Bay Path University to acquire Cambridge College

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Dive Brief: 

  • Bay Path University announced Tuesday its plans to acquire Cambridge College, bringing together two private Massachusetts nonprofits focused on career education. 
  • The colleges expect the deal to close this June pending accreditor and regulatory approval. Cambridge intends to keep its program costs the same and to continue to award degrees until the two institutions are fully integrated, which could take up to two years, officials said. 
  • After the acquisition, Bay Path expects to enroll more than 5,000 students. The two institutions are similarly sized, with nearly 2,500 students attending Bay Path in fall 2022 compared with about 2,100 students at Cambridge. 

Dive Insight: 

The two institutions entered discussions about a potential partnership last summer. They based their decision to come together on their shared mission, according to a joint statement. 

Bay Path, a 127-year-old institution based in western Massachusetts, has women-only undergraduate programs and coeducational graduate offerings. Federal data for fall 2021 shows the majority of its undergraduates were nontraditional students, typically defined as those ages 25 and older. 

Likewise, 80% of undergraduates at Boston-based Cambridge were nontraditional students that year. And a significant majority, 87%, studied part time in fall 2022. It has five locations: one in California, another in Puerto Rico and three in Massachusetts. 

Both colleges have large proportions of graduate students. They were almost 47% of the student population at Bay Path in fall 2022 and nearly 61% of headcounts at Cambridge. 

Cambridge’s governing board believed finding “a larger platform and a like-minded partner” was the best route to advance its mission, the institution’s interim president, Stephen Healey, said in a statement. 

“Bay Path University is uniquely suited to integrate Cambridge College’s programs and serve our non-traditional student body,” Healey said. 

The two institutions share an accreditor, the New England Commission of Higher Education. They will need its signoff, along with approval from state regulators. 

Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Noe Ortega signaled support for the acquisition Tuesday, saying the two institutions seek to combine in a way that makes students the priority. 

“The leaders of both institutions have shown a commitment to a smooth transition for current Cambridge College students that gives us confidence that degree completion for these students will continue to be prioritized,” Ortega said in a statement. 

Cambridge has many of the hallmarks of colleges that either close or consolidate with other institutions. 

Its enrollment has sunk from 3,378 students in fall 2012 to 2,135 students a decade later, a 36.8% decline. It has also run deficits from fiscal years 2018 to 2022, its latest tax records show. 

Bay Path’s fall 2022 enrollment of 2,465 students is slightly higher than the number of students it had a decade ago. 

However, that enrollment is down 28.4% from fall 2018, when it hit a recent high of 3,444 students. During that period, it posted revenue surpluses, tax documents show.


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