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Colleges in Massachusetts

Why go to College in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts is home to some of the best universities in the world, including Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). According to a 2016 report, Massachusetts ranks first and second place in the world in two of three main subject areas with students consistently earning high standardized test scores. Massachusetts has over 40,000 higher education faculty & staff, and a yearly research spending of over $630 million.

Population

Massachusetts is home to 6.8 million people. The state capital is Boston, the sixth largest city in the U.S. Massachusetts is one of the oldest states in the country and has the fastest growing population in New England.

Climate

Massachusetts offers an excellent climate for seasonal sports and outdoor activities, with temperatures ranging from 17-84 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. Due to its location on the cost of the Atlantic ocean, the state sometimes experiences cyclones and hurricanes.

Number of Higher Learning Institutions

There are 260 colleges in Massachusetts, many of which are nonprofit. These schools include a variety of Christian universities and over thirty special-focus institutions which offer degrees on subjects like law, healthcare, beauty, engineering, hospitality, business, and security.

Sporting Events

Boston is the birthplace of basketball and home to a number of professional sports teams, including the Celtics, Red Socks, and New England Patriots. The surrounding area has plentiful golf, rowing, and fishing competitions and has hosted the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup several times.

Nightlife

Boston’s Anglo-Irish heritage has produced a well-known beer culture. When combined with the city’s musical legacy of jazz, blues, rock, and punk, Boston bars are second-to-none. There are also many spots in the city’s famous Theatre District and Leather District.

What Options are Available for Colleges in Massachusetts?

On-Campus

On-campus study in Massachusetts allows students to make the most of a university’s on-site resources and is best-suited for those with an interest in the local culture. It is also ideal for those who already live or work in the northeast. For those who plan on staying in this part of the country, Massachusetts is a good choice. Boston is the largest city in New England and has a strong financial future with successful businesses in almost all economic sectors.

Online Programs

Online colleges in Massachusetts offer similar access to university resources, but also allow students to study on their own time from anywhere in the world. While it can be difficult to find the right program for you, distance learning makes it possible to study at institutions that aren’t in your immediate vicinity. As a result, online students have a much wider variety of options available to them than on-campus students. Distance learners also benefit from not having to pay for on-campus housing, physical textbooks, transportation, and other fees related to on-campus study.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid study is the combination of on-campus and online study. These courses include a mixture of in-person lectures and online coursework, using each format only for the tasks that it is best for. Hybrid students have the flexibility of schedule associated with online colleges in Massachusetts, as well as direct access to a university’s full suite of on-campus resources. A number of recent studies uniformly highlight the benefits of independent and flexible learning combined with traditional face-to-face support.

Popular Degree Programs in Massachusetts

Given the number of successful industries in Massachusetts, students tend to focus their studies one a subject that will allow them to find work in the state. For example, MIT and other schools in neighbouring states like Connecticut and New York regularly produce a large quantity of psychology graduates who end up pursuing a career in neuroscience. The following are just a few of the many successful industries in Massachusetts.

  • Neuroscience

    Massachusetts produces a disproportionately high quantity of neuroscience graduates when compared to other states. Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system and brain and is based on technological advancements in biology, medicine, and psychology. Massachusett maintains its elite status in multidisciplinary research thanks to schools like MIT and Harvard, making the state friendly to the neuroscience industry.

  • Business & Administration

    Business management & administration is the most popular major in Massachusetts. The subject prepares graduates for leadership roles across a broad range of industries. Graduates with a degree in business management benefit from plentiful local opportunities to gain experience in the service sector, as well as New England’s long history of international trade, especially through the port of Boston.

Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts for 2017

Since distance learners have so many options available to them, it can be difficult to choose the right program to meet their long-term career goals. The major benefit of online learning is that the costs of attending college on-campus are negated, allowing you to choose a program solely based on its academic merits. This guide can help you make an informed decision about which of the online colleges in Massachusetts is the right one for you.

1

University of Massachusetts-AmherstAmherst, MA

Admissions Rate 58%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 91%
Graduation Rate 78%
Online Enrollment 11%

With a student body of more than 30,000, UMass Amherst is the largest college in New England. UMassOnline, the college’s online education platform, was founded in 2001 and offers more than 100 online programs at the associate, certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. The school’s online offerings encompass most major academic areas, like business and science. Unique degree options include sustainability studies, vision education, wildlife and fisheries conservation, international affairs, and natural resources conservation. The school is among online colleges in Massachusetts to offer blended education programs to students who live near campus, which provide students the opportunity to complete coursework on campus and online. All online programs are designed for working professionals. The school's Isenberg MBA is one of the most well known MBA programs.

2

Endicott CollegeBeverly, MA

Admissions Rate 73%
Default Rate 3%
Retention Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 71%
Online Enrollment 14%

Endicott, a private college in Beverly that’s home to more than 5,000 students, is a major provider of online education, with programs such as hospitality management, international education, computer science, and athletic administration all available fully online. Endicott is also unique among online colleges in Massachusetts for offering degrees that are focused on Montessori education, including a bachelor of arts in liberal studies with a concentration in Montessori learning and a master of education in Montessori integrative education. The school hosts several fifth-year master’s programs, which allow undergraduate students to pursue a master’s degree in a subject related to their bachelor’s with just one additional year of study. Online options for fifth-year master’s programs include applied behavior analysis and homeland security.

3

University of Massachusetts-LowellLowell, MA

Admissions Rate 57%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 56%
Online Enrollment 21%

University of Massachusetts-Lowell is a major public college that enrolls around 18,000 students annually, making it the second-largest public school in the state. It also ranks as one of the top online schools in Massachusetts, with a distance education platform that offers more than two dozen bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and certificate programs. Students can choose from programs in popular subjects such as psychology, information technology, and business administration. Specialized online certificates include domestic violence prevention, plastic engineering fundamentals, and paralegal studies. The college also offers a unique security studies program with concentration options that include homeland defense, industrial and economic security, cyber security, and international security. The school offers five hybrid programs at the master's and doctorate level.

4

Northeastern UniversityBoston, MA

Admissions Rate 28%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 97%
Graduation Rate 84%
Online Enrollment 1%

Northeastern University's main campus is located in Boston. The school has satellite locations in Seattle, Toronto, and California’s Silicon Valley. The school also operates a substantial online program, with dozens of degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and certificate levels. Students can pursue programs in forensic accounting, homeland security, legal studies, and respiratory care leadership, most of which are available entirely online. Many of NU’s online programs, particularly at the graduate level or higher, include a significant practicum component, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in a professional setting that augments their online courses. Most practicum experiences can be arranged locally, making it possible for online learners to earn a degree without ever visiting campus.

5

Assumption CollegeWorcester, MA

Admissions Rate 76%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 83%
Graduation Rate 73%
Online Enrollment 4%

Assumption College is a private, Roman Catholic liberal arts school in Worcester. The school has a small enrollment of about 2,500. This allows the college to provide students with small class sizes and individualized attention. The school hosts an online program that offers several associate and bachelor’s programs in the areas of business, humanities, human services, and social sciences. All programs are available in a fully online format with asynchronous courses, allowing students to complete work on their schedule. Assumption also hosts five blended programs that combine campus and online learning, this includes accounting, human resource management, paralegal studies, project management, and the Society for Human Resource Managers learning program certificate. Blended learning gives degree candidates the flexibility of online courses while also allowing students to benefit from the community support of campus courses.

6

Lesley UniversityCambridge, MA

Admissions Rate 67%
Default Rate 4%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 54%
Online Enrollment 8%

Located in Cambridge, Lesley is a private college that offers more than 20 fully online programs in art and design, business management, education, human services, liberal arts, and psychology and counseling. Lesley also offers a selection of individual online courses that are intended for professional development, with programs in web design, literacy and reading, teaching and learning, special education, and science and technology. All individual courses are worth three credits and have two start dates every fall. Online degree candidates have access to dedicated resources throughout their education, including online counselors who help with admissions and course selection. Current students and graduates can locate opportunities through Lesley’s Internship and Career Center, which has connections to local and national organizations.

7

Framingham State UniversityFramingham, MA

Admissions Rate 71%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 56%
Online Enrollment 16%

FSU, a public college in the city of Framingham, offers many online programs in 18 subjects, including liberal studies, nutrition education, merchandising, and instructional technology. Students can also pursue hybrid master’s programs in business administration, STEM education, nursing leadership, or general education, taking a mixture of campus and distance education courses. FSU’s Offices of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education offers support services for online students, including academic advising, technology training, and general information and orientation for online learning. The campus library also provides several resources to online students, such as digital databases and publications, help with research, and an “Ask a Librarian” discussion board for many online courses.

8

Westfield State UniversityWestfield, MA

Admissions Rate 80%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 63%
Online Enrollment 6%

Westfield State, founded in 1838 as an institution for educational reform, continues the tradition of open, accessible education through its respected online programs. Some of the school’s undergraduate degrees include history, psychology, sociology, and liberal studies, along with minors such as art and management. Students can also choose between three hybrid programs: a master’s in accounting, a master’s in social work, and a undergraduate RN-BSN nursing degree. WSU offers a graduate certificate in Spanish and several non-credit courses for personal and professional development. Distance students can receive technology training for the WSU online platform and other software programs through the school’s Atomic Learning service, which offers 24/7 access to all training materials.

9

University of Massachusetts-BostonBoston, MA

Admissions Rate 69%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 42%
Online Enrollment 10%

With more than 16,000 students, University of Massachusetts-Boston is one of the largest online schools in the state. The school offers a bachelor of arts in global affairs and several master’s programs, including applied linguistics vision studies, gerontology, mental health counseling, and global comparative public administration. The school is home to several online certificates and professional development programs, allowing students to build specialized knowledge in unique subjects, such as game-based teaching, global post-disaster studies, business analytics, and performance management for government and nonprofits. While UMB’s courses are open to residents of most states, the college currently can’t accept residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, and Minnesota due to interstate regulations. Residents of other states should contact their Board of Education to determine if UMB’s online programs meet local requirements.

10

Fitchburg State UniversityFitchburg, MA

Admissions Rate 75%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 53%
Online Enrollment 7%

Based in Worcester county, Fitchburg State serves around 6,800 students through an urban campus and several online programs. FSU, one of the top online colleges in Massachusetts, offers undergraduate degrees in nursing and business administration, along with graduate programs in history, business administration, human resources management, and accounting. The college offers several hybrid programs, and students can pursue professional certificates in business, web development, and forensic nursing. Most of FSU’s online courses are delivered asynchronously, with set due dates for assignments but no scheduled class meeting times. Online degree candidates receive support from technology services and the director of distance education. Prospective students can test out the online learning platform through a free demo course.

11

College of Our Lady of the ElmsChicopee, MA

Admissions Rate 75%
Default Rate 9%
Retention Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 67%
Online Enrollment 2%

Elms College, a small, Catholic, liberal arts college in the town of Chicopee, offers a professionally focused online program in speech language pathology assistant. The program is available as a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree. Elms College also offers an online bachelor’s program in healthcare management. The school’s online programs use a cohort model that allows degree candidates to complete a set sequence of courses with the same group of students, building a stronger academic community through their studies. Bachelor’s degrees require ten sessions of eight weeks each and take 20 months to complete. While online courses are available to students in all U.S. states, individual state requirements for speech language pathology assistants vary widely, and applicants outside of Massachusetts should determine local requirements before entering Elms College’s program.

12

University of Massachusetts-DartmouthNorth Dartmouth, MA

Admissions Rate 76%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 46%
Online Enrollment 7%

UMass-Dartmouth, another member of the UMass system, ranks as one of the top online colleges in Massachusetts, with online degrees available in gender studies, healthcare services administration, political science, nursing, and computer science. The school offers several hybrid programs, which include a blend of campus and online courses. Hybrid offerings include crime and justice studies, sociology and anthropology, history, and an accelerated nursing program. Most of these hybrid programs feature a primarily online curriculum, with some classes or class sessions held on campus. Some of the school's online degrees are completion programs that require applicants to possess at least 24 credits from another institution, such as a community college.

13

Anna Maria CollegePaxton, MA

Admissions Rate 80%
Default Rate 9%
Retention Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 34%
Online Enrollment 36%

Anna Maria, a Catholic liberal arts college based in Paxton, ranks as one of the best Christian online schools in Massachusetts. The college’s unique selection of online degrees includes bachelor’s programs in nursing, emergency medical service administration, and fire science. The nursing and emergency medical service degrees are completion programs, which require applicants to possess current licensure or certification as a nurse or EMT. The fire science degree focuses on the technical side of fire prevention and hazardous materials management, training students to serve as leaders and managers in fire service. The school also offers one master’s program in public administration, with concentration options including fire and emergency services, criminal justice, emergency management, and homeland security.

14

Salem State UniversitySalem, MA

Admissions Rate 75%
Default Rate 9%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 50%
Online Enrollment 1%

Salem State, a public college located just outside of Boston, offers three online bachelor’s degrees, which includes fire science administration, intercultural communications, and nursing. The fire science program emphasizes fire technology skills and management, preparing students for positions in fire services and related industries. The program generally serves upper-level degree candidates who transfer from community college, but Salem State does offer lower-level courses for online students. The intercultural communications degree is an interdisciplinary program that explores human communications between different cultures. The nursing program is an RN-BSN pathway that requires applicants to hold current nursing licensure. Salem State also hosts several online certificate programs for professionals looking to develop skills in media and design, hospitality, business management, or IT and software development.

15

Nichols CollegeDudley, MA

Admissions Rate 83%
Default Rate 14%
Retention Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 44%
Online Enrollment 9%

Nichols, a private college with a focus on business and leadership education, serves around 1,200 students from a suburban campus in the town of Dudley. The school offers one online program: a bachelor of science in business administration that is designed for working professionals. Offered in a seven-week course format, the program is flexible, with options for full-time and part-time students. Nichols offers online courses and evening campus courses. The accelerated track includes traditional, daytime campus classes. Nichols is among online schools in Massachusetts that allows degree candidates to choose the combination of courses that fits their schedule best. The school also allows prospective applicants to take up to five courses as a non-degree student before officially enrolling in the program.

How We Ranked the Schools

To determine the best programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online master’s in management information systems programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.

Education Trends in Massachusetts

The population of Massachusetts includes an above average number of people with bachelor’s and graduate degrees when compared to the rest of the country. One reason for so many college graduates may be that the cost of earning a degree in Massachusetts is under the national average. Students in Massachusetts are more likely to earn a bachelor’s or graduate degree over an associate degree. The state also has 6% more students enrolled in college than the national average, but actually produces 10% more graduates.

  Minnesota United States
Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census
Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student $6,728 $6,954
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 3.1% 5.8%
Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree 177% 8.1%
Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree 22.8% 18.5%
Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher 17.7% 11.2%

Paying for College in Massachusetts

There are several factors that determine the costs of earning a college degree, including the reputation of a school and its success rate in producing graduates who can compete in the job market. However, there are many costs of attending college that go beyond tuition. Students must pay for textbooks, food and rent, registration fees, and other costs associated with living the college lifestyle. Luckily, there are many financial aid options that can help offset these costs.

Tuition Prices

The cost of earning a two-year degree in Massachusetts is 70% above the national average. Similarly, the cost of earning a four-year degree is 27% above the national average. However, fees at four-year schools are approximately 20% less than in the most expensive states in the country, such as neighbouring New Hampshire and Vermont.

Financial Aid

When considering your financial aid options, your first step should be filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will allow you to apply for federal student loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study programs from the federal government. Some schools even require students to fill out the FAFSA before they can qualify for institutional scholarships. Federal student loans must be paid back, but offer payment deferral options and interest rates that are much lower than private loans. Grants and scholarships do not need to be paid back, so you should look to them first. Work-study programs are ideal for those who want to work and earn their degree concurrently.

Cost for Online Programs in Massachusetts

The fees for online colleges in Massachusetts are similar to those imposed by on-campus schools. However, lower tuition rates and the same access to financial aid services make distance learning more affordable than on-campus study. Online schools in Massachusetts also enable students to eliminate the costs associated with commuting and living on-campus.

Cost of Living by Region

The cost of living in New England, especially in the densely-populated areas of Massachusetts, are much higher than the national average. While this may not be a problem for someone with a full-time job, it can make the costs of attending college in Massachusetts almost untenable for some students. This makes online schools in Massachusetts even more attractive, especially for out-of-state students.

Scholarships for Massachusetts College Students

City of Boston Scholarship

$10,000; must be Boston resident and high school graduate enrolled in two- or four-year institutions in Massachusetts to apply.

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Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship

Awards vary; must be full-time student and permanent resident of a Massachusetts “rural” area to apply.

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Massachusetts Gilbert Matching Student Grant Program

$200 -$2500 per academic year, must have support from a parent who has been a permanent resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to apply.

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Paul Tsongas Scholarship

Tuition fee waiver each year; applicants must have minimum GPA of 3.75 and enroll in one of nine listed Massachusetts state universities to be considered.

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Massachusetts High Demand Scholarship

$1,000 – $2,000 per semester or $2,000 – $4,000 per year depending on enrollment status, must be enrolled in a Massachusetts community college and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be considered.

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John and Abigail Adams Scholarship

Tuition fee waiver per course, must score in the Advanced category on one of three high school state assessment tests in English language arts, mathematics, or STE (biology, chemistry, physics, or technology/engineering) and have a combined MCAS score ranked in the top 25% of their school district to be considered.

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Massachusetts Cash Grant

Limited tuition fees payment, must be resident of Massachusetts for one year prior to the start of the academic year for which the grant is awarded to be considered.

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GEAR UP Massachusetts Program

$800 – $1,000; must have graduated from a Massachusetts public high school beginning in 2005 and be less than 22 years of age to apply.

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New England Regional Student Program

Reduced tuition rates, must be New England resident attending a New England university to apply.

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New England Employee Benefits Council Scholarship

Up to $5000; must be enrolled in a New England college or residing in New England to apply.

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Employment Outlook in Massachusetts

According to a 2007 report, Boston supplied one out of every fourteen jobs in the whole of New England. Massachusetts is in line with the national average for unemployment rates, but has higher wages on a whole. All of the major industries in the state are well-established, with the largest employing thousands. Online schools in Massachusetts prepare students to a variety of careers with local business. These international companies typically have large local offices as well as branches out-of-state and overseas, which can be attractive to many candidates.

  Massachusetts United States
Source: BLS and BLS
Unemployment Rate, May 2017 4.2% 4.3%
Annual Mean Wage, May 2016 $60,840 $49,630

Top Employers and Industries in Massachusetts

Top Industries in Massachusetts

  • Office and Administrative Support Occupations: Around 500,000 people in Massachusetts work in this sector, with a mean hourly wage of $20.66. Common positions in this industry include bill and account collector, customer sales representative, financial clerk, and receptionist.
  • Medical Professionals, Healthcare: The healthcare industry includes a wide variety of different sub-fields, each with several different specialized occupations. Professionals in this industry enjoy the highest annual mean wages.
  • Sales: Around 322,330 people in Massachusetts work in sales with a mean hourly wage of $22.83. Common positions in this industry include account manager, marketing specialist, and brand ambassador.

BLS


Top Industries in Massachusetts

  • Partners HealthCare: 58,004 employees
  • University of Massachusetts: 24,086 employees
  • The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC: 21,811 employees

Source: Boston Business Journal 2017

Accreditation for Colleges in Massachusetts

When choosing the right school for you, be sure to choose one that is accredited. Academic accreditation is important because it signals to employers and other universities that you’ve earned a high quality degree. There are two main types of accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national accreditation and is typically earned by public, nonprofit universities. On the other hand, national accreditation is typically pursued by for-profit colleges and trade or vocational schools. In Massachusetts, you’ll want to look for schools that have received regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national accreditation and is typically earned by public, nonprofit universities.

Resources for Students in Massachusetts

  • DHE Data Center: This organization produces reports from public higher education institutions on demographics, financial aid, and graduation records. These reports allows students to cross-reference and compare specific performance statistics, which can be helpful when comparing two universities.
  • Future Ready Massachusetts: This site includes numerous resources for families of prospective students and high school graduates who are planning to begin college study. The site includes information on the definition of college and career readiness in the state, as approved by the Board of Elementary & Secondary Education and the Board of Higher Education, as well as the Reach Higher Massachusetts Initiative.
  • Commonwealth Commitment: This is a form of scholarship for students who combine study at a community college and university. The site also includes several tools and resources, such as a map of schools in the state and essential guides for transfer students.
  • Mass. Gov. Consumer Resources: This site provides legal information on certain demographics such as young adults, veterans, minorities, and immigrants. It also includes resource guides and consumer resources related to financial aid, student loans, and fees.
  • MDHE college directories and maps: This site hosts directories and interactive maps which list all the public colleges in Massachusetts. There are also maps and listings in the form of downloadable documents, as well as information on fees and program descriptions.
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