Board Adopts New Science Standard for Admission to UMass, State U’s

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Massachusetts high school students hoping to gain admission to the state’s four-year universities, including the University of Massachusetts, will need to take three years of lab-based science, including the natural / physical sciences or technology / engineering courses, beginning in 2017.

Voting at its final meeting of the 2011-12 academic year at Cape Cod Community College, the Board set a new standard for approving admissions policies to the state’s four-year universities, one that, starting today, will allow students to count technology/engineering coursework as science. Three years of high school lab science will be required effective in 2017. Currently, the BHE standard for admission is for three years of science, with two lab courses in the natural/physical sciences. The vote to add a third lab course further aligns admissions requirements with MassCore, the state’s recommended curriculum adopted by the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in November 2007.

The Board vote will have a direct impact on the admissions policies set by the boards of Massachusetts’ nine state universities and the University of Massachusetts, whose admissions policies must now include the expanded science requirement.

“Students entering our state universities and UMass need to be prepared for a rigorous academic experience, especially in science and math,” said Charles F. Desmond, Chairman of the Board of Higher Education. “The nature of knowledge is changing and this expanded emphasis on engineering and technology will help prepare students for both postsecondary pursuits and the jobs of the future.”

“Raising the science standard for admission addresses a ‘disconnect’ between our university admissions and high school standards in the Commonwealth,”said Richard M. Freeland, Commissioner of Higher Education. “This will end the confusion that has existed, whereby students who in good faith took the state-recommended MassCore course of study later discovered that technology/engineering classes were not accepted as a science for admissions purposes.”

In March 2011, the Board voted to require four years of high school math as the standard for admission to the state’s four-year institutions, beginning in fall 2016.

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