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University of Massachusetts Winter School for Turf Managers

Program Background

The UMass Winter School for Turf Managers is an intensive, 110+ hour certificate program designed to convey concepts essential to producing and maintaining high performance turf, with emphasis on environmental stewardship, input reduction, efficiency, and fiscal responsibility. This comprehensive, dynamic short course is geared to professionals associated with the management of fine lawns and landscapes; golf courses; sports surfaces; parks; municipal, institutional, or private grounds; or sales and support to these industry segments.

Winter School is an excellent choice for turf managers who seek to expand their knowledge and practical skills.  The program is uniquely suited for experienced professionals who want to take the next step in their career, but lack formal education in turf science, and for whom a two- or four-year degree program is not the best choice at this time.  For those who may aspire to an advanced degree in the future, Winter School is an great first step.  The course is also often a good fit for motivated career changers who want to establish a solid foundation for entering the field of turf management.

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 among the thousands of UMass Winter School graduates hold positions of responsibility and prestige throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Current Course Format

Prior to the 2021 session, a typical Turf Winter School was a full-time, in-person program held on the UMass Amherst campus in Amherst, MA 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 upcoming Winter School in 2024 will once again be an entirely online, 110+ hour course taught by UMass Extension Specialists, UMass faculty, and distinguished guest instructors. Virtual instruction offers appealing benefits, including registration cost savings due to reduced overhead, savings on time and travel expenses, and opportunity for those who have previously been unable to attend due to other commitments, travel restrictions or distance the ability to participate from the convenience of their own homes and offices.

With the above said, we continue to learn and adapt and the specific format for future sessions is yet to be determined.

For a more introductory, less in-depth, and less intensive turf management certificate course, please take a look at UMass Extension's Green School.  Note that Green School is offered only in alternating years; the next session is scheduled for the fall of 2024. Also note that the curriculum for the 60+ hour Green School is especially oriented to the care of landscape turf on lawns and grounds, whereas Winter School is more comprehensive and a better choice for advanced lawn care study as well those working with more intensively-managed turf such as that found on golf courses and higher-end athletic fields.

Click to expand the headings below for complete course information and application instructions.