20 Best Deals on Small Colleges in Massachusetts

Home to some of the world’s most respected academic institutions, Massachusetts has a higher learning opportunity for virtually any career goal. From rural to urban campus life, students can find a first-class small college education with investment-worthy tuition rates.

The following list is a ranking of the 20 best small colleges in Massachusetts. This selection of twenty affordable schools results from a strategic research process, focusing specifically on desirable features in pursuing a small college degree.


In the process of ranking Massachusetts top small colleges, points were awarded based on affordability, tuition return on investment, student-to-faculty ratio, faculty expertise, alumni engagement, public recognition, career placement availability, and any additional distinctions that added particular value to the college’s degree offerings.

These top 20 Massachusetts small colleges scored the highest among approximately 85 schools. This initial pool of 85 had a net price of under $34,000 USD and a total student enrollment of below 8,000. Primary sources for this data included College Navigator, Niche, and Payscale.

The schools profiled below are ranked in order of points earned. In the event of a tie in points, the schools with the lower net price are ranked higher.

Ranking the Best Small Colleges in Massachusetts

#20 – Regis College

Weston, Massachusetts


Regis College small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 11
Total Enrollment: 1,954
Net Price: $26,560

Founded in 1927, Regis College is an esteemed institution just outside central Boston. This Catholic-based institution has academics divided into schools of arts and sciences, nursing and health sciences, and advancing studies. RC has a small but highly diverse campus community welcoming students from across the nation and 30 countries worldwide. Regis provides cross-registration opportunities with nearby schools, including Babson College, Bentley University, Boston College, and Brandeis University. Over 90% of students are approved for tailored financial aid packages; recent alumni surveys indicate a $151,000 return on investment, placing Regis with the top Massachusetts small college deals.

#19 – Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Boston, Massachusetts


Massachusetts College of Art and Design small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 11
Total Enrollment: 1,990
Net Price: $21,277

Otherwise known as “MassArt,” The Massachusetts College of Art and Design is an art school with innovative degree options. MCAD students major in field areas including animation, jewelry, metalsmithing, painting, graphic design, and photography. This institution is known to have the most advanced technology resources available, ensuring all graduates have the skills necessary to be marketable in the arts. Among the top affordable small colleges in Massachusetts, this institution reports a $134,000 return on investment for out-of-state graduates, and a $210,000 return for in-state alumni.

#18 – Fitchburg State University

Fitchburg, Massachusetts


Fitchburg State University small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 11
Total Enrollment: 6,598
Net Price: $12,833

A top-notch education at an affordable tuition, Fitchburg State University is one of Massachusetts’ best college deals. FSU is home to over 30 liberal arts majors, the most popular of which include human services, science and technology, communications media, geographic science, and Earth systems science. This college has established multiple academic and career services programs, all designed to help each student realize their full potential. According to recent salary data, FSU has a tuition return-on-investment of over $240,000; this return is in part due to the $40 million available in grants, work-study awards, and scholarships.

#17 – Lasell College

Newton, Massachusetts


Lasell College small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 12
Total Enrollment: 2,160
Net Price: $26,189

Based in an education model of “Connected Learning,” Lasell College of Newton offers over 40 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. LC is a great choice for students who absorb curriculum best when given both in and outside the classroom. Lasell is committed to active learning experiences that include community outreach, service learning, internships, and other unique opportunities. This affordable Massachusetts small college has available courses of study in art, communication, fitness management, English, environmental studies, and much more. Lasell College considers all accepted students for merit and need-based aid packages.

#16 – Eastern Nazarene College

Quincy, Massachusetts


East Nazarene College small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 12
Total Enrollment: 1,101
Net Price: $19,512

Ranked among Money magazine’s “50 Most Affordable Private Colleges,” Eastern Nazarene is a Christian-based college that awards scholarships to every freshman. ENC’s approach to education is based in the philosophy that students need to tend to both their intellectual and spiritual development. This top small college in Massachusetts has over 50 available majors and minors; the most commonly chosen degrees include education, business administration, biology, law, and sports management. ENC graduates have a 100% acceptance rate into law school and a 94% acceptance rate into medical school. Eastern Nazarene’s proximity to central Boston creates continuous opportunities for internships and post-graduate employment.

#15 – Clark University

Worcester, Massachusetts


Clark University small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 13
Total Enrollment: 3,485
Net Price: $25,982

Clark University, a distinguished, liberal arts-based research institution is a small college with big impact on the academic community. Clark offers a progressive education that challenges convention in higher learning; students are encouraged to work both independently and collaboratively, selecting the curriculum and projects that keep them inspired. For those who thrive on community advocacy, Clark has a growing number of partnerships with varied nearby organizations. CU has nearly a $300,000 tuition return on investment, placing it high on the list of best college deals in Massachusetts.

#14 – Worcester State University

Worcester, Massachusetts


Worcester State University small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 13
Total Enrollment: 6,306
Net Price: $14,275

One of two Massachusetts universities on the Princeton Review’s “Best Value Colleges,” Worcester State University is a liberal arts school rooted in high academic standards. This school is known for its innovative research programs, and students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty on specialized topics relevant to their future career. The majority of this school’s alumni live in close proximity to the school and often mentor undergraduates. WSU has a $344,000 tuition return on investment, one of the many reasons this is a great Massachusetts small college deal. 

#13 – Simmons College

Boston, Massachusetts


simmons-college small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 14
Total Enrollment: 5,662
Net Price: $30,232

Found in the heart of Boston, Simmons College is a leader in liberal arts education. This women’s college is consistently ranked a “Best College” by respected publications including U.S. News and World Report, the Princeton Review, and Forbes. Among this school’s comprehensive curriculum offerings are health-related programs, education, data science, economics, library science, media arts, journalism, and many more. Based on recently collected salary data, Simmons has a $300,000 return on investment, making it one of the best small college deals in Massachusetts.

#12 – Bay Path University

Longmeadow, Massachusetts


Bay Path University small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 14
Total Enrollment: 3.107
Net Price: $21,549

Established in 1897, Bay Path University offers all-women bachelor’s and co-educational graduate programs. A top small college in Massachusetts, BPU is part of the eight-college “Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield” consortium; this partnership greatly expands resources for its incoming students. Bay Path undergraduate academics span challenging curriculum in business, forensics, writing, neuroscience, legal studies, and psychology. For those looking to advance their degree, BPU offers graduate degrees in fine arts, cybersecurity, and occupational therapy, to name a few. This college has an impressive 80% first-to-second year retention rate, and 98% of students receive financial aid packages.

#11 – Framingham University

Framingham, Massachusetts


Framingham State University small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 14
Total Enrollment: 6,398
Net Price: $18,027

An affordable small college just west of Boston, Framingham State University is an exciting higher learning opportunity for multiple fields of interest. Among many others, FSU has undergraduate programs in biology, communications, consumer sciences, and psychology; additionally, this college offers graduate-level MBA, MEd and MS degrees for advanced study. This school maintains a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and 89% of its professors hold terminal degrees. One of the best college deals in Massachusetts, Framingham State designates over $10 million in grants and scholarships per academic year.

#10 – Gordon College

Wenham, Massachusetts


Gordon College small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 15
Total Enrollment: 2,045
Net Price: $28,414

Located just north of Boston, Gordon College was named among the top 9% of Forbes magazine’s list of best colleges. This Christian-based school believes in educating the whole individual, focusing on developing both the intellectual and personal growth of its student body. Gordon maintains a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio, ensuring a more mentor-based learning experience. This top Massachusetts small college has majors that include art, business, chemistry, music, Christian ministries, early childhood education, and many more. Gordon College has an 80% freshman-to-sophomore retention rate, indicating high satisfaction among its incoming students.

#9 – Babson College

Wellesley, Massachusetts


Babson College small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 15
Total Enrollment: 3,057
Net Price: $27,597

Located in Greater Boston in the old town of Wellesley, Babson College is known for training entrepreneurs. Through its bachelor’s in business administration, students can choose to specialize in one of more than 25 concentration areas. Babson is a great choice among small colleges in Massachusetts because students can count on being immersed in business culture, even outside of the classroom.


#8 – Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Weston, Massachusetts


Massachusetts Maritime Academy small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 15
Total Enrollment: 1,674
Net Price: $13,673

Widely renowned in its industry, Massachusetts Maritime Academy is located at the Cape Cod Canal. MMA’s mission is to provide a world-class education for those who wish to become a cadet in the study of maritime fields; these fields of study encompass environmental protection, energy systems, math and science, marine engineering, marine transportation, emergency management, and international maritime business. Graduates of Massachusetts Maritime Academy do extremely well, both financially and professionally; MMA boasts an impressive $787,000 tuition return on investment, making it a stand-out small college deal in Massachusetts.

#7 – Mount Holyoke College

South Hadley, Massachusetts


Mount Holyoke College small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 16
Total Enrollment: 2,215
Net Price: $26,082

Located in South Hadley, Massachusetts, Mount Holyoke College is a highly selective liberal arts college for women. Mount Holyoke is renowned for educating future leaders, from Pulitzer Prize winners to champions in the field of medicine. MHC has 51 available majors, 29 of which incorporate curriculum from multiple departments; the majors most frequently selected are in natural and applied sciences, social sciences, and humanities fields. On average, 84% of Mount Holyoke students enter career-related work or master’s programs within six months of graduation. Among the best Massachusetts small college deals, MHC has extensive merit-based scholarships to keep tuition affordable to all.

#6 – College of the Holy Cross

Worcester, Massachusetts


College of the Holy Cross small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 16
Total Enrollment: 2,729
Net Price: $24,728

Considered one of the nation’s leading four-year liberal arts colleges, College of the Holy Cross is an exceptional higher education opportunity. CHC has a well-established mentor-based learning model, ensuring all students are regarded as individuals with unique goals. The majority of incoming students select majors in the fields of psychology, humanities, English, mathematics, and various social sciences. Salary reports of CHC alumni indicate an outstanding $475,000 return on investment, and this top small college deal in Massachusetts maintains a longstanding 92% overall graduation rate.

#5 – Bentley University

Waltham, Massachusetts


Bentley University small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 17
Total Enrollment: 5,552
Net Price: $33,133

One of the leading business schools in the nation, Bentley University challenges its students with advanced academic curriculum. BU’s educational focus is to help develop the technical skills, creativity and ethical awareness of its graduates; this combination of strengths has proven to produce confident, successful leaders in the professional world. Among the best small college deals in Massachusetts, Bentley has an astounding $580,000 tuition return on investment; this data is based on the average salary of recent alumni. Bentley University creates a welcoming and stimulating environment for students, as indicated by its 95% freshman to sophomore retention rate.

#4 – Smith College

Northampton, Massachusetts


Smith College small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 17
Total Enrollment: 2,874
Net Price: $26,318

Offering extraordinary academics with scholar-level faculty, Smith College is one of the world’s most respected women’s institutions.This top Massachusetts small college is committed to expanding the student mind, offering joint resource partnerships with surrounding elite schools Amherst College, Mount Holyoke, the Hampshire colleges, and the University of Massachusetts. Smith’s unique curriculum catalogue includes both traditional and non-traditional fields of study; some of these fields include Africana studies, comparative literature, biomedical sciences, women and gender studies, government, media, and many more. Smith College has an average $124,000 return on investment and over 70% of graduates enter career-related employment directly after graduation.

#3 – Amherst College

Amherst, Massachusetts


Amherst College small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 17
Total Enrollment: 1,795
Net Price: $16,861

Amherst College is a selective, progressive liberal arts school that celebrates the spirit of independence. This top small college deal in Massachusetts is best for students who wish to design their own degree curriculum. Amherst does not have a core curriculum, but rather an educational model where students select the courses relevant to their career goals. In order to optimize professional opportunities, Amherst offers an alumni mentorship program (Pathways) that includes one-on-one sessions with AC graduates. This institution has a 98% first to second year retention and 95% overall graduation rate.

#2 – Brandeis University

Waltham, Massachusetts


Brandeis University small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 18
Total Enrollment: 5,752
Net Price: $30,383

Globally renowned for its faculty of scholars and world-class education, Brandeis University attracts the best and brightest in academia. This institution has produced Pulitzer Prize winners, Emmy award recipients, and recently a Nobel laureate. Among its most popular majors are creative writing, language and linguistics, European cultural studies, and physics. Brandeis encourages the independent free-thinker, allowing students to create their own degrees in the field area concentrations of their choice. Brandeis is considered a top small college deal in Massachusetts in part due to its financial aid resources; over $51 million is leveraged into scholarships, grants, and other types of tuition assistance.

#1 – Wellesley College

Wellesley, Massachusetts


Wellesley College small colleges in Massachusetts

Points: 18
Total Enrollment: 2,510
Net Price: $22,138

Considered one of the finest women’s schools in the country, Wellesley College is a selective and esteemed institution just west of Boston. WC has 56 majors available, some of which are taught in collaboration with other departments. The most popular fields of study among undergraduates includes biomedical sciences, cultural and gender studies, psychology, social sciences, and foreign languages. Wellesley has impressive 95% retention and 93% overall graduation rates, and recently collected data has revealed upwards of a $221,000 tuition return on investment.

The preceding is a ranking of the 20 best small college deals in Massachusetts.

Other articles of interest:

GCD Staff
November 2016