boston mass

Best Online Colleges in Mass­a­chu­setts Top Consensus Ranked Schools in Mass­a­chu­setts

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The best online colleges in Massachusetts are many of the same schools that offer traditional programs on their college campuses. And as one of the most educated states in the country, it is not surprising that Massachusetts also has so many excellent online degree programs.

As one of America’s original 13 British colonies, it was first explored by the English in the early 17th century. Founded in 1620, Pilgrims from England settled the area, establishing Plymouth Colony. Through the decades, Massachusetts played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, the establishment of the United States, and the development of democracy.

In addition, Massachusetts played a crucial role in developing American industry during the 19th and 20th centuries, from the industrial revolution to the development of high-tech industry. Its long-standing history of higher education institutions continues to make Massachusetts a hub of higher learning, particularly in biotechnology and medical sciences.

Why Choose Massachusetts for Online Higher Education?

Online degrees have many pros and cons, and an online format is not the best path for everyone. To be successful, students must be independent learners with excellent organizational and time management skills. However, for self-motivated students, there are many benefits to online education. 


Massachusetts is one of the most affordable places in the country to pursue an online higher education program. According to US News & World Report, Massachusetts has tuition rates for out-of-state and in-state students, making it much more affordable for those seeking their degrees. Additionally, state and federal grants are often available for students in Massachusetts. And this financial aid makes it even more financially feasible to pursue a degree from one of the many online colleges in Massachusetts.


Online virtual classes use technologies such as video conferencing and online lessons. This allows teachers and students to interact, discuss, exchange ideas, and learn engagingly while in different physical locations. With virtual classes, students can join the course from anywhere worldwide with an internet connection. Additionally, most learning formats include part-time and full-time study options. And, because they don’t have to be on campus, students have more choices for the school they want to attend. 


Massachusetts has a well-regarded education system, making it an excellent choice for someone looking for prestige in their online degree. The state is home to several well-known universities, including Harvard, MIT, and also Boston University. Employers within and outside the state see a degree from one of these universities as a sign of prestige and a solid academic background.


Massachusetts is known for being at the forefront of technology. So it is no surprise that many colleges in Massachusetts have developed online higher education programs. These universities use the latest technologies, from virtual classrooms to online lectures, which makes it much easier for students to access and complete their degree programs.

What is the State of Online Higher Education in Massachusetts?

As with many other states, Massachusetts students have several options for online learners. It offers a variety of accredited online schools and programs, as well as opportunities for traditional, on-campus learning. The state also boasts several top-ranked universities, including Harvard University, which offers online courses through its Extension School.

Additionally, many traditional colleges and universities have embraced online learning, offering a range of classes and degrees online. It is also home to several innovative online teaching and learning programs such as the Massasoit Community College Online Accelerated Learning program. Massachusetts online colleges offer a variety of online classes and online bachelor’s degree programs for transfer students and first year undergraduate students. And eligible students can also earn one of many master’s degrees or graduate certificates online.

Student Enrollment TypeStudent Enrollment
2 Year Full Time Enrollment (2022)38,394
4 Year Full Time Enrollment (2022)100,134
NET Total Full Time Enrollment (2022)138,528
State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) MA Enrollment

How Many Colleges Are in Massachusetts?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 107 degree-granting colleges and universities are in Massachusetts, including public, private, non-profit, and for-profit institutions. Public institutions include 14 state universities and 16 community colleges. Private non-profit institutions include 75 four-year colleges and universities, while for-profit institutions comprise one colleges and universities. So, about one-fourth of these schools are state-run colleges, while the remaining institutions are privately operated.

DesignationNumberDegrees Available
Public Massachusetts Community Colleges 16Associate Degrees and Certificates
State Colleges and Universities14BS, BA, MA, MS, PhD, Certificates
Non-Profit Private Colleges and Universities75BS, BA, MA, MS, PhD, Certificates
For-Profit Private Colleges and Universities2Associate and Bachelor Degrees
NCES Colleges in Massachusetts

What Kinds of Degrees Can You Earn Online?

Prospective students in Massachusetts can earn an online associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctoral degree in various fields. Popular degree programs available online include business, education, healthcare, engineering, and also computer science. Other academic programs online for distance learners include certificates and diplomas.

  • online associate degree
  • online bachelor’s degree
  • online undergraduate degree
  • online master’s degree
  • online graduate certificates
  • online doctoral degrees

How Much Is College Tuition in Massachusetts?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, college tuition in Massachusetts is higher than the national average. Fortunately, students enrolled in online and traditional programs in the state may be eligible for financial aid from the federal, state, and school sources.

What is the cost of attending an online college in Massachusetts? The cost of attending an online college in Massachusetts varies depending on the school you choose to attend and the program you enroll in. Generally speaking, private schools are more expensive than public schools. And in-state students pay less than out-of-state students. Online courses and programs can be less expensive than traditional on-campus options, as many colleges and universities in Massachusetts offer reduced tuition rates for online students. Additional costs such as software or other technological tools may be required for the courses. Check with the institution for the most up-to-date information on tuition and fees.

Are Online Colleges in Massachusetts Less Expensive Than Traditional In-person College?

It depends. Some online colleges in Massachusetts offer lower tuition and fees than traditional in-person colleges, while others may be more expensive. It is best to compare the tuition and fees of different online and conventional colleges in Massachusetts to determine which option is more cost-effective.

How Can You Save Money on an Online Degree in Massachusetts?

The cost of an online degree in Massachusetts varies greatly depending on the type of degree and school you choose. Online learners can qualify for the same financial aid opportunities as traditional learners. Additionally, many schools offer lower-cost options through their distance learning programs, with the cost depending on the program of study and the number of credits required.

Some schools charge set tuition rates for online students, while others offer discounts for those enrolled through distance programs. For more information about specific programs and tuition, you should contact the individual school.

In-State and Out-of-State Tuition

In-state tuition in Massachusetts is significantly less expensive than out-of-state tuition. The average undergrad tuition cost of attending a public college or university is typically three times more for students from out of state compared to Massachusetts residents. In Massachusetts, the in-state tuition rate for public 4-year schools averages $15,360, while out-of-state tuition typically ranges from $33,280 to $42,386, depending on the school. Financial aid and merit-based scholarships may lower the cost of tuition for out-of-state students. But the gap between in-state and out-of-state tuition remains significant. Below are the current published tuition and mandatory fees at Massachusetts Public Colleges and Universities.

Massachusetts State Colleges and UniversitiesAverage Undergrad Tuition
4 University of Massachusetts (Boston, Lowell, Dartmouth, Amherst)$16,205
9 State Universities$11,439
15 Community Colleges$6,886
Tuition at Massachusetts Colleges and Universities (2023).

2-Year Massachusetts Community College

Numerous community colleges in Massachusetts offer 2-year programs. The in-state tuition rate for public community colleges averages $6,886. Some of the most popular schools include Bunker Hill Community College, Massachusetts Bay Community College, Quinsigamond Community College, and Bristol Community College. Each institution is an excellent option for those looking to save money while furthering their education. Students who attend a Massachusetts community college for two years typically can transfer to a four-year college or university once they have fulfilled the course requirements for graduation. This is an excellent way to save around $18,000 over two years on a bachelor’s degree.

Work, Life, and Military Experience

Many educational institutions offer special tuition discounts on postsecondary education to students who have prior work experience, life experience, or military service. Depending on the school, these discounts could include reduced tuition rates, waived application fees, and more. So, research the policies of the school or universities you are considering to see if you qualify for these discounts.

Employer Tuition Assistance

Employer tuition assistance is one of the best ways to save money on college costs. Many employers understand the value of education and are willing to help employees further their education. Many employers offer tuition assistance programs that provide financial aid for employees to attend school or take professional development courses. This type of assistance usually covers all or part of the tuition costs, saving students a lot of money. Check with your employer to see if they offer any tuition assistance programs.

Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students

The New England Board of Higher Education works to bring higher educational opportunities to residents of the Northeast. NEBHE’s Tuition Break Program enables thousands of New England residents to enroll at out-of-state New England public colleges and universities at a discounted tuition rate. The cost-sharing Tuition Breaks program unites public schools across the region to reduce program redundancies and provide education at a discounted rate. Currently, the program saves families who access institutional resources an average of $7,900 annually.

Massachusetts Scholarships

Typically distance learners qualify for financial aid and scholarships in the same way as traditional students. Scholarships usually fall into tow categories. Need based scholarships are based on financial need and merit scholarships are based on academic achievement. Some scholarships fall into both categories. Additionally, private schools tend to have many institutional scholarships for students at each school.

Scholarship ProgramNeedMeritFullPart PublicPrivateAmount
Agnes M. Lindsay ScholarshipCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkvaries
John and Abigail Adams Scholarship CheckmarkCheckmark Checkmark $1,714
Christian A. Herter Memorial ScholarshipCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkvaries
Early Childhood Educators Scholarship CheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkvaries
Massachusetts High Demand ScholarshipCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark$5,000
One Family Scholarship ProgramCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkvaries
Paul Tsongas ScholarshipCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkvaries
Massachusetts Financial Aid Programs

Massachusetts Grants, Tuition Waivers, and Loans

Grant ProgramNeedMeritFullPart PublicPrivate
MASSGrantCheckmark Checkmark CheckmarkCheckmark
Gilbert Matching Student GrantCheckmark Checkmark  Checkmark
Need-Based Tuition WaiverCheckmark CheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark 
Categorical Tuition WaiversNANACheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Cash GrantCheckmark CheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark 
Part-Time GrantCheckmark  CheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
No Interest LoanCheckmark Checkmark CheckmarkCheckmark
Foster Child GrantCheckmark Checkmark CheckmarkCheckmark
Massachusetts Financial Aid Programs

How to Choose a Massachusetts Online College

When it comes to selecting a Massachusetts-based online college, there are several factors to consider in your school search. First, you should make sure the school has a strong curriculum, provides sufficient student support services, and offers transferable credit. You should also investigate the quality of instruction and other resources available to students.

Additionally, you should look into the tuition cost and financial aid options, student services, as well as the average time to completion. Student services office can help students with academic and career guidance, attending online classes, financial aid office, and attending school. Potential students need to submit standardized test scores for admission to the school rankings and for online degree opportunities. In addition the below factors are also important.


Accreditation for online schools is important for a variety of reasons. It adds credibility and legitimacy to the educational program because it meets certain educational standards. Since most employers prefer to hire students from accredited programs, it improves employability. Higher education accreditation also makes it easier to transfer credits between schools.

So students who wish to attend a traditional college after their online program can do so more easily. Finally, accreditation can also make it easier to access federal financial aid such as student loans, which may make a college degree more affordable. You can search the US Department of Education database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs.

Distance Education State Reciprocity Agreements (DERSAs)

DERSAs are agreements created between two or more states that allow students to take online courses in the other participating states without the need to obtain authorization from the transferring state. Under a DERSA, students can take courses at post-secondary institutions in a different state and still meet their home state’s educational requirements. These agreements reduce administrative burden and cost associated with obtaining course authorizations, and thus promote greater academic access to online courses. Additionally, out-of-state students who attend an online college in Massachusetts check the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) to make sure their home state meets requirements.

Delivery Format

Distance education courses can have different delivery formats. Asynchronous online education uses various online platforms such as video lectures, discussion forums, virtual classrooms, and online study materials. Students can access course material anytime, anywhere, at their own pace and convenience. This type of self-directed learning offers more flexibility with deadlines so online learners can work on their own schedule.

Synchronous delivery is also called “live”. It uses a combination of virtual communication tools such as video conferencing, online chat, green board, and other online collaboration tools, to simulate a more in-person classroom environment. So students interact with their peers, professors, and instructors in real-time. This method of online delivery is often used for advanced coursework that requires advanced knowledge, collaboration among students, or communication between teachers and students.

Other Resources for Online Colleges in Massachusetts

Below are additional resources to help you find affordable online colleges in Massachusetts.

Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership (CDEP)

CDEP provides opportunities for high school students to take college-level courses at a Massachusetts school for free or at a discounted price. Students can earn credit toward their high school diploma or high school completion and also their future college degrees.

Massachusetts Colleges Online (MCO)

MCO is a consortium of 15 community colleges and 9 state universities in Massachusetts. These institutions share online courses and over 200 online degree programs with students throughout the state.

Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE)

The DOE has a checklist of advice on out-of-state online programs. It also has questions to consider for students pursuing an online program.

MACC or the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges

Fifteen community colleges in the state serving more than 110,000 students every year. These schools offer affordable academic, career, and technology programs for students of all ages.

What are the Best Online Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts?

The best online colleges and universities in Massachusetts are schools that offer full-time or part-time online degree programs at any level. All schools on this list hold regional or national accreditation Our list of these affordable online schools is not formally ranked and is in alphabetical order.

Bay Path University

  • Location: Longmeadow, Massachusetts
  • Accreditation: NECHE
  • More: visit the school

The American Women’s College (AWC) through Bay Path University in Longmeadow offers online degrees and online certificate programs. Offerings range from undergraduate degrees in business, accounting, digital marketing management, nursing, human services, and also nonprofit management. Additionally, students can earn certificates in information technology, human resources, and cybersecurity. Online programs offer the flexibility and convenience of studying wherever and whenever works best for you.

Boston University


One of the most well-known online colleges in Massachusetts is BU. Online graduate programs include an MBA. Additionally, students can pursue a Master of Science in Human Resource Management, Public Administration, Computer Science, Biomedical Sciences, Project Management, and also Data Analytics.

Brandeis University


The online graduate professional studies through the Rabb School at Brandeis include master’s degrees in Bioinformatics, Digital Marketing and Design, Learning Experience Design, Project and Program Management, Software Engineering, Strategic Analytics, and also User-Centered Design.

Emerson College

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • More: visit the school

Another excellent private college in Boston with online degrees is Emerson College. EC offers eleven online graduate programs in the arts and communication fields. Graduate students can choose from an MA in Digital Communication Leadership, an MFA in Writing for Film and Television, an MA in Marketing, an MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and publishing, an MS in Communication Disorders, and an MA in Business of Creative Enterprises. Available online graduate certificate programs include Digital Content Management, Social Media and Digital Public Relations, Marketing Analytics, Digital Marketing, and also Content Strategy. Master’s degree programs are available in a 32-credit standard format or 28-credit executive format for working professionals. So, students can complete a degree in as few as 15 months.

Fisher College


With over 30 online programs, Fisher College is a great choice for an online education in Massachusetts. Popular programs include an MBA with a concentration in either Cybersecurity or Healthcare Management and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. Undergrad offerings include 18 online bachelor’s programs like the BS in Human Resource Management and the RN to BSN nursing program. Additionally, the school offers 8 associate degrees and undergrad certificates online.

Harvard University


The university offers online courses and online degree programs through the Harvard Extension School. A variety of graduate certificates stack for credit toward one of the online master’s programs. It is an affordable and sensible process to build credit toward a graduate degree.

Lasell University

  • Location: Auburndale, Massachusetts
  • Accreditation: NECHE
  • More: visit the school

The university offers a bachelor’s degree completion program with five majors. Prospective students can choose from business administration, communications, health science, interdisciplinary studies, and also psychology.

Lesley University Cambridge


The university offers over 20 degree programs through its online platform. Online degree options at Lesley University include education, business management, art and design, human services, liberal arts, psychology, and counseling. Popular online master’s degrees include Educational Technology, a master’s in Teaching, a Post-Master’s Certificate Program in Educational Leadership, and a master’s in Psychology in Education. Distance learners can also enroll in an Applied Behavior Analysis Applied Graduate Certificate program, a master’s in Creative Arts in Music Therapy, or a master’s in Counseling.

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS)

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education
  • More: visit the school

With 5 undergraduate and 20 graduate degree programs online, MCPHS is a great choice for an online school. Online BS degrees include Dental Hygiene, Nuclear Medicine Technology, and Respiratory Therapy. Graduate offerings include a variety of programs in Nursing, Radiologic and Imaging Sciences, and also Health Sciences.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education
  • More: visit the school

MIT offers world-class educational opportunities online for free to everyone through the MIT Open Learning programs.

Northeastern University


Through Experiential Digital Global Education, this school delivers career-focused distance education with over 80 fully online programs. Undergraduate programs include bachelor’s completion tracks in psychology, health management, and also digital communication and media. Notable online programs at Northeastern University include a Master of Science in Sports Leadership, Health Informatics, or Data Science.

University of Massachusetts Amherst

  • Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
  • Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education
  • More: visit the school

UMass Amherst offers an extensive selection of online degree programs from associate’s to doctoral degrees. Program areas include business, education, health & medicine, engineering, science & technology, and hospitality and tourism management. Many programs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst offer multiple tracks and concentrations. Coursework combines interactive web-based activities, discussion forums, multimedia tools, and other digital course components.

University of Massachusetts Boston


The academic quality and supportive online learning community make these distance education programs some of the best in the state. UMass Boston offers more than 75 online degree and certificate programs across a range of disciplines. These programs draw from the university’s rigorous academic standards, providing students with an education that is both comprehensive and practical. For example, the school offers a Master of Education in Vision Studies with a concentration in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy.

University of Massachusetts Lowell

  • Location: Lowell
  • Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education
  • More: visit the school

The UMass Lowell is the second-largest public higher education institution in the state. In addition to on-campus programs, the school has a robust online program using the Blackboard learning management system. Distance offerings include 11 online bachelor’s degrees in Psychology, Information Technology, English, Business, Economics, and Criminal Justice & Security Studies. There are also 15 undergrad certificates and associate degrees and 58 graduate programs online at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Westfield State University

  • Location: Westfield, Massachusetts
  • Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education
  • More: visit the school

Students can complete a number of online degree programs at Westfield State University. The university offers ten online bachelor’s degree completion programs designed for students who complete the Mass transfer compact or graduate from a Massachusetts community college. Online bachelor’s degree programs include degrees in accounting, business, liberal studies, psychology, social work, and management. And online graduate degrees include criminal justice, education, and also public administration. These programs provide students with the opportunity to learn from experienced faculty in an interactive, engaging, and also supportive environment.

Salary and Job Outlook for College Graduates in Massachusetts

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a strong employment rate in Massachusetts. June 2023 BLS reports indicate an unemployment rate around 2.6% which is below the national average. Additionally, the BLS reports the annual mean salary for all occupations in Massachusetts is $76,600. And the highest paid fields are Legal, Management, and Healthcare.

Massachusetts Occupation TitleSalary
Legal Occupations$157,490
Management Occupations$152,970
Computer and Mathematical Occupations$118,910
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations$110,080
Architecture and Engineering Occupations$100,210
BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for Massachusetts

Finding Your Right Program

Massachusetts has accredited higher education for many online and hybrid degrees, offering student-centered instruction and programs for academic excellence. The state offers a wide range of accredited higher education for pursuing an online degree.

For example, potential students can explore seven fully online degree programs, such as global affairs, art education, online bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting management, online courses in public health, college of industrial and economic security, and data science programs. Massachusetts also offers hybrid programs in healthcare informatics, supply chain management, early childhood education, and business administration programs. Students who wish to advance their education can also enroll in online master’s degree programs in mathematics education, political science, health management, and nonprofit management.


Best Online MBA Programs in Massachusetts

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