Becker College is a future-focused institution with a bold, entrepreneurial mission that is playing out on a global stage. President Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., believes in higher education as a public good, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the College’s initiatives aimed at the applied side of STEM. A private, post-secondary and graduate institution, Becker serves 2,153 students from 33 states and 23 countries.
Becker College seeks to educate a generation of young people to become global citizens. Becker is an adaptive, nimble, and entrepreneurial institution—realigning academic programs, continuing to add graduate degrees, and establishing centers and institutes to expand its impact through collaboration and partnerships. In January 2015, Colleen Barrett ’64, provided a $1 million gift to name and create the Colleen C. Barrett Center for Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will house the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI), MassDiGI New Ventures Center, the Women’s Leadership Institute, and the Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College. STEM education and partnerships are essential elements of all of these ventures. As President Johnson says, “At Becker College we embrace the notion that the only way to predict the future is to build it yourself.”
In the last three years, the Becker College Office of Enrollment Management has drawn record-setting numbers of applications and increased enrollment, with more than half of incoming students enrolling in a STEM program. The highest-performing students select Becker for its STEM programs. The number of graduates in Becker’s top three STEM programs continues to increase as well; in 2015, Becker College graduated 95 Interactive Media students, 50 Nursing students, and 145 Veterinary Science students. Members of the Becker College faculty are active in their fields and are constantly pursuing research and creative opportunities. The reach of their activities and the recognition they have achieved serve as an effective method of spreading the word about STEM initiatives at Becker.
Innovative employer-driven pathways
Preparing students appropriately for the future workplace means cultivating adaptive learners who can leverage their agile mindsets (empathy, divergent thinking, an entrepreneurial outlook, and social and emotional intelligence) to navigate and thrive in a world that is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Integrating its core expertise in gaming for education and entertainment, data analytics, health science, business, and STEM fields, the College is dedicated to providing unique, trans-disciplinary career pathways and learning experiences for its students.
Academic program administrators and faculty cultivate networks in their fields and help direct students toward opportunities that lead to employment. Each program must provide options to students to complete internship/externship/preceptorship requirements. The College’s signature programs—veterinary science, interactive media, and nursing—account for scores of partnerships with employers, regionally and nationally.
The Becker College Center for Career Education, its Becker Connector employer/job seeker database, and industry-focused workshops are additional resources for students to connect with potential employers. The relatively new Sophomore Shadow Program builds relationships with Becker alumni and their employers and provides a glimpse into professional career paths for students at an early stage in their educational careers.
Employer-driven pathways are built into such key initiatives as MassDiGI and its New Ventures Center, the Colleen C. Barrett Center for Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College.
In terms of economic development, MassDiGI has played a key role in supporting the game industry in the region through programs that target novice entrepreneurs, established studios, and national and international partnerships and collaborations. For example, since its establishment, MassDiGI has worked with more than 250 new ventures, launched 16 games, mentored over 160 teams, taken part in gubernatorial trade missions to the UK, France, Denmark and Canada, hired 86 interns representing 21 different colleges and universities from California to Ireland, referred talent to over two dozen companies, conducted sector surveys, hosted consular events and promoted Massachusetts at many games tradeshows and events across the country.
In May 2015, two Becker-grown game startups—Petricore Games and Zephyr Workshop—were among 12 new companies awarded work space in downtown Worcester by StartUp Worcester, and initiative sponsored by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and partners. Becker has also invested in space at the Innovation Center of Worcester, operated by the Worcester Development Center. The space is awarded to a different startup each year, selected through a business plan competition.
Career Exploration of 6,572+ Alumni:
Key STEM programs
At Becker College, 57% of students are enrolled in STEM-based programs of study: biology, criminal justice, data science, exercise science, interactive media, nursing, and veterinary science. It is projected that by 2025, 75% of all students will be in STEM fields, resulting in such new programs as health informatics, cyber and health forensics, and biomedical science.
In 2015 Becker’s undergraduate video game design program was ranked #9 in the world by The Princeton Review. The program has been top-ranked for six consecutive years—the only institution on the East Coast, and one of four worldwide, to maintain this longstanding distinction. In 2014, the College became one of the 19 charter members of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA). Students in the Interactive Media programs also maintain a student chapter of the International Game Developers Association.
Becker College is #1 among undergraduate nursing programs in Massachusetts, with the first-time National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rate for pre-licensure nursing graduates consistently exceeding state and national rates.
Dubbed the #2 small college in the United States for animal lovers by Great Value College Becker is one of ten private colleges in New England to offer American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA)-accredited undergraduate programs in veterinary technology. Nationally, Becker is the third largest producer of undergraduate vet tech degrees among four-year private institutions. The School of Animal Studies at Becker College serves as a pipeline into the life science and biotech fields. The College’s on-campus veterinary clinic, open to the public, provides students with hands-on experience and sees more than 1,000 patients annually.
Enrollment is highest in Becker’s veterinary science, interactive media, and nursing programs. Three beneficial programs that illustrate the high quality of hands-on education and strong, diverse pipelines that Becker has created between students and employers are: MassDiGI Summer Innovation Program; the clinical learning opportunities which place nursing students in regional hospitals and health care facilities; and the Becker College Lambing Team—a unique skill-strengthening opportunity for a group of veterinary science students who support the care of sheep and the birth of lambs at a local, small sustainable farming business.