Learning in Retirement Association

About Us

What is LIRA?

The Learning in Retirement Association (LIRA) is a multi-faceted educational program for the retired and semi-retired, for which there are neither educational nor age requirements. LIRA’s philosophy is to provide, at a modest cost, college level learning experiences for all its members, regardless of previous educational background. 

LIRA was founded in 1988 by Dr. Mark Levine, Director of Community Services at UMass Lowell at the time. The program is sponsored by the University’s Office of Community Engagement, which provides space and administrative and office support.

Over 240 similar associations exist on college campuses across the nation, representing more than 62,000 individual members. LIRA is an academic program, designed by its own members to suit their interests. Emphasis is on the collaborative and active member participation. LIRA provides more than classes and social activities – it links its members to a community beyond the classroom and offers a new world of opportunities.

The Elderhostel Institute Network has a listing of all the Lifelong Learning programs in the U.S., which you can find here: Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel).

Listen to a WCAP interview by Teddy Panos with LIRA's Toby Hodes, from September 24, 2013, where Toby discusses everything you need to know about LIRA.

Recent semester offerings include:

  • Shakespeare
  • Documentary Film Series
  • Opera
  • Physics in your Life
  • Great World Religions
  • Art and Music
  • Great Decisions
  • Book Discussion
  • Understanding Great Music
  • Economics

Intersession offerings have included

  • Merrimack Repertory Theater performances
  • Nanotechnology
  • Green Chemistry
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Boston Symphony Open rehearsals
  • Garden in the Woods
  • Peabody Museum
  • Identity Theft


Most study groups will meet in the Talon Club Room at the Tsongas Center. When the Talon Club is not available, the location will be announced well ahead of time. Parking is available in the lot to the right of the building.

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