M.P.A. and Master of History Draw on Lowell History and Culture

New Graduate Programs
Graduate students taking a class in finance.

By Katharine Webster

For those who dream of running a museum, managing a community arts program or bringing literary history alive on the web, the university is offering a distinctive new graduate program: a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Humanities and the Arts.

While a few private colleges in New England offer master’s degrees in arts administration, museum studies or public humanities, UMass Lowell is bringing all three under one roof at a public school price, says Michael Millner, associate professor of English and American Studies and director of the Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for the Public Humanities.

“What’s so innovative here is you can get an M.P.A. – an internationally recognized degree that will open many professional doors for you – but you can get it in this relatively new, public humanities field. I don’t think there’s any other program like that in the country,” Millner says.

Public humanities brings history, literature, philosophy and the arts to the general public, not just by traditional means, but through web-based lectures, exhibits and performances like the TED Talks or the Smithsonian Institution’s online art libraries. To support the new degree, the English Department recently hired two faculty members who specialize in digital humanities.

The Lowell area also boasts a wealth of cultural institutions, from the Lowell National Historical Park to C.O.O.L. – the Cultural Organization Of Lowell – where students can volunteer or work, a requirement for the degree, Millner says. 

Core courses during the first year will focus on accounting and budgeting, public administration, organizational leadership and data analysis; some will be taught with help from the Manning School of Business. The second year, students will take more classes in their specialties.

“It’s for people who want coursework in the nitty-gritty of how you write grants, how you manage your board, how you do the finances and accounting, but are primarily interested in working in a cultural institution,” Millner says.

The new M.P.A. program will offer two other tracks as well, in human service management and justice administration. In all three fields, the regional demand for skilled administrators is growing, says Andrew Harris, associate dean of research and graduate programs for the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. The program will have a soft launch in fall 2016, when seniors in FAHSS can start taking courses that will count toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees and others may enroll part-time. Full launch is set for fall 2017.

Mining Data

The college is rolling out two other new graduate degrees this year. This spring, students can begin work toward an M.A. in History, with concentrations in U.S. or global comparative history. In the fall, the college will enroll its first candidates for a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology and Prevention Science, the first doctoral degree offered by the Psychology Department.

The doctoral program will offer options in cognitive psychology, community and social psychology and developmental psychology. All emphasize practical research and data analysis that, coupled with psychological expertise, can be used to help improve physical and mental health for communities, organizations and specific groups, says psychology Prof. Allyssa McCabe

In a similar vein, the College of Health Sciences offers a new Master of Public Health with core courses in health data and management, environmental influences on health, the science of epidemics and factors that influence behavior. Students have their pick of four concentrations, all in areas where jobs are growing: nutrition, healthcare management, population health and epidemiology.

Data takes center stage in a new business degree, too: the M.S. in Business Analytics.  The Manning School’s new Pulichino Tong Business Building will include a business analytics lab where students and faculty can work on big-data research and projects to help local businesses. Students may also work with local analytics firms.

“There’s a big demand for that degree,” says Leticia Porter, director of graduate programs.

The Manning School is also offering a new Master of Science in Finance that will prepare students for careers in investment analysis, corporate finance and bank management. The degree will also be available online.

New Degrees Combine Management Skills and Specialties

The Manning School is lending its business expertise to a new M.S. in Engineering Management offered by the Francis College of Engineering. The program is aimed at professionals who manage engineering and technical projects, but don’t want to pursue an M.B.A. or a highly specialized engineering research degree, says Prof. Sammy Shina, the program coordinator.

Developing leaders is also a major theme in the new Ph.D. program at the Graduate School of Education, which enrolled its first class in fall 2015. While the school already offered a Doctor of Education degree, it is aimed at working K-12 educators and administrators. The Ph.D., with concentrations in leadership, literacy, or research and evaluation, is designed to prepare the next generation of education policymakers and researchers, says Dean Anita Greenwood.

The Division of Online and Continuing Education has added an M.S. in Information Technology and five different concentrations for the M.A. in Security Studies to its online graduate degree offerings, along with the new M.S. in Finance.

For more information on graduate programs or to apply, please visit the Graduate Admissions website.