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University of Massachusetts Winter School for Turf Managers


Winter School students participate in a grass ID lab. The UMass Winter School for Turf Managers is a certificate program designed to convey concepts essential to maintaining high quality turf, with emphasis on environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility. This comprehensive, dynamic short course is especially suited for experienced professionals associated with the management of fine lawns and landscapes, golf courses, sports fields, parks, and municipal and private grounds.

Winter School is an excellent choice for practitioners who seek to expand their knowledge and practical skills. The program is also uniquely suited for those who want to advance in their career, but cannot schedule a two- or four-year program, as well as career changers who want to establish a solid foundation for entering the field of turf management.

About Turf Winter School 2021

A typical Turf Winter School is a full-time, in-person program held each on the UMass Amherst campus for 6 weeks in January and February, with approximately 32 hours of instruction each week. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have adapted Winter School as a completely online program for the 2021 session. The virtual 2021 course will run for 12 weeks, from January 4, 2021 through March 26, 2021. Instruction will be a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (on-demand) content. The routine schedule will include synchronous lectures/discussions/activities at 1:00 PM and 3:30 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays for each week of the course. Synchronous content will be recorded for on-demand viewing whenever feasible to allow for additional flexibility. Regular and consistent graded assessment activities will be due throughout the course period to ensure that students are engaged and progressing appropriately.

Prospective students should have a basic understanding of online learning and access to a computer or other device, a reliable high-speed internet connection, functioning speakers and microphone or headset, and a webcam if desired (optional).  To help ensure success at Winter School, English language proficiency is strongly recommended.

Please note: While attendees from far and wide are welcome to join us for this virtual course, and some of the information presented will be broadly applicable, much of the information presented will have a focus on grasses in the cool-season range of adaptation.

For a less in-depth and less intensive turf management certificate course, take a look at UMass Extension's Green School.


A Certificate of Completion will be awarded to those who satisfactorily complete the program requirements.

Pesticide recertification contact hours will be offered for all New England states, and 9.6 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available.


Prospective students must complete an application and submit it for review:

To access the 2021 Turf Winter School application:

Notification of application status will be sent via e-mail within one week. Instructions for program registration and payment will be sent upon acceptance. Seating is limited for this program and students will be accepted only until the course is full.

Turf Winter School 2010 Fees & Deadlines

Early Bird Program Fee: $1,580 (includes $30 CEU fee) for students accepted and paid in full on or before November 27, 2020.

Standard Program Fee: $1,680 (includes $30 CEU fee) for students accepted and paid in full after November 27 and before December 18, 2020 (pending availability of seats).

There is a $25.00 non-refundable registration fee due at time of program registration.

All monies are due 3 weeks after acceptance or Dec. 21, 2020, whichever comes first. Your seat cannot be guaranteed if full payment is not received within the specified time frame.

Refund Policy (Program Fee only): 100% through Jan. 5, 2021

Tuition Reimbursement

For eligible Massachusetts employers, the Winter School tuition fee paid on the behalf of your employees may be partially reimbursed through the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Express Grant Program. Employers should submit an online application to the Express Grant Program at least 4 weeks in advance of the Winter School starting date. To find out if you qualify and to apply for benefits, go to For questions and additional information for the Workforce Training Fund Express Program, contact that program at (617) 717-6903 or

Topic Modules

Jason Lanier teaches at Winter School. Through a rigorous combination of virtual classroom, self-paced, and discussion activities, students can expect to gain an understanding and working knowledge of the items described for each course. All students attend all topic modules, and are responsible for completing all assignments and graded assessments in a timely fashion.

Please note that the program reserves the right to make schedule and instructor changes when necessary.

  • Principles of Turf Management – The fundamentals of responsible and effective turf management: basic growth and development of the turfgrass plant and its component parts; climatic and environmental adaptation; management & performance; turfgrass selection & use; establishment practices; nutrition & fertility; and cultural practices including mowing, irrigation, cultivation, and topdressing.
  • Advanced Topics in Turf – Turfgrass physiology and biological processes; environmental stress resistance and tolerance; competition in turfgrass communities.
  • Basic Soil Science - Study of the nature and properties of soils as related to the culture and management of fine turf.
  • Turf Diseases - Causes and identification of diseases, including how they begin and environmental conditions that lead to infection and turf damage; examination of cultural practices and management materials that reduce and prevent diseases.
  • Turf Insects - Discussion of turf damaging insects including: life cycles; identification; Integrated Pest Management strategies; biological & chemical management; and cultural methods for reducing damage.
  • Turf Weeds - Principles of weed management: weed biology & life cycles; weed management strategies, including Integrated Pest Management strategies; techniques for effective weed control with reduced pesticide use.
  • Turf Irrigation - Principles of hydraulics; precipitation rates; irrigation system components & system design; troubleshooting & retrofitting.
  • Arboriculture - Special considerations for maintenance of trees and shrubs in conjunction with turf areas.

Winter School students participate in a grass ID lab. Key Faculty

  • Michelle DaCosta, Ph.D., Associate Professor - University of Massachusetts
  • Deborah Henson, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer - University of Massachusetts
  • Geunhwa Jung, Ph.D., Professor - University of Massachusetts
  • Olga Kostromytska, Ph.D., Extension Assistant Professor -
  • Jason Lanier, M.S., Extension Specialist & Team Leader - University of Massachusetts
  • Angela Madeiras, Ph.D., Extension Educator & Diagnostician, UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab – University of Massachusetts
  • James Poro, M.S., Superintendent, Joseph Troll Turf Research Center - University of Massachusetts
  • Randall Prostak, M.S., Extension Weed Specialist - University of Massachusetts


For general program information (application process, billing, etc):

Karen White
Academic Programs - UMass Online Education

For more information about the academic aspects of the program (material covered, instructors, class structure), contact:

Jason Lanier
Academic Coordinator for Winter School

Winter School: A Distinguished History

The 'Massachusetts Agricultural College Winter Greenkeepers Class' circa 1930

The 'Massachusetts Agricultural College Winter Greenkeepers Class' circa 1930

Professor Lawrence S. Dickinson established the 'Winter School for Greenkeepers at Massachusetts Agricultural College' in 1927. The University of Massachusetts Winter School for Turf Managers, as the program is now known, was the first program of its kind and has run continuously with the exception of a three year hiatus during World War II. The program remains to this day a top source for turf industry professionals, and many UMass Winter School graduates hold positions of responsibility at prestigious fine turf venues throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe.