University Without Walls (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

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University Without Walls
Established 1971 (1971)
Parent institution University of Massachusetts
Location Amherst, Massachusetts, United States of America
Director Ingrid Bracey, Ed.D.
Academic staff 12

University Without Walls, UMass Amherst (UWW) is a department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) which provides degree completion coursework, primarily for non-traditional students. Established in 1971, as of 2013 approximately five-percent of UMass graduates were receiving their undergraduate degrees through the program annually.


The University of Massachusetts' University Without Walls was one of a number of similar programs founded at 17 American universities in 1971 with the help of a grant from the United States Office of Education (other participating institutions included the University of Minnesota, the University of South Carolina, and Howard University). Samuel Baskin was considered the "driving force" behind the nationwide initiative.[1]

In 2010, Mark Cerasuolo became the first University of Massachusetts graduate from the University Without Walls program to deliver the University of Massachusetts' student commencement address.[2]

As of 2013, an average of 250 students were annually receiving bachelor's degrees through the UMass University Without Walls program,[3] out of approximately 5,000 total undergraduate degrees annually awarded by the University of Massachusetts. Between 1971 and 2015, the University of Massachusetts had awarded approximately 3,000 degrees to students through the UWW program.[4] The program enrolls more students who are veterans of the U.S. armed forces than any other academic department at the University of Massachusetts.[5]


The UMass University Without Walls program only admits students who have already completed a minimum number of undergraduate university credits at the University of Massachusetts, or at another accredited institution, and have a minimum cumulative grade point average in those credits.[6] Once enrolled, students are required to take four program-specific courses, plus additional classes equal to the difference between their accumulated university credits and the University of Massachusetts' 120-credit graduation requirement. Program-specific courses are taught by dedicated UMass University Without Walls faculty and deal with academic writing, critical thinking, research skills, and issues analysis. Students who require additional courses to meet the 120-credit requirement make up the deficit through standard University of Massachusetts classes taken from the school's other academic departments.

Because the University Without Walls program functions as a regular academic department within the University of Massachusetts, students do not undertake an academic major (baccalaureate degrees are awarded in "University Without Walls"). Instead, nine interdisciplinary areas of study are offered - including applied psychology, arts administration, and journalism - each consisting of courses from several academic fields drawn from both the student's previously completed credits as well as University of Massachusetts courses he or she completes while enrolled in the program.

Social justice residency[edit]

Beginning in 2012, the UWW program began offering a "social justice residency," a one-credit, three-day, intensive course held at the University of Massachusetts' Springfield Center that teaches the "theory and practice of social justice activism, particularly as related to racial and economic inequality."[7]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Fred, Hechinger (28 December 1970). "Education Without Walls". New York Times. 
  2. ^ UWW website
  3. ^ Taras, Elizabeth (28 January 2014). "Opening Doors". Business West. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Roman, Elizabeth (24 August 2015). "UMass 'University Without Walls' offers informational session in Springfield". The Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts). Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  5. ^ "Welcome Military Families". University of Massachusetts. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Schramm, Michael (9 June 2015). "Parents benefit from specialized degree program at UMass Amherst". USA Today. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "UWW Hosts 3rd Annual Social Justice Residency". University of Massachusetts. 29 September 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d THUMBS UP, THUMBS DOWN - Breaking Down Walls, The Republican, Monday, June 25, 2007 [1]
  9. ^ Former Minuteman Lou Roe excited to join Derek Kellogg's staff at UMass, Daily Hampshire Gazette, August 22, 2012 [2]