—an early online web-based learning tool—in the 1990s. These tools were early forerunners of learning management systems like Moodle and Blackboard, widely used today at UMass and other educational institutions to support learning outside the classroom.

 

A LEADER IN ONLINE PROGRAMS

In 2001, the Isenberg School of Management began offering an entirely online, AACSB-accredited MBA degree program. In 2007, the School of Public Health & Health Sciences launched the first fully online master of public health (MPH) in nutrition degree program in the nation. The 2010s would see more widespread adoption and use of distance learning technologies, as well as increased online academic program offerings. University Without Walls, which introduced its first undergraduate degree completion program in 1971, has grown into a leader in online education. 

Today, many of UMass’s online degree programs—including the MBA, MS in nursing, MS in nursing education, and MEd in science education—are top ranked nationally and internationally by publications such as U.S. News & World Report and Financial Times.