Chamber Member Spotlight: Framingham State University’s Graduate Program Flourishing During Difficult Times
Remote learning has not been ideal for many students, but it has been popular with one group – those taking graduate and continuing education classes at Framingham State University.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the state university into online-only classes in March 2020, and as it turns out, many students have been happy with the change.
Michael Merriam, assistant dean/director of Graduate and Continuing Education Recruitment, said it was a challenging transition a year ago when in-person learning abruptly shut down. But it also forced the university to adapt and allowed students to continue learning. Not only have the graduate and continuing education programs continued but several course areas have seen a boost in enrollment, Merriam said.
“We have seen increases in enrollment throughout the course of the pandemic,’’ he said. “We haven’t had any worries about cancelling classes or shutting down programs.’’
Merriam said there have been increases in areas where careers are in high demand or where students see a need for professional development.
In education for example, many teachers who lost their jobs are taking this time to beef up their skills.
“I believe that students are trying to pad their resumes and get additional licensures to make them more marketable,’’ he said. “School districts are saying you may have an elementary certification, but we may need a reading specialist.’’
He said all 13 concentrations in education had increases with the two most popular being special education and literacy and language, which is needed for a reading specialist.
Framingham State offers a range of continuing education courses including graduate degree programs and certificate programs. Many classes focus on the business, education, and health care fields.
Health care is one area that has been growing for a couple of years, he said.
Merriam said the university typically serves students within a 30-mile radius of its campus. But since going remote, students from as far away as Western Massachusetts have signed up for classes.
Merriam said continuing education and graduate classes have been remote since March 2020 and will continue to be throughout the spring and summer. But even when in-person learning resumes, he said the university plans to continue utilizing technology to reach continuing education students.
“The mindset has changed and that’s going to continue,’’ he said. “We’ve been successful remotely. Typical adult learners don’t want to see the campus, they don’t care about sports and clubs. They just want to know what classes there are.’’
Framingham State University offers 60 undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts and humanities, behavioral and social sciences, and professional fields.
Located on Route 9 in the heart of the MetroWest area, Framingham State University has over 35 Master’s Degrees, Graduate Certificates, and Post-Baccalaureate Programs specifically designed and scheduled for working adults.
Framingham State University can be reached at 508-620-1220 or by visiting https://www.framingham.edu/.