We wanted to help Massachusetts students get the best education for their money and sort through the dozens of colleges and universities in the state. So, in addition to highlighting the state's most popular degree programs and digging into state-related scholarship information, we did some statistical analysis of each four-year school and ranked the top ten in the state.
For community college students looking to transfer to a four-year traditional or online school, be sure look into MassTransfer, a statewide initiative designed to make that transfer simple and seamless. There may even be additional financial incentives available at the state level for MassTransfer students. Check with your advisor for details and when you're done looking at the top 4-year schools in the state, be sure to read up on the top community colleges in Massachusetts, too.
We included independent four-year schools in our analysis as well as those in the Massachusetts System of Public Higher Education. In the case of large universities with one main campus and several satellite locations, we treated each campus as a separate school.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Massachusetts
The top Massachusetts colleges are those that provide a quality academic experience, flexible learning options and an array of student support services. To identify the best of the best, we used a methodology that considered metrics such as the availability of online degrees, graduation rates and tuition costs. According to our calculations, these are the best schools in Massachusetts.
The University of Massachusetts System boasts quality education programs. As one of the top universities in Massachusetts, its flagship campus in Amherst offers an extensive degree catalog, strong graduation rate and a number of online courses.
With an emphasis on research, the University of Massachusetts Amherst spends more than $200 million annually on research funding. That makes the school a good choice for those interested in fields such as life sciences, health and entrepreneurship. Even those not planning to pursue a research driven field can likely find the degree program they want within the university's 12 colleges and schools.
In addition to studying on campus, students may be able to enroll in online degree programs through the UMass University Without Walls.
Few universities can claim to have greater name recognition than Harvard. The Ivy League school has long been considered a premier destination of higher learning so it's no surprise it makes the list of best universities in Massachusetts.
Not only is it one of the best Massachusetts schools, but it is also the oldest higher education institution in the country. Founded in 1636, it predates the Declaration of Independence by 139 years. Since then, it has seen dozens of its graduates go on to become Nobel Laureates, heads of state and Pulitzer Prize winners.
Harvard University has excellent retention and graduation rates. It has an extensive degree catalog and invests heavily in financial aid to make its programs more affordable.
Based in Boston, Simmons College offers a unique learning environment. As a women's college, all 1,700 undergraduate students at the school are female. The school's graduate programs, however, admit both men and women.
As one of the top schools in Massachusetts, its commitment to educating women isn't the only thing that sets it apart. Simmons College also has one of the region's most successful programs for adult learners: the Dorothea Dix Scholars Program. Plus, the school has a top-ranked MBA, small class sizes and an ethnically diverse student body.
Simmons College was founded in 1899 by businessman John Simmons. It offers more than 50 degree options and has a Success Connection program to match students to alumnae mentors. Simmons is a private, non-sectarian school.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1865 to explore the latest innovations in technology and engineering. Scientific advancements have changed dramatically since then, but the school's vision and mission have not.
WPI has evolved into one of the best Massachusetts schools. Its 14 academic departments offer dozens of degree options. The school was one of the first to implement project-based learning, and it now maintains more than 40 research project centers on six continents. Beyond its quality academic programs, Worcester Polytechnic Institute is known for providing good value in terms of the return students receive on tuition.
Designated a doctoral research university by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, WPI has its main campus in Worcester. The school is a private institution.
If you want a beautiful place to study, take a closer look at Endicott College. Not only is it one of the best colleges in Massachusetts, but its oceanfront campus in Beverly provides spectacular views as well.
However, Endicott College didn't become of one of the top Massachusetts schools by virtue of its location. Instead, the college has developed into a top learning center where students can find the resources they need to thrive. A low student-faculty ratio helps facilitate personal attention, and 90 percent of those attending receive financial aid to make their education more affordable.
In addition to its undergraduate degree programs held on its campus, Endicott College maintains other learning centers both in New England and internationally. Online degrees are offered at the graduate level, something to consider for those who excel in online courses.
Located in the city of the same name, Boston University is another of the top Massachusetts universities. The school can trace its roots all the way back to 1839 with the establishment of the Newbury Biblical Institute.
Today, BU continues to have a School of Theology associated with The United Methodist Church, but it has expanded into a comprehensive, private institution that invites students from all backgrounds to enroll. It has 20 colleges and schools that cover diverse topics including law, public health, fine arts and general studies.
Boston University seeks to bring together world-class students with faculty who are considered some of the top thinkers in their field. It strives to provide ample access to research opportunities and experiential learning as well.
Part of what distinguishes the University of Massachusetts Lowell from other top universities in Massachusetts is its focus on hands-on learning. From co-ops to internships to service learning, UMass Lowell says it wants to teach its students how to make a positive impact on the world.
As a national research institution, UMass Lowell offers more than 170 degree options at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Available programs include bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The university has six academic colleges and fields 17 NCAA Division I athletic teams. In addition to its on-campus programming, online courses are available as well.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell gets high marks for financial aid. On average, students at the school get 90 percent of their need met through various assistance programs.
Westfield State University has a storied history. It was founded by celebrated educator Horace Mann in 1839 as the first public, co-educational school that did not bar students because of race, gender or economic status.
Now, as one of the best universities in Massachusetts, it continues that tradition of inclusive, quality education. Westfield enrolls more than 6,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The accredited school offers part-time bachelor's degrees and online degree completion programs to make higher education more access to adult learners and nontraditional students.
The Westfield State Experience is the school's signature program. It's designed to help students navigate their college years successfully and set them up for a productive career after graduation. It incorporates elements of individualized guidance, hands-on learning and capstone projects.
Rather than be all things to all students, Bentley University focuses primarily on preparing students for roles within the field of business. Its curriculum blends business knowledge with technical skills. As a result, Bentley has become one of the nation's leading business schools as well as one of the top colleges in Massachusetts.
Overall, more than 5,000 students are enrolled in Bentley University's undergraduate and graduate programs. There are more than 25 majors available, and a low student-faculty ratio helps provide a personalized learning environment. More than 90 percent of students participate in an internship prior to graduation.
Bentley University is a private institution with a campus in Waltham. On-campus, students can participate in the Greek Life as well as more than 100 student organizations and clubs.
Students have been receiving a quality education at Lesley University since 1909. That's when Edith Lesley founded the school to prepare future educators. The university still offers teacher education programs, but it has expanded to invite future counselors, artists, entrepreneurs and others to enroll in its degree programs.
As one of the top Massachusetts schools, Lesley says it's a university of big ideas and small class sizes. It has four colleges and schools offering education programs in fields of study such as education, expressive therapies and art and design. Those searching for online colleges will find more than 20 fully online degree programs are available at the school.
Lesley University is a private institution. It enrolls approximately 7,500 students in total and has its campus in Cambridge.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Massachusetts
If you don't yet know what you want to study in college, a list of the top majors in your state may help stimulate the decision-making process. Here's a rundown of the degrees most often pursued by Massachusetts students.
In-Demand Careers in Massachusetts
Having an idea about the job market for Massachusetts graduates can help you direct your education toward a degree plan that takes some of the pain out of the post-college job search. Here are the hottest career fields of the moment, according to employment projections.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||37.7%||108,670||$31,500|
|Solar Photovoltaic Installers||31.9%||330||$53,180|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||29.8%||4,180||$120,330|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||27.2%||2,020||$88,260|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||26%||55,710||$115,270|
|Information Security Analysts||25.5%||4,290||$106,550|
|Operations Research Analysts||24.1%||2,530||$90,960|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||22.4%||490||$118,040|
|Business Teachers, Postsecondary||22.2%||4,170||$125,740|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||21.8%||2,520||$64,310|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||20.1%||21,260||$73,310|
|Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary||19.1%||2,360||$101,930|
|Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary||19%||1,550||$95,020|
|Physical Therapist Aides||18.8%||810||$34,510|
|Helpers--Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters||18.8%||420||$40,150|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||18.6%||3,430||$42,360|
|Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary||18.5%||1,380||$130,480|
|Agricultural Equipment Operators||18%||-||$32,660|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Massachusetts
Students in Massachusetts should check out some of the state-based grant and scholarship programs. MASSGrant is a need-based aid program with an award amount that varies based on each student's expected family contribution (EFC) to their tuition. Also, The John and Abigail Adams Scholarship awards a full tuition waiver to qualifying students who score highly on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Recipient must reapply for renewal.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient maintains academic and behavioral standards and continues to demonstrate financial need.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable for up to four years if recipient maintains satisfactory GPA and full-time status.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
- Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority
- Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)
- U.Fund College Investing Plan
- Office of Student Financial Assistance
To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,383 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the following data points and the weights specified. In order to be included in the ranking, schools had to report data for each of the following data points:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered on campus, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
- Remedial services
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Guaranteed tuition plan
- Tuition payment plan
- Any other alternative tuition plan
Note:Tuition prices are based on data for the 2016-17 academic year reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
All of the National Center for Education Statistics data came from IPEDS:
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2015-16, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- UMass at a Glance, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Accessed May 2018, https://www.umass.edu/gateway/about/umass-glance
- Harvard at a Glance, Harvard University, Accessed May 2018, https://www.harvard.edu/about-harvard/harvard-glance
- Our Students, Simmons College, Accessed Mary 2018, http://www.simmons.edu/about-simmons/why-simmons/our-students
- Quick Facts, Simmons College, Accessed May 2018, http://www.simmons.edu/about-simmons/why-simmons/quick-facts
- Facts and Figures, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Accessed May 2018, https://www.wpi.edu/about/facts
- About WPI, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Accessed May 2018, https://www.wpi.edu/about
- Facts and Figures, Endicott College, Accessed May 2018, https://www.endicott.edu/about/why-endicott/facts-and-figures
- The Difference is in Our DNA, Boston University, Accessed May 2018, http://www.bu.edu/info/about/dna/
- University Quick Facts, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Accessed May 2018, https://www.uml.edu/About/quick-facts.aspx
- The Westfield State Experience, Westfield State University, Accessed May 2018, http://www.westfield.ma.edu/wse
- About Bentley University, Bentley University, Accessed May 2018, https://www.bentley.edu/about/bentley
- Lesley by the Numbers, Lesley University, Accessed May 2018, https://lesley.edu/about/lesley-by-the-numbers
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- 21 Liberal Arts Colleges With the Lowest Student-Faculty Ratios, U.S. News and World Report, Jordan Friedman, April 19, 2016, accessed August 22, 2017, https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college/articles/2016-04-19/21-liberal-arts-colleges-with-the-lowest-student-faculty-ratios
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed August 18, 2017: Registered Nurses, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm; Medical and Health Service Managers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm; Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm; Career and Technical Education Teachers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/career-and-technical-education-teachers.htm;
- Professional organization pages, accessed August 18, 2017: Member Benefits, American Nurses Association, http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace; About Us, American Nursing Informatics Association, https://www.ania.org/about-us; What is Medical-Surgical Nursing, Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, https://www.amsn.org/practice-resources/what-medical-surgical-nursing; AANP At-A-Glance, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, https://www.aanp.org/about-aanp/aanp-at-a-glance;
- Scholarship pages, accessed August 18, 2017: Find Your Scholarship, Discover Nursing, https://www.discovernursing.com/scholarships#no-filters; Nurses Make a Difference Scholarship, Cascade Healthcare Solutions, http://www.cascadehealthcaresolutions.com/Chs_Scholarship_a/364.htm;