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.

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

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Northeastern University

 5/581.62%Boston, MA


Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a nationally renowned research university. The school offers online undergraduate and master's degrees. Online courses at Northeastern are held to the same rigorous standards as traditional classes, and the university does not distinguish between online and residential diplomas.

Bachelor's degrees are available in finance, health management, human services, information technology, leadership, liberal studies, management, political science, and psychology. Master's degrees are available in more than two dozen subjects including homeland security, food and drug regulatory affairs, technical information, and urban informatics. Online doctoral degrees include programs in physical therapy and education.

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University of Massachusetts – Lowell

 3/554.49%Lowell, MA


UMass Lowell is the second-largest public university in the state. The school offers more than 40 undergraduate and graduate degrees, including an MBA program from the nationally ranked Manning School of Business.

Popular bachelor's programs include offerings in liberal arts, psychology, and information technology. UMass Lowell also features renowned online master's programs in criminal justice and education. The school uses the Blackboard learning management system to deliver its online courses. Through Blackboard, students can access lectures, course materials, grades, discussion forums, and 24/7 technical support.

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University of Massachusetts – Amherst

 3/575.09%Amherst, MA


The state's largest public university has a wealth of online offerings, from certificate programs to doctoral degrees. UMass is known for its programs in nursing, public health, education, and business. Classes are offered year-round.

While students can earn online credits in most traditional fields, the school also offers innovative distance learning programs in global health, sustainable food, historic preservation, and social science. Many can be pursued completely online, while others, like the master's in engineering management, are offered in a hybrid format.

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Westfield State University

 2/562.69%Westfield, MA


WSU began providing distance courses in 2008. The school offers baccalaureate degrees in business, sociology, history, liberal studies, criminal justice, and psychology. The business program is by far the most popular online degree track, followed by liberal studies. WSU's web-based psychology program has also earned national recognition. All online courses are taught asynchronously, allowing students to consume lectures and complete assignments at their convenience.

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Bay Path University

 4/563.19%Longmeadow, MA


A women's college for most of its history, Longmeadow-based Bay Path University now offers online degree programs to students of both genders while staying true to its original mission. The school's American Women's College Online is a unique program that offers women-only online classes.

Bay Path offers more than 20 bachelor's degrees, in disciplines ranging from accounting and business to child psychology and counseling to counterterrorism and criminal investigations. Courses are offered in accelerated six-week sessions with six different start dates spread throughout the year. The school also has an innovative One Day a Week College that offers residential classes Saturdays.

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Boston University

 5/584.7%Boston, MA

An educational leader in Boston since 1839, BU has earned a national reputation for excellence in its digital degree programs. The school offers dozens of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees online, including nationally ranked computer science, criminal justice, and business programs. Most courses are offered on a seven-week schedule, with new classes starting every other month.

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Endicott College

 4/573.1%Beverly, MA

A small, private liberal arts school in Beverly, Endicott started as a women's school, and only became coed in the 1990s. The college offers online undergraduate degrees in business, management, criminal justice, liberal arts, psychology, hospitality, and integrated studies. Master's programs are available in behavioral analysis, business, homeland security, and athletic administration.

Classes are scheduled on a six-week, accelerated basis, eight times per year. All classes are taught asynchronously. Endicott does not require graduate applicants to submit GMAT scores, and students are admitted on a rolling deadline in all programs.

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Framingham State University

 2/551.4%Framingham, MA

Founded as one of the nation's first teaching schools, FSU now offers a more traditional range of academic programs. Online education at Framingham has been available since 1998, and the school offers 18 online undergraduate and graduate programs, including four that are taught in a hybrid format. The school's education, nursing, and business programs are particularly popular. FSU uses Blackboard to deliver its online programs.

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Worcester State University

 2/553.14%Worcester, MA

Worcester State was founded in 1874 as a public school, and to this day, the university is renowned for its education department. Today, Worcester State offers more than 90 baccalaureate and master's degrees, many of which are available entirely online. Courses are fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. WSU awards credit for experiential learning, and also offers several professional certificate programs.

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Fitchburg State University

 2/556.75%Fitchburg, MA

Named after the small city in which it resides, Fitchburg State is a public university offering baccalaureate and graduate degrees in more than 25 disciplines. Students can take more than 550 digital or hybrid courses, in subjects ranging from art to special education. All online lectures are recorded and can be watched asynchronously. Business, nursing, education, and web development are among the most popular online majors.

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Wentworth Institute of Technology

 4/563.71%Boston, MA

A small, Boston-based university, WIT is one the top regional colleges in the northeast. The school features a bachelor's degree program in project management and master's programs in applied computer science, construction management, technology management, and facility management. WIT's online classes adhere to the same semester schedule as their brick and mortar counterparts; classes are predominantly taught asynchronously, though some courses do require live participation.

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Salem State University

 2/545.98%Salem, MA

Salem State is a public school founded in 1854, and one of the largest colleges in the state. SSU offers two bachelor's degree programs online, in fire science and intercultural communications, along with a master's in library media studies. Salem State uses the Canvas platform to deliver its web-based classes. Every course has been fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

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Elms College

 5/578.11%Chicopee, MA

Elms College is a small private Catholic school located in Chicopee. The school offers an online associate program in speech language pathology, and bachelor's degrees in health-care management, speech language pathology, management, and marketing. Classes follow the campus schedule and are offered in eight-week sessions; most courses are taught asynchronously. All classes meet the same requirements as their on-campus counterparts. Elms Online uses the Moodle platform to deliver its online programs.

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Berklee College of Music

 5/548.74%Boston, MA

One of the most prestigious music schools in the country, Berklee now offers more than 140 courses in its online program. Online courses cost 60 percent less than residential classes. Distance learners can pursue a degree in music production, songwriting, music business, composition for film, electronic music, and guitar entirely online.

Unlike most online schools, distance learners at Berklee do not earn the same degree as residential students. Online students can only earn a professional studies degree, while those on-campus can earn a bachelor's of music degree. Admission requirements vary accordingly.

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University of Massachusetts – Boston

 3/542.08%Boston, MA

The only public university in New England's largest city, UMB offers a full slate of online offerings. Students can earn a bachelor's of global affairs or master's degrees in dozens of disciplines, including linguistics, critical and creative thinking, vision studies, family therapy, gerontology, and nursing, among many others.

Online classes are taught asynchronously. Students who need to work together on projects or assignments can use the Wimba Classroom system, which facilitates conference meetings between multiple parties. Courses follow the traditional semester schedule, and are held to the same standards as residential offerings.

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Lesley University


A small liberal arts school in Cambridge, Lesley was founded in 1909. The school has long championed experiential learning, scholarly research, and artistic expression. Focusing heavily on education, Lesley claims to have graduated more teachers than any other private school in New England. Not surprisingly, many of Lesley's online offerings are in education, including six different master's programs and a handful of certificates. The school also offers online baccalaureate degrees in business management, human services, liberal arts, and psychology.

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Western New England University

 5/559.46%Springfield, MA

WNEU offers students a unique “part-time learning” online curriculum, largely based around its business programs. Located in Springfield, the school offers a handful of fully online degree programs. Distance learners must first be granted general admission to WNEU before they can matriculate into the online school. Applicants are admitted on a rolling deadline. WNEU's most popular online program, the bachelor's in business administration, adheres to a traditional 15-week semester. The school uses the Kodiac platform to deliver its online classes.

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University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth

 3/547.45%North Dartmouth, MA

Not to be confused with New Hampshire's Dartmouth College, UMass Dartmouth's campus lies on the south coast of Massachusetts. The school offers most of its degree programs online or in a hybrid format. Students taking classes on an accelerated track can graduate in just two years. Distance learners and residential students pay the same tuition rate.

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Anna Maria College

 5/540%Paxton, MA

AMC is a small private Catholic school in the tiny Worcester County town of Paxton, founded in 1946 by the Sisters of St. Anne. Anna Maria offers five programs entirely online: these include bachelor's degrees in fire science and nursing, along with master's programs in business administration, instructional design and technology, and public administration. Additionally, AMC awards students credit for relevant professional experience, which can help distance learners graduate quickly and avoid redundant classes.

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Dean College

 5/543.16%Franklin, MA

Dean College is a small private liberal arts school, and the college offers students an excellent education at an affordable price. Dean's online business degree was designed with working professionals in mind. Courses are offered entirely online and are taught asynchronously. All classes follow the university's traditional semester schedule. Dean accepts up to 90 credits from transfer students.

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Mount Ida College

 4/540.83%Newton, MA

Located in metropolitan Boston, Mount Ida was originally an all-girls high school. Today, the school is coed and educates approximately 1,300 students. Mount Ida offers a nationally renowned dental hygiene program, along with master's degrees in science, management, interior architecture, healthcare management, leadership in sport. The dental hygiene degree is available entirely online, while all master's programs are taught in a hybrid format. Mount Ida uses Canvas to facilitate its distance programs.

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Fisher College

 4/532%Boston, MA

A tiny school of 2,500 students on Boston's historic Beacon Street, Fisher began offering online classes in 1998. As part of its accelerated and professional studies program, the college's web-based curriculum includes associate, undergraduate, and master's degrees, along with a variety of professional training and certificate programs.

Fisher offers traditional academic programs -- including an MBA, health care, and education degrees -- alongside innovative offerings, such as the Air Force general education mobile program. Classes run for six, eight-week terms, and are offered completely online. The school uses the Blackboard platform to host its virtual coursework.

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Newbury College

 4/534.67%Brookline, MA

Founded in Boston, Brookline's tiny Newbury College focuses on professional development and career education, which neatly extends to its online programs. All online classes are offered in an accelerated format. Each course is eight-weeks long, and they're all taught asynchronously. The school offers online bachelor's degrees in business management and hospitality and restaurant management; these degrees can be completed in just two years. Newbury also awards students credit for relevant professional experience.

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Becker College

 5/530.9%Worcester, MA

Becker dates back to 1784 and boasts a school charter signed by Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Today, the small private college is thoroughly modern, and offers an online bachelor's program in business administration, along with accelerated certificate programs in terrorism studies and project management. Applicants are admitted on a rolling deadline. Becker is also a member of the Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts, a twelve-college coalition that allows students to take courses at other institutions. This program expands the number of programs and classes that Becker's students can take.

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Cambridge College

 3/52.94%Cambridge, MA

In 2014, Cambridge College partnered with New Hampshire's Granite State College to offer online degree programs. Students can pursue baccalaureate and graduate degrees in counseling, education, health care management, human services, and psychology. Programs can be completed online or in a blended hybrid format. The school's accelerated learning calendar includes trimesters during spring, summer, and fall. Cambridge is a military-friendly school, and is part of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges consortium.

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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.