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What is UNITE Distributed Learning?

Programs and Courses | How UNITE Works | UNITE Advantages

UNITE Distributed Learning is dedicated to providing continuing educational opportunities for engineering and science professionals, utilizing streaming video, downloadable video podcasts and web-based technologies for local and distant students. 

UNITE provides courses toward the completion of Master’s degrees in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. 

However, UNITE is not an academic program, only a way for students to take courses from off-campus locations. These are courses from the College of Science and Engineering at the Univeristy of Minnesota and may be combined with on-campus courses toward a degree (though many of our students complete all program coursework without taking on-campus courses).

Other areas of study available include courses in industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, biophysical sciences, control sciences and dynamical systems, mathematics and physics. 

Located in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering, UNITE began transmitting two-way microwave television broadcasts of credit and non-credit courses to member companies in 1971.  Member companies receiving broadcasts were located primarily in the Twin Cities area, Rochester and western Wisconsin. The tower UNITE used to relay televised course sessions from the Twin Cities campus to students in Rochester sites was located in Hader, Minnesota. 

In the 1990s, UNITE added streaming video to provide anytime, anyplace delivery of these offerings over the Internet to working professionals nationwide.   In Fall 2006, UNITE added downloadable podcasts for students and ended television broadcasts at the end of that semester. UNITE transmitted our final television transmission to conclude finals week in Fall 2006. 

Programs and Courses

UNITE carefully selects courses offered by the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering that address the needs of local, regional and national industry. UNITE utilizes the excellent faculty, staff and support resources in the College of Science and Engineering to deliver high quality credit courses and non-credit seminars/colloquia. UNITE offers more than 100 selected on-campus College of Science and Engineering courses live to a “classroom” within your place of business or directly to your desktop via the web. UNITE can help tailor your program to your specific educational requirements, corporate needs and time allowances.

If you are taking courses toward a degree, know your program's policies and procedures. To best place for you to get the most complete and up-to-date information about your program is at the Graduate Program pages of the departmental web site:

Through UNITE, students may:

  • Complete a master’s degree (an option not available through evening courses in many College of Science and Engineering programs) in about four years by taking one to two classes per term
  • Combine UNITE courses with on-campus courses toward a degree
  • Complete most, if not all course work associated with a Ph.D. degree
  • Register for classes as a non-degree student (students may transfer up to 12 credits into CSE graduate programs)
  • Audit courses on a non-credit basis
  • View non-credit seminars and a wide selection of short courses as well as weekly colloquiums and guest lectures on a variety of topics

Students enjoy the same benefits as those physically present in the on-campus classroom, while gaining instruction about new technologies and advances in their fields from internationally recognized faculty. All degrees, credits, transcripts and other records are identical to those earned through attending classes on-campus.

Each year about 35 students complete their master’s degree through UNITE in Computer Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering.

Other areas of study available include courses in biomedical engineering, biophysical sciences, control sciences and dynamical systems, industrial engineering, mathematics and physics.

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How UNITE Works

UNITE offers 50 - 60 selected graduate and undergraduate level engineering and science courses per semester utilizing streaming video and podcasting technology, supported by a mix of supplementary web based tools tailored to each course’s needs. 

Streaming Video and Podcasts
UNITE-registered students may access course lectures as live streaming video, as streaming video-on-demand archives and as downloadable video and audio podcasts. The archived streaming presentations and downloadable podcasts are available within an hour after each course session. Students pick up every detail of the professor’s notes and visual aids via cameras mounted around the on-campus classroom and directly over the lecture desk.

Delivery of this material is supported by state-of-the-art streaming video server and podcasting software and hardware technology. Viewing of courses utilizes free client software on the learner’s personal computer.

Course Materials and Exams
Students don’t miss a thing. All handouts, assignments, notes and exams are delivered to and from you through UNITE.  If you work at a UNITE partner company, we will work with your company’s UNITE coordinator – a designated individual who serves as a liaison between the students and UNITE at UNITE partner companies. UNITE students or coordinators typically submit homework through email or fax to the UNITE office.  We record, track and transfer your homework to the course instructor and/or teaching assistants and return it to you. 

Exams and quizzes are taken synchronously with the on-campus offering, but at an appropriate location near the learner's home or at their work site. This program is designed to afford any-time, any-play delivery of courses to on-campus and distance learners across the country and worldwide.

For UNITE courses requiring student class presentations, we work with faculty for no-cost solutions for UNITE students such as University-based video conferencing for live presentations and other strategies for recorded presentations.

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UNITE Advantages

The Corporate Advantage
There is no doubt that technological progress creates an ever increasing need for continuing employee education if companies are to remain competitive and at the cutting edge. There is also little doubt that companies – both large and small – cannot meet all of those educational needs internally. At the same time, increasing long work days have managed to deter even highly motivated employees from pursuing additional education, simply because they lack the time.

UNITE offers a convenient, effective, cost-efficient solution to these concerns. UNITE:

  • Eliminates the need to leave the work place and reduces time taken away from the workday.
  • Enhances the value of employees by keeping them at the height of their professions.
  • Attracts new, desirable talent and helps retain top-quality employees by proving tangible concern for employee development and satisfaction.
  • Provides an added benefit to employees by allowing them to receive degree credit for their educational efforts.
  • Reduces costly private professional seminars and related travel expenses.
  • Reduces the loss of valuable employees who either resign or take educational leaves of absence to continue their education.

The Student Advantage
UNITE students never have to leave work early to make it to class on time or worry about finding a parking spot on campus. Even while traveling or when critical work assignments prevent live viewing students stay up-to-date through UNITE’s web delivery option. These are only a few advantages UNITE offers by bringing the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering classes to your work site.

UNITE also allows students to:

  • Complete your master’s degree easily and conveniently within your place of business.
  • Stay abreast of the latest advances in your field through for-credit or non-credit courses, seminars, and short courses.
  • Remain at the cutting edge of your profession or ‘retool” and change your area of specialization.
  • Continue your education without commuting to the University, quitting your job, or taking a leave of absence.
  • Learn from the highly acclaimed University of Minnesota resident faculty.
  • Become a more valuable, promotable, marketable employee within your company.
  • Gain access to the University Libraries.
  • Select an advisor who helps you plan your course work and reviews your progress.

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