Online Colleges in Massachusetts

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Although it’s one of the country’s smallest states, Massachusetts is a big name when it comes to higher education.

Online Colleges in Massachusetts

In addition to attractions like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Fenway Park, the state is home to some of the most prestigious schools in the US.

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It also offers top-notch online learning opportunities and generous financial aid programs.

Overview of Higher Education in Massachusetts

students taking online degrees in University of Massachusetts

In Massachusetts there are 111 degree-granting institutions, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of those, 30 are public schools, 77 are non-profit private schools and 4 are for-profit private schools.

The state is particularly well-known for top-ranking private universities, including US News and World Reports’ #2 school, the Ivy League powerhouse Harvard University, as well as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, Boston College, and Brandeis University. The largest and most well-known public university in the state, University of Massachusetts, is also high-ranking, particularly its flagship campus in Amhurst.

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The average cost to attend one of the state’s 4-year public institutions is about $13,286 for residents, and $30,966 for non-residents, according to the NCES. Both are thousands of dollars above the national average. Fortunately, residents of nearby New England states can apply to Massachusetts’ public schools at reduced rates (and vice versa), thanks to the state’s partnership with 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.

About Online Colleges in Massachusetts

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A 2018 report by the NCES reported that 9.4% of postsecondary students in Massachusetts were enrolled in courses at online colleges exclusively, and another 11.4% of students were participating in a hybrid of online and on-campus courses. Those numbers have continued to rise. 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 5000 undergraduate and graduate programs, both fully online and hybrid, and 225 online degree options.

Alternatively, the University of Massachusetts’ UMass Online offers 200 degree and certificate programs and more than 4000 online courses in the fields the school is most known for – liberal arts, education, business and management, nursing, public health and information technology – as well as many other areas.

Scholarships and Financial Aid in Massachusetts

Scholarships and Financial Aid in Massachusetts

If you are interested in pursuing a degree in Massachusetts, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA will provide you access to federal, state and private financial aid. Because many funds are awarded on a first come, first served basis, you should complete your application as soon as possible. It becomes available on October 1st of each year.

The FAFSA application itself is quite simple. You will need to include financial information for yourself as well as your parents (unless you’re considered “independent”). This information will help determine how much and what type of financial aid you receive. The ideal types of financial aid are grants and scholarships, since they do not have to be paid back.

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 Massachusetts residents:

  • MASSGrant & MASSGrant Plus – Need based; Amount varies based on Estimated Family Contribution (EFC)
  • Gilbert Matching Student Grant – Need based; Can be used at accredited, non-profit private schools; $200-2500 per year
  • Cash Grant – Need based; Assistance to cover mandatory fees and non-state-supported tuition; Amount varies based on need
  • Part-Time Grant – Need based; Complementary to the Need-Based Tuition Waiver Program; For students enrolled for at least 6 but fewer than 12 credits per term; $200 and up, as determined by institution
  • Public Service Grant – Full tuition waiver for child(ren) or spouse of public police officer, fire fighter or corrections officer who was killed in the line of duty
  • Paraprofessional Teacher Preparation Grant – Assistance for current paraprofessionals in Massachusetts public schools who wish to become certified full time teachers; Designed to help address teacher shortage; Not need based; Amount varies depending on the institution type
  • Foster Child Grant – Assistance for foster children at any college or university in the US; Up to $6000 per year

Scholarships, on the other hand, are typically awarded based on some criteria other than financial need, such as academic success, athletic aptitude, field of study, unique hobbies, etc.

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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:

Scholarship Name Scholarship amount
Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship Amount varies
Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship Up to 50% of calculated need
High Demand Scholarship Program Full Time (12+ credits):  Up to $6500 per year
Part-Time (6-11 credits): Up to $3250 per year
LEADA@Liberty Scholarship (4) $2500 per year
Paul Tsongas Scholarship Covers full tuition and fees

That’s just a few, but there are several more worth looking into. Additionally, the state offers nearly 20 tuition waiver programs, a Loan Reimbursement Program for Health Professionals, and a 10-year No Interest Loan Program. Be sure to check into each of these options.

Outside of these state-sponsored opportunities, check out scholarship search sites such as, where you can enter basic information and be matched with dozens of scholarships. Finally, check with the financial aid office at the school(s) of your choice. They may be able to help you afford your dream school.

List of Online Colleges in Massachusetts

Online Colleges in Massachusetts Annual Tuition Application Fee
Bentley University  $45,760  $50
Boston University  $50,240  $80
Fisher College  $29,640  $50
Fitchburg State University  $10,135  $50
Framingham State University  $9,340  $50
Lasell College  $33,600  $0
Nichols College  $33,400  $0
Northeastern University  $47,653  $75
Simmons College  $38,590  $55
Suffolk University  $35,578  $50
University of Massachusetts – Amherst $14,971  $75
University of Massachusetts – Boston  $13,435  $60
University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth  $13,188  $60
University of Massachusetts – Lowell $14,307  $60
Western New England University  $34,874  $40
Westfield State University  $9,275  $50
Worcester Polytechnic Institute  $46,994  $65


group of students from University of 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. If you plan to earn your degree in Massachusetts, you’re making a wise choice.

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Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.