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Extraordinary Massachusetts Community Colleges

Nantucket lighthouse in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has long been a trendsetter in education: Not only is it home to the oldest college in the nation (Harvard University) but according to Lumina Foundation, it also ranks first nationally in educational attainment, with more than 50 percent of the state's working age-adults holding a two- or four-year degree. Although big name schools like Harvard and MIT may garner a lot of the attention in this state, Massachusetts community colleges play a major role in helping tomorrow's professionals get educated — and career-ready — too. The following (listed alphabetically) are just 10 of the many two-year schools helping Massachusetts's higher education system — and its economy — remain competitive. For a comprehensive list of community colleges in Massachusetts, based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics, scroll to the bottom of the article.

Berkshire Community College (Pittsfield)

Berkshire Community College's beautiful 180-acre Pittsfield campus is located at the foot of West Mountain, but is more than just another pretty college: In 2010, CNN Money gave BCC the second-highest "student success" rating of all Massachusetts community colleges, and the school consistently earns the title Best College in the Berkshires (despite what BCC calls stiff regional competition). As of 2014, BCC offered nearly 50 associate degree and certificate programs in a myriad of disciplines. These programs can help students get the career-ready skills they need to segue into the workforce, or can serve as a stepping stone to a four-year degree — a transition that can be greatly simplified thanks to BCC's transfer agreements with several institutions.

Bunker Hill Community College (Boston metro)

Bunker Hill Community College's 42-acre campus is situated in the historic Charleston area of Boston, not far from the famous site of the American Revolutionary War's Battle of Bunker Hill. According to its official website, BHCC is not only the largest community college in Massachusetts, but it also ranks among the top 25 fastest-growing community colleges in the nation. It has earned a reputation for its innovative approach to learning, perhaps most clearly exemplified by its unique self-study program that allows students to complete their coursework on their own schedule, without attending traditional classes. Note: Fans of the movie "Good Will Hunting" might recognize the name Bunker Hill Community College — Robin Williams' character, Dr. Sean Maguire, taught there.

Cape Cod Community College (West Barnstable)

Cape Cod Community College — or "4Cs," as the locals call it — places students within easy access of the famous Cape Cod, a tourist destination known for its scenic beaches, festivals and recreational opportunities. As for 4Cs, it offers nearly 100 degree and certificate programs in a plethora of disciplines, and its signature Accelerated Career Training (ACT) program, lets some students complete short-term courses in just 8 weeks — half the time required to complete them in a traditional semester program. Perhaps what sets 4Cs apart from most of the other colleges on this list, however, is its unique partnerships with several notable four-year institutions that allow students to complete select bachelor's and master's degree programs on the 4C campus.

Holyoke Community College (Holyoke)

Holyoke Community College boasted one of the highest CNN student success ratings in Massachusetts in 2010, and according to College Measures, it had one of the highest combined graduation and transfer rates in 2013. In fact, according to HCC's website, the school consistently has the highest number of four-year transfer students of all Massachusetts community colleges each year, and it awards the second highest number of associate degrees and certificates. The school offers more than 100 associate and certificate programs, nearly 50 student clubs, and myriad noncredit and corporate training courses. Bonus perk: HCC's Students Clubs & Activities department organizes regular student trips to New York City, where students can catch Broadway shows, shop, and visit top cultural sites and restaurants.

Massachusetts Bay Community College (Wellesley Hills)

Massachusetts Bay Community College earned the highest CNN student success rating of all Massachusetts community colleges in 2010. The school also has a reputation as an arts powerhouse, hosting groups like the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra, the Mass Bay Players and the Newton County Players. HBCC operates three major campuses in Wellesley Hills, Ashland and Framingham, where students can earn associate degrees or certificates in about 70 areas of study. They can also take advantage of transfer agreements with several notable colleges, including Boston College, the University of Massachusetts campuses in Boston and Lowell, Northeastern University and others. MBCC offers both students and alumni a wide range of career services, including job search training and support, internship coordination and advising.

Massasoit Community College (Brockton)

Massasoit Community College holds the distinction of being the only community college in Massachusetts to ever be considered for the Aspen Institute's Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, an honor the school credits to its unfailing commitment to student success. MCC offers a full range of degree programs, transfer options and support services, including its extensive Academic Resource Center. Students can attend classes during the day, at night, on weekends or online. MCC is home to the Milton Art Museum, features a children's center, and hosts dozens of professional, cultural, academic and special interest clubs. Notable alumni include Jim Craige, who was a member of the USA's 1980 Olympic hockey team known for the "Miracle on Ice," and Massachusetts Congressional Rep. Christine Canavan.

North Shore Community College (Danvers)

College Measures reports that North Shore Community College had the second highest first-year retention rate of all Massachusetts community colleges in 2013, and it's no wonder why: NSCC offers a multitude of student services designed to help future graduates succeed. It also offers several flexible learning options that allow students to attend school on campus, online or through a combination of the two. Like many other colleges featured on this list, NSCC maintains transfer agreements with several well-known institutions. Among them: the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth and Lowell; Wellesley College; Brown University and Tufts University.

Quincy College (Quincy)

Quincy College had one of the highest College Measures-reported first-year retention rates in the state in 2013. It serves around four thousand students each year through its main campus in Boston's Quincy Center neighborhood, plus a satellite campus in Plymouth. Students can earn associate degrees and certificates in a diversity of disciplines, including the liberal arts, nursing and business. QC may not be the largest institution featured on this list, but it is certainly among the most diverse: According to the school's website, QC students hail from more than a hundred countries worldwide. In addition to several transfer agreements with four-year institutions, QC maintains a campus-based bachelor's degree partnership with Cambridge College and an online bachelor's degree agreement with Excelsior College.

Roxbury Community College (Boston)

Roxbury Community College's motto is "Gateway to the Dream," and its extensive academic advising, tutoring and mentoring services help that phrase ring true. RCC serves the greater Boston metro area, offering dozens of programs in health care, liberal arts, professional programs and STEM (which stands for "science, technology, engineering and mathematics"). RCC also offers corporate and community training programs. Sports and fitness fanatics take note: RCC is home to several sports teams, some of which play and train at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, which is named for local star and former Boston Celtics player Reggie Lewis. The center offers fitness and recreational activities for students, too, including a 200-meter indoor track, a gym, a dance studio, fitness rooms and more.

Springfield Technical Community College (Springfield)

Springfield Technical Community College is built on the site of the Springfield Armor National Park, which was founded by Henry Knox and George Washington during the Revolutionary War. According to its website, STCC is also the only polytechnic community college in Massachusetts. As such, it can accommodate a number of decidedly high-tech disciplines, including biotechnology, robotics and laser electro-optics. The school does not restrict itself to science and technical programs, however: students can enroll in more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs in areas such as business, liberal arts, health care and more. Bonus: STCC overlooks the Connecticut River, and, according to its Facebook page, is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful community colleges in the state.

Massachusetts community colleges may help students prepare for the workforce — or to segue into four-year institutions — but not every school suits every student: location, career goals and personal learning style can each play a role. It may help to contact potential schools directly to learn more about your options.

All information provided through this article is current as of August 2014. Certificate, degree and program offerings can and do change. Contact the school site or sites for more current details.

Massachusetts community colleges list

SCHOOL

ADDRESS

Bard College at Simon's Rock

84 Alford Rd, Great Barrington, MA 01230-9702

Bay State College

122 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

41 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116

Berkshire Community College

1350 West Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201-5786

Bristol Community College

777 Elsbree St, Fall River, MA 02720-7395

Bunker Hill Community College

250 New Rutherford Ave, Boston, MA 02129-2925

Cape Cod Community College

2240 Iyannough Rd, West Barnstable, MA 02668-1599

Dean College

99 Main Street, Franklin, MA 02038-1941

FINE Mortuary College

150 Kerry Place, Norwood, MA 02062

Fisher College

118 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02116

Greenfield Community College

One College Dr, Greenfield, MA 01301-9739

Laboure College

303 Adams Street, Milton, MA 02186

Lawrence Memorial Hospital School of Nursing

170 Governors Ave, Medford, MA 02155

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts-Cambridge

215 First St, Cambridge, MA 02142

Marian Court College

35 Little's Point Rd, Swampscott, MA 01907

Massachusetts Bay Community College

50 Oakland St, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481-5399

Massasoit Community College

One Massasoit Boulevard, Brockton, MA 02302-3996

Middlesex Community College

Springs Rd, Bedford, MA 01730-9124

Mount Wachusett Community College

444 Green St, Gardner, MA 01440-1000

National Aviation Academy of New England

150 Hanscom Drive, Bedford, MA 01730

New England School of Photography

537 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

North Bennet Street School

150 North Street, Boston, MA 02109

North Shore Community College

1 Ferncroft Rd, Danvers, MA 01923-0840

Laboure College

303 Adams Street, Milton, MA 02186

Lawrence Memorial Hospital School of Nursing

170 Governors Ave, Medford, MA 02155

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts-Cambridge

215 First St, Cambridge, MA 02142

Marian Court College

35 Little's Point Rd, Swampscott, MA 01907

Northern Essex Community College

100 Elliott Street, Haverhill, MA 01830-2399

Portfolio Center - Waltham

289 Moody Street, Waltham, MA 02453-5210

Quincy College

1250 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA 02169

Quinsigamond Community College

670 West Boylston Street, Worcester, MA 01606-2092

Roxbury Community College

1234 Columbus Ave, Roxbury Crossing, MA 02120-3400

Salter College-Chicopee

645 Shawinigan Drive, Chicopee, MA 01020-3744

Salter College-West Boylston

184 West Boylston St, West Boylston, MA 01583

Sanford-Brown College-Boston

126 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital School of Nursing

680 Centre St, Brockton, MA 02302-1905

Springfield Technical Community College

1 Armory Sq, Springfield, MA 01105-1296

Universal Technical Institute of Massachusetts Inc

One Upland Road, Building 200, Norwood, MA 02062

Urban College of Boston

178 Tremont St 7th Fl, Boston, MA 02111-1093

Wentworth Institute of Technology

777 Ellsbree Street, Fall River, MA 02720-7399

Wentworth Institute of Technology

194 Freeport Street, Dorchester, MA 02122-2841

Wentworth Institute of Technology

750 Dorchester Avenue, Boston, MA 02125-1132

Sources:

College Excellence Program: 2015 Eligible Community Colleges, The Aspen Institute,
http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/college-excellence/2015-eligible-community-colleges

Berkshire Community College,
http://www.berkshirecc.edu/

"Best of the Berkshires," Berkshires Week,
http://www.berkshiresweek.com/062404/default.asp?id=article03

Bunker Hill Community College,
http://www.bhcc.mass.edu/

Advanced Studies: Earn Your Bachelor's or Master's Degree on Cape Cod, Cape Cod Community College,
http://www.capecod.edu/web/academics/advstudy

Cape Cod Community College,
http://www.capecod.edu/

"How does your community college stack up?", CNN Money,
http://money.cnn.com/pf/college/community-colleges/

Massachusetts Public Colleges, CollegeMeasures.org,
http://collegemeasures.org/2-year_colleges/state/MA/compare-colleges/strategic-measures/

Holyoke Community College,
http://www.hcc.edu/

"A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education: Closing the gaps in college attainment," Lumina Foundation, January 2014,
http://www.luminafoundation.org/publications/stronger_nation/2014/SN2014-Infographic.pdf

Massachusetts data, "A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education," Lumina Foundation, 2014,
http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/#massachusetts

Massachusetts Bay Community College,
http://www.massbay.edu/

Massasoit Community College,
http://www.massasoit.mass.edu/

North Shore Community College,
http://www.northshore.edu/

Quincy College,
http://quincycollege.edu/

Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, Roxbury Community College,
http://www.rltac.com/

Roxbury Community College,
http://www.rcc.mass.edu/

Springfield Technical Community College,
https://www.stcc.edu/