Massachusetts Online Colleges & Universities – Top Schools for 2015

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Quick Facts:
  • 35 Colleges

    in Massachusetts offer
    full online programs

  • 529 online programs

    were available
    in 2014

  • 246 online graduate degrees

    were offered by Massachusetts
    schools in 2014

Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts for 2015

Online learning is growing across the country and many postsecondary education providers in Massachusetts are taking part in this expansion. Opportunities in the Commonwealth include online schools, community colleges, four-year institutions, and technical and career colleges offering a wide range of degree programs at all levels. The guide below ensures students find the perfect degree or certificate program by highlighting the Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts for 2015.

RANK COLLEGE Tuition And Fees Enrollment Accredited MORE INFO
1 Salem State University$8,0509,431YES
Salem State University provides those students who are working toward a degree the option to take both undergraduate and graduate level courses as part of their online college opportunities. The university boasts offering and conduct their online college courses on a schedule that runs simultaneously with in-classroom courses for continuity and convenience.
2 Bridgewater State University$8,05310,751YES
Bridgewater State University’s online course selection gives students added flexibility to earn course credit while taking classes from a distance. An online college in Massachusetts, Bridgewater State University continually adds course listings to its online selection to help students working toward an online degree. The cost for online courses runs the same as it would for a student taking an on-campus course.
3 Framingham State University$8,0805,234YES
Online course offerings at Framingham State University consist of scheduled classes in over 18 degree concentrations. All online college degrees achieved through Framingham State University are accredited and follow the same fee schedule as those courses offer in a classroom setting. Bachelor’s, master’s and graduate certificates comprise the structure of online degrees offered.
4 Worcester State University$8,1576,629YES
Students can use the Worcester State University online course program for working through their undergraduate coursework. Credit earned via the online program does count towards a bachelor’s degree. Course types vary in discipline from history to communications to sciences to business and are offered at various times of the day for convenience.
5 Westfield State University$8,2976,267YES
Referred to as simply PLATO, Westfield State University’s online learning system offers a deeply diverse array of courses for students to take as part of their undergraduate degree work. The bachelor’s degree options available through this online college option in Massachusetts range from business and criminal justice to sociology and liberal arts. A number of online minor options are also offered.
6 Fitchburg State University$8,7104,846YES
An option for online colleges in Massachusetts, Fitchburg State University conducts online courses that lead to select bachelor’s or master’s degrees, in addition to a number of certifications. An online student resource center is available to those taking courses which allows for access to Blackboard for coursework and even to academic advisors via instant messaging.
7 University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth$11,6818,449YES
The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth is part of the UMass network of colleges that offer online coursework opportunities. The university offers individuals direct access to a myriad of online college degree programs that are available through UMassOnline, creating a path toward one of their offered bachelor’s or master’s online degrees.
8 University of Massachusetts-Lowell$11,84714,396YES
The University of Massachusetts – Lowell connects students to over 100 degree and certificate programs that are available via the UMassOnline distance learning program. Students can use this flexible college learning option to enroll in and take courses toward an accredited online bachelor’s or master’s degree that is offered by the university.
9 University of Massachusetts-Boston$11,96615,596YES
The College of Advancing and Professional Studies (CAPS) at University of Massachusetts Boston uses the Blackboard Learn platform for distance learning, offering students access to more than 600 online courses per year. Credits earned may go toward certificates and degree programs offered through various disciplines at UMass Boston. Instructional technologies such as online message boards and podcasts are used in the digital classrooms.
10 University of Massachusetts Amherst$13,41524,820YES
The University of Massachusetts Amherst offers online courses through the UMassOnline platform. Students who are interested in pursuing a degree online can choose from both undergraduate and graduate level degree programs, such as the master’s in business administration or bachelor’s in political science. All online degree programs are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
11 Boston Architectural College$17,330661YES
Boston Architectural College offers those students interested in seeking out and attaining a degree in the areas of architectural and design studies with the option of taking coursework in the specialized field online. The school boasts over 100 available courses and the use of VoiceThread technology to connect students and instructors.
12 Fisher College$26,7753,194YES
Fisher College conducts distance learning through its online learning program. Fast-paced in nature, the college offers coursework within six 8-week terms, allowing convenience and expediency in achieving an online degree. Work done within the online degree programs does involve learning and interaction via the Blackboard program.
13 Wentworth Institute of Technology$27,1084,053YES
Wentworth Institute of Technology offers students the option of pursing a college degree online in the following areas: project management at the bachelor’s level and construction management at the master’s level. Coursework includes both theory based topic matter as well as applied knowledge within its curriculum.
14 Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences$27,4403,461YES
This online college in Massachusetts offers potential distance learners access to coursework related to a degree and career in the healthcare industry. Referred to as MCPHS Online, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences features available online courses in programs like dental hygiene, nursing, healthcare administration and healthcare policy.
15 Endicott College$28,1662,897YES
Online coursework through Endicott College is offered and conducted throughout the course of the school year through the Endicott College’s Van Loan School of Graduate and Professional Studies. Working through the GullNet platform, students enrolled in one of the school’s online college courses may work to interact and connect with fellow classmates and instructors alike.
16 Bay Path College$28,5321,767YES
Bay Path College offers an online degree path for women interested in seeking out their higher education in a distance learning arrangement. Students utilize the Canvas program to assist them with their coursework during their studies within the online program. Unique to the college is their Online Degree Completion Program, the first specifically tailored to and geared towards women.
17 Lasell College$29,0001,575YES
Online students seeking their degree can find a broad spectrum of course and program offerings via the Lasell College online education option. The online coursework offered features highly specialized classes in topic and program areas such as sport leadership, non-profit management and integrated marketing communication. Online degree plans include master of science in communication, management or sport management.
18 American International College$29,1581,712YES
Students taking courses through the American International College’s online program will have the experience of conducting class through the Blackboard program and platform. The college offers different courses online to students studying from a distance, including those related to their Master of Science degree in nursing.
19 Anna Maria College$30,6761,120YES
Anna Maria College offers individuals an online college choice in Massachusetts that provides access to a bevy of both undergraduate and graduate degree options. Online programs feature unique degree choices such as their bachelor’s of fire science and of EMS administration that proceed alongside more classical degrees such as the college’s master’s of public administration.
20 Laboure College$30,680873YES
Laboure College, an online college in Massachusetts, offers those interested in pursuing a degree in the nursing field with an almost entirely online option to help them further their studies. Coursework that is done under the bachelor of science in nursing program is done 80% online and is accredited by The Commission on Collegiate Nursing.
21 Suffolk University$30,7926,393YES
Suffolk University provides both those seeking out undergraduate and graduate course listings online with access to classes that can be taken throughout the year, including both summer and winter break time frames. Classes offered focus on liberal arts and business courses. The university’s master’s in business administration is also offered as a degree option via online class work.
22 Wheelock College$30,9551,011YES
Wheelock College offers students who are looking for an online course study arrangement resources to meet that goal. Those online distance learners are able to use study resources like those of their on-campus contemporaries, such as access to the Wheelock College library network and reference materials for completing related coursework.
23 Lesley University$31,5752,477YES
Lesley University offers online bachelor’s degree options in business management and psychology, as well as an extensive array of master’s degree choices for graduate coursework. Lesley University’s online information system allows prospective online learners to navigate through available course offerings which are set on an eight-week course schedule as opposed to a full spring/fall semester based schedule.
24 Western New England University$31,9122,833YES
Western New England University gives potential students access to online college courses. Courses work towards a bachelor’s degree in business administration and can be completed by those individuals already maintaining an associate’s degree or coursework towards a bachelor’s degree that totals up to 60 hours. Students in the university’s online program also gain access to the school’s D’Amour Library as an added resource.
25 Regis College$33,0601,431YES
Regis College offers two major online programs for students seeking an online degree. Programs cover the following disciplines: professional studies and health professions. This online college in Massachusetts offers a large variety of degree options on both a bachelor’s and master’s level of study ranging from liberal arts to business to various health sciences.
26 Emmanuel College$33,6502,546YES
Emmanuel College on-campus and online degree programs at the graduate level. Programs such as Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Science in Nursing, and Master of Science in Human Resource Management, among others, rounds out the highly rated Education, Management and Nursing programs online from Emmanuel College.
27 Simmons College$34,3501,797YES
The Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences gives distance learners access to higher education programs that focus on graduate and post-graduate coursework. Online course offerings are coupled with online support services and access to the college’s advisory staff and bookstore - all combining to help students seeking online degrees in these health- and medical-related topic areas.
28 Berklee College of Music$36,4905,161YES
Berklee College of Music offers an online branch of its formal program, called Berklee Online, which works to extend the reach of music degree programs beyond its in-classroom offerings. The college offers bachelor’s degrees in two areas of study: music production and music business. Students proceed through online courses that include constant interaction with their respective instructors.
29 Harvard University$39,96614,495YES
Through the Harvard Extension School, Harvard University offers students access to college courses and program concentrations via an online platform. Students may take up to three online courses in their degree program of choice before submitting their formal commitment and application to that school of study. Certifications are also available through the Harvard University online program and do not require a formal application.
30 Northeastern University$40,08621,904YES
With over 60 programs available to students, Northeastern University is an online college in Massachusetts that offers a large array of degree and course options to distance learners. The university not only offers degree work on the associate and bachelor’s levels, but also provides options for completing master’s and doctorate program courses.
31 Worcester Polytechnic Institute$41,3803,922YES
Technical in name and in the online course options and resources offered, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute provides students who seek to complete coursework online in technical areas with class offerings on topics such as robotics engineering, mechanical engineering and system dynamics. The institute also exposes students to advanced technologies within its online classroom experience.
32 Boston University$42,99423,609YES
Online learning at Boston University takes traditional in-classroom learning and translates it into an interactive distance learning experience. Program facets include online dialogue with classmates and instructors, access to class materials 24/7 and personal discussion space during each course. Programs are available on both the undergraduate and graduate levels of study and for certification in specific course areas.
33 College of the Holy Cross$43,4002,907YES
Providing potential students with an online college option in Massachusetts, Our Lady of Holy Cross College offers distance learning opportunities for students who are seeking to achieve their degree online. Coursework done within the school’s online learning platform is conducted and completed using the Blackboard program.

Search Accredited Massachusetts Online Colleges

With so many options provided, students may be overwhelmed when it comes to finding a program matched to their needs and future goals. The robust search tool below alleviates this by filtering available online programs at Massachusetts schools, based on factors such as cost of tuition, accreditation, and types of degrees and certificates available.

Degree Level:
Tuition:
Student Population:
School Type:
35 results TUITION ACCEPTANCE RATE STUDENT POPULATION SCHOOL TYPE
Boston University Boston, Massachusetts Four or more years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE 46% STUDENT POPULATION 32,411 SCHOOL
TYPE
Private
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Criminal Justice
BACHELOR'S DEGREES
  • Management
  • Criminal Justice
MASTERS DEGREES
  • Music Education
  • Banking & Financial Services Management
  • Business Continuity, Security & Risk Management
  • Database Management & Business Intelligence
  • Insurance Management
  • International Marketing Management
  • IT Project Management
  • Management
  • Project Management
  • Taxation Law
  • Criminal Justice
  • Art Education
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Computer Networks
  • Health Informatics
  • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Health Communication
  • Social Work
  • Security
  • Web Application Development
DOCTORATE DEGREES
  • Music Education
  • Occupational Therapy
University of Massachusetts-Amherst Amherst, Massachusetts Four or more years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE 63% STUDENT POPULATION 28,518 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Associate of Science in Information Technology
BACHELOR'S DEGREES
  • Bachelor of Arts in Arts Management Concentrations
  • Bachelor of Arts in Business Studies Concentrations
  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in General Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality And Tourism Management
  • Bachelor's in Information Technology: Business Minor
  • Bachelor of Arts in Advocacy And Social Justice Studies Concentrations
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Concentrations
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Children's Learning And Development Concentrations
  • Bachelor of Arts in Early Care And Education Concentrations
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • Second Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Health Studies Concentrations
  • Rn To Bs (Amherst)
  • Rn To Bs (Boston)
  • Rn To Bs in Nursing (Dartmouth)
  • Bachelor of Arts in English
  • Bachelor of Arts in Writing Concentrations
  • Women's And Gender Studies Degree Completion Program
  • Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology Concentrations
  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Services Concentrations
  • Bachelor of Arts in Journalism Studies Concentrations
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Political Science Online Degree Completion Program
  • Bachelor of Arts in Global Affairs
  • Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Concentrations
  • Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability Studies Concentrations
  • Bachelor of General Studies
  • Bachelor of Liberal Arts
  • Bachelor of Liberal Arts Degree Completion Program
MASTERS DEGREES
  • Master's Degree in Business Administration - Isenberg Online MBA At Umass Amherst
  • Master's Degree in Business Administration - Online MBA
  • Master's Degree in Business Administration - Online MBA At Umass Dartmouth
  • Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Public Policy
  • Education Specialist Degree in Curriculum And Instruction: Education of Diverse Populations Ed.S.
  • M.Ed. Learning, Teaching And Educational Transformation
  • M.Ed. Vision Studies (Orientation And Mobility)
  • M.Ed. Vision Studies (Teachers of Students With Visual Impairments)
  • M.Ed. Vision Studies (Vision Rehabilitation Therapy)
  • M.Ed./Cags: Science Education Online
  • Master of Education in Instructional Design
  • Master of Education in School Counseling
  • Master's Degree in Curriculum & Instruction - Autism Studies
  • Master's Degree in Curriculum And Instruction - Science Education, M.Ed.
  • Master's Degree in Curriculum And Instruction, M.Ed.
  • Master's Degree in Educational Administration
  • Master's Degree in Reading And Language, M.Ed.
  • Master of Science in Computer Science
  • Master of Science in Engineering Management
  • Master of Science in Security Studies: Cyber Security Concentration
  • Online Master's Degree in Information Technology
  • Master of Public Health in Nutrition
  • Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice
  • Master of Science Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Master of Science in Family Therapy
  • Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling
  • Master of Science in Plant And Soil Sciences
  • Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Master's in Applied Linguistics
  • Master's in Gerontology - Management of Aging Services
  • Master of Arts in Critical And Creative Thinking
  • Master of Arts in Science in A Changing World
  • Master of Arts in Security Studies: Homeland Defense Concentration
DOCTORATE DEGREES
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Amherst)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (Boston)
Northeastern University Boston, Massachusetts Four or more years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE 32% STUDENT POPULATION 20,053 SCHOOL
TYPE
Private
BACHELOR'S DEGREES
  • Bachelor of Science in Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Leadership
  • BS in Finance and Accounting
  • BS in Liberal Arts with a Business Minor
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Management?
  • Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in English?
  • BS in Environmental Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communication
  • Bachelor of Science in Political Science
  • BS in Human Services
  • BS in Public Affairs
  • BS in Technical Communication
  • BS Psychology
  • BS in Operations Technology
MASTERS DEGREES
  • Master of Science in Project Management
  • Masters in Sports Leadership
  • Masters on Finance
  • MBA
  • MS in Leadership
  • MS in Nonprofit Management
  • MS in Respiratory Care and Leadership
  • MS in Taxation
  • Master of Science in Legal Studies
  • Master of Arts degree in Homeland Security
  • Master's program in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Professional Studies in Geographic Information Technology
  • Master of Professional Studies in Informatics
  • Master of Science in Engineering Management
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Master of Science in Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics, and Medical Devices?
  • Master's in Applied Nutrition
  • Master of Public Administration (Mpa)
  • Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis (MABA)?
  • Master of Science in Commerce and Economic Development
  • Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication
  • MS in Technical Communication
  • Master of Science in Energy Systems
  • master's degree in global studies and international affairs
  • Master's Degree Program in Information Assurance?
DOCTORATE DEGREES
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy
University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, Massachusetts Four or more years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE 64% STUDENT POPULATION 16,932 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Associate of Science in Information Technology
BACHELOR'S DEGREES
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor's in Information Technology: Business Minor Option
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • 2nd Bachelor's Degree - Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Sciencein Information Technology
  • Bachelor's in English
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Liberal Arts
MASTERS DEGREES
  • Master's in Business Administration - Accounting
  • Master's in Criminal Justice
  • Education Specialist in Administration, Planning And Policy, Ed.S - Principal Licensure
  • Education Specialist in Administration, Planning And Policy, Ed.S.
  • Education Specialist in Curriculum And Instruction: Education of Diverse Populations, Ed.S.
  • Education Specialist in Reading And Language, Ed.S.
  • Education Specialist in Reading And Language, Ed.S. - Teacher of Reading Licensure
  • Master's in Curriculum And Instruction, M.Ed.
  • Master's in Curriculum And Instruction: Autism Studies Option, M.Ed.
  • Master's in Curriculum And Instruction: Science Education Option, M.Ed.
  • Master's in Educational Administration, M.Ed.
  • Master's in Educational Administration, M.Ed. - Principal Licensure
  • Master's in Reading And Language, M.Ed.
  • Master's in Reading And Language, M.Ed. - Reading Specialist
  • Master of Science in Information Technology
  • Master of Science in Security Studies - Cyber Security
  • Master of Arts in Security Studies - Homeland Defense
Middlesex Community College Bedford, Massachusetts 2+ years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE NR STUDENT POPULATION 9,702 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Associate of Science in Business Administration - Accounting
  • Associate of Science in Business Administration Career
  • Associate of Science in Business Administration Transfer
  • Associate of Science in Hospitality Management
  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice - Administration of Justice
  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice - Transfer
  • Associate of Science in Liberal Studies
  • Associate of Science in Fire Protection & Safety Technology
  • Associate of Science in Associate in Arts, Liberal Arts And Sciences - Psychology
  • Associate of Science in Liberal Arts And Sciences
University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth North Dartmouth, Massachusetts Four or more years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE 72% STUDENT POPULATION 9,053 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
BACHELOR'S DEGREES
  • Bachelor of Science in General Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing Rn-To-Bs
MASTERS DEGREES
  • Master of Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Public Policy
  • Master of Science in Computer Science
Suffolk University Boston, Massachusetts Four or more years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE 83% STUDENT POPULATION 8,675 SCHOOL
TYPE
Private
MASTERS DEGREES
  • Executive Master Business of Administration
  • Graduate Diploma in Professional Accounting
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration
North Shore Community College Danvers, Massachusetts 2+ years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE NR STUDENT POPULATION 7,750 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Associate of Science in Fire Protection And Safety Technology
Northern Essex Community College Haverhill, Massachusetts 2+ years TUITION
ACCEPTANCE RATE NR STUDENT POPULATION 7,352 SCHOOL
TYPE
Public
ASSOCIATE DEGREES
  • Associate of Science in Business Transfer
  • Associate of Science Degree in Computer And Information Sciences - Applications
  • Associate's in General Studies
  • Associate's in Liberal Arts
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Deans Talk: Inside Massachusetts’s Online Colleges

To get a better sense of the online learning landscape in Massachusetts, we asked each of the colleges on our list to answer a few questions about what makes their programs unique. We heard back from a few of the state’s best institutions. See what they had to say below:

Online Departments in Massachusetts

Anna Maria College

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

We stay true to our mission regarding the addition of new academic programs and our attention to students. Class sizes remain small so that students can receive the support they need to be successful. In addition, faculty are prepared to work in on online setting so that the students' experiences are positive and they benefit from the virtual learning environment.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

Our programs are designed to help students advance in or change their careers. The courses include current trends in the respective disciplines, as well as content that will be valuable to students in their careers. Faculty are also experts in their fields of study bringing real world experiences to the virtual classroom.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

Anna Maria will remain on the cutting edge of online education by continuing to pursue opportunities to provide quality academic programs that meet the needs of current and prospective students. Emerging technologies and educational practices within the field of virtual education will continually be explored and new programs that will prepare students to meet the challenges of the future marketplace will be added as needed.

Fisher College

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

Fisher College approaches online learning as a student-centered environment that makes it convenient to obtain a degree. The College strives to provide distance education students with the same individualized attention and superior support services as their counterparts on campus.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

Students at Fisher College are able to complete degree programs and reach their professional goals without compromising a quality education, and while simultaneously fitting coursework into their busy lives. Our courses are taught by highly educated faculty members who are experts in their given field, have a true desire to help students succeed, and are dedicated to the ongoing success of online learning.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

Our online programs will continue to provide students with relevant, quality degree options in both the undergraduate and graduate level. We will continue to see technology aid in the development of student learning, and the College will adapt with the changes in technology to ensure our students are well prepared upon graduation.

Simmons College

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

  • Online is the same rigor as on-the-ground - as it is the same curriculum and taught by the same faculty
  • We lead with pedagogy and use technology to enable the desired student outcomes
  • We have tremendous student and faculty support and require all to have taken training before teaching online
  • Our Nursing Faculty have been teaching and innovating online for years

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

  • Our Nursing Faculty have been teaching and innovating online for years
  • Student to faculty ratios are 1 to 14 on average
  • We design with both synchronous and asynchronous sessions - enabling both faculty to student interaction and peer to peer interaction

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

  • Growing
  • Having impact and reach nationally and internationally
  • Changing the dynamics of the shortage of nurses
  • Bringing change and opportunity through education to people and communities that might otherwise not have had access
University of Massachusetts Amherst

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

Through Continuing & Professional Education, the University envisions online degree programs as another effective avenue to better meet students’ needs and expectations.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

The courses in these online degree programs mirror the ones presented to the campus’ residential students with many of the same faculty. Quality is high.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

Online degree programs are expected to grow in order to meet a broader range of students and their educational needs – both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. More online certificate programs (five courses of complementing topics) will be more prevalent and focused to address specific career needs.

A Guide to Online Colleges in Massachusetts

Many educational institutions in Massachusetts are esteemed, both for being among the oldest universities and colleges in the nation and for leading the charge in cutting-edge learning initiatives. In 2013, 201 colleges, universities and career schools in the Commonwealth served more than 660,000 students. Massachusetts has a higher-than-average ratio of college students per capita, ranking 10th nationwide for number of colleges, and 13th for student enrollment. Boston is the state’s largest city and provides an excellent case study for understanding the breadth of institutions and programs available. The following sections take a closer look at Beantown and provide insight on the higher education landscape.

Innovation and Heritage: Colleges and Universities in Boston

The Boston metropolitan area serves more than 250,000 post-secondary students at 60 institutions, including five junior colleges, 18 four-year colleges, and nine research universities. More than 25 additional schools and colleges are dedicated to faith-based learning, private technological and vocational programs, and other specialized fields of study.

Boston University, the city’s largest college, holds a top rating for institutional research from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Programs in biomedical engineering, public health, social work, law, and medical research draw students from around the globe. The Department of English has attracted two U.S. Poet Laureates, three Nobel Prize in literature recipients, and 30 winners of the Pulitzer Prize.

Bunker Hill Community College has a range of associate degrees and certificates available. The school also participates in Mass Transfer, a program facilitating credit transfers to four-year schools. Other institutions in the city include The University of Massachusetts-Boston, Northeastern University, Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, Emerson College, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Saint John’s Seminary. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are located in nearby Cambridge.

Boston Online Schools and Colleges

Boston area students pursuing degrees and professional certificates online have an excellent array of options, ranging from associate degrees to doctoral programs. The Massachusetts Colleges Online consortium is comprised of 15 community colleges and nine state colleges, offering 176 degrees and certificates fully online. Boston University has gained prominence for its online graduate programs in business and technology. The programs are also recognized for their flexibility: more than 95 percent of graduate technology students are employed when they enroll. Northeastern University, the University of Massachusetts, and Harvard University Extension also offer online certificate and degree programs.

Tuition & Cost of Living in Massachusetts

Prospective students should research the varied cost of tuition at potential schools, keeping in mind that different rates may apply for residents and non-residents. Massachusetts ranks third in terms of highest in-state tuition, with residents paying an average annual tuition of $21,020 in 2012.

Many colleges also have fees to cover additional services, including registration, parking, computer labs, and recreational facilities. Students should familiarize themselves with fees at prospective colleges, including potential charges for swapping classes after the drop/add deadline.

A well-planned college budget takes into account both living expenses and general expenditures such as books and supplies. Expenses differ depending on living situations, but calculations should cover items like food, transportation, and a reliable Internet connection. While living costs in Massachusetts are an estimated 20 percent higher than the U.S. average, student budgets will vary depending on if they are in a small college town or large urban center. The following table provides the cost of living (COL) for several Massachusetts metropolitan areas, based on a scale where 100% represents the national average:

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Fitchburg-Leominster 3.3% -2.9% -0.7% 40.6% -0.1% 12.3% -1.4%
Pittsfield 10.6% -3.8% 15.0% 61.9% -1.1% 5.0% 10.0%
Boston 32.5% 52.7% 16.7% 38.6% 4.5% 23.5% 28.6%
Framingham-Natick 34.5% 77.2% 9.4% 31.9% 5.0% 16.1% 18.8%

Accreditation Standards in Massachusetts

In addition to their research on degrees and budgetary factors, prospective students also need to be aware of the accreditation status of prospective schools. Many financial aid programs require institutional accreditation to ensure programs uphold academic quality. The most prestigious form of accreditation is regional; Massachusetts institutions seeking this distinction apply to the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the country’s oldest regional accrediting association.

Great Resources for Online Students in Massachusetts

The following Massachusetts resources provide a wealth of information on common questions regarding financial aid, education and career counseling, accreditation and school assistance for veterans. Offered as a free service, students can use these guides to alleviate concerns and feel informed while selecting their perfect program.