UMass Lowell, Fitchburg State University offers innovative course options

Two of our region’s leading universities recently unveiled innovative programs designed to help students make the most of the academic and real-life opportunities that await them.

Along with their classroom teacher, students at Billerica, Dracut and Methuen High Schools will have the opportunity to access another academic resource – UMass Lowell professors teaching a variety of subjects including ethics, economics, business law , environmental sciences, accounting and forensic science.

And Fitchburg State University will soon offer a new bachelor’s degree program in Digital Media Innovation, providing students with cutting-edge interdisciplinary training in topics of emerging importance.

The UMass Lowell Initiative is part of the University of Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Collegiate Academy, an early college pilot program funded by a revolving incubator grant from the Department of Elementary-Secondary Education.

“By exposing high school students to college-level courses and faculty, we can empower students who may not have considered a possible college education,” said Joseph C. Hartman, president and vice chancellor. of the university for academic and student affairs. who disclosed the program will begin this fall.

According to Francine Coston, who leads the university’s early college initiatives, UMass Lowell hopes to expand course options and the number of participating high schools in the coming years.

The university’s goal is to eventually offer students different study programs – in STEM, business, liberal arts – to focus on a specific degree. However, Coston noted that many of the courses offered will meet general course requirements for multiple disciplines.

This in turn could save incoming students a full year of tuition costs, including tuition, tuition, and room and board.

“We want to get to a place where, by the time a student graduates from high school, they can enter college as a sophomore, Coston said, noting that while the hope is that they choose To become a UML River Hawk, the credits can seamlessly transfer anywhere in Massachusetts and out of state.

Hartman praised the benefits of pairing a familiar high school teacher with the middle school teacher.

“…We are so grateful to partner with them and the high school guidance counselors to ease the transition to college, minimize costs, and launch these students into their careers as college graduates,” he said. he declares.

According to Fitchburg State University’s website, degree participants will “develop a wide range of new digital skills that span social media, multimedia storytelling, information design, data studies, and coding to meet needs of a flexible and changing world economy”.

Matthew Bruun, director of communications and public affairs at FSU, said the new initiative “offers students an innovative and adaptive pathway model that delivers cutting-edge digital skills through hands-on experiential learning.”

Students choose a study program worth 33 credits, which may include a semester abroad in Greece or Japan and internships.

In addition to integrating academic work with community engagement, students must also complete a capstone project, which will be community-focused and focused on both scholarship and professional development, giving students the opportunity to develop a portfolio for future employment.

Although the program is housed in the Department of Communication Media, faculty members span multiple academic departments, including Computer Science, Earth and Geographic Sciences, English Studies, and Humanities.

The degree is federally designated STEM, which means courses include science, technology, engineering, and math subjects as defined by the U.S. Department of Education’s Curriculum Classification.

Graduates’ skills will allow entry into a variety of careers, including journalism, social media management, web development, digital media startups, data analytics, and multimedia production.

Graduates in Digital Media Innovation will receive a Bachelor of Science degree unless the student has advanced intermediate proficiency in a global language; in which case a Bachelor of Arts will be awarded.

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