Founded in 1908, the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia stands as one of the oldest universities in northern Virginia. Originally established as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women, it was eventually named after the first First Lady, who held residence with her husband here for years.
Today, the college is located at its central Fredericksburg campus, as well as having a satellite in nearby Stafford County (home to many distance learning programs, with evening/weekend and online classes to help towards Bachelor and Master’s degrees). Academically offering degree tracts to a student body of roughly 4000 undergrads and another 1000 graduate and degree completion students, the 176 acre campus small classes and 90% terminally degreed faculty (undergrad classes: 22 students, graduate: 15 students).
There are more than 40 majors and programs of study for Bachelor and Master’s degrees, including double majors and interdisciplinary tracts. Whether with the customizable Bachelor of Liberal Arts, the MS in Elementary Education (graduate programs exist in Education, Business, and Management Information Systems), or a dual degree MBA-MSMIS, there are a variety of options for students.
“Part of the mission of the University of Mary Washington is to provide educational opportunities for adult learners…whose schedule do not allow meeting in face-to-face classrooms at a particular time”. As a result, distance learning at UMW is an actively growing area, with web-assisted, blended, and fully online class offerings, in addition to a degree and certificate options.
In Education, there is a Master’s tract for Instructional Design and Technology majors who aren’t able to commit to traditional, on campus classes. Utilizing online and blended courses, students can complete their M.Ed.s with little in class learning, relegating on campus visits to weekends/evenings on occasion and some testing. A degree designed to use the methods it teaches, the program trains in educational technologies ranging from podcasting to multi-media development and Web authoring. There is also a graduate certificate in Instructional Design/Technology with about half the credits needed to achieve as the Master’s tracts which is, again, largely online.
The only other distance degree offered at this time is through the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering program, “a distance learning program to make Master’s degrees in several engineering disciplines… [organized around] the University of Virginia”. Using live broadcasts from UV classrooms to create two-way video-conferencing with “leading universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia”, evening classes are received live at UMW and allow for full participation in classroom discussions. The resulting Master in Engineering, offered since 1983 through distance methods, is fully accredited and offers several majors of study to choose from in a flexible format.
There is also a non-credit Algebra course that is completely done online, with “frequent interactions with the online instructor”, as opposed to other online non-credit courses that just offer information without aid. Most online and distance courses are offered through the Stafford campus each semester.
Study abroad and internship opportunities abound here as well, a part of the largely experiential learning environment they espouse here. Widely regarded as a “best buy” in education, UMW has long stood as a “leading liberal arts college…with a graduate and professional school that understand education with consequence”, creating a learning environment that aids the student in completing their degree aspirations.