The Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts

by TBS Staff

Updated August 22, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Massachusetts's online colleges offer degree programs that suit the needs and goals of learners of all backgrounds.

Massachusetts is an especially fruitful place to pursue education and professional training. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates a strong correlation between education and employment opportunities, and the Bay State consistently outperforms other states in these areas.

As virtual learning continues to grow in popularity, many schools in Massachusetts have expanded online offerings that allow students to earn degrees in a flexible, convenient format. This guide explores common questions related to earning an online degree in Massachusetts, including a ranked list of the best options for prospective degree-seekers. We consider prominent degree types offered by these schools, along with their delivery methods.

Read on to learn more about the best online colleges in Massachusetts and how they can help you pursue your dream career.

Top Ten Online Colleges in Massachusetts
#1 University of Massachusetts - Amherst Amherst, MA
#2 Northeastern University Boston, MA
#3 Boston University Boston, MA
#4 Harvard University (Harvard Extension School) Cambridge, MA
#5 University of Massachusetts - Lowell Lowell, MA
#6 Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA
#7 University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth Dartmouth, MA
#8 University of Massachusetts - Boston Boston, MA
#9 Lesley University Cambridge, MA
#10 Bentley University Waltham, MA

The Best Online Colleges in Massachusetts

  1. University of Massachusetts - Amherst

    Amherst, MA

    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.

  2. Northeastern University

    Boston, MA

    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.

  3. Boston University

    Boston, MA

    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.

  4. Harvard University (Harvard Extension School)

    Cambridge, MA

    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.

  5. University of Massachusetts - Lowell

    Lowell, MA

    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.

  6. Bay Path University

    Longmeadow, MA

    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.

  7. University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

    Dartmouth, MA

    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.

  8. University of Massachusetts - Boston

    Boston, MA

    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.

  9. Lesley University

    Cambridge, MA

    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 several 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.

  10. Bentley University

    Waltham, MA

    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.

Best Online Colleges

Online Colleges in Massachusetts Ranking Guidelines

We selected the online schools in Massachusetts based on the quality of their programs, types of courses and degrees offered, and faculty strengths, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, including a strong reputation for online degree programs.

Employment in Massachusetts

The overall unemployment rate in Massachusetts rests at 9.6% as of September 2020. According to BLS data, the annual mean wage for all workers in the state is $65,680. Meanwhile, the cost of living index is 127.2, compared to the U.S. average for all states, which is 100. This means Massachusetts residents have higher living expenses than residents of most states.

To help you identify good career options, we've curated the fastest-growing, highest-paying roles employing more than 15,000 people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. At the time of publication, many of the most highly-compensated roles were not projected to see an increase in employment opportunities in Massachusetts between 2018 and 2028, so many of them were left off the list.

Most of the listed professions correlate with major industries in Massachusetts, as reported by the BLS New England Information Office. These industries include construction and manufacturing, finance, trade and transportation, information, and health or education services. Many of the best online colleges in Massachusetts offer programs in these areas.

Highest-Paying, Fastest-Growing Careers
Careers Salary Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)
Computer and Information Systems Managers $159,180 9.4%
Financial Managers $153,650 13.1%
Marketing Managers $144,000 6.8%
General and Operations Managers $137,870 5.6%
Medical and Health Services Managers $132,960 9.5%
Management Analysts $110,390 10.9%
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists $106,610 5.3%
Source: BLS, ProjectionsCentral

This list of the fastest-growing careers only includes roles employing more than 1,000 individuals in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Fastest-Growing Careers
Careers Salary Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)
Statisticians $119,620 31.3%
Information Security Analysts $106,550 29.1%
Operations Research Analysts $90,960 23.9%
Software Developers, Applications $115,270 23.4%
Respiratory Therapists $74,280 21%
Source: BLS, ProjectionsCentral

Online Associate and Graduate Degrees

Colleges and universities offer many educational pathways to meet the needs of aspiring professionals, including those interested in earning online degrees in Massachusetts.

Distance learners usually choose to pursue an online learning model because of personal preference, existing work schedules, or the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the best online colleges in Massachusetts offer expanded distance learning options to accommodate more degree-seekers. Learners with previous academic experience can easily transfer their credits to most online colleges and universities, reducing their time to degree completion.

Online programs use delivery methods that offer added flexibility for students. For example, learners with full schedules may find asynchronous delivery — courses that are accessible anytime, from anywhere — more useful, while others prefer programs with structured, synchronous sessions.

Online learners in Massachusetts have access to many majors and areas of study. For example, those interested in pursuing a two-year course of study can earn associate degrees in business, information technology, or the liberal arts, among others.

Graduate students enjoy similar offerings: Available specializations include business administration, cybersecurity and information assurance, and applied behavior analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Online College Cheaper in Massachusetts?

College can cost less for learners who earn online degrees in Massachusetts, but tuition rates vary by school. Costs generally depend on the type of school (public or private) and whether it offers in-state tuition rates to online students.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Degree in Massachusetts?

Online learning typically takes less time than on campus programs in the Bay State, but it depends on the student and program. In an accelerated program with the right transfer credits, for example, learners can complete an undergraduate degree in just over a year.

What Is the Most Popular Degree in Massachusetts?

Business management and marketing, social science, and the humanities rank among the most popular fields of study in Massachusetts.

Does an Online Degree Have the Same Value as an On-Campus Degree?

Employers typically consider online degrees to be as prestigious as their traditional equivalents, but prospective learners should always vet potential schools. Understanding how online learning works and what to expect will also help make the experience more rewarding. For many, increased popularity and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have normalized online education.

Is Massachusetts a Good State For Higher Education?

Yes. Massachusetts performs very well in terms of state support for higher education. It consistently ranks as the most educated state in the U.S. and enjoys a high concentration of colleges and universities.

Are Online Colleges in Massachusetts Accredited?

The best online colleges in Massachusetts hold regional accreditation. Prospective learners should always conduct additional research to ensure they earn their credentials from pograms that have been vetted by the proper agencies.

Learn more, do more.

More topic-relevant resources to expand your knowledge.

Popular with our students.

Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.

Take the next step toward your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

woman in an office