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
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.
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 Kristin.E.Hunt@mass.gov. Access the Part A application.
May 11, 2021 — Presentation 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
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 Rebekah.Barr@mass.gov.
If you are seeking additional information on Early College, please contact the Early College Program Director at Kristin.E.Hunt@mass.gov.
Last Updated: July 15, 2021
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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