Certificate Programs Available at Boston Colleges and Schools

The Boston area is home to about 50 certificate-granting postsecondary schools. See rankings of the most affordable and largest schools in Boston to determine which schools might be right for you.

School Ranking Overview

Boston has numerous options for certificate-seekers within roughly 15 miles of the downtown area. These include community colleges, 4-year universities and specialized schools, among others. In this article, students can take a closer look at nine traditional public or non-profit institutions to determine if one of them meets their needs. These Boston schools are put under the microscope in the categories listed below, and the three top choices are then ranked accordingly:

  • Lowest Net Price
  • Highest Graduation Rate
  • Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
  • Largest Student Population

Lowest Net Price

One way to find the most affordable certificate-granting schools in the Boston area is to compare each institution's net price. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) calculates these figures by subtracting the amount of grant or scholarship aid awarded to full-time, first-time students from their total cost of attendance. A little more than half of Boston's traditional, certificate-granting schools had 2011-2012 net prices above $20,000. Below are the three public and private not-for-profit mainstream schools in the Boston area with the lowest net prices, as reported by NCES for 2011-2012.

1 - Roxbury Community College

At this Roxbury Crossing community college, students can find certificate programs in areas of business, health services and the sciences, and the school had the lowest net price in the Boston area at $922. Approximately 85% of first-time, full-time students received some form of financial aid, including 223 students who obtained a grant or scholarship package. In 2012-2013, undergraduate tuition and fees were calculated at $3,962 for in-state and $9,266 for out-of-state students. Books and supplies cost an additional $900, and off-campus room and board expenses averaged about $6,800

2 - Middlesex Community College

In 2011-2012, Middlesex Community College in Bedford had a low net price of $3,908, and 59% of new full-time students received grant or scholarship aid; the average award amount was $4,281. Undergraduate tuition and fees for in-state students in 2012-2013 totaled $4,274; out-of-state students paid $9,218. Another $1,000 was estimated for books and supplies, and off-campus room and board cost about $9,702. This school offers a wide range of certificate programs in areas such as engineering technology, business administration, preschool education and general studies.

3 - Bunker Hill Community College

The third-lowest net price of $7,849 was found at this Boston-based college, where students can find a variety of certificate programs such as medical assisting, accounting technology and criminal justice. During the 2011-2012 school year, 70% of full-time, first-time students received grant or scholarship aid. In total, $3,921,493 was awarded, with an average amount of $4,386 per student. Despite having a higher net price than Middlesex Community College, Bunker Hill had lower 2012-2013 tuition and fees rates: $3,384 for in-state and $8,328 for out-of-state students respectively. Additional costs included approximately $1,800 for books and supplies and $6,800 for off-campus room and board.

Highest Graduation Rate

The NCES reports overall graduation rates for full-time, first-time students who enrolled in Fall 2006 and completed their degrees within 150% of 'normal' time. While the majority of Boston's traditional, certificate-granting schools had low-to-moderate graduation rates, there was a school in Waltham with an overall figure of over 80%. The three mainstream Boston-area schools with the highest graduation rates are listed below. All stats are from the NCES.

1 - Bentley University

The NCES found the largest overall graduation rate, 84%, at this private university in Waltham. Retention rates can help identify student satisfaction, and the NCES reported that 95% of full-time freshmen who started in Fall 2011 returned in Fall 2012. Seventy-eight percent who enrolled in Fall 2006 completed their bachelor's degrees within four years.

2 - Wentworth Institute of Technology

At the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, students can find certificate programs in communications technology and surveying. At 64%, the school had the second-highest overall graduation rate, as reported by NCES. The school also showed relatively high retention rates for full-time, first-time bachelor's students: 82% of those who started in Fall 2011 returned in Fall 2012. Additionally, 58% of the part-time students who started in Fall 2011 came back in Fall 2012. The 4-year graduation rate for students who began a bachelor's degree program at the same time was 47%.

3 - Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

This private institute in Boston had the third-highest overall graduation rate for full-time, first-time students in 2012, with 57% of students graduating with 150% of the normal program time. At 58%, male students had a slightly higher graduation rate than their female counterparts. Students can find undergraduate certificate and associate's degree programs in technical areas such as health services and mechanical technologies at this private school.

Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio

A school's student-faculty ratio may be one indication of how much 1-on-1 attention students might receive from their instructors. Most of the schools around Boston have student-faculty ratios that range between 10:1 and 20:1. The following three mainstream schools had the lowest student-faculty ratios in 2012, as reported by NCES.

1 - Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

At 9:1, the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology had the lowest student-faculty ratio among Boston's mainstream schools. In Fall 2012, the school enrolled approximately 475 students, with 84% attending on a full-time basis. At the start of the same school year, the institute employed 32 full- and 36 part-time faculty members.

2 - Suffolk University

Suffolk University in Boston is a 4-year, private not-for-profit school that offers on-site and/or distance education certificates in areas such graphic design, legal assisting and mental health counseling. At 12:1, the university had a slightly higher student-faculty ratio than the Benjamin Franklin Institute. As of Fall 2012, there were 9,018 students in attendance, and the university employed nearly 860 faculty members. According to U.S. News & World Report, close to 42% of the classes had fewer than 20 students, 57% of the classes had 20-49 students, and 1% of the classes had 50 or more students in 2011.

2 - Lesley University

This private university in nearby Cambridge tied for the second-highest student to faculty ratio at 12:1. As of Fall 2012, Lesley enrolled a little over 5,900 students who received instruction from 153 full- and 36 part-time faculty members. As reported by U.S. News & World Report, in 2011 nearly 73% of the classes had fewer than 20 students, and about 27% of the classes had 20-49 students.

Largest Student Population

As reported by NCES, most of the mainstream, certificate-granting schools enrolled less than 16,000 full- and part-time students in Fall 2012. The schools highlighted below include one public university and two community colleges, and all information regarding population specifics and terms of enrollment has been provided by NCES.

1 - University of Massachusetts - Boston

The University of Massachusetts in Boston had a Fall 2012 student population totaling 15,874 students, making this university the largest among Boston-area schools. Among those in attendance, 12,124 were undergraduates and 3,750 were graduate students. According to NCES, 69% of undergraduates attended on a full-time basis, while 33% of graduate students were enrolled full time. At 56%, undergraduate females outnumbered male students by 12%, and 65% of undergraduate students were 24 years old or under (Fall 2011). Over 75% of those in attendance were from Massachusetts; with 17% representing students from outside the United States.

2 - Bunker Hill Community College

In Fall 2012, just a little over 13,500 undergraduates were in attendance at Bunker Hill Community College. At 66%, most students attended on a part-time basis. Additionally, 57% of the students were female, and 99% were Massachusetts residents. As reported by NCES, about half of the student population was of African-American, Asian or Hispanic descent.

3 - Middlesex Community College

At 9,664, Middlesex Community College had the third-largest student population in Fall 2012. A little over 60% of students attended part-time, and 95% were residents of Massachusetts. At 57%, female students outnumbered males by nearly 15%. In Fall 2011, 66% of the student population was 24 years old or younger, according to NCES.

Boston Area Schools at a Glance

School Name Location School Type Certificates Offered Area Ranking
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology Boston, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Less-than-1-year certificates Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio,
3rd Highest Graduation Rate
Bentley University Waltham, MA (8.8 miles from Boston) 4-year, private not-for-profit post-bachelor's and post-master's certificates Highest Graduation Rate
Bunker Hill Community College Boston, MA 2-year, public Less-than-1-year certificates 2nd Largest Student Population,
3rd Lowest Net Price
Lesley University Cambridge, MA (4.3 miles from Boston) 4-year, private not-for-profit 2-but-less-than-4-year, post-bachelor's and post-master's certificates 2nd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
Middlesex Community College Bedford, MA (14.8 miles from Boston) 2-year, public Less-than-1-year and 1-to less-than-2-year certificates; 2nd Lowest Net Price,
3rd Largest Student Population
Roxbury Community CollegeRoxbury Crossing, MA (2.7 miles from Boston)2-year, public Less-than-1-year certificates and 1-but-less-than-2-year certificatesLowest Net Price
Suffolk University Boston, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Less-than-1-year, 1-to-less-than-2-year and 2-to-less-than-4-year certificates; post-bachelor's and post-master's certificates 2nd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
University of Massachusetts - Boston Boston, MA 4-year, public Less-than-1-year, post-bachelor's and post-master's certificates Largest Student Population
Wentworth Institute of Technology Boston, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Less-than-1-year certificates 2nd Highest Graduation Rate

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