The spirit, vision and leadership of Horace Mann, America’s father of public education and its strongest advocate, lives on for 180 years after Bridgewater State University first opened its doors. His belief, not only in the importance of public education, but also in standardizing – or normalizing – the training of teachers, led to the establishment of normal schools. In 1840, Bridgewater became the third such school in the commonwealth and, along with its sister institutions, developed a comprehensive approach to teacher training that became a model emulated throughout the country and across the globe.
Bridgewater grew as the educational needs of society evolved. Not only were more and better-qualified teachers essential to a healthy and prosperous citizenry, but demand for a college-level liberal arts curriculum required that the Massachusetts General Court expand course offerings at the normal schools and establish public higher institutions of education.
Today, Bridgewater State University stands as the comprehensive liberal arts university in Southeastern Massachusetts and the fourth largest public university in the commonwealth. Bridgewater is the 10th largest overall of the 102 public or private higher education institutions in Massachusetts with an enrollment of approximately 11,000 students.
Bridgewater is designated as a Master’s/Large institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, participates in NCAA Division III athletics, and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), with its most recent decennial accreditation awarded in 2012.
Emphasis on high-quality teaching, small classes, mentoring, civic responsibility, global citizenship and social justice are incorporated into the university’s innovative academic programs, ensuring that Bridgewater students are prepared to think critically, communicate effectively and act responsibly within a context of personal and professional ethics. Bridgewater serves a student population of which 96 percent of undergraduate and 92 percent of graduate students hail from Massachusetts. More than 50 percent of Bridgewater undergraduates represent the first members of their families to attend college.
Students (Fall 2019)
Headcount – 10,881
Undergraduate – 9,463
Graduate – 1,418
Full-time – 75 percent
Part-time – 25 percent
New transfers – 957
First-time freshmen – 1,611
Students of color – 25 percent
Students living on campus – 41 percent
Full-time – 35 percent
Part-time – 65 percent
Students of color – 13 percent
First-time graduate – 33 percent
Committed, full-time faculty are at the heart of any great institution of higher learning and Bridgewater faculty are nationally recognized for their expertise in their fields of study. Many serve as consultants and advisors to corporations, nonprofit organizations, school systems and governmental agencies. They provide leadership to professional societies and conduct pioneering research in their respective fields.
Students work closely with faculty through a variety of innovative programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Enhanced opportunities for mentoring, experiential learning and keeping classes small improve the likelihood of student success. The average class size across the university as a whole is 22 students.
Total – 361
With terminal degree – 93 percent
Tenured (or tenure track) – 70 percent
Faculty of color – 19 percent
Student/faculty ratio: 18:1
Bridgewater’s academic programs – 36 undergraduate majors and 80+ graduate degree and certificate programs – are housed and administered through its six colleges: Bartlett College of Science and Mathematics, Ricciardi College of Business, College of Education and Health Sciences, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Graduate Studies and College of Continuing Studies.
Bridgewater affords students of all ages and backgrounds access to a variety of opportunities for learning and personal growth such as undergraduate research, recipient of the 2019 National Council for Undergraduate Research AURA Award, international study, service learning and participation in an array of community service initiatives through the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice.
The university’s commitment to student success has earned national attention – a ranking on The Education Trust Top-Gaining Four-Year Public Institutions list – as the university enjoys a six-year graduation rate of 61 percent, which is well above the national average for its mission class. Meanwhile, the first-year–sophomore retention rate stands at 77 percent.
These impressive numbers don’t end there as Bridgewater graduate students have among the highest first-time CPA exam pass rates of any university in Massachusetts. Bridgewater has also twice been named an Apple College of Distinction for its iPad initiative in the College of Education and Health Sciences. All the while, Bridgewater continues as one of the most prolific educators of new PreK-12 teachers in the commonwealth and readies more science and mathematics teachers annually than any institution in Massachusetts.
Each year, more than 1,000 students participate in internships offered by the university in collaboration with the Bridgewater State University Foundation; the campus provides nearly $1 million in volunteer service to the region; and more than 750 students participate in national and regional research conferences as well as on-campus research symposia. The university continues to gain national recognition in a variety of areas. In 2020, Bridgewater was named the fourth safest campus in the nation and the first in New England according to FBI and U.S. Department of Education data, and has garnered acclaim for providing students with top-notch career services, demonstrating a commitment to fair trade and as one of the most attractive and affordable, campuses in the country.
The Academic Programs section of this catalog contains a complete listing of all programs offered at the university.
Degrees & Certificates Awarded (2018-19)
Total – 2,563
Bachelor’s degrees – 2,036
Graduate degrees – 467
Certificates – 53
Our Educational Opportunities
Bridgewater recognizes that our students are tenacious and motivated. Toward that end, Bridgewater provides an array of opportunities to all of our students, allowing them to make their dreams a reality. Student success at Bridgewater is enhanced through experiential learning opportunities, support systems and social justice initiatives – all woven into the fabric of the university.
Students with a passion to serve find opportunities through the Community Service Center, which runs programs like Jumpstart and domestic alternative break; the Children’s Physical Developmental Clinic, which affords students from all majors a challenging opportunity to volunteer as clinicians working with children and youth with disabilities; and service learning, which is embedded in a number of courses that require students to participate in at least 10 hours of service-oriented activity.
A wealth of experiential learning opportunities awaits Bridgewater students. Approximately 1,800 students annually undertake independent research projects in the university’s undergraduate research program. Meanwhile, BSU Study Abroad offers students more than 1,000 programs to find an experience that fits their lives – from one- to three-week study tours led by our faculty to semester- or year-long stays – at one of our 50 partner universities. Paid internships, thanks to funding from the Bridgewater State University Foundation, enable students to enhance their skills and qualifications for future jobs.
Cultivating engaged citizen scholars is central to Bridgewater’s Honors Program, which supports motivated students to achieve their highest potential as scholars and campus leaders. Scholarships, ranging from the Tsongas Scholarship to departmental scholarships to scholarships for the Honors Program and Undergraduate Research, are made possible by business donations, alumni, faculty and staff efforts.
Student support to enable academic and social success is a hallmark of a Bridgewater education. Active members of the military and veterans can find services tailored to meet their needs at the Military and Veteran Student Services Center, while the GLBTA Pride Center offers a wide range of activities and support to the GLBT and Allies community. The Center for Multicultural Affairs works to create a community that appreciates the history, culture and traditions of underrepresented students and fosters cross-divisional collaborations that assist with student retention.
Our Campus Life
Bridgewater offers students a full social, cultural, athletic, recreational and spiritual life. Art exhibits, lectures, concerts, movies, plays, workshops and sporting events are part of daily activities at the university. The Involvement Network provides a complete listing of clubs, organizations and a calendar of campus events while the downloadable BSU Mobile app lists everything a Bear needs to know.
Through programs offered by the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, Student Government Association, Program Committee and other organizations, members of the university community have opportunities to attend events featuring significant public figures and internationally acclaimed performing artists.
Bridgewater has a strong athletic tradition, which has grown to include 22 NCAA Division III sports teams, a full range of intramural athletic programs and a number of club sport options available at BSUBears.com. The Adrian Tinsley Center features a state-of-the-art fitness center, a walking track and multi-sport surfaces. The university is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III, the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) and the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC).
Community members keep abreast of events and programs through a variety of campus media such as the student newspaper, The Comment, the university’s website and BSU Mobile which focus on news and features highlighting campus life and individual achievements. The campus radio station, WBIM-FM 91.5, provides coverage of events plus a full range of musical and special interest programming. Resident students have access to a cable television local access channel that offers university news and events.
Students face many decisions involving housing, finances, health, work, academic programs, post-graduate study and career goals. The Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and the university as a whole, have a number of offices that provide services and assistance in making these decisions including: Wellness Center (Health and Counseling), Financial Aid, Center for Student Engagement, Residence Life and Housing and Off-Campus and Commuter Student Services.
With a 270-acre university sitting in the geographic center of the Town of Bridgewater, the health, safety and well-being of all members of the campus community remain a primary concern. Toward that end, programs initiated by the 21-member Bridgewater State University Police Department enable crime prevention through community outreach. They include Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Classes, EMT training, the police honor guard, bicycle patrol unit and equestrian unit.
The university supports student pursuit of spirituality both individually and in groups and provides groups of students the opportunity to form student organizations so they can use university facilities for meetings and events as well as request funding from the Student Government Association. The Catholic Campus Ministry (122 Park Avenue) and the Christian Fellowship (29 Shaw Road) are independent entities that offer students both group and individual opportunities for worship and service.
The Clement C. Maxwell Library is a hub of activity conveniently located on West Campus. With a variety of information resources and electronic tools for student and faculty use in a comfortable and inviting environment, the library is open more than 90 hours each week. Staffed by highly qualified professionals and support personnel skilled at satisfying research, reference and general interest requests, the library’s core collection of print and electronic materials is complemented by a substantial collection of DVDs, maps, musical scores and other resources. Students and faculty can discover the wealth of books, newspapers, periodicals, sound recordings and movie titles by using Webster, the library’s online public access catalog. With approximately 300,000 volumes, more than 31,000 periodical subscriptions and nearly 100 electronic bibliographic and full-text article databases, the library provides students and faculty with access to a breadth of information resources supporting their classroom, learning and research needs.
The Academic Achievement Center, on the ground floor of Maxwell Library, houses a variety of programs and services for first-year students, new transfer students and those who have yet to declare a major to support the adjustment to university life and the academic success of students. Learning assistance services are based on the university’s commitment to provide students with every opportunity to build upon the strengths they have while correcting any deficiencies. This assistance is provided through specialized courses in English and mathematics and through a number of specialized labs, tutoring, coaching and research, writing and testing services.
The Center for Transformative Learning, on the third floor of Maxwell Library, provides honors students seeking a deeper educational experience with opportunities for undergraduate research and national fellowships. The space offers a comfortable area to collaborate and study, along with other amenities including a dozen social events throughout each semester.
Bridgewater is committed to making its facilities, services and programs accessible to all students in compliance with applicable law. Students with disabilities who desire accommodations should contact the Disability Resources & Student Accessibility Services Office to discuss the availability of reasonable accommodations or to obtain documentation guidelines. Located in the Academic Achievement Center, the office can be reached at 508.531.2194 or fax at 508.531.4194 or email at email@example.com. The Resources for Individuals with Disabilities guide contains more information.
Bridgewater strives to remain on the forefront of educational technology. Many classes are enhanced by course websites developed through Blackboard. There, students may gain access to syllabi, materials and other information posted by their professors; engage in online discussions; collaborate with fellow students; and view grades on assignments and tests.
InfoBear allows access to course enrollment, transcripts showing progress toward graduation, course grades and other student record information. Students register for courses through InfoBear, which requires a student ID and PIN. The ResNet program is an all-in-one education and entertainment package provided to resident students that includes high-speed Internet access (wired and wireless), cable TV, on-demand and premium movies, telephone service and WEPA print kiosks in each residence hall.
Bridgewater’s tradition of providing opportunity – to learn by doing, to serving the world and the region, to teaching and learning, to discovering career paths, and dedication to making dreams a reality – has created the thriving, dynamic institution we see today.