Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts

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As part of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), students in Massachusetts are eligible for the Tuition Break program. This offering allows students to enroll in out-of-state New England public schools at a discount, if the program they apply for is approved and not offered at a public school in the student’s home state. This program applies to online and traditional programs alike. In a 2012 report, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimated that approximately six percent of students enrolled in the state are in fully online programs; of that number, about 40% did not live in Massachusetts.

The large number of out-of-state students is not surprising, considering the steps Massachusetts has taken to improve local online education opportunities. With the proliferation of such programs, the NEBHE now provides relevant information for distance learners on its website, including job search tools, an online textbook platform, updated state accreditation standards, and partner sites that provide additional academic and professional information.

Those interested in pursuing an online degree from a Massachusetts school should begin their search at Massachusetts College Online (MCO). A consortium of 15 community colleges and nine state colleges, students may take online courses from the MCO’s shared catalogue, among other perks. With these structures to support online education, as well as the free online courses offered from MIT and other schools through edX, distance learners in Massachusetts have a variety of postsecondary school options.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1Northeastern University85.974/579%Boston, MA

Conveniently located in the vibrant metropolis of Boston, Northeastern University is a premier higher education institution, and its Global Network is designed to expand the university's research-oriented, innovative approaches to education. A leader among online colleges in Massachusetts, NU Global Network employs more than 3,000 individuals across 150 countries. The diverse faculty and staff have the common goal of providing students with a high quality educational experience, preparing them for career success in a rapidly evolving technologically-driven society.

The exceptional online programs offered by NU Global Network are part of the College of Professional Studies and emphasize an experiential learning model that promotes real-world experience. The programs are designed for the busy adult learner in need of flexible course delivery. Some of the school's fully online programs include health management, leadership, political science, and psychology. The online programs are powered by Blackboard, and students have access to several resources designed to enhance online learning experiences.

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2University of Massachusetts – Lowell84.033/554%Lowell, MA

The University of Massachusetts-Lowell is one of the best online colleges in Massachusetts and offers a substantial body of accredited online courses and degree programs. Located in the culturally rich city of Lowell, Massachusetts, UMass Lowell strives to provide students with a high quality academic experience that is affordable and accessible to all. The public research institution promotes student success by providing opportunities for transformative learning rooted in innovation and collaboration.

UMass Lowell offers a variety of fully online undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as certificates, including information technology, criminal justice, and business administration. UMass Lowell recognizes that pursuing an online degree can be daunting, and the university provides academic support every step of the way. Prospective students can complete an online learning quiz to determine if distance education is the right fit for them, and a sample course is available through Blackboard to help familiarize students with the online learning platform.

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3University of Massachusetts – Amherst75.973/570%Amherst, MA

Ideally located in the rural yet culturally vibrant community of Amherst, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst is a leader among Massachusetts online colleges. UMass Amherst is a top public research institution and has the largest state-supported library in New England with more than seven million items. With over 1,000 full-time instructional faculty, students at UMass Amherst are guaranteed to receive the individualized academic support that makes learning fun and meaningful.

The university's online learning programs are designed to cater to the unique needs of distance learning students, and the flexible, convenient format makes educational attainment a reality for many busy professionals. Online courses are accessible 24/7 and are led by competent online educators who receive ample training in teaching online. Courses are powered by Blackboard, and students have access to a variety of degree programs, including hospitality and tourism management and a degree completion program that allows nontraditional students to build their own course of study.

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4Westfield State University67.223/560%Westfield, MA

Located in Westfield, Massachusetts, Westfield State University was founded in 1839 and was the first co-educational university in the U.S. to open its doors to people of all colors, genders, and economic backgrounds. Westfield State offers six online degree completion programs for students who have started their education and wish to earn their bachelor's degrees in fields that include business, history, and psychology. The academic programs emphasize community involvement and inclusion, and individuals over age 60 can attend the university for free. Tuition rates are competitively priced, and installment plans and financial aid are available to students.

The school provides a high quality education to more than 6,000 students annually, and the student/teacher ratio is 17 to 1. As one of the best online colleges in Massachusetts, the school's top priority is student success. The school provides an online self-evaluation tutorial to determine if online learning is for them. Students need to be self-motivated and possess excellent writing skills.

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5Endicott College66.815/572%Beverly, MA

Endicott College is a small, private school with big ideas and global connections. Located just outside Boston in Beverly, Massachusetts, Endicott was founded in 1939 and was originally an all-women's university. Today, it is coeducational and offers a range of high quality programs fully online that incorporate the university's mission to provide a meaningful and personally enriching academic experience that challenges students to grow professionally.

Online learning at Endicott is flexible and convenient. Students choose when and where they complete their assignments, and accessibility is an important part of the Endicott College online experience. All of the university's professional studies undergraduate programs are available 100% online with degrees including business, psychology, and liberal studies. Online students do have the option to take some of their classes in person; all of online undergraduate degrees can be taken in a blended format.

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6Fitchburg State University62.503/551%Fitchburg, MA

Founded in 1894, Fitchburg State University began as a teacher training school for women with an initial student body of 46. Today Fitchburg has grown into a fully-accredited higher education institution with more than 6,500 students enrolled annually. A leader among online colleges in Massachusetts, this university offers several online degrees and certificates powered by Blackboard. Undergraduate programs available fully online from Fitchburg State University include RN to BSN and business administration with a management concentration. Several special education master's degree programs are available with concentrations in dyslexia, reading, and guided studies.

Students have access to course content and online support 24/7, and a variety of academic resources are available to online students including library services, a demo online course, and technology guides. Tuition rates are competitive, and six credit hours is less than $2,000 per semester for both in-state and out-of-state students.

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7University of Massachusetts – Boston61.253/538%Boston, MA

The University of Massachusetts-Boston is a premier urban institution of higher. The university provides an intimate learning environment with a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Online learning plays a key role in UMass Boston's global outreach, and the university is one of the best online colleges in Massachusetts. This schools offers a variety of online degrees from the College of Advancing and Professional Studies, including a BA in global affairs and a RN-to-BS program. Online courses are delivered through Blackboard and offer the flexibility that many adults need to achieve their professional goals. Most of the courses offered online are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete assignments at their convenience. Some coursework is synchronous, and students are required to attend live lectures via the university's video-conferencing program. Successful UMass Boston online students are self-motivated and have excellent time management skills.

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8Framingham State University55.693/552%Framingham, MA

Framingham State University is a public university that offers inclusive and affordable academic programs that emphasize diversity and student success. The university offers a variety of online courses in 18 subject areas and is one of the leading online colleges in Massachusetts. Students enrolled in one of FSU's online programs engage in course curricula designed to promote collaborative learning experiences that are challenging and meaningful.

The University offers a BA in liberal studies fully online and a competitive MEd program with concentrations in educational technology, curriculum and instruction, and school nutrition. Tuition rates for online programs are priced per course, and an online undergraduate course is $1,055 per semester. Individuals over age 60 can enroll in undergraduate courses for free, and military veterans may qualify for state tuition exemption. Online learning is powered by Blackboard, and students have access to the Blackboard On-Demand Learning Center.

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9Salem State University54.313/545%Salem, MA

Salem State University provides students with an exceptional academic experience that emphasizes global responsibility and creative problem solving. One of the top online colleges in Massachusetts, Salem State offers three fully online academic programs that embody the university's vision to provide students with an inspirational education that promotes personal and professional achievement. The competitive online programs are part of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The fully online BS programs in fire science administration and intercultural communications utilize cutting-edge technology to enhance the online learning environment, and the programs cater to upper-level transfer students. Students must possess an associate degree to enroll in the intercultural communications program. The university provides a number of resources for online students, including an online learning overview and links to improve keyboarding skills.

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10Assumption College54.034/575%Worcester, MA

Assumption College offers a liberal arts education founded on the principles of Catholic tradition. Open to all denominations, the school's academic programs emphasize diversity and the balance between scholarship and spirituality. One of the best online colleges in Massachusetts, Assumption College offers several fully online programs designed to help busy professionals achieve their academic and career goals.

The university offers online degrees in business, humanities, human services and rehabilitation studies, and social sciences. The innovative online bachelor's degree program in human services and rehabilitation studies is modeled after the university's exceptional rehabilitation master's program and prepares students for a variety of exciting career opportunities in the mental health industry. Assumption College participates in a transfer agreement with local community colleges allowing transfer students to easily apply earned course credits toward the online degree program of their choice.

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11University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth53.753/550%North Dartmouth, MA

The University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth serves more than 8,500 students annually with students from 43 states and 46 countries. UMass Dartmouth is a leader among Massachusetts online colleges, and over 530 students were enrolled in its online programs for the 2016-2017 academic year. The online degree programs offered by UMass Dartmouth reflect the university's mission to provide students with a transformative academic experience that promotes lifelong scholarship and student success.

The university offers a fully online BS in general business administration, as well as an MBA online and several certificate programs. The online courses are taught by top-notch faculty with training in online instruction. Prospective students interested in pursuing a BS in business administration must complete 120 credit hours and can transfer as many as 75 credits from an accredited institution.

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12Elms College49.444/568%Chicopee, MA

Elms College is a Catholic university located in Chicopee, along the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts. The coeducational institution integrates liberal arts with professional studies to create high quality, versatile degree programs that emphasize the development of foundational knowledge and practical skills. Elms College strives to instill in its students a sense of societal responsibility rooted in faith and compassion.

One of the top online Massachusetts colleges, Elms College offers several fully online programs including an associate degree in speech language pathology and five bachelor's degree completion programs, which are designed for students holding an associate degree in a relevant field. The online programs are powered by Moodle, a user-friendly course delivery platform. The majority of online curriculum is asynchronous, and students can complete the coursework at their convenience. Online students are required to participate in synchronous discussion forums weekly over video conferencing.

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13Lesley University48.065/546%MA

Lesley University was founded in 1909 by Edith Lesley, a radical woman who believed in the transformative power of education. Her philosophy continues to guide Lesley University today, and its many exceptional academic programs provide students with the knowledge and tools necessary to engage in a global society as compassionate, ethical leaders. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Lesley University serves its local community and the world at large by instigating innovative research projects in a variety of areas including sustainability and clinical art therapy.

Among its many prestigious academic programs are several online degree and certificate programs designed to meet the needs of adult learners and professionals. The university offers six bachelor's and nine master's degrees fully online. Students also have the opportunity for career advancement by completing one of the school's 10 graduate certificates. Online students can apply up to 90 transfer hours to their degree, and previous training and work experience can count toward degree completion.

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14Fisher College44.444/537%Boston, MA

Fisher College was founded in 1903 and is a private, nonprofit university that specializes in enriching the lives of its students through its life-changing academic programs. The university provides an affordable high quality education and has a special interest in the education of military members. Fisher College's motto is ubique fidelis, or "everywhere faithful," and its influence is evident in the college's dedication to student success.

A leader among online colleges in Massachusetts, Fisher College offers a variety of fully online academic programs through its Accelerated and Professional Studies; bachelor's options include psychology, event management and hospitality, and criminal justice. Online courses are delivered through Blackboard and are completed in eight-week intervals. Tuition is competitively priced, and a three-credit online course costs $1,077. Fisher College's online degree programs are student-centered and require students to be active contributors in the online learning environment by participating in discussions and course forums.

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15Anna Maria College39.584/547%Paxton, MA Tweet thisShare thisSchool Profile

More About Online Colleges in Massachusetts

Online education in Massachusetts offers amazing potential. With so many exceptional options, students should consider several key factors. These can influence school choice, affordability, and career impact.

  • Accreditation – A degree from a school with no accreditation will be worth little in the professional world. Financial aid may also be dependent on attending a school with the proper accreditations.
  • Degree congruency – Many schools confer the exact same degree through on-campus and online programs. Other programs differ somewhat for the online format. If you desire a degree congruent to the on-campus offering, ensure this is how the program is established.
  • Job Placement/Career Advancement – You don’t simply want a degree, but one that launches your career. Investigate a school’s advisory and career placement programs, and partnerships with businesses in your desired industry.

Browse our list of the best online colleges in Massachusetts for more insight into distance learning programs in this state.

NCES Report

In fall of 2012, nearly 6% of students enrolled in Title IV institutions in Massachusetts were in exclusively online programs. The NCES also reports for Massachusetts that year:

  • 22.3% of undergraduate students in private for-profit schools studied entirely online.
  • 5.2% of undergraduates in public four-year institutions studied entirely online.
  • 73.8% of undergraduates studying entirely online lived in the state.
  • 0.9% of undergraduates studying entirely online lived outside the U.S.
Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Northeastern University Boston, MA
2 University of Massachusetts - Lowell Lowell, MA
3 University of Massachusetts - Amherst Amherst, MA
4 Westfield State University Westfield, MA
5 Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA
6 Boston University Boston, MA
7 Endicott College Beverly, MA
8 Framingham State University Framingham, MA
9 Worcester State University Worcester, MA
10 Fitchburg State University Fitchburg, MA
11 Wentworth Institute of Technology Boston, MA
12 Salem State University Salem, MA
13 Elms College Chicopee, MA
14 Berklee College of Music Boston, MA
15 University of Massachusetts - Boston Boston, MA
16 Lesley University Cambridge, MA
17 Western New England University Springfield, MA
18 University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth North Dartmouth, MA
19 Anna Maria College Paxton, MA
20 Dean College Franklin, MA
21 Mount Ida College Newton, MA
22 Fisher College Boston, MA
23 Newbury College Brookline, MA
24 Becker College Worcester, MA
25 Cambridge College Cambridge, MA