MA Early College

About the Massachusetts Early College Initiative

The purpose and vision of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) and Board of Elementary & Secondary Education (BESE) is for the creation, growth and sustainability of high-quality early college partnerships connecting our state’s districts and high schools with our state’s colleges. These partnerships are aimed at giving thousands of Massachusetts students, especially first-generation college-goers, access to college completion and career success. 

Early College programs are rooted in five key design principles set forth in the joint resolution of the Boards of Elementary & Secondary Education and Higher Education, approved at their joint meeting on January 24, 2017.  Those design principles are:

  • PRINCIPLE 1: Equitable Access
  • PRINCIPLE 2: Guided Academic Pathways
  • PRINCIPLE 3: Enhanced Student Support
  • PRINCIPLE 4: Connection to Career
  • PRINCIPLE 5: Effective Partnerships

Twenty-three Early College Programs have received Massachusetts Early College Designation, following a rigorous two phased application process based on the Massachusetts Early College Criteria. In May 2018, the Early College Joint Committee granted the first designation to five programs. Four more programs were designated in July 2018. During the 2018-2019 school year, nearly 1,500 students were enrolled in designated early college programs around the state. In 2019-2020, enrollment in designated early college programs jumped to over 2,200 students.  

Full guidance on Early College and Designation Criteria is available on this website and the DESE website at

The most recent list of current Early College Designees is available on the DESE website at:

Early College Joint Committee:

  • Chris Gabrieli, Chair, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
  • Matt Hills, Member, Massachusetts Board of Elementary & Secondary Education
  • James Peyser, Secretary of Education
  • Katherine Craven, Chair, Massachusetts Board of Elementary & Secondary Education
  • Paul Toner, Member, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
  • Jeff Riley, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (non-voting)
  • Carlos Santiago, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (non-voting)

The resources found on this website are not exhaustive. Rather, they are intended to support designated early college programs and those schools seeking early college designation.