Jul 21, 2024  
Fitchburg State University 2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
Fitchburg State University 2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog

About the University


History of the University

Established in 1894 by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature, the State Normal School in Fitchburg opened in temporary quarters in the old high school building on Academy Street. Principal John G. Thompson, aided by a teaching staff of three, implemented a two-year teacher training program for women that had 46 participants. In December 1896, the school expanded into a new building, known as Thompson Hall, and set up the State School of Observation and Practice in city buildings on Day Street and Highland Avenue.

In the next decade the school was a trendsetter for programs in education. The Edgerly School opened, originally as an eighth-grade model and practice school. In 1910, it became one of the first junior high schools in the United States. The following year the school initiated the first practical arts teacher training course in the country for men.

In 1930, the State Normal School was authorized to offer a bachelor’s degree in practical arts, and in 1932, when it became the State Teachers College at Fitchburg, four-year degrees were offered in all areas of education.

Under the auspices of the State Division of University Extension, summer courses were first offered in 1915, marking the beginning of the university’s commitment to Continuing Education programs. In 1935, the college was also authorized to establish graduate programs and in 1954 the first evening courses were offered.

In 1960, the college changed its name and expanded its mission. The State College at Fitchburg diversified its programs to include degrees in disciplines other than education. In 1965, its name was officially changed to Fitchburg State College. In July, 2010 the governor signed legislation renaming us Fitchburg State University. Within our 15 academic departments, we offer more than 25 degrees, 50 concentrations, and 45 minors, as well as three certificate programs at the undergraduate level. At the graduate level, we offer more than 12 master’s degree programs, and over 40 concentrations. In addition, we offer two Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study programs, four post Baccalaureate certificate programs, and seven graduate-level certificate programs. Enrollment is up to 3,626 full-time and 3,740 part-time students which include 903 matriculated graduate students. The campus has expanded from a single structure on High Street to 45 buildings on 278 acres of which 113 acres make up the main campus, becoming the educational center for the Montachusett region. The University proudly offers traditional and non-traditional programs to serve the educational needs of its students as undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students.

Mission of the State Universities

There are six comprehensive state universities—Bridgewater State University, Fitchburg State University, Framingham State University, Salem State University, Westfield State University and Worcester State University—and three specialized colleges—Massachusetts College of Art, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The six comprehensive state universities integrate liberal arts and sciences programs with professional education, and the three specialized colleges also focus on academic areas identified in the college’s name.

Each state university places a special emphasis on teaching and lifelong learning and promotes a campus life that fosters intellectual, social and ethical development. Committed to excellence in instruction and to providing responsive, innovative and educational programs of high quality, they seek to develop each student’s critical thinking, quantitative, technological, oral and written communications skills and practical appreciation of the arts, sciences and humanities as they affect good citizenship and an improved quality of life. The state universities provide a campus environment where the ideas, values, perspectives and contributions of all students are respected.

Massachusetts state universities are strategically located to facilitate access to baccalaureate and master’s degree programs for Commonwealth residents who meet their high standards for admission. In recognition of their responsibilities to Massachusetts taxpayers to manage their resources efficiently and to maintain tuition and fees at a level as low as possible, each university has a distinctive academic focus based upon its established strengths and regional and state needs. Each university is a leader and resource for the community and contributes to the region’s cultural, environmental and economic development.

Fitchburg State University Core Values, Mission, Vision

Core Values


Offering equitable access to high-quality programs and services to people of varying cultural backgrounds living within and beyond our diverse community of North Central Massachusetts


Providing opportunities for students of varying socioeconomic backgrounds to pursue an affordable, quality education


Forging partnerships with businesses and community organizations within the region to enhance quality of life Enrichment Sustaining a supportive campus environment for students, faculty, staff, and alumni in which all members can grow and excel in their personal and professional lives


Sustaining a supportive campus environment for students, faculty, staff, and alumni in which all members can grow and excel in their personal and professional lives


Striving for excellence in academic programs and services through innovative teaching and professional practices


Fitchburg State University is committed to excellence in teaching and learning and blends liberal arts and sciences and professional programs within a small college environment. Our comprehensive public university prepares students to lead, serve, and succeed by fostering lifelong learning and civic and global responsibility. A Fitchburg State education extends beyond our classrooms to include residential, professional, and co-curricular opportunities. As a community resource, we provide leadership and support for the economic, environmental, social, and cultural needs of North Central Massachusetts and the Commonwealth.


Fitchburg State University will be nationally recognized for its excellence in teaching and learning in current and emergent fields, for its commitment to transforming lives through education, and for its dedication to public service.

In order to achieve this, we will:

  • Prepare students for a global society through curricular innovation and program development;
  • Achieve academic excellence by investing in our faculty and librarians in their pursuit of knowledge, professional competency, and scholarship;
  • Employ innovative uses of technology in the library and across our campus to maximize student learning;
  • Create a culture of diversity to meet the needs of the region and enhance the personal and academic lives of the university community;
  • Build partnerships within our community to provide real-world opportunities for our students and collaborative solutions to community issues.

Institutional Learning Priorities (ILPs)

What students know, are able to do, and value upon graduation from Fitchburg State University

Through their complete educational experience, Fitchburg State graduates will be creative and critical thinkers who integrate and communicate their learning from a variety of disciplines and experiences in ways that enhance their civic, personal and professional lives.

1. Graduates have a deep understanding of the world

Accomplished through:

1A. Foundational Skills and Disciplinary Breadth
Students will demonstrate attainment of the Learning Outcomes of the General Education program.

1B. Mastery in a Defined Body of Knowledge
Students will attain the specialized academic objectives of their major or programs.

1C. Engagement with Campus and Community Life
Students will develop personal and professional skills, goals, and ethical standards of behavior through co-curricular experiences.

2. Graduates know how to learn and how to apply their knowledge

Accomplished through:

2A. Creative and Critical Thinking
Students will use evidence and context to increase knowledge, reason ethically, assess the quality of information, solve problems, and innovate in imaginative ways.

2B. Effective Communication
Students will carefully consider and clearly articulate ideas for a range of audiences and purposes in written, spoken, technology-mediated, visual, or other forms of communication.

2C. Integrative Learning
Students will apply their breadth and depth of knowledge, skills, and experience to address complex issues.

3. Graduates are engaged citizens who demonstrate integrity and continuous personal growth

Accomplished through:

3A. Respect for People and Cultures
Students will appreciate the contributions and needs of diverse individuals and groups and understand themselves in solidarity with others locally, nationally, and globally.

3B. Civic Participation in Wider Communities
Students will demonstrate their ability to work within and across communities, to apply their knowledge in the service of others, and to promote social justice.

3C. Continuous Learning and Personal Growth
Students will approach the world with confidence and curiosity, appreciate the complex identities of themselves and others, and reflect critically on their experiences throughout life to make informed choices that advance their own well-being and that of the larger community.​​​​​​