About the BCAE

The Boston Center for Adult Education was founded in 1933 by Dorothy Hewitt, who envisioned a place where “small groups of men and women would meet together in living room settings to learn, discuss, and create for the sheer pleasure of doing so.”

Until March 2009, most BCAE classes were held in the historic Gamble Mansion at 5 Commonwealth Avenue. Built in 1904, the mansion was the home of Mr. And Mrs. Walter Baylies and their six children until 1936. The opulent Louis XV style ballroom was built for Charlotte Baylies’s 16th birthday. In 1941, the building was purchased by the BCAE. In 2007 the building was sold to a private buyer, and the BCAE was able to renovate a second property at 122 Arlington Street, which is where most of its classes and administrative offices currently reside.

Throughout its history, the BCAE has remained responsive to the demands of a diverse community, as well as to the evolving demands of the individual. Whether serving as a site for volunteer wartime efforts in the 1940s, a haven for social policy debate in the 1960s, or a resource for personal and professional growth as one navigates through the new millennium, the BCAE meets the challenges of a thriving urban community.

Our Mission

The Boston Center for Adult Education seeks to provide educational opportunities for adults that foster personal and professional development, enhance a sense of community, and encourage social responsibility. In pursuit of these goals, the BCAE:

  • Offers classes and programs responsive to adults’ emerging needs;
  • Foster cross-cultural understanding through classes, collaborations, and other outreach efforts;
  • Provides access to information and ideas that help create an enlightened and involved citizenry;
  • Enlists the support of well-qualified leaders, staff, and volunteers who share our mission; and,
  • Offers attractive, accessible facilities, appropriate for learning and sharing ideas as a low-cost alternative to other educational programs so as to merit the continuing respect, cooperation, and support of Boston’s educational and neighborhood communities.

Hours, Directions, and Parking


BCAE administrative offices are open Monday through Friday 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. The Student Services office is open Monday through Friday 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. The BCAE is open on nights and weekends only when classes are in session.


Note: The closest T stop is Arlington Street station on the Green Line. For directions to off-site classes, please check the class description on the website.


Green Line: Take the Green Line to Arlington Street station. Exit onto Arlington Street, keeping the Public Garden behind you and walk approximately 3 blocks, toward the Park Plaza Hotel. 122 Arlington Street is on the left, across the street from Smith & Wollensky in the Castle.

Orange Line: Take the Orange Line to Back Bay station. Exit station and head South on Dartmouth Street toward Columbus Avenue. After crossing the intersections of Clarendon and Berkley Streets, take a right onto Isabella Street. The BCAE is across the street at the intersection of Isabella and Arlington Streets.

Please see “Trip Planner” at MBTA.com for bus routes and further directions by T.


Google Map it!

From the north/south: Take Route 93 to Storrow Drive. Take the second exit, labeled Back Bay/Copley Square. At the traffic light, take a left onto Beacon Street and an immediate right onto Arlington Street.

From the west: Take the Mass. Turnpike to the Prudential/Copley Square exit. Stay in the right lane and at the traffic light turn left onto Dartmouth Street. At the second traffic light, take a right onto Boylston Street. Go to the fourth traffic light, and take a left onto Charles Street. At the corner turn left onto Beacon Street, then take a left onto Arlington Street. (You will have circled around the Public Gardens.)

Note to GPS users: please be sure to select 122 Arlington Street, Boston, 02116 as your destination.


Street Parking

Street parking in the Bay Village and South End area is reserved for Boston resident permit parking holders. There are limited metered spaces available on Arlington and surrounding streets closer to Columbus Ave, the Boston Common, and Copley Square. There are many private parking lots and garages on Arlington St., Stuart St., Columbus Ave., and surrounding streets and day and evening rates vary in cost from $12-$25 (subject to change without notice).

Nearby lots and garages include: Central Parking (138 Arlington Street); LAZ Parking (109 & 121-127 Arlington Street); Boston Common Garage (0 Charles Street).

How to Register

To Register

  • Online: Browse our class catalog, read detailed class descriptions and teacher bios, and register online!
  • Telephone: Call our Student Services Office at 617-267-4430 Monday through Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm EST.
  • In Person: Visit us at 122 Arlington Street! Check our hours before you plan your visit.

Full payment is due upon registration by cash, check, or credit card. The BCAE charges a $7 registration fee per transaction and for any additional seats you purchase for other guests.  Members are never charged a registration fee.

All students participating in classes and/or events at the BCAE must be at least 18 years of age at the time of enrollment. All students participating in classes and/or events where alcohol is advertised as included must be at least 21 years of age at the time of enrollment. There are no exceptions.

In the instance that the class catalog and the website list conflicting information about a class, please make note that the website contains the most up to date and accurate information.

Withdrawals, Transfers, and Refunds

All transfer, withdrawal, and refund requests must be made in person or by phone (617-267-4430) through our Student Services office during its regular business hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm. Requests made outside these hours, including weekends and holidays, will not be accepted or processed.


Low enrollment

On occasion we may have to cancel a class due to low enrollment or other circumstances. In the event that we cancel your class, you may transfer into another class, space permitting, or you will be refunded for all tuition, materials, and registration fees paid. If you transfer into a class that is more expensive than the cancelled one, you will be responsible for any difference in tuition or other fees. If the new class is less expensive, you will be refunded the difference.

Students will be notified by email and telephone of the class cancellation. In cases where we do not speak with you directly, we will wait to hear back from you by phone or email as to your refund or transfer preferences. If within 1 week of the cancellation notification we have not received word from you, a full refund will be issued.

Any payment made with cash, check, account credit or gift card will be refunded via check.  Any payment made by credit card will be debited back to your card. Funds may take up to 10 days to clear your bank or credit card provider.

Refund checks may take up to 8 weeks to process.

Inclement Weather

All classes will take place as scheduled unless the BCAE announces on our homepage that we are closed due to the weather. In most cases, we will also record a message on our phone system alerting students to the closures as well as notices on the following TV stations: WCVB-TV (Channel 5), WBZ-TV (Channel 4), WHDH-TV (Channel 7), and Fox25. Please note that if the BCAE is open, no refunds are available to students if they do not attend.

If the BCAE must cancel your class due to inclement weather we will do our best to reschedule that class; if it is not possible to reschedule a make-up, or if students are not able to attend a make-up session, we will provide students enrolled in a single-session class with a full refund, or we will provide students enrolled in a multi-session class with a prorated refund for the missed session.


We permit transfers from one class to another, but only if there is space available in the new class, if both classes occur within the same term, and if you request the transfer at least three (3) business days before the first session of the class for which you’ve already registered, as per our refund policy. You will be responsible for any difference in tuition or materials fees if the new class is more expensive than the one from which you’re transferring; if your new class is less expensive, we will refund the difference. No transfers are allowed for off-site classes. Students enrolled in Foreign Language classes have the option to transfer into another proficiency level of the same language, but only if there is space available in the new class, if both classes occur during the same term, and you request the transfer before the second session of either class take place.


Student-initiated withdrawals or cancellations are as follows through December 21, 2019:


No refunds, no exceptions


Tuition is refundable, Materials fees are not refundable


Tuition is refundable, Materials fees are not refundable


Fully refundable, less registration fee*

*Registration fees are non-refundable on student-initiated withdrawals or cancellations.


Catalog vs. Website

Tuition fee, materials fee, and registration fee prices are subject to change in between the production of our printed and online versions of our catalog. In the event of a discrepancy between the two, information shown online will be considered correct.

Location and Instructor Changes

The BCAE reserves the right to cancel classes, change class locations, and change instructors when necessary. Refunds will not be issued due to class location changes or if we change an instructor.

Off-site classes and events

Off-site classes and events are not refundable except where noted, and no promotional discounts apply to any off-site class or event. Classes or events listed in the description as saying “no discounts or transfers” will not be refunded nor will a transfer be processed.

Refund Processing

Check refunds may take 8 weeks to process. Please be sure that we have your updated contact information to ensure that your check is delivered in a timely manner.

Gift Cards, Credits, and Memberships

Refunds for gift card balances, account credit balances or memberships will be refunded by check starting in January 2020. All refunds may take up to 8 weeks to process. Please see below for specific information around each product:

Gift Cards: Refunds must be requested by filling out this form. To check balances on gift cards, please visit the cart page, add something to the cart, and type your code into the box labeled “COUPON CODE.”

Account Credits: Refunds must be requested by filling out this form.

Memberships:  Memberships that were purchased on or after July 1, 2019 will be refunded a prorated amount as of January 1, 2020. Refunds must be requested by filling out this form.

BCAE Policies

As a private educational institution we reserve the right to deny admission to any student or remove students from any class.

The BCAE exercises great care when selecting instructors. We make no guarantees, expressed or implied, that classroom instruction will result in specific gain. We cannot be held responsible for any loss, material or otherwise, incurred while following an instructor’s directions. The BCAE is not responsible for any personal property left in our buildings. Students take classes at their own risk. Neither the BCAE nor any of its teachers are liable for any injury you may sustain.

If you have food allergies, please contact the BCAE at 617-267-4430 prior to registration to confirm our ability to accommodate your request. As we have a teaching kitchen and are not a restaurant with a full pantry, some requests may not be possible for us to accommodate. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause. All students, regardless of allergies, are required to sign a liability waiver before a cooking class.

The legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21 years. To attend a BCAE class, event or private rental where alcoholic beverages will be furnished, participants must be 21 years or older. The BCAE reserves the right to request identification to verify age at any event hosted on-site. Acceptable identification includes MA state driver’s license, US passport, or military card. All public classes and events at which alcoholic beverages are served will be denoted on the website or in the catalog as 21+. By purchasing classes or RSVPing for events marked as 21+ through www.bcae.org, the user agrees to these policies. Any private rental agreement between the BCAE and a client that furnishes alcoholic beverages will be subject to these same polices. No one under 21 will be admitted for any of these classes or events, public or private. The BCAE’s policy is to ask for identification from all students, regardless of assumed age.

The BCAE welcomes those eighteen and over of any race, color, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or disability to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the Center. Some of our classes may be offered in an environment that may be treacherous or present conditions we may not be able to change or, for participants who are disabled, that may not be within our control.

If you are a person with a disability or special needs, please let us know in advance so that we can arrange to make your visit as convenient and comfortable as possible. Upon notice of not less than two weeks, we will provide reasonable modifications for qualified individuals with disabilities. Please contact us at 617-267-4430 or email us at information@bcae.org.

By visiting www.bcae.org, you are accepting the practices described in this Privacy Policy.

We protect the security of your information by using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), encryption, and digital certificates. We receive and store certain types of information whenever you interact with us. For example, like many Web sites, we use “cookies,” and we obtain certain types of information when your Web browser accesses www.bcae.org. We use the information that you provide for such purposes as responding to your requests and future improvements to our Web site. We never share personal information about you with any other organization for any reason. You can choose not to provide certain information, but then you might not be able to take advantage of many of our features.

If you choose to visit www.bcae.org, your visit and any dispute over privacy is subject to this Notice and our Conditions of Use, including limitations on damages, arbitration of disputes, and application of the law of the state of Massachusetts. If you have any concern about privacy at www.bcae.org, please send us a thorough description, and we will try to resolve it.

Our business changes constantly, and our Privacy Notice and the Conditions of Use will change also. You should check our Web site frequently to see recent changes. Unless stated otherwise, our current Privacy Notice applies to all information that we have about you and your account.

BCAE • 122 Arlington St., Boston, MA 02116 • 617-267-4430 © 2016 Boston Center for Adult Education