About the Public Higher Education System

Salem State

The system comprises 29 campuses divided into three segments: 15 community colleges, nine state universities and the five University campuses. Each of the state universities and community colleges has its own Board of Trustees, as does the University of Massachusetts system. Links to individual campuses' websites and a map of the campus locations are available on the Public Higher Education campus directory.



Mission of the Massachusetts System of Public Higher Education

Massachusetts Public Higher Education is a SYSTEM with a distinguished past, increasing and measurable accomplishments, and dedicated to being recognized as having one of the nation's most outstanding array of institutions. It comprises 15 community colleges, nine state universities, and five campuses of the University of Massachusetts. The system exists to provide accessible, affordable, relevant, and rigorous programs that adapt to meet changing individual and societal needs for education and employment. The public system is committed to continuous improvement and accountability in all aspects of teaching and learning. The Board of Higher Education, together with each respective Board of Trustees, expects all students, faculty and staff to be held to exacting standards in the performance of their roles and responsibilities.

Mission of the Community Colleges

The fifteen Community Colleges (also known as the Governor Foster Furcolo Community Colleges) offer open access to high quality, affordable academic programs, including associate degree and certificate programs. They are committed to excellence in teaching and learning and provide academic preparation for transfer to four-year institutions, career preparation for entry into high demand occupational fields, developmental coursework, and lifelong learning opportunities.

Community colleges have a special responsibility for workforce development and through partnerships with business and industry, provide job training, retraining, certification, and skills improvement. In addition, they assume primary responsibility, in the public system, for offering developmental courses, programs, and other educational services for individuals who seek to develop the skills needed to pursue college-level study or enter the workforce.

Rooted in their communities, the colleges serve as community leaders, identifying opportunities and solutions to community problems and contributing to the region’s intellectual, cultural, and economic development. They collaborate with elementary and secondary education and work to ensure a smooth transition from secondary to post-secondary education. Through partnerships with baccalaureate institutions, they help to promote an efficient system of public higher education.

The community colleges offer an environment where the ideas and contributions of all students are respected. Academic and personal support services are provided to ensure that all students have an opportunity to achieve academic and career success. No eligible student shall be deprived of the opportunity for a community college education in Massachusetts because of an inability to pay tuition and fees.

Mission of the State Universities

There are six comprehensive state universities—Bridgewater State University, Fitchburg State University, Framingham State University, Salem State University, Westfield State University, and Worcester State University—and three specialized colleges—Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The six comprehensive state universities integrate liberal arts and sciences programs with professional education, and the three specialized colleges also focus on academic areas identified in the college’s name.

Each state university places a special emphasis on teaching and lifelong learning and promotes a campus life that fosters intellectual, social, and ethical development. Committed to excellence in instruction and to providing responsive, innovative, and educational programs of high quality, they seek to develop each student’s critical thinking, quantitative, technological, oral, and written communication skills, and practical appreciation of the arts, sciences, and humanities as they affect good citizenship and an improved quality of life. The state universities provide a campus environment where the ideas, values, perspectives, and contributions of all students are respected.

Massachusetts state universities are strategically located to facilitate access to baccalaureate and master’s degree programs for Commonwealth residents who meet their high standards for admission. In recognition of their responsibilities to Massachusetts taxpayers to manage their resources efficiently and to maintain tuition and fees at a level as low as possible, each university has a distinctive academic focus based upon its established strengths and regional and state needs. Each university is a leader and resource for the community and contributes to the region’s cultural, environmental, and economic development.

Mission of the University of Massachusetts

The University’s mission is to provide an affordable education of high quality and conduct programs of research and public service that advance our knowledge and improve the lives of the people of the Commonwealth.

Systemwide Initiatives

The following Department of Higher Education programs and activities are collaborations among Massachusetts public higher education institutions.

Commonwealth Honors Program

Massachusetts is the only state in the country to offer an integrated network of honors programs throughout the public higher education system. There are Commonwealth Honors Programs in community colleges and state universities and on the campuses of the University of Massachusetts.

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MassTransfer makes it easy for students to transfer from one Massachusetts public higher education institution to another. It is a way for community college students who complete associate degrees to enroll in linked programs with the full transfer of credit, guaranteed admission and a tuition discount. It also provides any student who completes the MassTransfer Block with the benefit of satisfying the general education/distribution/core requirements at any other public higher education institution in the Commonwealth.

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Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership

The Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership (CDEP) provides opportunities for Massachusetts high school students to take college-level courses and earn credit simultaneously toward high school completion and their future college degrees. CDEP eases the transition from high school to college, allows students to get a headstart on their college careers, and provides meaningful and challenging academic experiences to students who otherwise may not have access to an early college experience.

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Meetings & Events

Oct 22

Board of Higher Education Meeting

Dec 3

Board of Higher Education Meeting

Jan 14

Board of Higher Education Meeting

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