Best Community Colleges in Massachusetts
Find out more about the best community colleges in Massachusetts, including popular degree programs and employment opportunities for graduates.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were a total of 16 public two-year colleges in Massachusetts offering associate degrees and certificates in 2020. The 15 schools in the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges (MACC) serve about 136,200 students every year, representing 49% of the whole undergraduate population in the state's public higher education system.
Community colleges in Massachusetts offer students a relatively affordable pathway to enter the workforce quickly or transfer to a four-year institution. Massachusetts's community colleges have also partnered up with more than 3,600 organizations and businesses across the state to provide students with workforce development courses and skills improvement programs.
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Why Study in Massachusetts?
The community colleges in Massachusetts offer two-year associate degree programs as well as alternative educational pathways. The Commonwealth Commitment Program provides students with the opportunity to enroll at a community college then transfer to a four-year university at a reduced cost.
Furthermore, MACC partnered up with the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP) to create the "Be Mass Competitive" workforce training initiative, whereby students receive customized training and career-placement education.
In the 2020 edition of the U.S. News and World Report's list of best states in the country, Massachusetts ranked fifth in the economic outlook category. It ranked first for business environment and third for employment.
According to the state's Department of Unemployment Assistance, jobs across all industries are projected to grow nearly 3% between 2018 and 2028. Massachusetts is also a hub for tech and biotech jobs, attracting more potential entrepreneurs to establish their businesses in the state.
Cost of Living
Massachusetts is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. CNBC lists Massachusetts as the fifth most expensive state in the country, just behind Hawaii, New York, California, and Oregon. Almost all living expenses are more costly in Massachusetts, including housing, groceries, utilities, and transportation.
However, wages are faster growing in Massachusetts than in other states. CNBC reports that the average salary in Massachusetts grew almost 45% between 2010 and 2020. Massachusetts ranked fourth among states where salaries have grown most over the past decade.
Cultural and Community Offerings
In addition to Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade and the Boston Marathon, there are tons of cultural and community offerings in the Bay State. Tourists and residents alike regularly visit the state's world-renowned cultural centers such as the Museum of African American History, the Isabella Gardner Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
Visitors to the state can walk Boston's heritage trails, including the Freedom Trail, the Black Heritage Trail. There are also plenty of guided tours, like the Second Saturday Walking Tour of Florence Abolition Era Sites.
There are four distinct seasons in Massachusetts. July is generally the hottest month of the year, and January, the coldest. Massachusetts also receives an average of 47 inches of snow per year, making it one of the snowiest states in the country.
Winters can get very cold and snowy in the state of Massachusetts, while summers are increasingly hot. The best times of the year to participate in outdoor recreational activities like hiking and kayaking are late spring, summer, and early fall.
Top Degree Programs in Massachusetts
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Massachusetts Employment Outlook
According to the state's Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Massachusetts had an unemployment rate of about 5% in September 2021. In 2020, the U.S. News and World Report ranked Massachusetts third overall in terms of employment.
Following the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the unemployment rate in Massachusetts skyrocketed to over 16%, according to WBUR, but the Bay State is steadily recovering. Layoffs have been slowing down in 2021. The state has gained nearly 160,000 new jobs since December 2020 according to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
5 Massachusetts Jobs in Demand
First-line Supervisors of Construction and Extraction Workers
- Annual Median Salary in Massachusetts (May 2020): $91,140
- Job Outlook in Massachusetts (2018-2028): 4%
The steady increase in new buildings, roads, and additional infrastructure should provide more jobs in the construction and extraction industry. This field offers entry-level roles in constructing, repairing, inspecting, and installing building frameworks, and operating construction equipment.
Social and Community Service Managers
- Annual Median Salary in Massachusetts (May 2020): $67,310
- Job Outlook in Massachusetts (2018-2028): 5%
Earning an associate degree and other postsecondary certificates can help graduates secure support roles in the community and social service industry. This field covers the areas of drug abuse and rehabilitation counseling, mental health treatment, school and career counseling, marriage and family therapy, and community health.
Community Health Workers
- Annual Median Salary in Massachusetts (May 2020): $43,800
- Job Outlook in Massachusetts (2018-2028): 4%
Almost every community college in Massachusetts offers associate degrees and specialized training programs in the field of healthcare. Students aiming for a career in healthcare support can assume a variety of occupations such as personal care aides, nursing assistants, occupational therapy assistants, dental assistants, and psychiatric aides.
Educational Instruction and Library Workers
Students who want to work in schools and libraries can do so by enrolling in a two-year associate degree program in education or a similar field. Many graduates with associate degrees in these areas can apply for roles as teaching assistants and English as a Second Language instructors or tutors. Others go on to become library assistants and technicians.
Computer and Mathematical Occupations
Technology is prevalent in every business sector. As such, computer and mathematical occupations have also increased. Completing an associate degree or a specialized training program in mathematics or information technology can help graduates land roles in computer user and network support, network and computer systems, and software development.
Popular Career Paths in Massachusetts
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Massachusetts
Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
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Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Massachusetts
Are community colleges worth it?
Community colleges are worth it. Compared to most four-year institutions, community colleges offer students fast, less expensive pathways to lucrative careers. For students who are not able to afford the tuition of a four-year university, or for professionals looking to change careers, enrolling in a community college can be a good option.
Community colleges generally have more flexible admission requirements and smaller class sizes than four-year institutions. Affordable online community colleges can help students to earn a degree from anywhere on their own timeframe.
Is community college free in Massachusetts?
Community colleges in Massachusetts have financial assistance programs that can help students qualify for free tuition and a significant reduction in school expenses. The Commonwealth Commitment Program allows community college graduates to attend participating four-year universities at a reduced cost, while the Access Grant Program provides financial assistance to students enrolled in associate degree programs.
Students at community colleges in Massachusetts are also eligible for loan programs, work-study programs, and other financial aid programs such as the Federal Pell Grants, Massachusetts State Scholarships, Massachusetts Tuition Cash Waiver Program, and Massachusetts Tuition Grants.
How many public community colleges are there in Massachusetts?
There are a total of 16 community colleges in Massachusetts. The 15 schools in the MACC serve more than 136,200 students every year, representing 49% of the whole undergraduate student population in the state's public higher education system.
The state's community college system is spread across the state in locations such as the Berkshires, Bunker Hill, Cape Cod, the North Shore, and Roxbury.
What is the best state college in Massachusetts?
The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is widely considered the best state college in Massachusetts. Located in Amherst, Massachusetts, UMass Amherst enrolls around 32,000 undergraduate and graduate students every year, along with a total of 1,400 full-time instructional faculty. The University of Massachusetts Amherst is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Is Bunker Hill Community College good?
With two campuses in Boston, Bunker Hill Community College is one of the best community colleges in the state. Founded in 1973, BHCC now enrolls a total of nearly 10,000 students, including over 550 international students from more than 80 different countries. Sixty-six percent of the university's student population is part-time.
Graduates of BHCC typically transfer to four-year universities such as UMass Boston and UMass Amherst, Salem State, and Bridgewater State. BHCC also offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Feature Image: Tomasz Szulczewski / Moment / Getty Images
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