Office of College, Career and Technical Education

Early College

Early College programs are designed to blend elements of high school and college to provide students with the opportunity to experience and complete college level academic coursework on a clearly articulated pathway and simultaneously gain exposure to a variety of career opportunities. Early college programs also reduce the time and expense of earning a college credential while increasing the likelihood of completion.

In 2016, the Boards of Higher Education and Elementary and Secondary Education looked at whether the state could devise an early college strategy. They commissioned a study , done by Parthenon-EY Education Practice, to look at the potential for the development of Early College in Massachusetts The report confirmed that Early College is a promising model that narrows educational opportunity gaps, and that existing programs would provide a powerful base from which to build a broader statewide Early College initiative. Following these findings in January 2017, the boards of Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education jointly launched an initiative intended to support the expansion of Early College and establish an Early College Designation. The boards also created an Early College Joint Committee (ECJC), charged with developing the Early College Designation Process for the Commonwealth.

Designation Criteria (2017).

Read the 2020 Governor's press release.

List of Current MA Designated Early College programs.

June 2021 MA Early College Fact Sheet

Early College Designation Process and Timeline — SY2021-2022

FY2022 Early College Program Designation
For Program Implementation and Enrollment Fall 2022

The Commonwealth is pleased to again offer its local secondary education agencies and institutions of higher education the opportunity to obtain formal designation for Early College Programs. Designed collaboratively by the EOE, DESE, and DHE, program designation will entail a two-step process ("Part A" and "Part B").

Early College Program Designation Application Companion Document 2021
This companion document is designed to provide important information on the Designation process and requirements, as well as context for the criteria to be met under each of the five Guiding Principles.

Designation Timeline

  • April 14, 2021 — Early College Spring Convening, including information session on applying for AY2022 Designation.

  • May 3, 2021 — Letter of Intent and Part A Posted. Designation applicants were required to submit a Letter of Intent by June 30. Additional applicants interested in Designation, email Access the Part A application.

  • May 11, 2021Presentation on Early College Designation Part A

  • June 30, 2021 — Letters of Intent Due

  • Summer, 2021 — Office hours and individualized technical assistance available, as well as an applicant professional learning series on the Guiding Principles. Please note the following dates for the PLC series*:

    • May 18, 2021 — Guiding Principle 1: Equitable Access

    • June 1, 2021 — Guiding Principle 2: Guided Academic Pathways

    • June 15, 2021 — Guiding Principle 3: Enhanced Student Support

    • June 29, 2021 — Guiding Principle 4: Connection to Career

    • July 13, 2021 — Guiding Principle 5: Effective Partnerships

    *All series to be held at 9am

    To register for these summer professional learning community sessions, please contact Rebekah Barr.

  • August 27, 2021 — Part A Applications Due

  • October 2021 — Announcement of Applicants advancing to Part B

  • Late Fall 2021 — Early College Designation Part B Application Webinar

  • December 15, 2021 — Part B Applications due

  • March 16, 2022 — Designation recommendations reviewed by the Early College Joint Committee

Designated Early College Programs

For Designated MA Early College programs seeking to submit changes to their programming for approval, please use the links below:

Changes Made to Academic Pathways

All Other Program Changes

Additional Resource: NS4Ed, in partnership with the MA Early College staff, has created a resource site to support the Early College community of practice. If interested in learning more about the community of practice, please contact the Early College Program Specialist at

If you are seeking additional information on Early College, please contact the Early College Program Director at

Last Updated: July 15, 2021

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.