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Massachusetts’ higher education system is composed of 15 community colleges, nine state universities, and five University of Massachusetts campuses that serve more than 291,000 students. The commonwealth is also home to several notable private for- and non-profit institutions, such as Northeastern University, Boston University, the University of Phoenix, Sanford-Brown College – Boston, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These colleges and universities are overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, which is responsible for setting academic goals and holding institutions accountable to them, approving degrees and programs, developing a statewide tuition structure, and ensuring the publication of institutional spending plans. The department of higher education also has several strategic initiative programs, such as the College Access Challenge Grant and GEAR UP, that are designed to increase college readiness and access among potential students.
The University of Massachusetts Online, or UMass Online, is the distance learning branch of the nationally renowned University of Massachusetts system. UMass Online was established in 2001 to offer accredited online degree programs to students regardless of their location. Now, the online school has more than 1,500 courses and 100 online degrees and certificates, including a Master of Business Administration (MBA), and degrees in arts management, design, English, environmental health, and political science. The University of Massachusetts Amherst, the central campus of the system, was ranked No. 94 out of the top national universities by the U.S. News & World Report. It was also ranked No. 11 in faculty credentials and training of the top online education programs and No. 16 in admissions selectivity of the top online business programs.
Northeastern University is a private, non-profit institution that provides associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree in business, nursing, education, and other programs to its almost 27,000 students. The university, founded in 1898, was ranked No. 62 in the U.S. News’ ranking of the top national universities. In addition to its on-campus offerings, Northeastern University also offers more than 60 online degree programs on the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level. Its online programs include a bachelor’s degree in health management, information technology, and management; master’s degrees in sports leadership, higher education administration, and geographic information systems; and a doctoral degree in physical therapy. The university’s online classes are accessed through the Blackboard course management system, which allows students to download reading assignments and lectures, participate in group discussions and projects, and email professors and their classmates.
Boston University was established in 1839 as the Newbury Biblical Institute, and during its more than 170-year existence, it has educated politicians, CEOs, media personalities, and civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The private, non-profit institution offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in 250 fields of study from its 16 schools and colleges, including the College of Arts & Sciences, College of Communication, College of Engineering, and the School of Management. Boston University also offers an undergraduate degree completion program and master’s degrees in art education, music education, criminal justice, computer information system, management, and health communication, online. In addition, the university offers online doctoral degrees in music education, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, and certificate programs.