Located in New England, Massachusetts is best known for its rich and significant Colonial History. The Bay State is home to Plymouth, the first American colony founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, and later Bunker Hill where the first battle of the American Revolution was held. Throughout history, Massachusetts has played a powerful and significant cultural role in the United States. Today the state is home to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the nation, both private and public.
Massachusetts: Diversity and Responsibility in Higher Education
The seventh smallest state in the nation through the third most densely populated, Massachusetts is a small state with big responsibilities, with the Bay Area being the most densely populated, where Boston is located. About 15% of the state’s total population is made up of foreign-born residents, although the state is primarily made up of white or Caucasian populations. This means Massachusetts has a responsibility to ensure that higher education opportunities are available to immigrants or refugees that gain residency in order to attend college in the Bay State.
As national leaders in education, the state has made local and statewide efforts to include minorities and diverse populations in the higher education system. Diversity Task Forces like the Commonwealth Compact found at the University of Massachusetts in Boston work hard to ensure the state is not an unwelcoming home for people of color or diverse backgrounds.
Higher Education in Massachusetts
Listed under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, there are over 100 colleges and universities in the small state of Massachusetts, the oldest Ivy League university in the nation: Harvard University founded in 1636. A whopping 85% of Massachusetts’ colleges and universities are private, of which five are for-profit, which leaves about 30 public institutions across the state.
Catholic schools play an important role in higher education in Massachusetts. About 45% of Massachusetts residents consider themselves Catholic, making the state one of the most heavily Catholic states in America. This is reflected in the eleven Catholic post-secondary schools found in the state, including the College of the Holy Cross and Boston College, which is one of the top Fulbright Research Institutions in the nation, with students earning 15 Fulbright Awards in 2017.
Online education has increased across the state and most Massachusetts colleges and universities offer at least a few fully online degree programs.
Online learning cuts costs for students across the board and residents can benefit from enrolling in colleges or universities that they may otherwise not be able to attend. Highly accredited universities like Northeastern University or the University of Massachusetts all participate, some schools offering up to 50 different degree programs fully online. The University of Massachusetts online system, called UMass Online, is considered a world-class research university system and has 5 comprehensive online campuses, each offering its own unique programs.
Paying for College in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority offers a number of accessible programs to help Massachusetts residents pay for college, including the MassTransfer A2B + Commonwealth Commitment, which allows students to attend a 2-year institution at a lower cost before transferring up to 60 credits to a participating 4-year Massachusetts institution.
The state also offers unique grant and tuition waiver opportunities through the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. The Foster Child Grant offers grants of up to $6000 annually for foster children who wish to go to college and the Career Advancement Program Tuition Waiver rewards public school teachers in their first three years of teaching.