Best Colleges in Massachusetts

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Massachusetts is more than Harvard and MIT. The state offers 114 colleges and universities. Home to some of the nation’s top educational institutions, Massachusetts has much to offer potential students. School choices include everything from research universities to special focus institutions, varying in enrollment size from over 32,000 to 18. Choosing the best school to meet your needs involves weighing each program offering, tuition costs, financial aid, and cost of living. To assist in this decision-making process, we have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in Massachusetts, including the top four-year and two-year schools.

Our database takes into consideration key characteristics to include only the best institutions. This algorithm includes acceptance, retention, graduation, and enrollment rates. Ever-increasing for today’s students is the concern of post-graduation debt. For this reason, we have also included the metric of student loan default percentages. The list below features the top two-year and four-year colleges in Massachusetts.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Home to such renowned institutions as Harvard and Boston Universities, Massachusetts has long been a leader in four-year education. The Massachusetts postsecondary education system awards more bachelor’s degrees than the U.S. state average. Its public higher education system also offers Commonwealth Honors Programs, a network of honors programs integrated throughout its public higher education system. It is the only state that boasts such a system.

Despite this honorable reputation, Massachusetts school prices are not at the top end of the spectrum. Cost for postsecondary education is less than the U.S. average. It also pays off. Those earning a bachelor’s degree in Massachusetts experience higher earnings increases over those with high school diplomas than the national average. To help you decide which school offers the best of these Massachusetts advantages for you, we have compiled the following list of the top four-year schools of the state.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Harvard University

 5/597.52%Cambridge, MA


Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The private research university is considered one of the most prestigious in the nation, and sprawls for 210 acres in the middle of Cambridge. Its 21,000 students pick from more than 200 fields of study, from the undergraduate to the doctoral level, and the most popular include the humanities, social sciences, and biological sciences.

Harvard boasts the largest academic library in the world and has educated 47 Nobel Laureates, 48 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 32 heads of state, including President Barack Obama. Only about 5% of applicants are accepted.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 5/591.3%Cambridge, MA


MIT is known the world over for its rigorous academic program. More than half of the 11,000 students enrolled at the Cambridge-based school are grad students, and 33% of learners attend tuition-free. They pursue degrees in 46 majors, and enjoy a low 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Despite being renowned as a serious institute of higher learning, the school is famous for its practical jokes, and even awards an official “pirate certificate” to students who complete a physical education course in archery, fencing, shooting, and sailing.

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Williams College

 5/595.35%Williamstown, MA


Williams, established in 1793, is a small, private, liberal arts school with a lovely campus in the Berkshires community of Williamstown. Its 2,000 students select from 36 majors, the most popular among them being economics, history, English, and math. Graduate programs are also available in the history of art and development economics.

Williams’ Ephs, a nickname given to students in honor of founder Ephraim Williams, tend to be an active bunch–more than 96% participate in some sort of extracurricular activity. The most popular career courses for William alumni are management, education, law, and healthcare.

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Amherst College

 5/594.06%Amherst, MA


Set in the picturesque town from which it takes its name, Amherst’s 1,000-acre campus is almost half wildlife sanctuary and includes a working organic vegetable farm. Not to be confused with public UMass Amherst, the small, private, liberal arts college has 1,800 students from across the world. Amherst has a no-loan policy for financial aid recipients.

Amherst sponsors an annual lip sync contest to determine which students get first picks of the best dorm rooms. The school is part of the Five College Consortium, giving students access to more than 6,000 courses in majors such as Asian Languages & Civilizations, Physics & Astronomy, and Sexuality, Women's & Gender Studies.

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Wellesley College

 5/591.44%Wellesley, MA


The 2,300 women who attend Wellesley have access to a quiet, 500-acre campus, complete with its own lake. The campus is also conveniently located just 12 miles from Boston. The school offers 56 majors through its own campus, and partners with Babson, Olin, MIT, and Brandeis to offer even more academic opportunities.

The school features more than 150 student organizations. Upwards of 70% of students here participate in an internship. The school’s alumni arm -- called The Network -- is considered one of the most powerful women’s networks in the world. The student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1.

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Tufts University

 5/592.3%Medford, MA

Tufts is a sprawling research university with a main campus in Medford and satellites as far away as the French Alps. Founded in 1836, the school has a colorful history. The first telephone was likely invented here, before Alexander Graham Bell got his patent, and circus magnate PT Barnum was an early benefactor.

Most of Tufts’ campus is located in Medford, but some crosses over the Somerville line. More than 10,000 enrolled students attend classes “uphill” and “downhill”. The school’s prestigious medical program is located in nearby Boston.

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Smith College

 5/586.78%Northampton, MA

Northampton-based Smith is one of the largest women’s colleges in the world, with more than 2,500 undergrads (men are only admitted as graduate students). The school offers more than 1,000 courses in 44 academic departments and is part of the Five College Consortium, giving students access to 6,000 classes at other Massachusetts colleges.

Named for benefactor Sophia Smith, the school itself is perennially ranked among the nation’s best small liberal arts colleges. Nearly half of Smith’s juniors study abroad, and almost 60% of students at the school receive “need-based gift aid”.

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College of the Holy Cross

 5/592.4%Worcester, MA

Founded by the Jesuits in 1843, Holy Cross’ distinctive green and brick campus occupies a 174-acre hill overlooking New England’s second-largest city, Worcester. Highly selective, the small, liberal arts college only admits about 37% of applicants. Most popular majors among the school’s 3,000 students include: economics, psychology, political science, English, and biology.

More than 90% of students live on campus, and they can select from 108 student organizations, 27 varsity sports, and 20 honor societies. The school boasts a low student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1.

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Brandeis University

 5/590.85%Waltham, MA

Based nine miles outside of Boston in the town of Waltham, Brandeis has a reputation for excellence that extends nationally. The small, private, liberal arts school is known particularly for its programs in English, history, social policy, and management, though biology is the most popular major. The school enrolls around 6,000 students, two-thirds of whom are undergraduates. The school is selective, with an acceptance rate of 35%.

Brandeis has an extensive study abroad program and almost half of the student body participates. Around 80% of students live in college-owned housing.

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Mount Holyoke College

 5/580.27%South Hadley, MA

Mount Holyoke is a highly regarded women’s research and liberal arts school set in the small town of South Hadley in Hampshire County. The 2,100 students here can select from 51 majors or design their own. Almost one-third of students choose to do just that, and 40% major in the social sciences.

Women enrolled here also have the option to take courses at Amherst, UMass Amherst, Hampshire, or Smith as part of the Five College Interchange. More than half of the women at Mount Holyoke were in the top half of their high school class.

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Boston College

 5/591.31%Chestnut Hill, MA

Boston College is a Catholic school based in Chestnut Hill. BC confers more than 4,000 degrees every year in 50 fields of study. The most popular undergraduate majors include economics, finance, biology, communications, political science, psychology, and English.

The 14,000 students at BC have plenty to do; the school boasts 298 student clubs and activities and 31 NCAA Division I sports teams.

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Bentley University

 5/588.16%Waltham, MA

Bentley is the best known for its prestigious business school, and aims to infuse the finest business education with liberal arts to create well-rounded business leaders. Three-quarters of the school’s 4,200 undergrads and 1,100 grad students live on campus in Waltham, nine miles from Boston, and can select from 24 majors and 35 minors. Accountancy, finance, marketing, and management are particularly strong programs.

More than 90% of students complete at least one internship, and 60% do more than one. About 20% participate in Greek life, and almost half of the student body participates in intramural sports.

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Northeastern University

 5/581.62%Boston, MA

Northeastern is a private, comprehensive research institution offering baccalaureate- and graduate-level degrees from its campus in the heart of Boston. More than 25,000 students pursue degrees in dozens of fields of study, most of them choosing to live on campus or in one of the neighborhoods nearby.

Northeastern has advanced steadily up the national rankings in recent years, enjoying a growing reputation. It is considered among the top 100 schools in the country, and its pre-med, business, engineering, pharmacology, and computer science programs enjoy national rankings.

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Boston University

 5/584.7%Boston, MA

With an enrollment of more than 33,000 split almost evenly between undergrads and grad students, Boston University is one of the largest colleges in the state. The school is so massive that it has become one of the city’s largest employers. A private research university right in the middle of the city, BU’s campus is located primarily in the Allston/Fenway/Kenmore neighborhoods but has a highly regarded medical program in the city’s South End.

BU confers degrees from the baccalaureate to doctoral levels in over 250 fields of study. The school has produced seven Nobel Laureates and 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, and its hockey team is no slouch either, winning the NCAA title five times.

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Clark University

 5/577.82%Worcester, MA

A research university in Worcester, New England’s second-largest city, Clark is among the best small liberal arts colleges in the nation. Almost 64% of the school’s 4,000 “Clarkies” participate in research. Psychology is the most renowned program here, and the geography department is also nationally known. Psych is by far the most popular major, declared by almost 20% of the student body, followed by political science, biology, business, international relations, and social justice.

Notably, this is where the birth control pill was created, and the school is the site of Sigmund Freud’s famous “Clark Lectures”. Robert Goddard, the founder of modern rocketry, also did his research here.

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Simmons College

 5/566.92%Boston, MA

Long known as a women’s school, Simmons was founded by clothier John Simmons in 1899. Undergraduate programs are open exclusively to women, with about 2,000 enrolled, but men are welcome to study in graduate programs. Simmons is known for communications, children’s literature, library science, and social work programs, and is home to the only MBA specifically designed for women.

Students at Simmons have the option of taking classes at a selection of other Massachusetts colleges as part of the Colleges of the Fenway consortium. This includes the Wentworth Institute of Technology, Emmanuel and Wheelock colleges, and the Massachusetts College of Art.

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Stonehill College

 5/582.02%Easton, MA

A small Catholic liberal arts school in Easton, 22 miles south of Boston, Stonehill confers degrees in more than 80 different academic disciplines and prides itself on teaching critical analysis and creative thinking skills. Almost all of the school’s 2,300 undergrads live on campus, and 92% of them participate in some sort of internship.

Stonehill is known among state colleges for its value, and has been ranked nationally in terms of student satisfaction. The school’s campus is also considered among the nation’s most beautiful. Engineering students spend their last four semesters at Stonehill’s sister school, Notre Dame.

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Wheaton College

 5/589.31%Wheaton, MA

Wheaton prides itself on providing students with a personalized education. The small liberal arts school enrolls only 1,500 students, and with a low student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1, the professors get to know their classes well.

Set halfway between Boston and Providence in the town of Norton, the former women’s seminary (men were admitted in the late 1980s) uses its location to provide students with an array of choices. Students can self-design a major rather than choose from among 47 majors and 59 minors if they prefer. They can also take classes at nine colleges in Massachusetts and Brown University in Providence through a cooperative association.

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University of Massachusetts – Amherst

 3/575.09%Amherst, MA

UMass Amherst is the flagship of the University of Massachusetts system. Based in the college town of Amherst, the large research institution has a national reputation for excellence and confers degrees in more than 90 majors.

Popular majors include business, social science, and biology, and the school’s 22,000 students have the option of taking courses at several other Massachusetts colleges -- including Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire -- through the Five College Interchange. The school offers 360 clubs for students to foster their passions. The acceptance rate is 61%.

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Hampshire College

 5/574.81%Amherst, MA

Hampshire was founded in 1970 as an experiment in alternative education, and now has a reputation for its strong liberal arts program. The school is also renowned for its quality, and is nationally ranked for the number of alumni who go on to earn doctorates. Based in the town of Amherst, in the western part of the state, the school doesn’t use a grade system, preferring written evaluations.

Hampshire came to be after a meeting between the presidents of several Massachusetts colleges -- Mount Holyoke, Amherst, Smith, and UMass Amherst -- to explore other avenues of higher education. Today, it’s part of the Five College Interchange.

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Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

 2/551.69%North Adams, MA

MCLA is a liberal arts school and part of the Massachusetts public university system. Established as a teaching school in the 1890s, the institution was known as North Adams State until 1997, when it took its current name. Based in the small western city of North Adams, MCLA is closer to Albany than it is to Boston. It still has a highly regarded program for educating teachers.

The school is nationally ranked for value, and is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, which champions the broad-based education that the liberal arts provides. Students can pursue a variety of undergraduate, continuing education, and graduate programs in art, business, math, philosophy, women's studies, and more.

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Springfield College

 5/568.72%Springfield, MA

Located in the central Massachusetts city of the same name, Springfield College has an overriding philosophy of Humanics -- education of the whole person, mind, body, and spirit. Some of its strongest programs stem from this tradition; Springfield is known for its health sciences, movement studies, physical therapy, and physical education curriculum, and offers innovative five- and six-year master’s and doctoral degrees.

The school is nationally ranked for excellence and for volunteerism, and every year its 5,500 students contribute more than 120,000 hours of community service. Notably, Springfield College is known as the "birthplace of basketball", as the game was created there by a group of alumnus along with faculty member James Naismith in 1891.

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University of Massachusetts – Lowell

 3/554.49%Lowell, MA

UMass Lowell is the second-largest public university in the state behind UMass Amherst. Set in the mill town that produced Jack Kerouac, the school has more than 17,000 students who pursue bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in over 150 fields.

Lowell was one of the first universities in the nation to offer a degree in music education, and unique programs in meteorology, nuclear engineering, plastics, and recording technology are also available. Notably, the school’s men’s hockey team took the eastern championships in two of the last four years.

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Westfield State University

 2/562.69%Westfield, MA

Westfield State was founded in 1838 by pioneering educator Horace Mann, who invited anyone to attend the Westfield-based school regardless of gender, race, or social class. Originally a teacher’s college, Westfield today has dozens of programs, with education still prominent. The most popular among the school’s 6,300 students include business, marketing, the liberal arts, homeland security, law enforcement, fire-fighting, education, and psychology.

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Assumption College

 5/570.46%Worcester, MA

When Assumption was founded in Worcester in 1904 by the Augustinians of the Assumption, a Catholic order, most of the classes were taught in French. Today, that’s not the case (except maybe in the school’s French Institute, a research center for studying French in North America).

The private college has about 2,000 students, and confers bachelor’s and master’s of arts in 43 majors, as well as associate degrees through its day-school of continuing education.
Assumption has one of the most highly regarded study abroad programs among colleges in the nation thanks to its campus in Rome.

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Massachusetts awards fewer associate degrees than the U.S. average. Of the students enrolled full-time in a public Massachusetts college or university, only 40% attend two-year schools. An additional 17% are enrolled part-time in two-year schools. Of those who enroll full-time in a two-year school, only 53% return the second year.

Taking steps to increase graduation rates, Massachusetts recently joined the Complete College America Alliance, which works to close degree attainment gaps. Focusing in on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, Massachusetts was awarded a significant grant from Complete College America to increase the number of college students in these areas. The state also offers the MassTransfer program, which allows community college students who complete associate degrees to receive full transfer of credit, guaranteed admission, and tuition discounts when transferring from one Massachusetts public higher institution to another.

For those considering Massachusetts two-year schools, following is a list of the best in the state.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Urban College of Boston

 2/5N/ABoston, MA


The name says it all here -- Urban College is an independent, two-year school in the heart of downtown Beantown. Chartered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the private school’s campus is a ten-story building on Tremont Street. UC offers associates degrees in early childhood education, human services administration, and general studies, as well as certificate programs in 11 different areas.

The school was founded to allow non-traditional students -- GED holders, ESL, and adult ed -- an opportunity to pursue a higher education. It’s the only one among Massachusetts colleges started by an anti-poverty agency.

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Bard College at Simon’s Rock

 5/558.62%Great Barrington, MA


A tiny liberal arts college in Great Barrington, Simon’s Rock is an offshoot of the much larger Bard College, which is located in Annondale-on-Hudson, New York. Simon’s Rock has the unique distinction, among Massachusetts colleges and nationwide, of being the only “early college” of its type. The school exclusively accepts students who have completed their sophomore and junior years in high school.

Most of the 300+ enrolled here earn an associate’s degree and then move on to larger four-year schools, though many stay and take a bachelor’s here. Biggest majors include the visual and performing arts, biology, and social sciences.

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Greenfield Community College

 1/521.66%Greenfield, MA


With just 2,000 students, GCC is the smallest of the 15 community colleges in Massachusetts. Set in the rolling hills of the Berkshires in the small city of Greenfield, the school confers degrees in 10 different fields. The student body is largely part-time, with an average age of 28.

Most students are on a general liberal arts track, and after that, health sciences and business are among the most popular majors here. GCC boasts a student to faculty ratio of 13:1, and works closely with the University of Massachusetts system and other private schools to facilitate transfers.

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Lawrence Memorial Hospital School of Nursing

 4/5100%Medford, MA


Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Medford and Catholic Regis College of Boston combine forces to create Lawrence Memorial/Regis College of Nursing, one of the more innovative nursing programs among Massachusetts colleges. The program confers bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in nursing and associate’s in radiography, and splits time between classroom and clinic.

The majority of students take two-and-a-half to three years to complete the nursing program and graduates emerge ready to take the licensure exams to become registered nurses. The pass rate for the school’s alumni has remained 5 to 10% better than the national average. About 85% find employment upon graduation.

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Northern Essex Community College

 1/518.81%Haverhill, MA


Serving the Merrimack Valley area, NECC is one of the 15 schools in the Massachusetts system of higher education. More than 15,000 full- and part-time students attend its two campuses in the mill cities of Haverhill and Lawrence, selecting from among 70 different fields of study. The school has an open-admissions policy, and even grants credits for life experience. However, some majors have their own prerequisites.

NECC’s literary magazine, Parnassus, has a national reputation and has included work by such notable guests as Stephen King and Andre Dubus, III. Tuition is relatively inexpensive, compared to other Massachusetts colleges.

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Berkshire Community College

 1/518.54%Pittsfield, MA

The first community college established by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, BCC was founded in 1960 in the Berkshire County town of Pittsfield. Today, the 3,000 students pursue more than 50 associate’s degrees and certifications on campuses in both Pittsfield and Great Barrington. Another 5,000 take non-degree classes for workplace advancement. Ninety-six percent of students come from Berkshire County.

The school has transfer articulation agreements with many schools in the UMass system and beyond, as well an excellent job placement record among colleges in Massachusetts -- more than 92%.

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Quincy College

 1/517.89%Quincy, MA

Quincy College is one of the very last municipally owned colleges in Massachusetts -- and even the nation. Based in the Boston suburb of Quincy, with a satellite in Plymouth, the commuter school confers two-year degrees in 34 subject areas. Most popular fields of study among the school’s 4,500 students include: liberal arts, nursing, business, criminal justice, and early childhood education.

Quincy was ranked number one among two-year Massachusetts colleges for salaries earned after graduation, according to the US Department of Education. Admission is open and rolling, and credit is given for life experience.

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Bristol Community College

 1/518.8%Fall River, MA

Based in the historic community of Fall River, BCC has learning centers in Taunton, Attleboro, and New Bedford. The school’s 9,000 students select from more than 150 career and transfer fields of study. The vast majority of students is in the general studies program, followed by business and criminal justice.

Founded in 1965 by the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges, BCC continues to grow rapidly -- enrollment is up more than 75% since 2000. The school has an open admission policy, and has conferred more degrees since 2008 than any of the other two-year Massachusetts colleges.

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Fisher College

 4/532%Boston, MA

Fisher College’s small campus is in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, and the private, non-profit school has satellites in Brockton, New Bedford, and North Attleboro. Founded as the Winter Hill Business College in 1903, the school initially leaned toward vocational education. Today, the student body of 2,500 can select from a full slate of associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs as well as an MBA program that is highly regarded among colleges in Massachusetts. Many of the school’s offerings can be accessed online.

The most popular majors at Fisher include business, health care, liberal arts, and early childhood education. The vast majority of students live off campus.

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Middlesex Community College

 1/514.36%Bedford, MA

Among the largest of the two-year colleges in Massachusetts, Middlesex has campuses in Bedford and Lowell. More than 75 associate’s degree and certificate programs are available to the school’s 13,000 students. Middlesex has developed partnerships with many area high schools, businesses, and colleges to provide opportunity to area residents.

The school had its first classes on the grounds of a Veteran’s hospital in 1970, and today, it boasts an array of spectacular old structures, including the old Federal Building in Lowell and a historic meeting house in Billerica. Students can take classes during the day, evening, weekends, or via the internet.

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Springfield Technical Community College

 2/519.57%Springfield, MA

STCC is Massachusetts’ only two-year technical school, offering associate’s degrees in more than ninety different fields of study. The campus is located on the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, an arsenal established by George Washington and Henry Knox during the Revolutionary War. The school’s 8,700 students pursue degrees in an array of polytechnic fields, including biotechnology, IT security, laser electro-optics, robotics, sonography, and telecommunications; liberal arts programming is also offered.

STCC is among the 15 Massachusetts colleges in its community college system. The average age of its student body is 26, and enrollment is almost evenly split between full and part time.

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Dean College

 5/543.16%Franklin, MA

A leafy green, 100-acre campus in Franklin -- about a half hour from both Boston and Providence -- is the centerpiece of Dean College. The setting is so distinctive that much of the school is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Founded in 1865, the private, liberal arts institution confers 21 associates and 11 bachelor’s degrees.

About 68% of applicants were accepted, and the student body is divided between about 1,000 who attend full-time and 300 who attend part-time. Arts are big at Dean -- dance is far and away the most popular major, and theater is also very popular, which is unusual among Massachusetts community colleges.

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Bunker Hill Community College

 1/511.32%Boston, MA

BHCC is the largest community college in the state of Massachusetts and is among the fastest-growing two-year colleges in Massachusetts -- and the nation. More than 14,000 students are enrolled, attending classes either on the main campus in Charleston or in one of its satellites in East Boston, Malden, and Chelsea. Diversity is huge here -- the school features one of the worldliest student bodies in the state with more than 800 international students.

BHCC offers upwards of 100 degree programs, with business administration, information technology, criminal justice, early childhood education, engineering, nursing, and paralegal studies among the most popular.

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Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

 3/546.52%Boston, MA

BFIT, a small tech college in Boston owes more than its name to Benjamin Franklin -- it owes its very existence. The famous inventor’s bequest of 1,000 British pounds to the city of Boston in 1789 provided its initial funding, which was then matched by Andrew Carnegie in 1908, when the school was founded. Today, the school offers 14 degree programs, from automotive technology and biomedical tech to opticianry and construction management.

About 500 students attend BFIT, and housing is provided by the Stuart St. Hostel. Like other colleges in Massachusetts, the school partners with leading companies to provide internship opportunities.

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Massasoit Community College

 1/514.91%Brockton, MA

One of the larger two-year colleges in Massachusetts, Massasoit was named for the sachem of the Wampanoag tribe. Located in the Boston suburb of Canton, with additional campuses in Brockton and Middleborough, Massasoit offers more than 50 associate’s degree, certificate, and transfer programs in the arts, sciences, and applied sciences. The 8,000 students can take day, evening, weekend, and online classes and enjoy free tutoring.

Massasoit participates in MassTransfer, a program that makes it easy for students to take the next step to an in-state, four-year school. Admission is open and rolling.

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Holyoke Community College

 1/522.22%Holyoke, MA

Holyoke serves more than 9,000 students from a leafy 135-acre campus in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. Roughly half of the students attend full time. Most popular majors include liberal arts, criminal justice, psychology, business administration, and foundations of health care.

HCC prides itself on offering opportunity and students can take classes by day, evening, weekend, or online. Average class size is 19, and the student to faculty ratio is 16:1. Like many two-year colleges in Massachusetts, the school participates in MassTransfer, which simplifies transfers to four-year schools.

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North Shore Community College

 1/518.39%Danvers, MA

More than a quarter million residents of Massachusetts’ North Shore have taken classes at NSCC across the years, attending classes at its main campus in Danvers or at satellites in Lynn and Beverly. About 7,000 attend annually, and two-thirds take classes part time. Roughly half the students are enrolled in career programs, while a third are pursuing a transfer to a four-year school.

The curriculum includes over 100 degree, certificate, and transfer programs. Like many Massachusetts colleges, the school is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. More than 96% of career track students reported having employment upon graduation.

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Quinsigamond Community College

 2/515.8%Worcester, MA

Founded in 1963, QCC has grown from a small junior college with 300 students in Worcester to a comprehensive community college serving more than 13,000 annually from multiple centers in Worcester, Southbridge, and Marlborough. The school offers more than 100 degree, certificate, and transfer programs, in the liberal arts, business, technology, healthcare, and human services, along with over 300 non-credit courses. Many of the school’s classes can be completed online.

Tuition is kept low, and remains very competitive among all Massachusetts colleges. The average cost of a year at QCC is less than $4,500.

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Laboure College

 5/533.33%Milton, MA

Founded in 1982 as Carney Hospital for Training Nurses, the small Catholic two-year Laboure College has been educating nurses longer than any other educational school in Boston. Laboure continues the tradition today, offering associate and bachelor’s in nursing and associate in radiation therapy and health information technology.

After decades in Dorchester, the school moved to a new home Milton in 2013. The AccuPlacer Assessments in sentence skills, reading comprehension, and arithmetic are required for admission. The average age of students is a mature 31. As at most other Massachusetts colleges, accreditation is through New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

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Massachusetts Bay Community College

 1/514.73%Wellesley Hills, MA

Called MassBay by most everyone, MBCC is housed in an old high school in Wellesley, with additional learning centers in Ashland and Framingham, and serves 27 surrounding cities and towns. Most of the school’s 5,300 students attend part time, and about 20% take their classes online. Liberal arts, business, and criminal justice are among the most popular majors.

A third of MassBay students transfer to one of the four-year colleges in Massachusetts, and more than 90 of its associate nursing students pass their licensure exams. The school uses AccuPlacer Assessment tests as part of its admissions process.

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Mount Wachusett Community College

 1/516.39%Gardner, MA

Serving more than 29 cities and towns in north central Massachusetts, MWCC is based in the small town of Gardner. Most of the school’s 12,000 students attend classes on the main campus, but others take courses at satellite centers in Devens, Leominster, and Fitchburg. They select from more than 70 two-year degree and certificate programs and pursue professional development training. Classes are offered during the day, evening, on weekends, and online.

Mount Wachusett is known for its sustainability programs and its Veteran Student Success Center. Like many other colleges in Massachusetts, accreditation is through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

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Cape Cod Community College

 1/516.17%West Barnstable, MA

The only comprehensive college on Cape Cod, CCCC was the second of the 15 community colleges in the Massachusetts Higher Ed system to be established. Nicknamed “Four Cs,” the school offers 64 associate’s degree programs and 56 career certificates to its 3,800 students, and partners with undergraduate and graduate colleges in Massachusetts to allow it to provide bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, as well – without ever leaving the Cape. About two-thirds of students attend part time.

The school truly puts the “community” in community college, hosting art and theater shows and providing educational opportunities to seniors with its Academy of Lifelong Learning.

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Roxbury Community College

 1/58.05%Roxbury Crossing, MA

Founded in 1973 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Community College System, RCC aims to provide access to higher education for a broad swath of Greater Boston -- for a reasonable fee. The school’s 2,200 students pursue two-year degrees and professional certification in a wide array of traditional community college offerings, from the liberal arts to computer science to criminal justice.

RCC also offers several degree programs unique among two-year colleges in Massachusetts like musical theater and Africana studies. And it has articulation agreements with some of the finest schools in the state, from Northeastern to Mass. College of the Liberal Arts.

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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in Massachusetts, continuing reading to learn more about living in the Bay State.

Accounting for only 10,554 miles of the nation’s square feet, what Massachusetts lacks in size, it makes up for in stature. The state boasts the highest concentration of college students in the country. The Commonwealth draws these students and others with myriad historical, coastal, and educational attractions. Brimming with history, Massachusetts includes several hubs of activity. Boston offers the Freedom Trail, Boston Commons, and exceptional public libraries and museums. Cape Cod lures those seeking beautiful beaches and scenic ocean views. Salem and Plymouth each offer unique historical experiences. Western Massachusetts features the beautiful Berkshire Mountains and the Connecticut River Valley.

The state’s appeal is not without cost. The overall cost of living index is significantly higher than much of the U.S. – from 32% to 53% higher, depending on the area. Boston’s index is around 44% higher than the nationwide average. However, the many attractions of this “Bay State” are outweighing the cost for many. Over 140,000 people moved to Massachusetts from other states in 2012 alone.

While a majority of the Massachusetts population is centered in the Boston area, the state boasts several fairly distinct regions. Following is an overview of each of these areas.


  • Major Cities: Boston, Cambridge, Worcester
  • Attractions: The Freedom Trail, Quincy Market, Duck Tours, Fenway Park
  • Cost of Living: Boston
  • Popular Schools: Harvard, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


  • Major Cities: Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Provincetown
  • Attractions: Beaches, Water activities, Provincetown Commercial Street
  • Cost of Living: Provincetown
  • Popular Schools: Cape Cod Community College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT: Western Massachusetts

  • Major Cities: Springfield, Northampton, Pittsfield
  • Attractions: Yankee Candle Flagship Store, Berkshire Mountains, Mohawk Trail, Basketball Hall of Fame
  • Cost of Living: Springfield
  • Popular Schools: Williams College, Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith, University of Massachusetts


In-state tuition rates make a significant impact on the cost of education. To qualify, students are required to establish residency in Massachusetts. Though varying by school, requirements typically expect students to demonstrate intent to reside in Massachusetts for reasons other than schooling alone.


Minors living with parents who have established residency in Massachusetts are considered in-state for tuition purposes. Proof may be required of residency with the parent. The parents typically must have resided in Massachusetts for a minimum of twelve months before the student begins school. However, requirements do vary by school. As you weigh the cost of various institutions, be sure to find out specific guidelines to establish residency for each school.


Most Massachusetts schools award in-state tuition if residency has been established in the state at least 12 months before the start of classes. If residency proof is needed, following are commonly accepted verifications:

  • Federal and state income tax returns
  • Employment in a position not typically filled by a student
  • Reliance on Massachusetts sources for financial support

Additional Resources for Massachusetts College Students<?h2>

Financial Resources

Higher Education News

Education Nonprofits

State Links and Resources