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University of Massachusetts Winter School for Turf Managers


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, input reduction, 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 intensive 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 The 2022 Turf Winter School

Prior to the 2021 session, a typical Turf Winter School was a full-time, in-person program held on the UMass Amherst campus for 6 weeks in January and February, with approximately 32 hours of instruction each week. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Winter School was re-invented as a completely online program for the 2021 session.

The virtual 2022 course will run for 10 weeks, from January 3 through March 11, 2022. Instruction will be a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (on-demand) content. The routine schedule will feature synchronous class time from 1:00-3:30 PM and 3:30-5:30 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as 3:30-5:30 PM on Wednesdays, for each week of the course. Synchronous content will be recorded for on-demand viewing whenever feasible to allow for additional flexibility and enhanced study. Regular and consistent graded assessment activities will be assigned and due throughout the course period to ensure that students are engaged and progressing appropriately.

For a less in-depth and less intensive turf management certificate course, take a look at UMass Extension's Green School (please note that Green School is offered only in alternating years; the next session is planned for the fall of 2022).


A Certificate of Completion will be awarded to those who satisfactorily complete the program requirements. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are also available.

Pesticide recertification contact hours will be offered. The UMass Winter School for Turf Managers meets continuing education requirements for licensed pesticide applicators in all New England states. The course may also satisfy or enhance study or continuing education requirements for various professional certification programs. Contact us (see information below) or the coordinator of your certification program of interest for more information.


The 2022 Winter School for Turf Managers has reached capacity and enrollment is now closed.

Please note that Winter School is an annual program that runs starting in January each year, and enrollment for the 2023 session is scheduled to begin in late summer, 2022.  Prospective students are also encouraged to take a look at our Green School short course linked above. The next regulalrly scheduled iteration of Green School will be held in the fall of 2022.

For students that have been accepted for the 2022 session:payment is required within three weeks from the date of your acceptance email, and the deadline for all students to pay in full is December 10, 2021.

Questions? Refer to the contact information below.

Financial Aid/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, visit  For questions and additional information for the Workforce Training Fund Express Program, contact that program at (617) 717-6903 or

If you are appplying from outside of Massachusetts, similar programs may be available in your state.

Topic Modules

Through a rigorous combination of virtual classroom, self-paced, and discussion activities, students can expect to gain detailed understanding and working knowledge of the items described below for each topic module. Each topic module is led by an individual instructor, and each brings their own approach and style appropriate for the material. 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.

  • Fundamentals 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.
  • Soil Science and Management - Study of the nature and properties of soils as related to the culture and management of fine turf.
  • Turf Pathology - 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 Entomology - Discussion of turf damaging insects including: life cycles; identification; Integrated Pest Management strategies; biological & chemical management; and cultural methods for reducing damage.
  • Weed Management - 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.
  • Irrigation and Equipment Management - 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.

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 - University of Massachusetts
  • 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


Jason Lanier
Extension Turf Specialist & Academic Coordinator, UMass Winter School for Turf Managers

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.