UMass plans national online college aimed at adult learners

Deirdre Fernandes:

Faced with a narrowing pipeline of potential in-state students and limited state resources, the University of Massachusetts plans to launch a national online college, the system’s president, Martin T. Meehan, said on Monday.

Suggesting that it may be the UMass system’s best hope of long-term financial stability, Meehan outlined an ambitious plan to build an online college focused on adults from across the country. This would be a new venture, separate from the online courses already offered at the various campuses.


The UMass online college would compete with long-established national players such as Arizona State University, Southern New Hampshire University, Purdue Global, and Penn State World Campus, Meehan said.

“The time for us to act is now,” he said during his annual report on the state of the five-campus university system at the UMass Club in Boston. “It’s predicted that over the next several years four to five major national players with strong regional footholds will be established. We intend to be one of them.”

Yet it remained unclear how much such an enterprise would cost, what types of classes UMass would offer, and who would teach them. Meehan suggested that the system would likely have to borrow millions of dollars to launch this college, with the expectation of a return over the long term.