Online Schools & Colleges
in Massachusetts

Comprehensive Resources to Find the Best Online College in Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts has 114 colleges and universities. In 2016, there were over 180,000 students enrolled in Massachusetts colleges. As a college-bound student researching schools in Massachusetts, it is important to choose the right school and know how to tell who provides a high-quality education that will help further your career goals. Keep reading to learn about Massachusetts colleges and the growing flexibility they are offering through online learning. We answer frequently asked questions regarding tuition, how transfer credits work in Massachusetts and how earning a college degree can be an important stepping stone for building a career.

Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts
2018-2019

Methodology
2-Year Colleges

Many colleges and universities in Massachusetts prioritize online learning. The Masachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), for example, offers a wide variety of courses online through its distance learning program, known as MITx. MIT takes advantage of edX, a network of schools and partners that give students wide access to topics, courses, and certification programs. They can also use this website to find specific courses and ask questions.

But before a prospective student looks into all the specifics, it is important to ensure that your top college choices align with basic quality and student success standards for online education providers in Massachusetts—we’ve identified these schools and their qualifications below:

Filters
Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 Massasoit Community College $576 20 16% 21% Yes Yes Yes
2 Middlesex Community College $576 9 17% 28% Yes Yes Yes
3 Mount Wachusett Community College $600 12 20% 34% Yes Yes Yes
4 Quinsigamond Community College $576 8 17% 7% Yes Yes Yes
5 Bristol Community College $576 7 21% 1% Yes Yes Yes
6 Northern Essex Community College $600 7 20% 5% Yes Yes Yes
7 Holyoke Community College $4,272 12 19% 32% No Yes Yes
Filters
Rank University Title Tuition # of Online Programs Expand Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Description
1 Harvard University $43,280 103 5% 98% 55% No Yes Yes

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University offers hybrid options for undergraduate and graduate distance learners. You can earn a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in an accelerated format with concentrations in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences, that requires 128 credits for graduation. All online distance learners at Harvard must meet the required amount of time for on campus courses and commitments. The bachelor's degree requires that you complete 16 credits, or roughly four courses, in person at Harvard. Master's degrees in popular fields such as finance, management, and history, as well as uncommon online majors such as museum studies, anthropology, and dramatic arts, can also be earned in hybrid formats. Harvard's distance learners can also prepare for medical or dental school in its post-baccalaureate premedical extension school. Most students in this program complete 20 to 32 credits, especially core prerequisites in the medical field: biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. Tuition varies per degree and concentration, but all distance learners pay the same tuition rate and fees. Since these programs require you to spend time in Cambridge, be sure to factor travel and cost of living into your expenses.

2 University of Massachusetts-Amherst $14,590 15 60% 77% 65% Yes Yes Yes

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst offers various online undergraduate and graduate degrees. The Isenberg School of Management at UMass offers one of the most diverse online education programs at the university. Distance learners can earn a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting, finance, marketing, management, or operations and information management. Undergraduates can also earn master's degrees in sports management, hospitality and tourism management, and business and analytics. The MBA is a popular program at UMass and is available entirely online or in a blended format. Students in a hybrid format can attend their in-person classes at any of the three satellite campuses. Previous colleges courses in which you earned a C- grade or higher may be transferable toward your UMass degree. Internships, vocational, and highly specialized courses generally do not transfer.

3 Westfield State University $970 8 78% 64% 29% Yes Yes Yes

Graduate and undergraduate degrees are available entirely online at Westfield State University. Traditional bachelor's degrees in areas such as history, sociology, and psychology are offered in various flexible scheduling formats. Courses are self-paced and are usually offered in regular or accelerated schedules available at various times throughout the calendar year. For bachelor's degrees, you can transfer up to 76 credits into Westfield State. Some majors require you to complete the Massachusetts transfer compact to complete the last two years of their bachelor's degree entirely online. While out-of-state tuition is higher than in-state, distance learners can apply for the private Westfield State merit-based scholarship reserved for out-of-state students.

4 Endicott College $30,612 10 79% 73% 89% Yes Yes Yes

Established in 1939, Endicott College is a private institution in Beverly, Massachusetts. Through the Van Loan School at Endicott you can earn certificates and degrees entirely online. For undergraduate students, six bachelor's degrees are available, including a flexible liberal studies degree. In this program, you can choose from concentrations in early childhood education, homeland security studies, Montessori education, and trauma studies. Master of Education programs at Endicott are plentiful with several concentrations available to online students. MEd online majors can specialize in organizational management, applied behavior analysis, athletic administration, autism and applied behavior, and homeland security, among others. For bachelor's students, a maximum of 85 credits from accredited collegiate institutions can be transferred toward your degree. Endicott will review all of your previous college courses and automatically issue a transfer credit evaluation.

5 Framingham State University $970 5 65% 53% 55% Yes Yes Yes

In Framingham State University's 18 fully online and hybrid programs you can earn a bachelor's degree, several master's degrees, or a certificate from any location. Take advantage of Framingham State's Master of Education concentration options, including educational technology, school nutrition, and nutrition education specialist. There are also less traditional areas of study available online, including a Master of Science with a concentration in merchandising. This degree provides specialized education for students interested in the fashion industry, marketing, and retail sales. Most online programs at Framingham State do not require the GRE, GMAT, or Miller Analogies Test for admission. Transfer credit from other regionally accredited universities will be considered when you are admitted.

6 Simmons College $37,500 5 64% 66% 100% Yes Yes Yes

Located in Boston, Simmons College offers bachelor's degrees for women and co-educational graduate programs. Their online degree offerings include only master's and doctoral degrees, as well as two certificate programs. As a distance learner at Simmons, you can take advantage of their graduate programs in nursing, including the MSN and DNP degrees. Master's students can also obtain degrees in areas such as behavior analysis, business administration, library sciences, and nutrition and health. Traditional MBAs with concentrations in healthcare, behavior analysis, and public health are also available. For most graduate programs, a maximum of 32 credits completed within the last five years may be transferred toward your Simmons degree.

7 Lesley University $25,500 26 64% 60% 95% Yes Yes Yes

Lesley University has more than 20 flexible, fully online programs for graduates and undergraduates. Graduate students can choose from master's programs in management or education. In Lesley's online Master of Education programs, you can choose from concentrations in educational technology, elementary education, online education, language and literacy, mathematics, and science. You can also earn degrees in modern and progressive fields like the Bachelor of Science in Design for User Experience, where you learn about graphic design, mobile applications, and product interfaces. Bachelor's degrees in traditional areas like psychology and business management are also available in a fully online format. Distance learners can transfer up 90 credits toward a bachelor's degree or receive course credit via life experience credit, standardized entrance exams, and evaluated non-college sponsored learning. Taking advantage of these credit options will save you time and money as you work toward your degree or certificate.

8 Bay Path University $32,739 15 60% 59% 100% Yes Yes Yes

Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online. The bachelor's program is reserved for women only, while the master's program is co-educational. From child psychology and criminal justice to business administration and cybersecurity, women can earn online degrees entirely online though Bay Path's American Women's College. Over 15 graduate programs are available online and open to both men and women. Many of these degrees are flexible, 30 to 36-credit programs that you can finish in eight, 12, or 24 months, depending on your enrollment status and availability. For most of these online master's degrees, no GRE is required for admission. Tuition varies per major, but all online students pay the same tuition costs and fees. To be accepted to Bay Path, you must have a minimum 2.0 GPA and an associate degree or a minimum of 60 semester hours from a program recognized by the Bay Path transfer agreement.

9 Fitchburg State University $970 4 75% 58% 42% Yes Yes Yes

Fitchburg State University is a public institution established in 1894 with online education options for undergraduates, graduates, and those seeking a non-degree certificate. Focusing on traditional tracks in business administration, Fitchburg State's undergraduate programs offer specializations in accounting, management, and marketing. Interdisciplinary studies programs for Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees are also available entirely online. Online graduate offerings include master's degrees in education, history, forensic nursing, and MBAs in accounting, human resources management, and management. For online students seeking a bachelor's degree, you may transfer up to 90 credits from accredited four-year schools and 75 credits from regionally accredited two-year schools. Most courses are asynchronous and delivered through the Blackboard system. While some professor may require regular meetings, you can plan on a flexible, self-paced schedule when taking classes at Fitchburg State.

10 Bentley University $44,210 4 46% 88% 65% Yes Yes Yes

Bentley University's online bachelor's degree completion program includes various tracks in business administration. The core curriculum gives students a foundation in statistics, economics, accounting, finance, and marketing. In addition to five elective courses of your choosing, your required set business courses include classes such as organizational behavior and leadership, law ethics and social responsibility, and global strategies. Entering students must have completed two years of college courses at an accredited institution. An associate degree is not required for admission. Any combination of prior coursework can comprise the required 60 credits for admission. As this a part-time only program designed for working professionals, distance learners can only take one course at a time. This is a cohort learning program where you will begin and complete course content with your peers as a unified class. Distance learners pay a flat tuition cost per course regardless of their location.

11 Lasell College $32,300 5 76% 57% 95% Yes Yes Yes
12 Merrimack College $36,625 4 82% 68% 100% Yes Yes Yes
13 Assumption College $35,510 8 78% 71% 98% No Yes Yes
14 Worcester Polytechnic Institute $46,364 13 48% 86% 99% No Yes Yes
15 Western New England University $32,524 13 80% 61% 97% Yes No Yes
16 University of Massachusetts-Lowell $13,932 21 61% 58% 59% No Yes Yes
17 University of Massachusetts-Boston $13,110 6 69% 47% 66% Yes Yes Yes
18 Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences $30,600 8 84% 64% 97% No Yes Yes
19 Nichols College $33,000 8 84% 49% 96% Yes Yes Yes
20 Brandeis University $49,586 11 33% 92% 57% No Yes Yes
21 Emmanuel College $37,280 3 71% 65% 100% No Yes Yes
22 Boston University $49,176 21 29% 85% 46% No Yes Yes
23 University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth $12,783 8 76% 50% 68% No Yes Yes
24 Suffolk University $35,440 14 84% 56% 93% No Yes Yes
25 Anna Maria College $33,840 6 83% 41% 99% Yes No Yes
26 Berklee College of Music $40,220 5 34% 56% 55% Yes No Yes
27 Fisher College $28,645 15 68% 42% 98% Yes No Yes
28 Hebrew College $24,780 4 - - - No No Yes
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How can I find which online colleges offer the degree I’m looking for in Massachusetts?

Prospective students in Massachusetts can use the MassHome website to find a complete list of colleges in Massachusetts, as well as the degrees each college offers online. They can then check their prospective schools’ websites to make sure their degree of choice is available, such as the University of Massachusetts’ online program, UMassOnline, which details online program options and offers hybrid course offerings (which combine online learning with in-person work).

Another great starting point for prospective online students is Massachusetts Colleges Online, where students can search through a network of 15 community colleges and nine state colleges for degrees and programs.

The New England Board of Higher Education offers for additional resources, including an online college textbook platform, job information and detailed, current information on accreditation standards.

Which online schools in Massachusetts will accept my transfer credits or work/life experience?

Students interested in translating prior work and life experience into credits may qualify to do so by completing a prior learning assessment. Prior learning assessments evaluate whether prior experience can adequately replace coursework, allowing universities to decide whether to award credits.

Students who already have credits from prior coursework can find out if those credits are eligible for transfer by visiting MassTransfer, an online course equivalency database in the state of Massachusetts. For example, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst allows up to 75 transfer credits from other universities, plus professional and military training certifications and exams.

The Massachusetts Community Colleges network also offers a program called My Experience Counts, which helps students transfer prior work or life experience into course credits. UMass Amherst offers course equivalency to students who have completed professional or military certifications or training, credit evaluations or exams, basic training, or qualifying portfolios of work. Cambridge College also considers previous work and life experience for credit.

How Much More Do College Grads in Massachusetts Make?

Higher levels of education usually translate into higher earning potential in Massachusetts, according to the state’s Budget and Policy Center. The center reported in 2015 that median earnings for full-time, year-round employees with bachelor’s degrees were 84 percent higher than those with only a high school diploma. Additionally, the hourly wages for Massachusetts employees with four-year college degrees were almost double those of employees who did not attend college. Take a look at the average earnings for jobs that require a minimum of each degree level below:

No Formal
Education
High School
Diploma
Associate
Degree
Bachelor’s
Degree
Master’s
Degree
Doctoral
Degree
$36,526 $49,727 $63,389 $85,974 $87,263 $130,930

Prospective college students in Massachusetts should note that the state’s economic growth is ahead of other New England states as of 2017, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis. The professional, scientific and technical services sectors led much of this growth.

College Education & Career Trends in Massachusetts

The fastest-growing careers in Massachusetts are in the sectors of home health aide, statisticians, translators and nurse practitioners. These career paths are expected to grow at a rate of over 29 percent each year through 2026, and often times will require a college degree.

Other fast-career fields in Massachusetts that may require college education include health care and social assistance, growing at 15 percent per year, scientific and technical services, growing at 7 percent per year and educational services, growing at 6 percent each year. Most of the industries with the biggest growth require earning at least a bachelor’s degree.

The Impact of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts

For students worried about the quality of their online education, the National Survey of Student Engagement recently conducted a poll of 250,000 students from 523 universities, finding that those engaged in education online claimed to experience greater academic challenges than their on-campus counterparts. They also reported greater satisfaction with their overall educational experience and reported more significant developmental gains. However, there is one common trait of schools who offer top-quality online learning programs: accreditation.

Regional and National Accreditation

Students should choose online colleges that are accredited by either a regional or national organization. Accrediting bodies evaluate schools based on a set of third-party standards, and their stamps of approval indicate that a school provides quality educational experiences. Regional and national accrediting organizations in Massachusetts include: the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, or the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges among others.

Subject-Specific Accreditation

In addition to school-wide accreditation, some leading online colleges in Massachusetts also may have subject-specific accreditation for some programs. For example, Boston College’s management degree program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Paying for Online College in Massachusetts: Tuition & Financial Aid

Paying for college is a major concern for most students. However, Massachusetts’ fast-growing, high-paying industries require college degrees. How to pay for school is a valid concern for prospective students. In the table below, find information on the average tuition fees for college students in Massachusetts.

In-State Tuition, Public Colleges & Universities: $11.670

Change from 2015 $770

National Average:$8,778

In-State Tuition, Private Colleges & Universities: $40,761

Change from 2015 $1463

National Average:$27,951

These figures do not include room and board or cost differences for out-of-state students. Tuition fees can vary by location, but some colleges offer the same rate no matter where a student is located. Here are some examples in Massachusetts:

The New England Regional Student Program also offers a cost-saving program called Tuition Break, which allows students to enroll in out-of-state programs at select universities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Program participants receive discounted tuition.

Online students can also explore the National Student Exchange, a database of 170 accredited organizations that operate a tuition-reciprocity system.

For more information and advice on paying for college, see some frequently asked questions about tuition in Massachusetts below:

What are Massachusetts’ requirements to qualify for in-state university tuition?

To qualify for in-state tuition, whether studying online or on campus, students must be U.S. citizens and prove state residency. They may demonstrate residency on their own, or if they are claimed as dependents, their parents may demonstrate residency. To establish Massachusetts residency, students may show that they resided in the state for 12 months before enrolling in college. Community college students generally only need to prove six months of prior residency.

Some exceptions may apply to specific universities. For example, University of Massachusetts, Amherst makes exceptions for:

  • Dependent students on H-4 visas, whose parents have lived and worked in Massachusetts for a year or more.
  • Students who have obtained Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status through the Obama DREAM Act initiative.
  • Students who live in Massachusetts and have applied for permanent residency or asylum, and who can submit documents verifying that their application has been received or is processing.

Are online credits more affordable in Massachusetts than other places?

Online colleges are sometimes cheaper than brick-and-mortar institutions. Online students save money on expenses like parking, activity fees, club memberships and on-campus housing. However, costs are college-specific, and students must investigate their prospective schools to find out whether online programs are cheaper.

Here’s a look at how some Massachusetts schools stack up against their neighbors in terms of undergraduate costs per credit for 2018-2019:

Local Colleges

$540 per credit
$500 per credit

Neighboring Colleges

$717 to $1,548 per credit

How can I get help paying for online college in Massachusetts?

All students should begin their financial aid search by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They may then head over to the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA), which provides financial planning tools, links to loans and financial aid programs, and other resources for students. Some programs, like UMass Online, also link to financial aid resources on their websites.

Several grants and scholarships are available to Massachusetts students, as well:

  • Big Y Scholarship for Academic Excellence Big Y Foods, Inc., provides annual scholarships of $2,000 to students in certain regions in Massachusetts. Award categories include: high school senior, community college, undergraduate, graduate, and nontraditional student. Selection is based on academic and personal achievements, plus community service.

  • Diana and Leon Feffer Scholarship Administered by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Diana and Leon Feffer Scholarship is available to graduating high school seniors in Western Massachusetts. Selection is based on high school GPA, class rank, and standardized test scores. The award is up to $8,000.

  • James L. Shriver Scholarship The James L. Shriver scholarship is available to students from Western Massachusetts who are enrolled in a technical career program. Selection is based on academic performance. Funds come from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

  • John and Abigail Adams Scholarship The John and Abigail Adams Scholarship provides a tuition waiver for up to eight semesters of undergraduate education at a Massachusetts state college or university. The scholarship covers tuition only; fees and room and board are not included. The scholarship must be used within six years of a student’s high school graduation.

  • National Scholars Award This award is available to National Merit or Achievement finalists who are entering Boston University as freshmen. Selection is competitive. Winners may receive up to $20,000 annually for up to four years.

  • William A. and Vinnie e. Dexter Scholarship This scholarship is available to graduating high school seniors and college freshmen in Western Massachusetts. Selection is competitive and based on academic record, including high school GPA, class rank, and standardized test scores. Funds come from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

Online Education & Adult Education in Massachusetts

For non-traditional students in Massachusetts who have put their college career on hold for life, work and family obligations, adult education programs can come in handy as you prepare to enroll in school. Adult education fills in skills gaps and helps aspiring college take the first steps towards earning an online college degree.

More than 35 percent of all students participating in adult education classes in Massachusetts saw an increase in their measurable skills. U.S. Department of Education, 2017

Some helpful adult education programs for Massachusetts students preparing to earn a college degree:

  • Basic Education Programs For students who could use a refresh on basic math, writing and reading skills before entering or re-entering a college classroom.

  • English for Speakers of Other Languages Skill-based English language classes are available for non-native speakers to prepare to take college lessons in English.

  • Age 55+ Classroom Skills Seniors looking to go back and earn their college degree may consider brushing up on college experience with age 55 and over enrichment classes.

  • College and Career Planning Services From skill assessment testing to college advising and career matching, many adult education branches offer this service.

The Massachusetts Department of Education provides a directory of ESOL and Basic Education programs for students looking for local class providers.

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