Whether you're looking to quickly build your career or begin a longer academic journey, many higher education pathways begin with community college. These schools are often more accessible than four-year schools, and many feature open enrollment, meaning you will be accepted if you possess either a high school diploma or GED certificate. Tuition at these schools also tends to be significantly less expensive than traditional colleges and universities, making it easier to complete your education without excessive debt.
Most community colleges offer certificate programs that focus on technical and vocational training, as well as associate degrees that usually explore more academic subjects. Many associate tracks function as transfer programs, enabling students to earn lower-division credits cheaply before transferring to a four-year college. Certificates, on the other hand, typically require less time to complete and focus on specific career paths, such as radiology or automotive repair.
Best Community Colleges in Massachusetts
- Cape Cod Community College - West Barnstable, MA
- Middlesex Community College - Bedford, MA
- Bristol Community College - Fall River, MA
- Bunker Hill Community College - Boston, MA
- North Shore Community College - Danvers, MA
- Holyoke Community College - Holyoke, MA
- Greenfield Community College - Greenfield, MA
- Mount Wachusett Community College - Gardner, MA
- Quinsigamond Community College - Worcester, MA
- Massasoit Community College - Brockton, MA
- Northern Essex Community College - Haverhill, MA
- Berkshire Community College - Pittsfield, MA
- MassBay Community College - Wellesley Hills, MA
- Roxbury Community College - Roxbury Crossing, MA
- Quincy College - Quincy, MA
As one of the best-educated states in the country, Massachusetts is home to several community colleges that offer a variety of education programs and opportunities. While the best school may be one in your own community, online programs make it possible to enroll at different community colleges in Massachusetts, regardless of your location. This ranking serves as an introductory guide to help you understand your options, and the list below highlights some of the top schools, along with their distinguishing characteristics.
Massachusetts offers strong employment prospects. The state boasts an unemployment rate of just 2.9% (as of October 2019), which puts Massachusetts well below the national average. However, the state's cost of living sits above the national average -- particularly in terms of housing costs. Fortunately, the strong job market offsets these expenses for many Massachusetts residents. Some of the state's top industries include financial services, technology, and medicine and life sciences.
Ranking the Best Community Colleges in Massachusetts
Cape Cod Community College
|West Barnstable, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 24%||
Established in 1961, CCCC is one of the oldest community colleges in Massachusetts. The school serves more than 6,000 students annually through campus-based and online courses, and it offers a wide selection of degrees and certificates. CCCC students can pursue programs in dozens of specialized and generalized fields, including aviation maintenance social sciences, performing arts, funeral services, and information technology. Most associate degrees require two years to complete, while certificates require less than two years.
Students can also pursue a small selection of bachelor's and master's programs through CCCC's partnerships with several four-year colleges in Massachusetts, including Boston University, Lesley University, UMass Boston, and UMass Dartmouth. These advanced programs enable participants to complete upper-division credits on the CCCC campus, earning a baccalaureate or graduate degree without leaving Cape Cod. CCCC currently offers a bachelor of science in nursing and master's degrees in social work and clinical mental health counseling.
Middlesex Community College
|Bedford, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Enrolling more than 13,000 students annually, MCC ranks among the largest community colleges in Massachusetts. The school operates campuses in Bedford and Lowell, and it offers dozens of associate and certificate programs in fields such as digital forensics, fashion merchandising, fire protection and safety technology, paralegal studies, and studio art. MCC also offers a variety of online and hybrid courses, as well as a fully online veterinary assistant certificate.
As one of the top two-year colleges in the state, MCC provides students with a host of support services, including academic advising, career services, library resources, and tutoring. The school's Academic Centers for Enrichment offer individual and group tutoring sessions in most academic subjects, along with supplemental instruction for subjects like STEM, English, and composition. Online students can also access virtual tutoring in areas including math, English, biology, accounting, and nursing.
Bristol Community College
|Fall River, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 21%||
As one of the largest community colleges in Massachusetts, BCC serves more than 10,000 students annually from its main campus in Fall River. The school also has auxiliary locations in Taunton and New Bedford. BCC offers more than 150 degree and certificate programs on campus and online, arranged into five major departments: art and humanities, social sciences and education, business and information management, health sciences, and mathematics and sciences.
BCC also offers a selection of fully online degrees and certificates, with transfer and career-readiness programs available. Students can pursue degrees such as business information systems, liberal arts, and psychology fully online, with no required campus visits. The school also offers several hybrid programs that offer at least half of their curriculum online; these programs include computer programming, deaf studies, and legal studies. The school's criminal justice programs are also delivered fully online, except for final campus-based capstone projects.
Bunker Hill Community College
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 14%||
Serving more than 13,000 students in the greater Boston area, BHCC ranks among the largest community colleges in Massachusetts and offers an assortment of associate degrees and certificates. Students can choose from several online education options. The college also maintains a unique partnership with Lesley University, which enables students to earn a bachelor's from Lesley by completing courses on BHCC's campus. Bachelor's options include business management, psychology, and early childhood studies.
BHCC offers two additional pathways for students interested in a bachelor's degree. Candidates can complete several associate degrees that lead directly into four-year programs at various Massachusetts colleges, including business, English, fine arts, and biology. Alternately, students can complete the MassTransfer Block -- a 34-credit sequence of basic courses that fulfills general course requirements at nearly all four-year schools in the state. The MassTransfer program does not require students to choose an academic focus.
North Shore Community College
|Danvers, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
NSCC enrolls more than 16,000 students across three campuses in Danvers, Lynn, and Middleton. The school serves residents of more than two dozen cities along the state's North Coast region, offering more than 80 associate degrees and professional certificate programs through campus-based and online courses. Students can choose from programs in 13 major areas of study, including agricultural and food services, animal science, emergency response, liberal arts, and information technology.
NSCC emphasizes professional experience in its programming, and students have numerous opportunities to complete internships and service-learning activities. Several programs include a required internship component, such as accounting, culinary arts, and graphic design. Students can also choose from several service-learning courses that connect classroom theory with community practice. Participants can gain professional experience in fields such as social work, human services, criminal justice, education, and environmental sustainability.
Holyoke Community College
|Holyoke, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 27%||
Founded in 1946, HCC is the oldest community college in Massachusetts. The school offers dozens of associate and certificate programs grouped under five main departments: arts and humanities; business and digital learning; health and natural sciences; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; and social sciences and integrative learning. Students can also select from several fully online degrees and certificates, including banking, entrepreneurship, human resources, and marketing.
Along with flexible online and campus-based courses, HCC offers a wide assortment of internship opportunities for students interested in gaining professional experience and on-the-job training. Learners can intern at many locations, including at partner organizations around the Holyoke area, including Southwick Schools, Shriner Hospitals for Children, Cloud 9 Marketing Group, the Springfield Museums, and the Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center.
Greenfield Community College
|Greenfield, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 25%||
Serving more than 2,300 students from its main campus in Greenfield, GCC ranks among the top community colleges in Massachusetts. The school offers over 50 degree and certificate programs in areas such as digital media, math and science education, gender and women's studies, adventure education, and addiction studies. Students can also complete a small selection of programs entirely online, including general liberal arts, English, business administration, and management.
GCC provides an extensive selection of student services, including academic advising, counseling, peer tutoring, career services, and transfer counseling. Students can also carry out internships to build experience at professional organizations. Interns often work with agencies such as the Double Edge Theater, Franklin County CDC, New England Public Radio, the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus, and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.
Mount Wachusett Community College
|Gardner, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 21%||
MWCC enrolls more than 11,000 students and offers dozens of associate and certificate programs in fields including communication, community engagement and nonprofit, public and social sciences, technology, and fine arts. MWCC hosts a smaller selection of fully online degrees and certificates in areas like business, legal studies, and liberal arts. Students can also combine campus-based and distance courses for increased flexibility.
Unlike many two-year schools, MWCC maintains a sizeable study abroad program that enables students to earn credit while travelling internationally. Along with its own study abroad program, the school also participates in many international organizations that give participants an assortment of study options. Study abroad opportunities are open to all students, regardless of enrollment status or class standing, and MWCC offers a variety of scholarships and financial aid options to make international study more accessible.
Quinsigamond Community College
|Worcester, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Serving around 13,000 students annually from its main campus in Worcester and a dozen satellite locations, QCC offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. Students can complete programs in popular fields, such as business, information technology, education, healthcare, and liberal arts. They can also pursue fully online degrees in areas like history, English, sociology, and criminal justice. Many programs offer 85-100% of course material online.
QCC is one of the top community colleges in Massachusetts for transfer students, and many graduates go on to four-year colleges. The school maintains special articulation agreements with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Worcester State University; these schools offer guaranteed acceptance to QCC transfer students who fulfill certain credit and GPA requirements. QCC also holds additional transfer agreements with other public and private four-year colleges around the state and the region.
Massasoit Community College
|Brockton, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 17%||
Based in Brockton, Massasoit enrolls around 7,000 students annually through campus-based and distance programs. Students can choose from a variety of professional and academic programs, including media arts, private security, social sciences, architectural technology, and nurse education. Massasoit also offers several fully online degrees and certificates in areas such as business administration, Java programming, and law enforcement. Most online programs use an asynchronous format and require no campus visits.
Massasoit hosts many of its student services through its Advising, Career, and Transfer Center, which helps students achieve their educational and professional goals. Academic advisors help new and continuing students map out their degree pathways and determine the most effective course selections. Transfer advisors ensure that students meet academic requirements and understand transfer options to four-year institutions. The career center also provides online advising services to serve distance students.
Northern Essex Community College
|Haverhill, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
With campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence, NECC serves residents across Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire, enrolling around 5,700 students annually. The school offers associate and certificate programs in areas including American Sign Language studies, communication arts, human services, computer science, and performing arts. NECC also partners with select four-year colleges to offer bachelor's degrees on campus, including public health, business administration, and psychology.
NECC was one of the first community colleges in Massachusetts to offer competency-based education programming -- a flexible format that enables working students to complete coursework at their own pace. Competency-based programs use a modular online format and do not use set class meeting times. Students complete learning modules on their own schedule without weekly assignment deadlines, and those who demonstrate adequate competency can test out of sections they already understand, which can expedite graduation.
Berkshire Community College
|Pittsfield, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
Based in Pittsfield, BCC also maintains a satellite campus in Great Barrington and serves about 3,000 students throughout Berkshire County. The college offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs, including options in allied health, computer information systems, engineering technology, environmental science, and liberal arts. Like most community colleges in Massachusetts, BCC also offers an assortment of transfer degrees that prepare students to enter bachelor's programs at four-year colleges around the state.
BCC provides extensive tutoring services in most academic and professional subjects. Students receive individualized support from peer and community tutors. These tutors can help learners understand assignments, connect texts to course lectures, prepare for exams, and organize study materials. BCC also hosts workshops that help students develop study skills, time management strategies, and active listening. Distance learners can access 24-hour online tutoring via Smarthinking.
MassBay Community College
|Wellesley Hills, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 17%||
With campuses in Wellesley, Ashland, and Framingham, MassBay serves around 8,000 students throughout Middlesex county. The school offers degree and certificate programs in fields such as business, education and human services, health sciences, humanities and social sciences, and legal studies. Students can also enroll in several fully online and hybrid degree programs primarily focused on transfer studies, such as general studies, liberal arts, business administration, general business, and psychology/sociology.
MassBay is one of the top community colleges in Massachusetts for automotive technology programming, and the school's Automotive Technology Academy offers four associate of science degrees focusing on BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, and Toyota/Lexus vehicles. MassBay also offers a cooperative education program that enables students to earn credit while also gaining hands-on experience at regional dealerships.
Roxbury Community College
|Roxbury Crossing, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 6%||
Based in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood, RCC serves more than 2,300 students each year. The school offers an assortment of degrees and professional certificates, including accounting, web technologies, English, biological science, and business administration. While most of RCC's programs have an open-door admission policy, the school's nursing degree and certificate tracks -- including nursing, radiologic technology, and practical nursing -- require prerequisites and formal acceptance from the health services department.
Most of RCC's associate of arts degrees are transfer programs, and the school maintains general articulation agreements with several four-year Massachusetts colleges, including Emerson College, Fisk University, New England College, and Northeastern University. These articulation agreements enable students to complete general credits at RCC before transferring to a four-year school to complete a bachelor's.
RCC also maintains articulation agreements for specific degrees. For example, accounting students can transfer into business management programs at Northeastern University, Lesley University, Bay State College, and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
|Quincy, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 13%||
With campuses in Quincy and Plymouth, QC enrolls around 4,500 students annually. The school offers more than 60 associate degrees and certificates in areas including healthcare administration, cybersecurity, exercise science and personal training, security management, and medical laboratory technician. Students can also complete two fully online associate programs: business and criminal justice. Online courses use a fully asynchronous format, and both degrees offer transfer pathways to four-year schools.
As one of the top community colleges in Massachusetts, QC provides a host of campus and online resources for students. Learners can meet with personal student success coaches who provide assistance with the transition into higher education, organization and study strategies, and short-term and long-term academic planning. Success coaches also connect students to additional college resources, such as counseling, transfer services, parenting resources, and career counseling.