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Mass General Brigham and UMass Online Form an Alliance to Help Transform Higher Education for Healthcare Professionals

5 minute read

Partnership creates customized curriculum to address skills gaps to advance education for employees of Massachusetts’ largest employer

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Today, the University of Massachusetts announced a strategic alliance between UMass Online and Mass General Brigham (formerly Partners HealthCare) to develop a certificate and degree completion pathway for healthcare professionals in support of the economic recovery in a critical area of need within the state.

“Simply put, there is no partnership more powerful than one between the Commonwealth’s largest employer and its public university,” UMass President Marty Meehan said. “Through this initiative, we are expanding our ability to deliver on our mission of educating Massachusetts citizens and supporting our business community in the most innovative way possible.”

Mass General Brigham, the largest private employer in Massachusetts, has also selected UMass Online as a partner to provide some if its 78,000 employees the opportunity to earn a Bachelor’s in Business Administration completely online as part of Mass General Brigham’s Workforce Development programming. The partnership will offer expanded access to higher education through innovative, online, competency-based academic courses, strong student support, and enhanced tuition assistance.

UMass Online discounts and waivers will be available to complement Mass General Brigham’s existing tuition reimbursement programs. The program’s curriculum will be developed specifically for the Mass General Brigham workforce to advance their skills within a field expected to grow 14% in the next ten years, adding nearly 2 million more jobs in the sector.

“There is a great deal of synergy between both organizations’ missions including a focus on research, teaching, and a deep commitment to making opportunity accessible in all of the communities we serve,” said Rose Sheehan, Chief Human Resources Officer for Mass General Brigham. “This collaboration will lead to enhanced educational and career advancement opportunities for our frontline employees, many of whom come from diverse communities. Their successful achievements will benefit the patients of tomorrow.”

In addition to developing degree completion programs, UMass Online is working with Mass General Brigham and Commonwealth Corporation, the state’s quasi-public workforce development agency, to develop a stackable Practice Assistance Training Program Certificate as part of a grant awarded to UMass Online by Commonwealth Corporation.

Governor Baker created the Commission on Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning (DILL), which recommended in its final report how Massachusetts can expand affordable, high-quality, employer-aligned education, training, and lifelong learning opportunities in this era of accelerating technological change. Funding for the grant awarded to UMass Online comes from the Strada Education Network and the Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly Workforce Success Grants, which are funded through the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF) that is administered by Commonwealth Corporation on behalf of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. This asynchronous program will offer a self-paced, flexible and easily accessible program of study, informed by their practice leaders, supported by academic coaches from both Mass General Brigham and UMass Online, and integrated wrap-around services, to ensure Mass General Brigham employees have the most relevant program of study with the support to encourage retention and credential attainment.

“By creating new flexible and affordable training programs that allow working adults to learn new skills at their own pace, this innovative pilot will help address the state’s shortage of health care workers, increase participants’ economic mobility and opportunities for career advancement, and enhance the capacity of employers and educational institutions to co-create new programs for workers in growing fields,” said Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta.

“Programs like this with forward-thinking colleagues like UMass Online and Mass General Brigham are critical to leveling the playing field and narrowing the skills gap that makes it difficult for employers to fill vacancies. We need to focus on lifelong learning because we cannot expect people to rely on the skills they learned in the first quarter of their lives to sustain them economically, and neither can their employers. And we need to create more approaches that meet the needs of working adults and lower-income people,” said Commonwealth Corporation President and CEO Christine Abrams.

"Providing working adults with the skills they need to prosper in their careers is a key commitment for UMass,” said UMass System Chancellor of Academic Programs Katherine Newman. “What better opportunity to showcase that promise than an educational partnership with Mass General Brigham Healthcare, the Commonwealth's largest employer. This is a signal moment for the university, for the healthcare industry, and for the front line employees who will benefit from this alliance."

Mass General Brigham, UMass Online and Commonwealth Corporation will host a live video conference on Tuesday, June 16th from 1:00PM – 2:30PM to discuss “Workforce Development in Time of Crisis and Critical Need.”

The event will feature the following panelists:

  • Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta

  • Commonwealth Corporation President and CEO Christine Abrams

  • UMass System Chancellor of Academic Programs Katherine Newman

  • Mass General Brigham, Vice President, Community Health, Matt Fishman

  • Mass General Brigham, Vice President, Talent Management, Erin Flanigan

Register for this webinar.

Media Contact

Mass General Brigham:
Rich Copp 617-278-1031

UMass Online:
Colin Murphy 413-233-8856

About Commonwealth Corporation

Commonwealth Corporation is a quasi-public workforce development agency that strengthens the skills of Massachusetts youth and adults by investing in innovative partnerships with industry, education and workforce organizations. Its primary goals are to build regional industry training partnerships that prepare youth and unemployed workers for jobs in demand that lead to higher rates of employment; to upgrade the skills of underemployed workers to meet specific employer skill demands leading to job retention, upgrades and wage gains, and; to increase the share of youth engaged in education and employment pathways preparing them for post-secondary education and careers. Commonwealth. Corporation’s goal is to extend Massachusetts’ leadership in education and training, and its overall prosperity, by ensuring that all people benefit from our economy.

The Commission was comprised of executives from some of Massachusetts’ largest companies, college and university presidents, community and workforce system leaders, innovators in digital learning, and leading scholars of learning science, organizations, and the future of education and work.

About UMass Online

UMass Online, the online learning consortium of the University of Massachusetts, provides marketing and technology support for UMass’ online offerings that enable students, professionals, and lifelong learners to take courses anywhere, anytime. With close to 190 undergraduate and graduate degree, certificate and professional development programs and more than 4,000 courses available from UMass, UMass Online’s marketing and technology services support one of the largest accredited online programs available. Programs span the disciplines for which the University is best known: liberal arts, education, management, nursing, public health, information technology, and other disciplines.

About Mass General Brigham

Mass General Brigham is an integrated academic health care system, uniting great minds to solve the hardest problems in medicine for our communities and the world. Mass General Brigham connects a full continuum of care across a system of academic medical centers, community and specialty hospitals, a health insurance plan, physician networks, community health centers, home care, and long-term care services. Mass General Brigham is a nonprofit organization committed to patient care, research, teaching, and service to the community. In addition, Mass General Brigham is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations with several Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals. For more information, please visit