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What is UNITE Distributed Learning?

Programs and Courses | How UNITE Works | UNITE Advantages

UNITE Distributed Learning (UNITE) 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 is not an academic program. Rather, UNITE is an educational unit with the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) at the Univeristy of Minnesota through which students may enroll in CSE courses at a distance. Many CSE graduate students complete all degree coursework through UNITE. Additionally, students may combine UNITE-offered courses with on-campus courses toward a degree.

Note that UNITE does not offer all courses that a department offers. If there is a course that a department is offering that you do not see on our schedule, please use our UNITE Course Request Form Image to indiate a link to a web page outside the UNITE web site, which opens in a new window. - we will work with the department to see if that course may be offered for enrollment through UNITE (the earlier the better).

Earn a Master's Degrees at a Distance
Through UNITE, many students take the coursework to fulfill a Plan C (coursework only) graduate degrees from CSE in Computer Science (Master's of Computer Science and Master's of Science in Computer Science) and Electrical Engineering (Master's of Science in Computer Science) entirely at a distance.  

Combine UNITE-Offered Courses with On-Campus Courses Toward Your Degree
In addition to Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, UNITE offers courses from the Biomedical Engineering, Industrial Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Students may combine courses taken through UNTIE with those taken on-campus toward their degree.

Serving CSE Students Since 1971
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 more than 100 selected on-campus CSE courses to offer each academic year, typically 50-60 CSE courses each Fall and Spring (and a handful each Summer).

Through UNITE, students may:

  • Complete the coursework for a master’s degree in about five years by taking one to two classes per semester in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (note that UNITE does not offer Computer Science and Electrical Engineering graduate courses);
  • Combine UNITE courses with on-campus courses toward a degree;
  • Complete coursework associated with a Ph.D. degree in selected programs;
  • 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 each Fall and Spring, utilizing streaming video and podcasting technology, supported by a mix of supplementary tools tailored to each course’s needs.For each course, there is an on-campus section of the course taught in a UNITE-enhanced classroom on which UNITE "piggybacks."

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.  UNITE-enrolled students typically submit homework through email to the UNITE office or directlty to instructors and TAs through a Univeristy of Minnesota online Learning Management System (Canvas or Moodle) .  If submitted to UNITE through email, we confirm receipt, 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 as the on-campus offering with a UNITE-approved Prcotor. 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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