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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.
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
- Annual Median Salary in Massachusetts (May 2020): $75,040
- Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 10%
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
- Annual Median Salary in Massachusetts (May 2020): $105,400
- Job Outlook in the U.S. (2020-2030): 13%
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
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Best Community Colleges in Massachusetts
Cape Cod Community College
West Barnstable, MA
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts
Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Massachusetts
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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