Online Colleges in Massachusetts
Top Online Programs
Working in Massachusetts promises strong job prospects and high earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state's median wage topped $62,000 in 2017, roughly $12,000 higher than the average U.S. earnings. Unemployment in Massachusetts sits at 3.5%, slightly below the national average.
Certain high-demand fields offer even better compensation and career opportunities. For example, registered nurses (RNs) working in the state should experience some of the most robust employment growth through 2024. According to the BLS, RNs earned a median salary of $70,000 nationwide in 2017 and just over $89,000 in Massachusetts.
This page offers an overview of Massachusetts' online colleges and universities, including information on tuition rates for state residents and distance learners, public and private financial aid opportunities, and the most promising majors for Massachusetts' applicants. Read on for online student resources to help continue your research and choose a program that meets your needs.
Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in Massachusetts
According to WBUR, Boston's public news station, the fields of healthcare and information technology should see the highest rates of employment growth in the coming years. Jobs in both of these fields often require some form of postsecondary education.
For example, WBUR projects that employment for home healthcare aides will grow by a staggering 37.5% through 2024. In addition to holding a high school diploma, nursing aides in Massachusetts must complete an approved training program at a hospital or community college in the state. Even still, these jobs often come with low pay and long hours.
The most lucrative positions typically require a college degree. Projections indicate that, by 2024, the state will need roughly 13,000 additional RNs, all of whom must possess either an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing to qualify for licensure. Software developers and computer systems analysts can also expect above-average growth in employment, with most jobs requiring a bachelor's.
In 2017, software developers in Massachusetts earned an average salary of $108,680, or roughly $45,000 more than the average pay for all other occupations in the state. To take full advantage of these opportunities, you should strongly consider pursuing a degree or taking online college courses in Massachusetts.
Unemployment Rate, August 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
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Cost of Online Colleges in Massachusetts
While students pursuing an online degree typically pay the same tuition as those studying on campus, distance learners can avoid other expenses, such as transportation and rent fees. Some schools even allow online students to waive costs associated with certain campus services, like the use of athletic facilities.
Still, attending the best online colleges in Massachusetts can prove expensive, as in-state tuition at both two-year and four-year institutions exceeds the national average. If you plan to earn a bachelor's, consider beginning with an associate degree as a way to save money.
Attending one of Massachusetts' community colleges online usually costs considerably less than a four-year university, and the state's MassTransfer program makes it easy to apply credits toward a bachelor's. To qualify for the program, you must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA while earning your associate degree. If you do, you receive guaranteed admission at any public university in the state, including those in the University of Massachusetts system. MassTransfer students do not even need to write an essay or pay an application fee.
As a Massachusetts resident, you may also qualify for financial support from the state government. Review the scholarships and grants section below for more information on Massachusetts' aid programs.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Massachusetts
Most states offer tuition discounts to residents as a way to support their students and grow their economies. Online students from other states, as well as those who study on campus but maintain a legal residence elsewhere, usually pay more. In Massachusetts, the average difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition totals roughly $15,000 per year.
Students from Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont may qualify for in-state tuition in Massachusetts through the New England Board of Higher Education's (NEBHE) tuition break program. During the 2016-17 academic year, roughly 9,000 students at more than 80 public universities saved an estimated $60 million by participating in the program.
To see if your school offers regional tuition discounts, check the NEBHE's list of participating institutions. Students must work with their college or university directly to receive the tuition break.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in Massachusetts
The first step to applying for financial aid in Massachusetts lies in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal support like Pell grants, work-study opportunities, and low-interest student loans. Many states also use FAFSA information to distribute their own grants and loans.
The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education's Office of Student Financial Assistance oversees the state's aid programs. The state provides funding based on financial need, academic achievement, and life circumstances. For example, the MASSGrant and MASSGrant Plus programs offer need-based financial assistance to undergraduate students. The John and Abigail Adams Scholarship, conversely, supports students who receive exceptional scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam.
After applying for public aid, you should also seek out private scholarships. In addition to academic and need-based awards, private organizations often provide scholarships for students who serve their communities or hope to work in a certain profession.
You do not need to pay back any money you receive in the form of a grant or scholarship, but you must pay back student loans. As they often come with higher interest rates, consider private loans your final option when researching ways to finance your education.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for Massachusetts College Students
In addition to federal grants and loans, you can also apply for state aid and private scholarships to help pay for your education. Try to find programs that match your interests and strengths. For example, if you hope to become a nurse or doctor, seek out scholarships specifically for students interested in healthcare professions.
Who Can Apply: The MASSGrant program provides need-based assistance to Massachusetts residents seeking their first undergraduate degree at a public institution in the state. An applicants' Expected Family Contribution cannot exceed $5,486 per year.
Who Can Apply: This scholarship program supports students with a record of academic achievement. Applicants must score in the advanced category on at least one of three high school state assessment tests and achieve a rank of at least proficient in both of the others. Their combined score on these tests must also reach the top 25% of their district.
Amount: Up to the full cost of tuition at a public institution in the state
Who Can Apply: Aspiring nurses can seek financial aid through this matching grant program. To qualify, applicants must live in Massachusetts, seek an undergraduate degree in nursing, meet certain academic standards, and demonstrate financial need.
Amount: $200-$2,500 per year
Who Can Apply: Massachusetts established this program to provide aid to the children and spouses of those who died while serving the state, such as police officers, correctional officers, firefighters, or members of the armed services. Applicants must maintain satisfactory academic progress to receive continued funding.
Amount: Up to the full cost of tuition at a public institution in the state.
Who Can Apply: Part-time and adult students can receive funding through this program. To apply, you must live in Massachusetts, take at least six but not more than 12 undergraduate credits per year, meet certain academic standards, and demonstrate financial need. Eligible students can attend both public and private institutions.
Who Can Apply: This program provides financial aid to residents of Massachusetts' more rural areas. Applicants must attend public institutions in the state, pursue an undergraduate degree on a full-time basis, and demonstrate significant financial need.
Who Can Apply: The Herter Memorial Scholarship Program offers support to students struggling to overcome socio-economic or environmental hurdles. These obstacles may be societal, geographic, physical, or mental. Applicants must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA to qualify for funding.
Amount: Up to 50% of total educational expenses
Who Can Apply: Designed as a way to draw more talented professionals into early education, this program offers scholarships to those who commit to working with infants and toddlers after graduation. Applicants must choose an approved major and display prior professional experience in the field.
Amount: Up to $4,500 per semester
Who Can Apply: This program specifically supports community college students enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math majors. Applicants may possess an associate degree in another field, but they cannot yet hold a bachelor's. They must also maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.
Amount: Up to $4,000 per year
Who Can Apply: The Tsongas Scholarship program provides financial aid to high school students with a GPA of at least 3.75 and an SAT score of at least 1200. To receive continued funding, students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.3 throughout their undergraduate program.
Amount: All tuition and fees at a state university
Best Majors for Online Students in Massachusetts
Given the expected growth in the healthcare and computer information technology professions, online students in Massachusetts should consider majoring in these areas to ensure they enjoy the best job prospects and earnings potential after graduation.
Earning a bachelor's degree in nursing, for example, can qualify you for work as an RN or allow you to continue your education to become a nurse practitioner (NP). Students less interested in direct care may instead seek a degree in healthcare administration to prepare for a career as a medical or health service manager. Additionally, pursuing a bachelor's in computer programming can open up diverse opportunities as a systems analyst, or software developer, or computer and information systems manager.
All of these jobs come with salaries well above the national average. According to the BLS, RNs in the United States earned a median salary of $70,000 in 2017. That same year, the median healthcare administrator made $98,350, and the median information technology manager earned $139,220.
NursingStudents majoring in nursing take courses in human anatomy, health assessment, and patient care technologies. They typically must complete clinical experiences to qualify for licensure. An associate degree may allow you to take part in roles as an RN, though a bachelor's can improve your job prospects. NPs must hold a master's.
Healthcare AdministrationHealthcare administration majors study topics such as population health, cultural competence, healthcare finance, and healthcare quality management. A bachelor's allows you to take on most entry and mid-level roles at hospitals and health centers. For leadership positions, however, employers may prefer to hire candidates with an advanced degree.
Computer ProgrammingA computer programming degree helps students develop competencies in programming languages, user interface designs, and network security. While a technical skill set can help position you for roles as a developer or analyst, students interested in serving as a manager should also take coursework in project management and business administration.
Resources for Online College Students in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Department of Higher Education: The state department of higher education oversees all public colleges and universities in Massachusetts. In addition to administering scholarship and grant programs for students through its office of student financial assistance, the department also provides comprehensive resources on college planning, admission, other forms of financial aid, and transferring credits from community colleges.
New England Board of Higher Education: NEBHE helps universities and educational organizations in New England collaborate and better serve students in the region. The board's tuition break program allows students living in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont to receive substantial tuition discounts when attending a public institution in a neighboring state.
University of Massachusetts System: The University of Massachusetts serves as the state's primary public research university system. The Amherst campus acts as the system's flagship institution, with additional campuses in Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell. Aspiring healthcare professionals can also attend the medical school in Worcester, and distance learners can access a wealth of online courses, as well.
Massachusetts State Universities: State schools in Massachusetts include Bridgewater State, Salem State, and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. This web portal allows students to review offerings at all of its members' nine campuses, as well as their distance education programs. It also features resources on paying for your education and applying to college.
Massachusetts Community Colleges: Massachusetts boasts 15 community colleges, located in nearly every area of the state. Students can work toward their associate degree or simply take Massachusetts' community college online courses to develop a new skill or pursue a personal interest. The system's website offers advice on applying to school, receiving college credit for professional experience, and enrolling in non-credit training classes.