10 Best “Hidden Gem” Universities in New England

8. Bridgewater State University (Bridgewater, MA)

Bridgewater State University
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Boyden Hall, Bridgewater State University, CC BY-SA 4.0

Just 30 miles outside of Boston, Bridgewater State University is a true New England hidden gem.

Bridgewater State University was recently designated by the Council On Undergraduate Research as one of the best undergraduate research programs in the country, a prestigious honor for this regional university. 

Founded by legendary educator Horace Mann, BSU has long held a special tradition throughout New England and beyond as one of the most prominent teacher-training institutions. In fact, it is known as the “birthplace of teacher education in America.”

The ample access to ground-breaking, experiential research opportunities gives BSU students a unique advantage in the job application process, as confirmed by the 95% of BSU graduates who are employed within 2 years of graduation.

7. Salem State University (Salem, MA)

Salem State University
Fletcher6, Salem State University, CC BY-SA 3.0

An important university in New England, Salem State offers an education not readily available at most other schools.

One of the school’s defining features is its annual Speaker Series. Established nearly four decades ago, Salem State has provided a spotlight for many of the world’s great speakers, including Presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, comedian Jay Leno, NFL coach Bill Belichick, and poet Maya Angelou, among many others.

Through the speaker series, students have the opportunity to listen and engage with important historical figures in America. Few schools can offer a similar opportunity for their community.

What makes Salem State a hidden gem, however, is not only its unique speaker series; it has risen substantially over the last decade. Now enrolling over 9,000 students, this school was named a Top Producer of Fulbright awardees in both 2011 as well as 2017.

Salem State has had an unusually large & positive influence for the local economy; in fiscal year 2014, Salem State generated over $820m for all of Massachusetts. 

Over 60,000 people call Salem State their alma mater, including NBA coach Tom Thibodeau as well as House of Representatives member John Tierney.

6. Plymouth State University (Plymouth, NH) 

Plymouth State University
Magicipiano, Plymouth State U Rounds Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

Plymouth State was recently designated by the Carnegie Classification among the best schools nationwide for its contribution to the community. Only 6% of all higher education institutions received this prestigious accolade, further demonstrating the community-first mentality of this school’s students and faculty.

Originally chartered as a teacher’s school in the mid-19th century, today Plymouth State is a hidden gem university enrolling over 6,000 students. 

Unlike traditional universities, Plymouth State has a unique curriculum: eschewing the traditional “department” model, Plymouth breaks its curriculum into what the school calls “clusters.” Clusters are programs of an interdisciplinary nature, a few of which being Arts and Technology as well as Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Speaking of entrepreneurship, Plymouth State is among the best schools in the northeast championing and incubating small business. Through its Enterprise Center, opened in 2013, Plymouth State assists local businesses and start-ups; many PSU students participate in these businesses as interns and even find eventual employment in them post-graduation.

A number of publications have recently lauded Plymouth, including Niche who has ranked PSU in the top 10% nationwide for “colleges with best professors.”

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