In March of 1958, an Audit of State Needs recommended the establishment of a community college system in Massachusetts to address the need for more diversity and access to higher education in the Commonwealth.
This recommendation, adopted by the legislature on August 1, 1958, also served as the foundation for suggesting the locations around the state where community colleges should be locally.
In accordance to this legislation, a newly formed Board of Regional Community Colleges established nine of the fifteen community colleges within a five-year period, beginning with Berkshire Community College in 1960.
In the years between 1965 and 1975 three additional community colleges were formed after a new master plan was put into action in 1965. This master plan projected the future need for community colleges by taking into account demography, economic and social climate and the role these institutions should play in effecting progress in the state. Three more community colleges have opened their doors since this time.
All Massachusetts Community Colleges are considered to be comprehensive because they offer an array of programs leading to certificates and associate degrees, including a variety of vocational programs. These institutions are engaged in adult basic, adult continuing, and job training educational programs. They develop affiliations with high schools and industry and develop unique workforce training programs. All Massachusetts community colleges are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Within the system of Massachusetts' public higher education, the community colleges open pathways to baccalaureate education, to careers and career advancement. Their broad mission encompasses degree and certification programs, training for business and industry, serving as a resource for solving community problems, and enriching the quality of people's lives. Rooted in their communities, these colleges are open-admission institutions dedicated to serving an academically, economically, and culturally diverse population.
An educated workforce is the Commonwealth's greatest natural resource. The growing industries that Massachusetts must attract and support require a workforce with the skills needed to manage technology, think critically, and adapt to changing demands. Community Colleges are the main training resources positioned to provide the sequential training opportunities that move unemployed workers into the workplace and current workers into more demanding and rewarding positions.