Academics

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I contact a student advisor?

Yes, Advising Information

Who is an ideal online student?

Nationally, a typical online student is a working adult who is managing a student career, work career and family and is taking online courses for convenience to complete an education or for career enhancement. Given this profile, the online learner is usually mature, independent, self-motivated and possesses strong time management skills. These qualities are important for success in an online course since there are few face-to-face encounters with the instructor.

Who can take online courses?

Any person with a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED) may register for noncredit, undergraduate, or graduate courses. However, you must have a bachelor's degree to be admitted to a graduate degree program.

Some courses may require prerequisite college - level work. You may enroll in courses before being formally admitted to a degree program. Enrollment does not imply acceptance into a degree program. Massachusetts residency is not a requirement.

Online courses are ideal for working professionals, military personnel, stay - at - home parents, people with disabilities, human resources managers looking for new opportunities for employees, and, of course, UMass alumni.

How is online studying different?

The major difference is your location. You do not have to travel to the campus. You can participate in your course from your home, office, or while traveling. You do, however, have the same access to the excellence of UMass Boston professors/instructors as do those physically on campus.

Online courses include exercises, projects, and collaborative assignments. The rich learning environment features tutorials and courses with audio lectures, photo materials, discussions, chat rooms, readings, illustrations, and video.

What do you mean by "anytime, anywhere?"

"Anytime, anywhere" education means that you do not have to be at a specific location at a specific time or date. Online learning takes place, for the most part, where and when you choose. This could be early in the morning or late at night at home, during your lunch break at work, when the kids are finally sleeping, or when you are traveling. UMass courses are rigorous and require you and your classmates to complete work by set deadlines, but you get to choose the times and location that suit your schedule.

Online courses are mostly characterized as ‘asynchronous’ - not time-dependent. However, many courses utilize the Wimba Classroom system, a synchronous conferencing tool, which would allow you to "attend" your class on designated dates and times throughout the semester.

Can I start a course at any time?

Courses generally follow our standard academic calendars. Please check our Academic Calendar for details.

How important are writing skills in an online course?

Excellent writing skills are critical in an online course. A student must be able to communicate effectively with his instructor and with the other students. The instructor will be basing some of his assessment of student work on the quality of the writing skills. Much communication is done via email and students need to be able to craft wording in such a way as to minimize misunderstandings and incorrect interpretations of the intended tone of the communication. Online students in a threaded discussion are expected to be concise, clear and to have well-researched their comments.

Do I need to be a computer wiz?

No, but you should be able to use email, use the web for research, send file attachments via email and participate in threaded discussions.

Are these "real" courses?

Online courses at UMass Boston are taught by resident faculty, adjunct professors, and experienced real - world professionals. The courses meet the same stringent academic requirements as traditional on - campus courses. Unless otherwise indicated these are credit-bearing courses and are considered residential courses.

How do I interact with my professor?

Instructors answer email questions, participate in online discussions, and personally evaluate assignments. Instructors also update course content to insure that courses stay on the cutting edge.

Instructors keep scheduled "office hours" each week. Interaction with the instructor is an important aspect of a quality online education.

NOTE: You may meet with your professors in a scheduled face-to-face session or speak directly to them during a Wimba Classroom session.

How do I interact with the other students in my class?

You will be able to communicate with other students and with your instructor through e mail. You will also be able to post questions and comments to your course’s threaded discussions. This forum allows you to hold virtual conversations with other classmates and your instructor, without having to be online at the same time.

Students are encouraged to work collaboratively, to utilize peer-to-peer learning techniques and to work in teams. The Wimba Classroom system used by UMass Boston enables students to collaborate on online projects using audio and visual capabilities.

What is Wimba Classroom and how do I learn how to use it?

Wimba Classroom is a synchronous conferencing system embedded in the BLS Vista Learning Management System (LMS) used to deliver UMass Boston fully online courses. Wimba Classroom use is intended to augment otherwise asynchronous online courses by providing an environment for meeting in real time, online.

To use Wimba Classroom, each student will require a computer headset equipped with microphone and may be purchased at any computer or electronic store. Prices range from $15–$25. Students should test their access to Wimba Classroom and seek technical support to configure systems, as necessary, in advance of their first uses of Wimba Classroom. Learn more about Wimba Classroom and how Wimba Classroom works.

How do I register for a course?

There are several ways to register for a course. Please see "How to Register?"

How much does it cost?

The fee for each online course is found on the individual course description page on our distance learning website.

Can I qualify for some kind of financial aid?

Availability of financial aid varies depending on course status and matriculation. Check with your adviser to determine your eligibility and application procedures. Generally, if you are enrolled at least part-time (6 credits minimum per semester) in a degree program, you may qualify for financial aid. [Financial Aid Office at UMass Boston]

Will the UMass Boston credits I earn transfer to the other campuses?

Students from institutions other than UMass Boston (including other institutions in the University of Massachusetts system) who wish to transfer credits earned in CAPS credit courses should contact their college or university concerning specific transfer requirements.

UMass Boston credits are treated as transfer credits at UMass Amherst. Students must earn a grade of "C-" or better to transfer the course. Letter grades earned at UMass Boston will not be used in grade point average calculations and the credit will not be counted as residence credit.

Does UMass Boston offer online degrees?

Currently we are offering several degrees. Please see our Distance Learning Homepage for more info.

What help is available for disabled students?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 offers guidelines for curriculum modifications and adaptations for students with documented disabilities. If applicable, students may obtain adaptation recommendations from UMass Boston’s Ross Center for Disability Services (617 -287-7430). The student must present and discuss these recommendations with each professor within a reasonable period, preferably by the end of the Drop/Add period.

I'd like to purchase the book before the course begins? Where can I find information about what books will be used?

Book information should be found on the course description page. If it is not there you may email the instructor from the webpage for information.

Can I use the UMass Boston Library?

Online students may access the UMass Boston electronic library by means of a barcode. To obtain a barcode an online student must email library.circulation@umb.edu and give:

  • name as appears at registration
  • semester and year
  • course name and number
  • student ID #
  • email address

Once the library has received the information, the student will be sent an email with barcode information. The barcode is good only for the semester the student is enrolled in an online UMass Boston course. The barcode enables the online student to:

  • access e-reserves for his course
  • access electronic resources (books, articles, journals, etc.)
  • email the library with reference questions

What other student services are available?

Click here for more information about our student services