Jul 24, 2024  
2016-2017 UMass Dartmouth Undergraduate Catalog 
2016-2017 UMass Dartmouth Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Introduction to the University

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth


The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is a vibrant and innovative public research university located on a 710-acre campus on the scenic SouthCoast. The university offers 53 undergraduate majors, 30 graduate programs of study, and 13 doctoral programs, and is the site of the Commonwealth’s only public law school. More than 9,100 students attend UMass Dartmouth, which has produced more than 55,000 alumni. In 2016 UMass Dartmouth was designated by Carnegie as a Doctoral Research University, recognizing the significant level of research at the University.

UMass Dartmouth history

UMass Dartmouth traces its roots to 1895, when the state legislature chartered the New Bedford Textile School and the Bradford Durfee Textile School in Fall River. As the region’s economic base shifted from textiles to more diverse manufacturing and service industries, these institutions changed. By the middle of the 20th century, the schools were growing rapidly, spurred by economic and cultural trends, and became multipurpose institutions, preparing engineers, healthcare workers, teachers, and business leaders.

In 1962, the state legislature created Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute (SMTI) by merging the New Bedford Textile School and the Bradford Durfee Textile School at its Dartmouth location. The dramatic campus design was the work of world-renowned architect Paul Rudolph. Responding to the public demand for a comprehensive university in the region, SMTI became Southeastern Massachusetts University in 1969. In 1988, the Swain School of Design merged with the university’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

In 1991, the campus became UMass Dartmouth, joining a new University of Massachusetts system that also includes campuses in Amherst, Boston, Lowell, and Worcester.

In 1994, UMass Dartmouth received approval to offer its first PhD degree in Electrical Engineering. The campus now offers 13 doctoral programs including the juris doctor.

In 1997, construction was completed for the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), located on 2.6 acres in New Bedford near Buzzards Bay. Construction has begun on a new building and extensive renovations are underway in the original facility, with an expected completion date in 2017. SMAST offers master’s and Ph.D. programs.

In 2001, the university opened its College of Visual and Performing Arts facility in downtown New Bedford in the former Star Department Store. The facility has been a catalytic force in the development of the community’s creative economy.

Also in 2001, the university opened the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center in Fall River. The 60,000-square-foot business incubator features office, research and development space for start-up companies in fields like acoustics, optics, telecommunications, materials, textiles and environmental engineering, as well as conference space. It was renamed as the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2015.

In 2010 UMass Dartmouth was awarded the authority to grant law degrees and the University of Massachusetts School of Law - Dartmouth was created.

During the first decade of the 21st century, UMass Dartmouth has continued to grow in size and impact.  The campus residential population is about 4,200 students, and the research enterprise attracts $28.2 million. In addition, the university’s commitment to civic engagement has generated more than 230,000 hours of service to the community, valued at more than $5 million.

The University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts has been providing high quality educational opportunities for Massachusetts residents and for students and faculty from all over the world for more than 150 years.


The University’s mission is to provide an affordable and accessible education of high quality and to conduct programs of research and public service that advance knowledge and improve the lives of the people of the Commonwealth, the nation, and the world.


The University of Massachusetts was established in 1863 as the Massachusetts Agricultural College, located in Amherst. It became known as the Massachusetts State College in 1932 and in 1947 became the University of Massachusetts. The Worcester and Boston campuses were established in 1962 and 1964, respectively. The Lowell and Dartmouth campuses (previously the University of Lowell and Southeastern Massachusetts University, respectively) were consolidated into the University under Chapter 142 of the Acts of 1991.


The University of Massachusetts is governed by:

  • A single Board of Trustees composed of 19 voting members and three non-voting members.
  • The President of the University, located in Boston, oversees the five-campus system; and support offices are located in Shrewsbury.
  • Chancellors are located at each University of Massachusetts campus:
    • UMass Amherst
    • UMass Boston
    • UMass Dartmouth
    • UMass Lowell
    • UMass Medical School (Worcester)