Private, public, and community colleges in Massachusetts offer many higher education options throughout the state. The majority of these institutions include both online and on-campus degrees. For example, Massachusetts Colleges Online brings together the state’s nine state colleges and 15 community colleges that deliver courses and programs online.
Online colleges in Massachusetts include many credit and noncredit programs, including associate to doctoral degrees, as well as certificates and professional development opportunities. Some programs specifically benefit adult learners juggling careers and personal lives. These programs may include part-time classes with asynchronous delivery, which provide students the flexibility required to participate when their schedules allow. Bachelor’s degree completion programs, and partnerships between community colleges and universities, can simplify the process of transferring previously earned credits.
Many online schools in Massachusetts deliver courses in an accelerated format. This makes it possible for students to complete their programs faster than in a traditional setting. Accelerated programs most often appeal to those seeking bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Online tuition rates in Massachusetts remain competitive but may be higher than in other U.S. states. However, opportunities abound to lessen tuition costs. Most of the online schools in Massachusetts provide generous transfer credit allowances, including credit for work, life, and military experience. Some institutions allow students to take exams to demonstrate prior knowledge, while others offer online student scholarships for bachelor’s and master’s degree students. Private loans and grants may also benefit students enrolled in a minimum number of credits each semester.
The following information will assist you in understanding the many opportunities available for online education in Massachusetts.
Four reasons to find an online college in your state:
- Guaranteed in-state tuition saves you money
- Be a part of a university or college you know and love
- Get a degree from a school employers know and trust
- Be close enough to easily visit when desired
Ranking guidelines for the best online colleges in Massachusetts:
Note: In ranking the best online colleges in Massachusetts, giving attention to the variety of degree programs available at the institutions is of utmost importance. For this reason, a more prestigious school in Massachusetts may offer one, or a few online degrees, but that may not be enough for that school to rank highly among the best online colleges in the state. In this ranking, we are dedicated to showing who’s leading the way in delivering quality online degree programs in Massachusetts.
- See who ranks as the best college and university in Massachusetts today.
- University of Massachusetts, UMass Online,Boston University, and Northeastern University rank among the 100 Best Online Colleges for 2018.
- Harvard, MIT, and Boston University rank among The 100 Best Universities in the World.
The Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts
1. University of Massachusetts – Amherst
UMass Amherst is part of the University of Massachusetts system of universities. The online degrees provided through the Isenberg School of Management continue to rank as some of the best in the nation.
UMass Amherst offers bachelor’s in business administration (BBA) and bachelor’s in science (BS) degrees online in areas such as accounting, finance, hospitality & tourism management, and marketing.
Online student resources include academic advising, 24/7 technical support and an extensive online library.
UMass Amherst is regionally accredited by The Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).
2. Boston University
Boston University, a private research university, began as a Bible school which became a university back in 1869. The Christian aspect of the university was limited to the theological department due to a provision that did not discriminate against faculty and students because of religion, color or sex. The university has over 30,000 students.
Boston University offers master’s, doctoral and certificate programs online. Online master’s degrees include computer information systems. Online doctoral degrees include music education and occupational therapy. Online certification options include web application development.
Online student resources include career services live chat, an online job board and a massive online library comprised of the university’s 23 libraries.
Boston University is regionally accredited by The Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).
3. Northeastern University
Northeastern University, originally an all-male institution founded in 1898, offers more than 125 degree programs across 65 academic departments. The university also features a study abroad program to several countries around the world, including France, South Africa, Japan and even Antarctica. The university has one of the largest internship programs in the world. Co-op and internship opportunities include positions with fast-moving startups, Fortune 500 companies and several government institutions.
Northeastern University offers a wide variety of baccalaureate, master’s and certificate programs entirely online. Online bachelor’s degree programs include liberal studies, operational technology and technical communication. Online master’s degree programs include nutrition, criminal justice and homeland security. Certifications available online include global studies, health management and forensic accounting.
Resources for online students include online tutoring in writing, math, reading, chemistry, business, and biology. The online library has librarians available via live chat 24/7.
Northeastern University is regionally accredited by The Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).
4. Harvard University – Harvard Extension School
Harvard University delivers a bachelor of liberal arts degree through its Harvard Extension School. The program is designed for students 21 years of age and older without an undergraduate degree. Most courses are online, but four must be completed on campus in Cambridge. There are three-week intensive sessions during the summer and in January. Harvard accepts up to 64 transfer credits.
Rather than applying, interested students enroll in three courses to demonstrate proficiency, including academic reading, writing, and mathematics. Students must attain a minimum “B” grade in all courses to move forward with the application process, which are accepted in the fall, spring, and summer. Nonadmitted students can apply for financial aid through community college, municipal, and local high school scholarships.
An accelerated undergraduate and graduate management joint degree is also available through this online college in Massachusetts. It is designed for professionals with at least eight years of work experience and 64 undergraduate credits. The program requires 24 courses, 18 of which are online and six on campus. This cohort program takes four years to complete. A graduate certificate in a management concentration is earned concurrently.
Harvard Extension School is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
5. University of Massachusetts – Lowell
UMass Lowell is one of the best online schools in Massachusetts. With more than 50 online programs, students have many options at the certificate, associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels, as well as a terminal degree in education administration.
Undergraduate programs include business administration, liberal arts, and information technology. Graduate degrees include finance, education, and security studies. There are four hybrid programs that require some on-campus coursework: a master’s in health informatics and management, a health management certificate, and two leadership in schooling Ed.D. degrees. All courses are taught by adjunct and full-time faculty.
Applications are accepted throughout the year. The school’s online programs have gained national acclaim for their instruction methods, programming, and faculty.
UMass Lowell is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
6. Bay Path University
Founded in 1897, Bay Path is a women’s college located in Longmeadow. Its satellite campuses are in East Longmeadow, Sturbridge, and Concord. The school, which was the first online school for women in the U.S., is one of the top online colleges in Massachusetts.
Bay Path has more than 20 online undergraduate degrees, including offender rehabilitation and victim advocacy, digital forensics, and business analytics. Programs are delivered in an accelerated format and can be completed in one to three-and-a-half years. Bay Path offers six program start dates annually, and admissions are rolling. The online application is free. Applicants can transfer up to 90 credits, and credit is provided for military, work, and volunteer experience. Active military members receive discounted tuition rates. The Women as Empowered Learners and Leaders program is integrated into course curriculum to promote leadership skills, goal attainment, and increased student confidence.
Bay Path cannot enroll residents of Indiana, Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Montana, Wisconsin, Oregon, or Wyoming in its online programs.
Bay Path is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
7. University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth
North Dartmouth, Massachusetts
UMass Dartmouth, one of the most popular online schools in Massachusetts, has a wide variety of online programs. Fully online undergraduate degrees include economics with a healthcare services administration concentration, women’s and gender studies, and nursing. Hybrid programs requiring some on-campus coursework include sociology, anthropology, crime and justice studies, and an accelerated BS in nursing. There are many online graduate degree options, including computer science, healthcare management, public policy, and an MBA.
Undergraduate degrees can be completed in two years. Students are eligible to apply to the Ryan David Reaves Memorial Scholarship. Private loans and grants are also available to online students enrolled in at least six credits per semester. Students residing in New Mexico, Arkansas, Maryland, Alabama, and Minnesota cannot enroll in UMass Dartmouth online programs. Nursing students in these states and in Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia are also exempt.
Tuition is free to Massachusetts residents age 60 and older, but enrollment depends on available space. All online students have access to individual advising, tutoring, and the online writing center.
UMass Dartmouth is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
8. University of Massachusetts
Located next to the John F. Kennedy Library and Presidential Museum, UMass Boston is home to 17,000 students within its 11 colleges and schools. This top online school in Massachusetts offers two bachelor’s programs online: a bachelor of arts in global affairs and an RN-to-BSN cohort program. A variety of online master’s degrees are available, including family therapy, applied linguistics, and gerontology.
Courses are delivered asynchronously, but students can opt to use the Wimba Classroom System with a headset and microphone to participate in real time. Students must be enrolled in six credits per semester to apply for financial aid. Residents of Minnesota, Maryland, Alabama, and Arkansas are exempt from online program enrollment at this time. UMass Boston has a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and 93% of faculty members hold the highest degree in their field.
UMass Boston is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
9. Lesley University
Lesley University, a private university, came about after Lesley College and the Art Institute of Boston merged in 1998. It also marked when Lesley College became a coeducational institution. The university now has over 9,000 students and offers more than 110 degree programs across four academic colleges.
Lesley University offers a number of baccalaureate, master’s and certification programs online. Bachelor’s degree programs include human services and psychology. Master’s degree programs include educational technology as well as curriculum and instruction. Certifications available include emerging technologies and TESOL.
Resources available to online students include an online library with librarian live chat and access to a plethora of online ebook, scholarly article and academic journal databases.
Lesley University is regionally accredited by The Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).
10. Bentley University
Bentley, founded in 1917, is located in Waltham, which is only nine miles from Boston. Bentley offers one online degree completion program in business administration. This part-time program is delivered in a cohort model and takes at least three years to complete. Applicants must have 60 college credits, and accepted students complete 16 eight-week courses.
As one of the best online schools in Massachusetts, Bentley takes a unique approach to its programs by integrating arts and sciences courses, and emphasizing leadership and international business strategies. Core courses include supply chain management, global strategy, and organizational behavior and leadership. Business foundation classes and electives are required, four of which are selected from the arts and sciences curriculum.
Students enjoy a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and 97% of 2017 graduates were hired or accepted into a graduate program within six months of graduation.
Bentley is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
11. Endicott College
Endicott is located 20 miles north of Boston in Beverly and is one of the best online colleges in Massachusetts. Accelerated online programs for undergraduates are delivered through the college’s Van Loan School, which serves working adults. Classes may be taken part time and are taught asynchronously. Students may select from seven-, eight-, and 15-week course sessions. Up to 30 credits for work and life experience may be applied through a portfolio course.
The Van Loan School at Endicott offers five bachelor’s programs: psychology, criminal justice, business management, liberal studies, and RN to BSN. Associate, master’s, and doctoral degrees are also available, along with certificate and professional development opportunities. Application requirements differ based on program. Associate and bachelor’s degree applicants must have two years of work experience. Doctoral programs require some on-campus sessions, often held during the summer and on weekends. Van Loan students have a personal academic adviser and access to online tutoring, library services, and the school’s writing center. Endicott was founded in 1939 as a two-year women’s college, but became coeducational in 1994.
Endicott is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
12. Fisher College
Myron and Edmund Fisher established Fisher College, a private, nonprofit college, in 1903. The brothers believed immigrants should be able to move past unskilled labor positions and felt making education accessible to them was the way to help them. The college gained the ability to grant degrees in 1957 and gained full accreditation in 1970. The university has over 2,500 students and offers more than 30 degree programs.
Fisher College awards several online associate, baccalaureate and certificate programs. Online associate’s degree programs include criminal justice and psychology. Online bachelor’s degree programs include communication and human services. Online certifications include medical coding.
Resources available to online students include accessibility services, an online job board and an online library with a variety of online databases pertaining to many academic fields.
Fisher College is regionally accredited by The Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).
13. Westfield State University
Educational reformer and politician Horace Mann established Westfield State University in 1838. It was the first public university that admitted students no matter their race, sex, religion or economic status. Mann was the Secretary of the Board of Higher Education at the time and made it his mission to bring the successful Normal School model to America in an effort to better train and educate teachers. From his efforts sprung Westfield Normal School, which grew into what is now a university with 5,500 students and more than 30 programs of study.
Westfield State University offers a variety of bachelor’s degree completion programs online through its PLATO platform, including sociology, history and criminal justice.
Resources available to online students include the Ely Library. The library includes librarian live chat and allows access to downloadable assistive software, as well as a plethora of online databases.
Westfield State University is regionally accredited by The Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).
14. Lasell College
Lasell is one of the most popular online colleges in Massachusetts for graduate students. Learners may pursue completely online, blended, or on-campus master’s programs and graduate certificates. Fully online programs include an MBA, an MS in communication, and an MS in sport management. Graduate certificates include marketing, project management, and teaching bilingual/English learners with disabilities. Working professionals benefit from the flexibility provided by the accelerated eight- and 16-week courses.
While the graduate programs may be completed in one year by full-time students, the average completion time is 18 months. There are six start dates annually. Lasell does not require GRE or GMAT scores to apply. Students may take a prior learning assessment course to earn credit for work and military experience.
Lasell is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
15. Assumption College
Assumption is a Catholic college that was founded in 1904 by the Augustinians of the Assumption priests and brothers. It has a campus in Rome and aims to “educate the whole person” by emphasizing personal growth. Located in Worcester, Assumption is one of the best online colleges in Massachusetts.
The college offers three associate and four bachelor’s programs completely online. Bachelor’s options include human services and rehabilitation studies, business administration, social sciences, and humanities. Each offers various concentrations depending on student interests and career goals. Human services and rehabilitation studies is the only program without an associate degree option. Fully online certificates are offered in digital marketing, medical coding and billing, aging services, and alcohol and substance abuse counseling. Assumption also offers blended certificate programs in a variety of subject areas. Online tutoring is available through the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium.
Assumption is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
16. Fitchburg State University
Fitchburg State University, founded in 1894, began as a women-only secondary education school. It became a coeducational institution in 1911 and gained the ability to confer bachelor’s degrees in 1930. The school kept education as its primary focus until the 1960s, when it began adding new degree programs. This propelled it into the college world and ultimately helped it become a university in 2010. The school teaches more than 5,000 students and offers majors across 25 academic disciplines.
Fitchburg State University offers several online baccalaureate, master’s and certificate programs. Online bachelor’s degree programs include nursing and business administration. Online master’s degree programs include special education and forensic nursing. Online certifications include web development and behavior analysis.
Resources available to online students include academic advising via instant messenger, career services, disability services, an online job board, counseling and an online library with librarian live chat.
Fitchburg State University is regionally accredited by The Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).
17. Framingham State University
FSU was established in 1839 as a normal school. Today, it is one of the top online schools in Massachusetts. Fully online programs include a bachelor of arts in liberal studies, a master of science in merchandising, a master of education, and two graduate certificates. FSU’s hybrid graduate degrees include an MBA, an MS in nursing, and a master of education in STEM for teachers in grades one through six. Some online courses are accelerated. FSU has fall, spring, and summer semesters.
One-quarter of FSU online faculty integrate the “Ask a Librarian” service in their courses. This connects students with personalized library support for writing and research assignments. Students also have access to free tutoring, coaching, workshops, and disability support services through the Center for Academic Success and Achievement. FSU has a support group called GenerationOne for first generation college students. The group is a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
FSU is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
18. Brandeis University
Brandeis is one of the top online colleges in Massachusetts for graduate programs. This private research university in Waltham offers a wide variety of online MS degrees, including bioinformatics, robotic software engineering, and technology management. An MSE in software engineering is also available completely online.
These asynchronous courses are available in four 10-week sessions annually. Degrees can be completed in 18 months, but students have up to five years to finish. Faculty members are trained in online teaching methods, and all changes to online curricula are overseen and approved by the Rabb School Council at Brandeis. The average online class size is 12 and cannot exceed 20 students. All programs are focused on student learning outcomes to ensure graduates have the necessary communication, critical thinking, and quantitative skills to be successful in their fields. The university was founded in 1948 by the Jewish community, and was named after the first Jewish U.S. Supreme Court justice, Louis Brandeis.
Brandeis is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
19. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
WPI is a renowned science and engineering school with 37,000 alumni. It was established in 1865, and today is one of the best online colleges in Massachusetts for graduate degrees. WPI’s 30-credit online master’s programs take three to five years to complete part-time, and include data science, construction project management, and power systems management. Online graduate certificates are also available.
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree, preferably accredited by ABET. Additional requirements include GRE scores, a professional resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation, a purpose statement, and a study plan. Two courses may be taken prior to admission, if desired. A Student Success Team member is assigned to each student for the duration of their program. The WPI Online Gateway Scholarship is awarded to five online students annually.
There were 31 WPI faculty members honored with a National Science Foundation Career Award in 2018. WPI records were recently broken when 42 students filed for patents, and five others licensed theirs.
WPI is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
20. Nichols College
Nichols is a business school that was founded in Dudley in 1815. The school now offers two fully online programs for adult students that may be pursued part time or full time. The school offers an online BS in business administration in general business and human resource management. Students select one of three concentrations within the degree track based on their interests. Available concentrations include sport management, finance, and business communication. An entrepreneurship certificate may be completed concurrently. Hybrid and on-campus courses may be selected.
Programs are designed with a focus on experiential learning and an emphasis on leadership skill development. Nichols, one of the best online colleges in Massachusetts, provides opportunities for professional networking and assists students with identifying and securing internships. Students can transfer up to 90 credits, and Nichols has transfer partnerships with four local community colleges. There is no fee to apply, and admissions are rolling.
Nichols is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
21. Emmanuel College
Emmanuel was established in 1919 in Boston by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. It was New England’s first Catholic college for women. Today, it is co-educational and one of the best online schools in Massachusetts.
Emmanuel has four fully online, asynchronous graduate degree and certificate programs: a master of science in management with a research administration concentration, a BS in nursing, and certificates in instructional design and research administration. The hybrid MS in management requires 36 credits. A management and leadership graduate certificate is also available in hybrid delivery. Students enjoy a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio and benefit from full-time faculty members. Emmanuel does not use teaching assistants.
Emmanuel is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
22. Anna Maria College
Anna Maria College is a Catholic liberal arts college affiliated with the Sisters of Saint Anne. Founded in 1946, the college has over 1500 students in attendance and offers more than 55 degree programs spanning 6 academic schools. The college combines education and career preparation to prepare students for the working world. Some of the college’s most popular majors include social work, fire science, music therapy, nursing, sports management and criminal justice.
Anna Maria College offers a number of online baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Online bachelor’s degrees include fire science and nursing, while online master’s degrees include business administration as well as instructional design and technology.
Online student resources include technical support and an online library with a wide variety of electronic databases.
Anna Maria College is regionally accredited by The Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE).