Bristol Community College, in partnership with New Bedford Public Schools and Argosy Charter School, awarded Early College Programs Designation

Students at New Bedford Public Schools and Argosy Collegiate Charter School will be provided with the opportunity to attend college free of charge.

Bristol Community College’s Early College program, in partnership with New Bedford Public Schools (NBPS) and Argosy Collegiate Charter School, in Fall River, Mass., has received the prestigious Early College Programs Designation from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The college’s Early College program will also support Bristol and DESE’s shared commitment to eliminating barriers to college access for underrepresented student populations.

The awarded designation and the Baker-Polito Administration’s announcement on Monday, March 28, 2022, of new Early College program grants totaling more than $1.3 million to high schools launching or expanding early college programs, is part of a statewide effort to increase the number of high school students who take college courses and earn college credits at no cost before they graduate high school. Through these newly awarded designations and grants, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education anticipates that approximately 8,700 students will be enrolled in early college programs by the 2024-2025 school year.

In Bristol’s Early College program, students at NBPS and Argosy Collegiate Charter School will be provided with the opportunity to attend college, free of charge, enabling students to earn 12 to 24 credits, equaling one to two semesters of higher education experience, while simultaneously completing their high school diploma. Students enrolled in the program from NBPS will participate in flexible pathways, including business and health sciences, while students from Argosy Collegiate Charter School will complete a liberal arts transfer pathway. All students are provided with academic advising and access to the college’s wraparound academic and student support services to boost success and encourage completion.

“Early college is an invaluable tool that supports increased college enrollment among participating students, particularly students from groups historically underrepresented in higher education, and helps them succeed once they arrive on campus,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Today’s announcement will boost participation rates at schools that already have programs, as well as launch new and exciting programs that will create more pathways to college.”

“Successful early college programs create a coherent course of study that can change the trajectory of a student’s life,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “By designating these early college programs, we are creating a shift in the educational experience for thousands of students.”

“As part of the intra-agency early college collaboration, the Board and Department of Higher Education has approached this effort, as with all our work, from an empirically-based policy analysis frame,” said Department of Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago. “We are therefore pleased with early data showing that designated Massachusetts early college programs have prioritized and demonstrated progress in raising college-going rates and matriculation for students of color and low-income students, who continue to confront the highest barriers to higher education.”

“Bristol Community College is proud to partner with New Bedford Public Schools and Argosy Collegiate Charter School on the development of a vibrant Early College program collaboration that will provide critical and equitable college access for students who may not have pictured themselves pursuing a college degree,” said Dr. Laura L. Douglas, President, Bristol Community College. “Students in these programs build academic confidence and recognize that college is a great option to a good-paying, sustainable career.”

“The New Bedford Public Schools and Bristol Community College Early College program will offer New Bedford High School Students the opportunity to expand access and success to higher education within their chosen pathways while fulfilling their high school graduation requirements at no cost to them and their families. We are excited to partner with Bristol in bringing our early college programmatic design to life and to increase equitable outcomes for New Bedford students, in particular students that are historically underrepresented at the collegiate level,” said Magaly Sanchez, Curriculum Data and Assessment Manager for Accelerated and Enrichment Programs, New Bedford Public Schools.

"Argosy Collegiate Charter School is thrilled to continue and grow our college preparatory program for our scholars with our newly awarded Early College designation from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education," said Kristen Pavao, Founder & Executive Director, Argosy Collegiate Charter School. "Our partnership with Bristol Community College allows us to provide our scholars with wall-to-wall access to free college credits beginning as early as 9th grade. 100% of our scholars will graduate with 12 college credits, and many will earn a full year of college credits upon 12th-grade graduation. In collaboration with Bristol, Argosy Collegiate is transforming college-going educational opportunities for all of our scholars so they can be successful in college, career and life."

The Massachusetts Early College Initiative was launched in 2018 with state approval of an initial cohort of eight programs in high-need, low-income school districts. It gives students the opportunity to experience the rigors of college coursework and earn college credit before they graduate from high school, providing a jumpstart to college admission, supported pathways to completion of degrees and certificates, and substantial tuition savings.

For more information about Bristol Community College’s College Access Dual Enrollment programs, including Early College, please visit