Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

ASO Staff Writers
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Updated April 25, 2023
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Online Schools and Colleges 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.

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Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts 2020

Massachusetts is home to more than 100 colleges and universities, many of which offer online programs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition rates in the state exceed the national average. However, online learners can qualify for financial aid opportunities, including state-sponsored scholarships and grants. Additionally, data from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) shows that professionals in Massachusetts earn one of the highest median wages in the nation.

Attending one of the high-quality, affordable online schools and colleges in Massachusetts can help you significantly increase your earning potential. This guide covers the importance of accreditation, strategies for paying for college, and online resources for Massachusetts students.

#1 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Harvard University

  • Location-markerCambridge, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$47,730
  • Out-of-state$47,730
  • Retention Rate97%
  • Acceptance Rate5%
  • Students Enrolled31,655
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment18%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

  • Location-markerAmherst, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$15,791
  • Out-of-state$35,112
  • Retention Rate91%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled31,350
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment15%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Westfield State University

  • Location-markerWestfield, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$970
  • Out-of-state$7,050
  • Retention Rate72%
  • Acceptance Rate87%
  • Students Enrolled5,795
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment41%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Endicott College

  • Location-markerBeverly, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$33,304
  • Out-of-state$33,304
  • Retention Rate86%
  • Acceptance Rate69%
  • Students Enrolled4,741
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment41%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Framingham State University

  • Location-markerFramingham, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$970
  • Out-of-state$7,050
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate74%
  • Students Enrolled5,456
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment35%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Simmons University

  • Location-markerBoston, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$40,850
  • Out-of-state$40,850
  • Retention Rate83%
  • Acceptance Rate73%
  • Students Enrolled6,535
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment55%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Lesley University

  • Location-markerCambridge, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$28,500
  • Out-of-state$28,500
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate75%
  • Students Enrolled4,510
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment20%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Bay Path University

  • Location-markerLongmeadow, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$35,081
  • Out-of-state$35,081
  • Retention Rate68%
  • Acceptance Rate72%
  • Students Enrolled3,324
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment62%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Fitchburg State University

  • Location-markerFitchburg, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$970
  • Out-of-state$7,050
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate88%
  • Students Enrolled7,251
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment37%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Bentley University

  • Location-markerWaltham, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$50,060
  • Out-of-state$50,060
  • Retention Rate92%
  • Acceptance Rate47%
  • Students Enrolled5,314
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment2%
  • AccreditationYes
#11 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Lasell University

  • Location-markerNewton, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$35,700
  • Out-of-state$35,700
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate84%
  • Students Enrolled2,041
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment31%
  • AccreditationYes
#12 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Merrimack College

  • Location-markerNorth Andover, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$40,770
  • Out-of-state$40,770
  • Retention Rate83%
  • Acceptance Rate82%
  • Students Enrolled5,186
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment10%
  • AccreditationYes
#13 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Assumption College

  • Location-markerWorcester, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$41,516
  • Out-of-state$41,516
  • Retention Rate84%
  • Acceptance Rate81%
  • Students Enrolled2,443
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment9%
  • AccreditationYes
#14 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

  • Location-markerWorcester, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$51,604
  • Out-of-state$51,604
  • Retention Rate95%
  • Acceptance Rate49%
  • Students Enrolled6,894
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment14%
  • AccreditationYes
#15 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Western New England University

  • Location-markerSpringfield, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$35,454
  • Out-of-state$35,454
  • Retention Rate76%
  • Acceptance Rate85%
  • Students Enrolled3,801
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment17%
  • AccreditationYes
#16 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts-Lowell

  • Location-markerLowell, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$15,078
  • Out-of-state$33,004
  • Retention Rate83%
  • Acceptance Rate73%
  • Students Enrolled18,352
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment32%
  • AccreditationYes
#17 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts-Boston

  • Location-markerBoston, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,187
  • Out-of-state$34,649
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate76%
  • Students Enrolled15,989
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment33%
  • AccreditationYes
#18 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Nichols College

  • Location-markerDudley, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$34,615
  • Out-of-state$34,615
  • Retention Rate76%
  • Acceptance Rate80%
  • Students Enrolled1,560
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment30%
  • AccreditationYes
#19 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Brandeis University

  • Location-markerWaltham, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$55,340
  • Out-of-state$55,340
  • Retention Rate93%
  • Acceptance Rate30%
  • Students Enrolled5,825
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment7%
  • AccreditationYes
#20 Online Schools and Colleges in Massachusetts

Emmanuel College

  • Location-markerBoston, MA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$41,028
  • Out-of-state$41,028
  • Retention Rate79%
  • Acceptance Rate78%
  • Students Enrolled2,222
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment2%
  • AccreditationYes

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City Spotlight: Colleges in Massachusetts

Boston, MA

Greater Boston is one of the most historically significant cities in the country, and its culture of higher education and academia is rivaled by perhaps no other city in the United States. Home to well-known public colleges and elite private universities recognized worldwide, Boston boasts nearly five dozen institutions of higher education. Along with a comprehensive network of distance-learning options, Boston is the educational heart of the Northeast.

Boston has one of the most extensive networks of private, nonprofit four-year colleges and universities in the country. They range from tiny religious colleges with just around a hundred students, to behemoths such as Boston University, which enrolls more than 30,000. Harvard University is the oldest and arguably the most prestigious institution of higher learning in the country. MIT is one of the most elite engineering and scientific schools in the world, accepting fewer than 8 percent of applicants. The Berklee College of Music is the world’s largest independent college of contemporary music, known for the study of jazz and modern American music.

Colleges and Universities in Boston

COLLEGESIZETUITIONTYPE
Boston University40,968$40,848Not For Profit (Private)
Northeastern University36,462$37,840Not For Profit (Private)
University of Massachusetts-Boston20,210$1,714Public
Suffolk University10,433$29,778Not For Profit (Private)
Simmons College5,721$32,376Not For Profit (Private)
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences5,025$25,650Not For Profit (Private)
Emerson College4,804$32,128Not For Profit (Private)
Berklee College of Music4,670$33,460Not For Profit (Private)
Wentworth Institute of Technology4,003$24,000Not For Profit (Private)
Massachusetts College of Art and Design3,292$9,700Public
Emmanuel College Boston2,920$32,100Not For Profit (Private)
Fisher College2,716$24,783Not For Profit (Private)
MGH Institute of Health Professions1,907$31,100Not For Profit (Private)
Boston Architectural College1,721$16,594Not For Profit (Private)
Wheelock College1,533$28,990Not For Profit (Private)
New England School of Law1,140N/ANot For Profit (Private)
Urban College of Boston959$4,704Not For Profit (Private)
Laboure College826$25,495Not For Profit (Private)
The New England Conservatory of Music810$36,250Not For Profit (Private)
School of the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston790$31,996Not For Profit (Private)
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology773$15,950Not For Profit (Private)
The Boston Conservatory713$35,800Not For Profit (Private)
Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology554N/ANot For Profit (Private)
Bunker Hill Community College17,853$576Public

How Much More Do College Grads in Massachusetts Make?

Earning a postsecondary degree typically leads to more career opportunities and higher earning potential. Nationwide, graduates of postsecondary programs earn higher average salaries than individuals with a high school diploma. Higher levels of educational attainment generally correlate with higher salaries. In 2016, bachelor’s degree-holders in Massachusetts earned a median salary that was double that of professionals with only a high school diploma, according to data from MassBudget.

Salary by Education
Less Than a High School DiplomaHigh School DiplomaAssociate DegreeBachelor’s DegreeMaster’s DegreeDoctoral Degree
$28,756$37,960$44,824$62,296$74,568$94,900

Source: BLS

Paying for Online College in Massachusetts: Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition rates for Massachusetts learners are higher than the national averages for in-state and out-of-state learners at both public and private schools. In-state students at public colleges pay tuition rates more than $3,000 higher than the national average; out-of-state students pay about $4,000 more than the U.S. average. Average tuition at private universities far exceeds the national average, with students in Massachusetts paying rates more than $13,000 higher than the national average.

Public Colleges/Universities
In-State TuitionOut-of-State TuitionNational Average
$12,778$29,744$9,037 (In-State); $25,657 (Out-of-State)
Private Colleges/Universities
TuitionNational Average
$44,384$30,731

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Cost Considerations for Online Students in Massachusetts

The figures above do not account for room and board or additional costs for online learners. Learners should understand all education-related expenses when budgeting for college. Below are some cost considerations for students attending online schools and colleges in Massachusetts.

  1. 1

    Tuition Agreements for Out-of-State Students

    Online students who live in some New England states can qualify for reduced tuition rates through the Regional Student Program from the New England Board of Higher Education.

  2. 2

    Recurring Technology Costs

    Many schools require distance learners to pay technology fees. Online students should also consider the cost of a laptop, digital textbooks, and internet services.

  3. 3

    Flat Online Fees

    Many schools assess flat online fees per class, semester, or program. These fees help cover costs associated with distance education.

  4. 4

    Required Travel

    Some schools invite or require online students to attend one or more sessions on campus. To complete these requirements, students typically incur costs associated with travel and lodging.

  5. 5

    Cost Differences for Specific Online Programs

    Tuition rates vary by program and degree. Online programs at the same school may have different tuition rates and fees.

Qualifying for In-State Tuition in Massachusetts

At public schools, in-state learners typically pay discounted tuition rates. To qualify for in-state tuition rates in Massachusetts, students must have lived in the state continuously for at least six months (for learners attending community college) or 12 months (for state schools). Students can prove residency by submitting documents such as tax returns, voter registration, or a Massachusetts high school diploma.

Residents of Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont can apply for the New England Student Regional Program, which offers an average tuition break of $7,900. Students should contact their school to learn about residency requirements for online learners.

Paying for College in Massachusetts: Scholarships and Financial Aid

Students attending online schools and colleges in Massachusetts can apply for financial aid to help fund their education. Scholarships and grants are ideal forms of funding, since they do not require repayment. Below is a sampling of the scholarships and grants available to online learners in Massachusetts.

Scholarships for Massachusetts College Students


plusAgnes M. Lindsay Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be permanent residents of Massachusetts and be enrolled in a public college in Massachusetts. Candidates must come from a rural area of the state and must demonstrate financial need.

Amount: Varies

plusChristian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Tenth-grade and eleventh-grade students who have overcome a major obstacle can apply for this scholarship. Students must demonstrate academic potential and can attend any college in the continental United States.

Amount: Up to 50% of documented financial need

plusMassachusetts High Demand Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship program encourages students to earn degrees that lead to careers in high-demand fields in Massachusetts. Applicants must pursue a degree in a STEM field and maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Amount: Up to $5,000

plusJohn and Abigail Adams Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Applicants must receive high scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment test in tenth grade and plan to attend a Massachusetts state university or college.

Amount: Up to $1,714

plusOne Family Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports Massachusetts residents who are the head of their household and have children under 18 years old. Applicants must be at risk of homelessness or have experienced homelessness during the previous 12 months. Students must participate in service activities through One Family, Inc.

Amount: Varies

Grants for Massachusetts College Students


plusMASSGrant

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be Massachusetts residents enrolled full time. Candidates must demonstrate financial need and academic progress, and they must have an expected family contribution of less than $5,486.

Amount: Varies

plusMASSGrant Plus

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be residents of Massachusetts enrolled part time or full time at one of the state’s community colleges. Students must demonstrate financial need.

Amount: Varies

plusGilbert Matching Student Grant Program

Who Can Apply: This program supports Massachusetts residents enrolled full time at an eligible institution. Students must not hold a bachelor’s or professional degree or diploma from a hospital or nursing program. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.

Amount: $200 to $2,500

plusPublic Service Grant Program

Who Can Apply: Massachusetts residents who lost a parent or spouse in the line of duty in Massachusetts can apply for this grant, regardless of financial need.

Amount: Tuition

plusCash Grant Program

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be permanent legal residents of Massachusetts enrolled in at least three undergraduate credits in an eligible program. Candidates must demonstrate satisfactory academic progress.

Amount: Varies


The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts

Students attending on-campus or online programs should ensure that they choose a school that meets set standards for academic quality. Accreditation is a voluntary process that demonstrates that an institution or program meets minimum standards. Choosing an accredited school ensures that you will receive a quality education and that employers will recognize your degree. The sections below detail several types of accreditation for online schools and colleges in Massachusetts.

  • Regional and National Accreditation

    Regional accreditation is the oldest and most prestigious type of institutional accreditation in the United States. Typically, students must attend a regionally accredited school to qualify for federal financial aid or to transfer credits to a regionally accredited institution. However, some vocational and for-profit schools earn national accreditation. In Massachusetts, the New England Commission of Higher Education awards regional accreditation to postsecondary institutions.
  • Subject-Specific Accreditation

    In addition to institutional accreditation, learners can look for subject-specific accreditation. Independent, field-specific organizations evaluate programs to ensure the programs help students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in that industry. For example, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation accredits education programs. Professionals in some fields need a degree from an accredited program to qualify for licensure.
  • How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited

    To determine the accreditation status of a school or program, you can search the directory from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Prospective students can search the directory by program, school, or accrediting agency. Most schools also include accreditation information on their website.

Online College and Adult Education in Massachusetts

Adult learners in Massachusetts can pursue education programs to gain skills and qualify for more advanced career opportunities. The sections below include data and information related to adult education in Massachusetts.

By the Numbers: Adult Education in Massachusetts

In 2017, 18,864 learners enrolled in adult basic education programs in Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, 10% of the adult population does not hold a high school credential, and 4% do not speak English well or at all.

For every 400,000 adults who earn a high school diploma, local, state, and federal governments can gain $2.5 billion in tax revenue and reduced expenses.

Source:Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, World Education

Adult Education Programs for Massachusetts Students

The Gardner Pilot Academy offers an English for Speakers of Other Languages program. Students gain language skills, including reading, writing, and oral communication. The program offers six levels of classes, from beginner to advanced.
This program from the state of Massachusetts allows adult learners to collect unemployment benefits while attending an approved, full-time training program to learn new skills.
This consortium of adult literacy programs offers adult learners access to services such as distance learning, college preparation, and job skills training. Adult learners can find program locations throughout the Boston metro area.

Online College Resources for Massachusetts Students

Massachusetts learners can access various online resources to help them choose an online program and locate options for financing their degree. Below are some resources for students attending online schools and colleges in Massachusetts.

This website allows prospective students to search thousands of online courses and programs from 15 Massachusetts public universities and community colleges.
Learners can use this website to search for online programs and courses in the UMass system. Students can also view an online course demonstration prior to enrolling.
This resource provides information about all financial aid opportunities available from the state of Massachusetts, including scholarships, grants, tuition waivers, loans, and tuition reimbursement programs.
Residents of Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont can receive discounted tuition rates at Massachusetts institutions. This program helps out-of-state learners save an average of $7,900.
The department provides information about education-related topics including financial aid, college planning, transfer agreements, and online courses.

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