Although it’s one of the country’s smallest states, online colleges in Massachusetts continue to grow as the state focuses on its higher education.
In addition to attractions like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Fenway Park, the state is home to some prestigious schools in the US.
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It also offers top-notch online learning opportunities and generous financial aid programs.
Online Colleges in Massachusetts
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that approximately 21% of postsecondary students in Massachusetts are enrolled in courses at online colleges exclusively. Approximately another 19% of students are participating in a hybrid of online and on-campus courses.
Those numbers continue to rise thanks to the increase in Massachusetts online colleges. Today, nearly all postsecondary schools in Massachusetts offer some sort of online learning option.
Many online programs are available through Massachusetts Colleges Online (MCO), a conglomerate of the state’s 15 community colleges and 9 state universities. MCO offers more than 5,000 fully online or hybrid undergraduate and graduate programs and 225 online degree options.
Alternatively, some schools offer up to 200 degree and certificate programs and more than 4,000 online courses in numerous fields of study. Online programs and courses can be found in fields like liberal arts, education, business and management, nursing, public health, information technology, and many others.
Common Online Degrees in Massachusetts
If you’re interested in online degrees in MA, you might want to start the process by exploring the state’s most popular degrees. Offered at multiple Massachusetts schools, these programs appeal to a wide variety of students.
- Business Administration: Not only can studying business prepare you to work in an area like marketing or finance, but it could also help you get ready to take on management roles in a company.
- Criminal Justice: Majoring in criminal justice could be useful for a job in law enforcement, court, or corrections systems.
- Liberal Arts: If you’re an adult learner who wants a broad education that touches on a wide array of subjects, then you might appreciate the flexible nature of a liberal arts degree.
- Nursing: Getting an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can be a smart way to launch your healthcare career, get licensed as a registered nurse (RN), and possibly prepare for future studies to become an advanced practice nurse.
- Psychology: If you want to work with kids, people in need, counseling clients, or crime victims, then a degree in psychology could help you get started.
You’ll have plenty of degree options in Massachusetts to pursue, but these five programs may be among your top choices available.
Overview of Higher Education in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, there are 107 degree-granting institutions, according to the NCES. Of those, 30 are public schools, 75 are non-profit private schools and 2 are for-profit private schools. The state is particularly well-known for top-ranking private universities.
The average cost of tuition and fees to attend one of the state’s 4 year public institutions is $13,939 a year for in-state students and $32,019 for out-of-state students, according to the NCES. Both are thousands of dollars above the national average.
Fortunately, residents of nearby New England states may be able to apply to Massachusetts’ public schools at reduced rates (and vice versa), thanks to the state’s partnership with the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE).
The Tuition Break agreement pertains to schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Altogether, NEBHE has more than 800 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to choose from, many in high-demand fields.
Employment Outlook for College Graduates in Massachusetts
Approximately 3.6 million people work in Massachusetts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is 3.5%, which is only slightly higher than the national rate.
One of the fastest-growing industries in Massachusetts is mining and logging. This sector recently saw a 10% growth rate. Employment in the field of leisure and hospitality has been seeing steady growth of 5 to 8% as well.
In professional and business services, there has been a 4% growth rate. The job category that employs the most people in Massachusetts is office and administrative support, with over 400,000 employees in the field. Management, sales, finance, and healthcare are other top sectors.
Healthcare practitioners, including radiologists, surgeons, and orthodontists, make some of the highest wages in Massachusetts. Chief executives and natural science managers are also among the state’s highest earners.
Careers & Salaries in Massachusetts
A college degree could lead to a variety of interesting, dependable jobs in Massachusetts. Many people work in the business sector. Some jobs you might be able to get right out of college include accountant, project management specialist, or marketing specialist positions.
With some experience, you might move into a management job. Managers often make high salaries. There are many positions in this state for general and operations managers. Managers in finance departments often have particularly high earnings.
If you understand business and management, you could also consider a career as a management analyst or consultant.
Technology is another work area to consider in Massachusetts. Being a software developer is one example. Management positions in this job category often pay impressive salaries.
Healthcare is an important field in this state as well. You might become a practitioner, such as a registered nurse, or work on the business side of things as a medical services manager.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary in Massachusetts is $58,450. These are some of the careers that may be pursued in the state and their average salaries, according to the BLS.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$167,960|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$127,030|
|General and Operations Managers||$123,030|
|Project Management Specialists||$101,480|
|Accountants and Auditors||$83,030|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||$77,880|
For most Massachusetts careers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the median hourly salary. That figure has been multiplied by 2,080 (a full-time workload for one year) to produce the above salary information.
How to Know If an Online Degree Is Right for Me
Campus-based studies are traditional, but many learners today opt for online classes. Considering the items on the following list can help you decide whether that’s something you should do too.
- Community resources: For some majors, you might need to make connections with local organizations where you can do things like lab assignments or job shadowing.
- Internet access: Online studies require reliable technology, including strong internet service.
- Focus and self-discipline: You’ll need to get in a habit of checking in with your classes regularly, and you’ll also want to set aside time and space to get your work done.
- Writing skills: An online program might require more written assignments, such as discussion boards, than a classroom-based one.
Before committing to a degree program, you might want to try out one or two online classes.
Should I Study in Massachusetts?
Online colleges are available throughout the US, but you may prefer to select a school that’s located in Massachusetts. Here are some things you may want to consider when exploring schools in Massachusetts.
- Demand: The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education predicted a shortage in the number of college graduates needed to fill various roles in MA. By getting a degree, you may help fill that gap.
- State-specific training: If you want to do a job that requires licensure, such as nursing or teaching, it makes sense to study in the state where you intend to practice so that you can count on meeting licensure requirements.
- Networking: As you take classes from a MA school, you might connect with employers that have a presence in the state.
- Options: There are over 150 online degree programs offered in Massachusetts, so you’ll have plenty of options to consider.
While people come to Massachusetts colleges from all over the nation and world, studying in-state can have particular benefits for MA residents.
Mass Colleges Online Admissions Requirements
While admissions requirements will vary from school to school, these are some common requirements you may see:
- High school and college transcripts
- Letters of recommendation from teachers or work supervisors about your strengths and abilities
- Samples of your writing, often in the form of a personal essay
- Test scores, such as the ACT or SAT (not needed at all colleges)
You may need to assemble a different packet of materials for each school you apply to so you can meet each one’s specific requirements.
MA Online Colleges Accreditation
Regional accreditation is a sign that the college you’re considering meets educational standards. To earn accreditation, schools have to pass rigorous evaluations.
There are seven regional accreditors in the US. Traditionally, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) is the accrediting body that reviews colleges in Massachusetts.
You may have several reasons for selecting a regionally accredited school. For one thing, plans sometimes change. If you decide to switch colleges, your accredited coursework is more likely to transfer.
Also, qualifying for a graduate program, a professional license, financial aid opportunities, or even a good job may require accredited studies.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you are interested in pursuing a degree at a Massachusetts university online, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The FAFSA will determine your access to federal, state, and some forms of private financial aid. The information you provide helps determine how much and what type of financial aid you receive.
Other types of financial aid are grants and scholarships. These types of aid do not have to be paid back as long as they are used appropriately.
In Massachusetts, the Department of Higher Education administers an impressive array of assistance programs, including grants, scholarships, tuition waivers, tuition reimbursement, and even a no-interest loan program.
Here are a few of the grant programs available to residents looking to attend online colleges in Mass.:
- MASSGrant and MASSGrant Plus: This is a need-based grant that provides aid based on a student’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC).
- Gilbert Matching Student Grant: This need-based grant provides $200-2,500 per year that can be used at accredited, non-profit private schools.
- Cash Grant: This grant provides need-based assistance to cover mandatory fees and non-state-supported tuition.
- Part-Time Grant: This grant is a complement to the Need-Based Tuition Waiver program. It provides $200+ (as determined by the institution) to qualifying students who are taking at least 6 but fewer than 12 credits per term.
- Public Service Grant: This grant provides a full tuition waiver to the child(ren) or spouse of a public police officer, firefighter, or corrections officer who was killed in the line of duty.
- Paraprofessional Teacher Preparation Grant: This grant provides assistance to qualifying current paraprofessionals in Massachusetts public schools who wish to become certified full-time teachers. It was created to help address the teacher shortage. It is not need-based, and the amount varies depending on the institution type attended.
- Foster Child Grant: This grant provides up to $6,000 per year to qualifying foster children attending a college or university in the US.
Scholarships, on the other hand, are typically awarded based on some criteria other than financial need, such as academic success, athletic aptitude, the field of study, unique hobbies, and more. Some scholarships may also require recipients to demonstrate financial need.
Here are a few of the scholarship programs offered by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education:
- Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship: Amount varies
- Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship: Up to 50% of calculated need
- High Demand Scholarship: For full-time (12+ credits) programs, up to $6,500 per year, and for part-time (6-11 credits), up to $3,250 per year
- LEADA@Liberty Scholarship: $2,500 per year
- Paul Tsongas Scholarship: Covers full tuition and fees
You can also check with the financial aid office at the school(s) of your choice. They can help you find ways to afford online degree programs in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Online Education Resources
As a student in Massachusetts, these resources can help you with your educational pursuits.
- Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges: You can learn about campus-based and online Massachusetts community colleges, transfer opportunities, and financial assistance resources at this site.
- Massachusetts Colleges Online: If online studies are a priority for you, then this site that connects students to online courses from several different state universities and community colleges may be especially helpful.
- Massachusetts Department of Higher Education: This site offers a variety of resources, including information on the money-saving MassTransfer A2B Degree program.
As you start making college plans, these resources may help make your planning easier.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to an Online College in Massachusetts?
Going to a public, 4 year university in Massachusetts as an in-state student costs, on average, $13,939 per year in tuition, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s a higher price than the US average of $9,375.
Out-of-state students in Massachusetts spend, on average, $32,019 annually on tuition to attend public, 4 year schools.
In-state community college students pay an average of $5,529 per year. Out-of-state enrollees in MA community colleges pay an average of $10,680 a year.
Private schools often charge the same amount for in- and out-of-state students. In Massachusetts, the average tuition cost is $49,152 a year.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Tuition Break, an initiative of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), provides cost savings for some out-of-state students who want to go to college in Massachusetts.
To qualify, you must live in one of the six states that belong to NEBHE. Tuition Break applies to public 4 year universities as well as community colleges. Only certain majors at each school are eligible for the program. If you are approved for Tuition Break, your tuition rate will be no more than 175% of the in-state rate.
What Jobs Are in High Demand in Massachusetts?
As you’re looking at top MA colleges, it makes sense to consider a major that will set you up for success in an in-demand field.
According to the state’s Department of Economic Research, these employment sectors are expected to see significant growth in the coming years:
- Agents and business managers of artists: 101.36% growth rate
- Information security analysts: 50.57% growth rate
- Film and video editors: 46.67% growth rate
- Operations research analysts: 45.76% growth rate
- Logisticians: 42.64% growth rate
This list focuses on some of the most in-demand jobs that typically require a college degree.
What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in Massachusetts?
Perhaps you’d like to set your sights on one of the most lucrative jobs in Massachusetts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has data that can help.
Based on multiplying the median hourly wage by 2,080 to represent a year of full-time work, judges have some of the highest salaries in Massachusetts. They earn, on average, $180,190 per year.
Pediatricians can make around $139,300, and dentists earn around $222,730. Computer and information systems managers, who often need only a bachelor’s degree, make an average of $167,960 a year.
Of course, these are just state averages and individual wages can vary greatly, so these figures aren’t a guarantee of earnings.
List of Online Colleges in Massachusetts
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Bay Path University is dedicated to helping women with jobs and families advance in their careers through online learning. There are six start dates offered throughout the year. Students can transfer in qualifying credits and may be able to earn credits for work experience.
The school offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in fields like child psychology and accounting.
Bay Path University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Bentley University offers three graduate programs online to help students get their education while meeting their other responsibilities. Many programs at the school also offer evening classes.
Bentley offers an MBA, a Master’s in Human Factors in Innovative Design, and an MS in Taxation online. Some courses are offered in a 6 week accelerated format.
Bentley University is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.
U.S. News and World Report ranked three of Boston University’s online programs among the best in the nation. Many of the school’s programs are available fully online. Some courses last a full semester, while others are only 6 weeks long.
BU offers bachelor’s degree completion programs online and master’s degrees in fields like art education or health informatics.
Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Brandeis University offers the Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) program, which is a virtual school. The school helps students earn their graduate degrees by offering flexible scheduling options and accelerated formats.
Part-time students can potentially finish in just 3 years, while full-time students can potentially finish in just 1 year. Areas of study offered include digital marketing and design and bioinformatics.
Brandeis University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Fisher College offers several online undergraduate and graduate degree programs. These programs are designed with working students in mind.
Many of these programs have synchronous components. Some courses are offered in an 8 week format, while others are offered in 12 or 16 week formats. The school offers several start dates. Areas of study offered include criminal justice, game development, and counseling psychology.
Fisher College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Fitchburg State University offers completely online programs designed for students who work and have families. Most programs are asynchronous, but a few have synchronous components.
Fitchburg offers free demo courses so students can try out the programs they are interested in. Many of the school’s online courses are just 8 weeks long. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in fields such as criminal justice, human resources management, education, and more.
Fitchburg State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
U.S. News & World Report named Framingham State University in its listing of the best public regional universities. The school offers 18 online programs designed for busy students with other commitments. Most of these programs are fully online, but some are offered in a hybrid format.
Students can earn a BA in Liberal Studies online. The school offers online graduate programs in merchandising, educational technology, nursing, and more.
Framingham State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Students can earn undergraduate or graduate degrees online through the Extension School at Harvard University. These programs are designed to give students the rigorous academics they’d expect from a school like Harvard while also being flexible with their schedules.
The program offers a BA in Liberal Arts and graduate degrees in biology, cybersecurity, and more.
Harvard University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Lasell University strives to offer students a unique online learning experience where they feel connected to others in their classes.
Students can currently earn graduate degrees or complete their bachelor’s degrees online. Courses for these programs are offered fully online or in hybrid formats, and many of them are asynchronous. Lasell offers over 45 programs in fields such as healthcare management and human resources.
Lasell University is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.
Nichols College is a nationally-ranked school for business. The school offers undergraduate and graduate classes. Programs are either fully online or offered in a hybrid format. The school offers 6 start dates a year, and courses are 7 weeks long.
Areas of study offered include accounting, business administration, and human resources management.
Nichols College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Northeastern University offers innovative and flexible online programs designed for nontraditional students. Online students can finish their bachelor’s degrees or earn master’s or doctoral degrees. Many of these programs are fully online, but some do have in-class components.
Many of the school’s faculty members are leaders in their industries. Areas of study offered include data science and energy systems.
Northeastern University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Simmons University got its start in 1899 as a women’s college. It still aims for diversity and inclusivity in its online programs. The school’s bachelor’s programs are open to women, and its graduate programs are open to students of all genders.
The classes for these programs are fully online, but many of them have synchronous components. The school offers areas of study like psychology, nutrition, nursing, and more.
Simmons University is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.
Suffolk University aims to make sure its online students get the same high-quality, rigorous education as their on-campus counterparts. Suffolk currently offers online degree programs for graduate students.
These programs feature courses that are 7 weeks long. Most are asynchronous with optional synchronous components. There are three start dates offered each year. The school offers eight programs in fields such as accounting, business administration, healthcare administration, and business analytics.
Suffolk University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Massachusetts—Amherst has several options for nontraditional students who need flexible schedules. Students can choose from online and hybrid options through the school’s Flex program. These programs offer both asynchronous and synchronous components.
The school offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in areas such as film studies, nutrition, and sociology.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Massachusetts—Boston is dedicated to providing access to affordable, high-quality education for everyone, including non-traditional students. The school has an innovatively designed online learning program.
The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees that can be earned fully online in fields such as gerontology, global affairs, vision studies, and critical and creative thinking.
The University of Massachusetts Boston is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Massachusetts—Dartmouth aims to provide affordable and flexible online programs for working students. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online.
Many programs are offered entirely online, while others have hybrid options. There are four start dates offered throughout the year. Areas of study offered include English literature and criticism, medical laboratory science, art education, and nursing.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Massachusetts—Lowell among the best online schools for bachelor’s and graduate degrees. The school offers many online options, including entirely online, hybrid, and flex. There are several start dates throughout the year, and synchronous and asynchronous courses are offered.
Areas of study offered include English, mathematics, chemistry, and civil engineering.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Western New England University offers fully online graduate degree programs designed for busy students. There are four start dates offered throughout the year, and students can take classes full-time or part-time.
WNE offers 20 graduate programs, most of which are taught by full-time faculty members. Areas of study offered include electrical engineering, organizational leadership, elder law and estate planning, and mathematics for teachers.
Western New England University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
U.S. News & World Report named Westfield State University in the Top 100 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. Westfield State offers online bachelor’s completion programs for students who’ve completed core courses.
Courses follow the regular semester schedule and are also offered in a 2 week winter session and two 6 week summer sessions. Areas of study offered include finance and marketing.
Westfield State University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers online graduate programs designed for students who need a flexible schedule. Programs are offered fully online and are based on science, engineering, and the humanities.
Courses are 7, 10, or 14 weeks long. There are up to five start dates offered throughout the year. Graduate programs are offered in bioscience management, environmental engineering, chemistry, and more.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.
Getting Your Online Degree in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is a small state with a big resumé! The state is full of impressive schools, public and private, traditional and online, and offers very generous financial aid programs.
Whether you’re looking for fully online or hybrid programs, you can begin your journey by researching accredited online schools in Massachusetts.