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Office of College, Career and Technical Education

Early College

Early College programs are intentionally designed to empower students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. MA Early College Designated Programs work 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.

A Brief History of MA Early College

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.

Early College Designation Process and Timeline — SY2022-2023

SY2022 Early College Program Designation
For Program Implementation and Enrollment Fall 2023

We encourage all partnerships who are designing Early College programs who are planning to meet the Designation Criteria available above to pursue MA Early College Designation. Along with program and fiscal support, the Early College Designation Process ensures that students across the Commonwealth are receiving expanded access to higher education opportunities, especially students traditionally underrepresented in higher education institutions.

The Commonwealth is pleased to once 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, MA Early College Program Designation will entail a two-step process ("Part A" and "Part B"). By April 13, 2022, a comprehensive designation timeline will be posted, including links to SY23 Part A application and Letter of Intent.

Early College Program Designation Application Companion Document 2022
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. The Early College Readiness Checklist is a resource for prospective Early College partners to guide their pre-planning for the Designation application process.

Designation Timeline

  • April 13, 2022Part A Application and Letter of Intent available online.
    For more information about the components of the Application, please review the Part A Designation guidance in the Designation Companion document . Download the Word Document of the Part A Application .

  • April 14, 2022 — Early College Designation Orientation (note: this event will also be offered on May 4, 2022). 9:30 AM. Register here: Early College Designation Orientation 2022-2023

  • April 26, 2022 — Early College Spring Convening, including information session on applying for SY2023 Designation. Register here: 2022 MA ECP Spring Convening Registration

  • May 4, 2022 — Early College Designation Orientation (note: this event was also offered on April 14, 2022). 9:30 AM. Register here: Early College Designation Orientation 2022-2023

  • June 17, 2022 — "Nuts and Bolts" of Early College Designation Part A — Register here: "Nuts and Bolts" of Early College Designation Part A Application

  • Summer 2022 — Office hours and individualized technical assistance available, as well as an applicant professional learning series on the Guiding Principles. Coming soon: session topics, dates, and registrations links.

  • August 2022 — Part A Applications Due

  • September 2022 — Announcement of Applicants advancing to Part B. Part B application sent directly to applicants.

  • October 2022 — Early College Designation Part B Application Webinar

  • January 13, 2023 — Part B Applications due

  • February–March 2023 — Designation recommendations reviewed by the Early College Joint Committee

Additional Resource

NS4Ed, in partnership with the MA Early College staff, has created a resource site to support the Early College community of practice. Visit MA Early College to learn more.

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

Please check this page regularly for updates.

Last Updated: January 23, 2023

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

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


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