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Graduation rates at UMUC

Created on: 09/24/15 09:11 AM Views: 2993 Replies: 3
Graduation rates at UMUC
Posted Thursday, September 24, 2015 09:11 AM

I’m sorry about the length of the following message, but I think the topic could be interesting to many Overseas Marylanders who have not had contact with UMUC for several years.  


If you take a look at the rating of UMUC vs. College Park on President Obama’s new College Scorecard, you will find that only 4% of UMUC students graduate.   On the other hand, the starting salary of the very few who do graduate is not so bad compared to that of College Park students.

 My old university, University of California at Riverside, has a graduation rate of 66%.   The annual cost for a student attending UCR is $11,400 compared to UMUC’s $9,300.

 UCLA has a 91% graduation rate with an annual cost of $13,700.

 This is the kind of happy news that must make President Javier Miyares and the other members of UMUC’s current leadership beam with pride.



When I E-Mailed the above information to some former UMUC colleagues, one individual objected.  He noted that many military students take one or two classes and discover a university education is not something they wish to pursue.   Naturally, this pulls down the percentage of UMUC students who graduate.

In response to my colleague’s objection, let me offer the following:

 While it is true that a lot of military folks take only a few classes, there are a few other institutions serving the Europe military.   Their graduation rates don’t look so bad when compared to UMUC.

 Embry Riddle (worldwide): 50%

Central Texas College: 18%

 I must admit, the CTC listing seemingly includes its students in Texas, and those stateside folks must pull up the average.

 Yet, UMUC’s stateside student body is reflected in the 4% statistic I mentioned.   Also, the stateside student body is much larger than the military student numbers found in Europe and Asia.    Surely those stateside numbers must pull the UMUC average up.   Nonetheless, UMUC’s worldwide average falls far below CTC.



There is more.   Former Europe faculty representative Ron Schlundt sent me an interesting link to a 2011 Washington Post article.

The author of the article stated:

 In this notebook-emptying post, I want to spotlight the other colleges in the District, Maryland and Virginia with unusually low completion rates. My analysis drew the line at 33 percent — a graduation rate of one third. Here are 10 schools that fell short of that bar.

 UMUC was one of those 10 schools in 2011 that came in low with a graduation rate of 6%.   The report was unclear whether this was the percentage of those students attached only to the Adelphi program or whether it included the worldwide student body.  

 The University of Phoenix was also singled out for its poor graduation rate.   The Phoenix students measured in the article came only from Phoenix’s student population in the District, Maryland, VA area.   This suggests the UMUC numbers were for the same area and excluded military students.

 The student percentage graduating from Phoenix was (drum roll . . . ) 6%.

 UMUC is University System of Maryland's  Phoenix!



Those of you who served in the Europe and Asia Divisions during the 1970s, 80s, and into the 90s remember a far different UMUC than one finds today.     With the retirement of President Massey and the elevation of President Heeger, UMUC turned towards becoming a centralized bureaucracy that worked to replace full-time instructors with inexpensive adjuncts.   Today, roughly 90% of the courses are taught by adjuncts who collect no insurance or retirement benefits.   Textbooks have been eliminated in almost all classes and replaced by a hodge-podge of Internet sources.   Standardized syllabi, standardized courses, and an incredibly poor web platform (LEO) for Distance Ed classes have greatly weakened the UMUC program.   UMUC President Javier Miyares has called for faculty to serve as coaches for students in those standardized classes, and faculty members find they have almost no input into the content of their courses.

Those of you who missed the tenures of Presidents Heeger, Aldridge, and Miyares are left with memories of a program that offered a university education to students in far-flung education centers around the world.   The quality of the Ding-Dong School education that UMUC offers today rattles those of us who remember what UMUC once was.

Bruce Hull 

RE: Graduation rates at UMUC
Posted Saturday, February 27, 2016 04:48 AM

Sorry I'm late to the game; just want to testify that everything Bruce writes is true--sad, but true.

Graduation rates at UMUC
Posted Sunday, June 19, 2016 05:38 PM

OK.  I, like Bruce, will apologize up front for the potential length of my message.  I really don't know how long it will be but I do want to respond to a few of the comments. 

1.  We would EXPECT the starting salaries of UMUC graduates to be "not so bad" compared to College Park students.  Most UMUC students did not start their college careers at the age of 18 or 19 and graduate at age 22 or 23 and enter the job market for the first time.  Let us remember that they are, for the most part, "non-traditional" students with work and life experience that counts when they graduate and apply for a job.

2.  To compare UMUC graduation rates to those of other institutions you mentioned (UC Riverside and UCLA is like making the proverbial apples and oranges comparison.  The institutions are so completely different in a)  Their missions, b)  Their student body composition, c)   The goals of the students attending, and d)  the overall patterns of attendance over time.  Those of us who "served in the Europe and Asia Divisions durning the 1970's, 80's and into the 90's" remember when the average graduate was about 31 years old and many had taken ten or more years from the first UMUC (at the time referred to as The University of Maryland) class they enrolled in to the time of their graduation. 

Do the graduation rates look at every student who has taken a few UMUC courses and did not graduate as contributing to the overall graduation rate statistics? 

Many UMUC students (particularly military students) take UMUC classes while overseas with no plans to graduate but rather to transfer the courses to other institutions they have already attended or plan to attend in the future.

Further, to even compare UMUC to the other institutions you mentioned that are serving the military in Europe (Embry Riddle Worldwide and Central Texas College) isn't appropriate.  Embry Riddle Aeronautical University is specialized and the students who attend have more clear cut objectives for how their degrees will serve them in the future than UMUC students. And, CTC is a two year school.  Thus, the statistics are in question and even if they are accurate, I would question their relevance.

3. I would certainly agree with your comments regarding the changes that have taken place and how they have reduced UMUC to a poor quality mill of sorts with standardized courses and course materials,  which fly in the face of all of the reasons for hiring qualified faculty in the first place, for their unique experience and education that significantly contributes to what students recieve in the way of an education.

4.  Bruce, please do not misunderstand, I too am disturbed by what has taken place over the last 10 - 15 years or so but I would argue at this point that it is time to stop bemoaning and lamenting all of this;  to stop talking about the "good old days" and how it used to be, and to use our remaining time (and this organization) to try to find things to discuss (or do) that might contribute something to this institution that many of us literally loved, to perhaps help it to find its way. 

Aaron Gewirtz

Edited 06/19/16 05:49 PM
Graduation rates at UMUC
Posted Monday, June 20, 2016 05:41 AM

Greetings Aaron,

     I believe your thought concerning UMUC income for graduates is reasonable.  

       If my comparison of UMUC’s graduation rate had only been confined to the likes of UCLA or UC Riverside, I would certainly be in agreement with your criticism.   However, other schools were named as were their comparable graduation percentages.

       I would dispute your suggestion that Embry Riddle or Central Texas graduation rates do not merit comparison with UMUC, but let us leave that aside.     

       I see nowhere in your message where you discuss UMUC’s 4% graduation rate comparison with Phoenix’s 6% end effort.   Is there anybody anywhere who believes Phoenix has done a good job?   As I mentioned, the Washington Post article was unclear whether UMUC’s graduation rate included the military students abroad or whether it only covered UMUC’s operation in Maryland.   Nonetheless, whether such Maryland military students are included or not, the UMUC-Phoenix breakdown presents a shabby UMUC performance.

       Let us be clear here.   When we discuss UMUC we are always including UMUC’s entire stateside student body as well as our European and Asian students.    While military students will pull the average down, the stateside operation is huge and it is driven by a policy to retain students rather than see those students transfer out of the school.   Even though administration attempted to keep students enrolled by lessening the rigor of UMUC university education, a policy that has included the elimination of textbooks and final exams, the graduation rate is still a miserable 4%.

       So, let me conclude by asking you, Aaron, a question I derive from your message.   Does the presentation of my opinion to colleagues really fall under the category of merely bemoaning or lamenting the good old days?   Indeed, nowhere did I mention the good old days.  Also, you have given some thought to the issue and responded, which I think is positive and goes beyond lamentation.  

       What can be done to change UMUC’s course?  This would be a tremendous topic to address here or elsewhere.    Yes, discussion helps, and I hope the opinion piece Maggie Cohen and I contributed to the Baltimore Sun got some tongues wagging.   UMUC’s story needs to be discussed and publicized.    Otherwise, we can expect UMUC administration to continue its destructive policy of diluting university education while simultaneously cutting faculty influence and costs.   


Bruce Hull

Edited 06/20/16 05:43 AM