Best Community Colleges in Massachusetts
Looking for an affordable way to complete general education requirements for a bachelor's degree? Planning to pursue a career that requires vocational training? If you answered yes to either question, then you'll want to learn more about the best community colleges in Massachusetts.
The state's 15 community colleges offer diverse educational programs that can meet the needs of students from all walks of life. There are short term certificate programs and technical degrees that can have you ready to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. For those who want to pursue a bachelor's degree, transfer degrees are available as well. What's more, students looking for online colleges can take distance education classes from top Massachusetts community colleges, thanks to participation in the Massachusetts Colleges Online consortium.
Ready to take the next step? Here's a closer look at the best Massachusetts community colleges. Which one is right for you?
Middlesex Community College (Bedford)
With two campuses in Lowell and Bedford, Middlesex Community College says it's where student success starts. As one of the top community colleges in Massachusetts, the schools offers a diverse degree catalog, flexible scheduling options and a number of student support services.
MCC first opened the doors of its Bedford campus in 1970. The Lowell location followed in 1987. Today, more than 12,000 students attend classes at the community college, and nearly half of those are the first in their family to pursue a higher education. Small class sizes and affordable tuition are part of what make Middlesex Community College an attractive educational choice.
The school has dozens of certificate and degree programs. There is also an honors program, international study options and hundreds of online courses.
Roxbury Community College (Roxbury Crossing)
While its campus is located in Roxbury Crossing, students from across Boston attend this institution. Roxbury Community College makes the list of best colleges in Massachusetts and has a track record of helping students overcome barriers that limit access to education.
RCC is part of the Achieving the Dream network, a nationwide initiative that is committed to helping students experience academic success. The community college has been part of the network since 2007. It is now an Achieving the Dream Leader College, a designation that reflects its work to help low-income and minority students earn certificates and degrees.
Roxbury Community College offers Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees as well as several certificate programs. The school has an affordable tuition rate, and financial aid is available.
Bristol Community College (Fall River)
Bristol Community College is another of the top community colleges in Massachusetts. The school enrolls more than 7,500 students each year in its 150 academic programs. Between its five campus locations and online courses, the school is a convenient choice for students south of Boston.
Chartered in 1965, Bristol Community College offers career-driven programs that lead graduates either directly into the workforce or to a four-year school where they can continue their education. For adult learners, the school offers a free, one-credit College Success Seminar that teaches about the resources available at BCC to help returning students be successful in the classroom.
Students can choose to learn at one of four BCC locations: Fall River, Attleboro, New Bedford and Taunton. Online courses and degrees are also available.
Mount Wachusett Community College (Gardner)
At Mount Wachusett Community College, students of all abilities and backgrounds are welcomed. The school offers a number of support services, including childcare, disability services, veteran services and an honors program, to meet the needs of a diverse student body.
More than 11,000 students are enrolled in the dozens of degree and certificate programs offered by Mount Wachusett Community College. Those enrolled get access to not only a supportive learning environment but also small class sizes and a vibrant campus community. There are numerous service organizations, curriculum clubs and social groups hosted on the MWCC campus.
MWCC has been educating students for more than 50 years. It has locations in Gardner, Leominster, Devens and Fitchburg.
Quinsigamond Community College (Worcester)
If you're looking for the best Massachusetts community colleges in the central part of the state, consider Quinsigamond Community College. Founded in 1963, the school has grown from several hundred students to more than 13,000 today.
Students enroll in QCC for a variety of reasons. Among them are the more than 120 associate degree programs and short-term certificate programs offered at the school. Academic choices cover diverse fields such as manufacturing, health care and business. Quinsigamond Community College says it offers the lowest per-credit tuition in the region, and student support services are available to help both traditional and adult learners succeed.
QCC has campus locations in Worcester, Marlborough and Southbridge. The school has a number of degree programs than can be earned either fully or mostly via online courses.
Massasoit Community College (Brockton)
Taking its name from the Great Chief of the Wampanoag Tribe, Massasoit Community College offers transfer degrees, certificate programs, continuing education and corporate training. It opened its doors in 1966 and, two years later, its first class of 137 students graduated.
Like other top Massachusetts community colleges, Massasoit features affordable tuition and numerous education opportunities. Its campuses boast of vibrant atmospheres where students will find interest organizations, athletics and numerous events and activities.
To help students succeed, Massasoit Community College offers several support services. In addition to academic advising and counseling for all students, the school has an Ubuntu Scholars program for underrepresented male students. Through the program, participants are grouped into academies, assigned mentors and meet with peer leaders.
Bunker Hill Community College (Boston)
Bunker Hill Community College is not only one of the best Massachusetts community colleges, but it is also the largest. Enrolling more than 19,000 students on multiple campuses, the school is an affordable choice for those seeking vocational training or an associate degree.
Beyond that, BHCC is notable for its diversity. In fact, it is one of the most diverse colleges in the state, with more than 60 percent of its student population being people of color. Women make up half its enrollment. The school's diversity extends globally as students representing more than 100 countries attend class at Bunker Hill Community College each year.
BHCConline offers several online degrees and certificate programs. For those who prefer a traditional environment, the Boston area college has two campuses and several satellite locations.
Cape Cod Community College (Cape Cod)
Residents of Cape Cod have one of the top community colleges in Massachusetts right in the neighborhood. Cape Cod Community College was founded in 1961 and serves the area of Cape Cod, Plymouth, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.
Part of what makes Cape Cod Community College unique is the opportunity it affords to earn a bachelor's degree or a master's degree on its campus. Thanks to partnerships with several universities, students can enroll in an advanced studies program that results in a four-year or graduate degree. Meanwhile, the Hyannis Center offers free educational services to adults who want to improve basic academic skills.
CCCC enrolls approximately 6,000 students each year in its on-campus and online courses. There are also weekend, evening and quick term options to make classes convenient for nontraditional learners.
North Shore Community College (Danvers)
As another of the best Massachusetts community colleges, North Shore Community College offers dozens of degree and certificate programs. Career programs are among its most popular with approximately half of students enrolled in a certificate program or technical degree program. Transfer degrees, meanwhile, are pursued by more than third of students.
Affordability is part of what makes NSCC one of the best colleges in Massachusetts. Thanks to financial aid, more than a third of students attend college at no cost to themselves or their family.
The school enrolls more than 6,000 students and notes that at least 225,000 residents in the region have taken a class at NSCC during its 50-year history. It has three campus locations: Danvers, Lynn and Middleton.
Holyoke Community College (Holyoke)
Holyoke Community College may be the right choice for anyone seeking online colleges in Massachusetts. The school has dozens of online courses as well as a number of fully online programs. There are also evening and Saturday classes that can make it convenient for nontraditional students to complete their education.
Founded in 1946, HCC was the first two-year school in the Commonwealth. Today, it is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution and is committed to meeting the needs of students from diverse backgrounds. It promises student they can start at the college and get the skills to go anywhere.
An affordable tuition rate and vibrant campus community are other notable aspects of Holyoke Community College. Its campus is in Holyoke.
Transferring Credits in Massachusetts
The top Massachusetts community colleges have made it possible for students to start their education at a two-year school and continue it at a state university. You may even get a discounted tuition rate thanks to an agreement between schools. Here are two ways Massachusetts Community Colleges make that happen:
- Commonwealth Commitment Program: If you earn an associate degree within 2.5 years at one of the Massachusetts community colleges, then you may be eligible to transfer credits to a state university under this program. Plus, you'll be eligible for a tuition rate freeze as well as a 10 percent rebate on tuition and mandatory fees. There are some stipulations though, such as earning your bachelor's degree within two years of transferring credits and maintaining a 3.0 GPA. Plus, not all academic programs will qualify.
- MassTransfer Program: This program ensures a smooth transfer of core credits from a Massachusetts community college to one of the state's public four-year institutions. In addition, at least two private schools -- Suffolk University and Dean College -- will accept credits through the MassTransfer program.
For those planning to attend another private college or university, many of the best community colleges in Massachusetts have articulation agreements in place that guarantee the transfer of credits to certain programs. Check out the best four-year colleges in Massachusetts, and then talk to your community college about if and how your credits will transfer to the school of your choice.
We ranked 15 community colleges in Massachusetts. The schools were ranked on multiple factors related to educational opportunity, student performance and student services.
Each school was scored on a 10-point scale, using the following six data points:
- The percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- Cost of attendance, based on the average net price for students receiving scholarship and grant aid, and the total cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- The transfer-out rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- Flexibility, based on the following data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
a) Whether the school offers credit for life experiences
b) Whether the school offers programs of study that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
c) Whether the school offers on-campus day care for students' children
d) Whether the school offers any kind of alternative tuition plan.These may include, but aren't limited to, payment plans or guaranteed rates
- Transfer & Joint Agreements, Massachusetts Community Colleges, Accessed August 2018, http://www.masscc.org/transfer%20
- Mass Colleges Online, Massachusetts Community Colleges, Accessed August 2018, http://www.masscc.org/student-resources/mass-colleges-online
- About Us, Middlesex Community College, Accessed August 2018, https://www.middlesex.mass.edu/about/
- Achieving the Dream, Roxbury Community College, Accessed August 2018, http://www.rcc.mass.edu/about-us/achieving-the-dream
- Why We Do What We Do, Achieving the Dream, Accessed August 2018, http://www.achievingthedream.org/about-us
- About, Bristol Community College, Accessed August 2018, http://www.bristolcc.edu/about/
- Vital Stats, Mount Wachusett Community College, Accessed August 2018, https://mwcc.edu/about-mwcc/vital-stats/
- Online Degrees & Courses, Quinsigamond Community College, Accessed August 2018, https://www.qcc.edu/academics/online-degrees-courses
- Ubuntu Scholars, Massasoit Community College, Accessed August 2018, https://www.massasoit.edu/students-and-parents/student-services/ubuntu-scholars/
- About Bunker Hill Community College, Bunker Hill Community College, Accessed August 2018, https://www.bhcc.edu/about/
- About Us, Cape Cod Community College, Accessed August 2018, https://www.capecod.edu/web/about-us
- NSCC Fast Facts, North Shore Community College, Accessed August 2018, http://www.northshore.edu/about/fast-facts.html
- About, Holyoke Community College, Accessed August 2018, https://www.hcc.edu/about
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/