Updated on June 18, 2024
Edited by Evelyn Keener
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University Headquarters (HQ) is an industry-leading, independent educational organization that provides independent college rankings using a proprietary formula to create first class unbiased rankings. The team at University HQ strives to provide accurate and trustworthy rankings that highlights the best community colleges in the U.S.

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As a future college student, you now have the opportunity to access a quality higher education right from the comfort of your home. Online community colleges have become a practical choice for many students, offering a variety of programs that can cater to diverse educational objectives. Whether you're aiming to transition to a four-year university or looking to gain professional credentials, these institutions provide the flexibility you need to balance your studies with other life commitments.

Choosing the best online community college for your needs involves considering factors such as accreditation, available programs, support services, and cost. Community colleges serve as an accessible steppingstone into higher education, with many offering a breadth of online programs that can lead to associate degrees or certificates in various fields. These programs often mirror the academic rigor and quality of their on-campus counterparts but with the added benefit of a more adaptable learning environment.

As you explore your options, you will find that the best online community colleges take pride in broadening access to education. They tend to offer a range of online programs, from professional and technical degrees to pre-major programs that facilitate easy transfer to four-year universities. By selecting a program that aligns with your educational and career goals, you can assure that your investment in an online community college education pays off in the long run.

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Top 25 Best Online Community Colleges


1

Northwest Iowa Community College

Score: 71.35

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,110
    • Out-of-State: $7,410
  • Net Price: $12,334
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 69%
  • Graduation Rate: 64%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,811
  • Undergrad Students: 1,811
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $47,600
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Northwest Iowa Community College
2

Mitchell Technical College

Score: 71.33

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,524
    • Out-of-State: $7,524
  • Net Price: $12,101
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 71%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,203
  • Undergrad Students: 1,203
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $41,300
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Mitchell Technical College
3

Southern Arkansas University Tech

Score: 68.84

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $4,685
    • Out-of-State: $4,685
  • Net Price: $4,153
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 57%
  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Total Enrollment: 943
  • Undergrad Students: 943
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $40,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • Southern Arkansas University Tech
4

Lake Area Technical College

Score: 68.23

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,718
    • Out-of-State: $6,718
  • Net Price: $12,735
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 70%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,238
  • Undergrad Students: 2,238
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $37,800
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Lake Area Technical College
5
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,213
    • Out-of-State: $6,213
  • Net Price: $13,655
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 68%
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,865
  • Undergrad Students: 2,865
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $43,400
  • Student-to-faculty: 22:1
  • Alexandria Technical & Community College
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
6

Beaufort County Community College

Score: 66.28

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $2,540
    • Out-of-State: $8,684
  • Net Price: $7,279
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,741
  • Undergrad Students: 1,741
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $45,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 10:1
  • Beaufort County Community College
7
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $4,916
    • Out-of-State: $7,109
  • Net Price: $10,220
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Total Enrollment: 11,181
  • Undergrad Students: 11,181
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $43,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 10:1
  • Fox Valley Technical College
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
8
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $3,100
    • Out-of-State: $11,747
  • Net Price: $3,079
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 64%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,706
  • Undergrad Students: 2,706
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $31,100
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Florida Gateway College
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
9

Flint Hills Technical College

Score: 65.53

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,196
    • Out-of-State: $6,196
  • Net Price: $16,106
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,610
  • Undergrad Students: 1,610
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $33,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • Flint Hills Technical College
10

Dakota County Technical College

Score: 65.5

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,419
    • Out-of-State: $6,419
  • Net Price: $11,339
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Graduation Rate: 53%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,717
  • Undergrad Students: 2,717
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $44,300
  • Student-to-faculty: 23:1
  • Dakota County Technical College
11
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $3,165
    • Out-of-State: $11,859
  • Net Price: $2,579
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,892
  • Undergrad Students: 2,892
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $31,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • South Florida State College
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
12

Northwood Technical College

Score: 65.06

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $4,524
    • Out-of-State: $6,583
  • Net Price: $9,800
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,677
  • Undergrad Students: 2,677
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $34,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 5:1
  • Northwood Technical College
13
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $3,855
    • Out-of-State: $13,448
  • Net Price: $7,058
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 38%
  • Graduation Rate: 48%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,197
  • Undergrad Students: 3,197
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $47,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Great Basin College
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
14

Gateway Technical College

Score: 63.95

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $4,853
    • Out-of-State: $7,046
  • Net Price: $8,274
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Total Enrollment: 9,881
  • Undergrad Students: 9,881
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $40,100
  • Student-to-faculty: 8:1
  • Gateway Technical College
15

Oconee Fall Line Technical College

Score: 63.84

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $3,201
    • Out-of-State: $5,601
  • Net Price: $6,097
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,819
  • Undergrad Students: 1,819
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $31,200
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • Oconee Fall Line Technical College
16

Northwest Kansas Technical College

Score: 63.59

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $17,500
    • Out-of-State: $17,500
  • Net Price: $12,402
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Total Enrollment: 666
  • Undergrad Students: 666
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $35,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 12:1
  • Northwest Kansas Technical College
17
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $4,904
    • Out-of-State: $7,097
  • Net Price: $9,574
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Total Enrollment: 10,661
  • Undergrad Students: 10,661
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $39,200
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
18

West Valley College

Score: 63.55

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $1,490
    • Out-of-State: $8,702
  • Net Price: $5,468
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,513
  • Undergrad Students: 6,513
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $39,200
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • West Valley College
19

Chippewa Valley Technical College

Score: 63.52

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $4,724
    • Out-of-State: $6,917
  • Net Price: $10,302
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 66%
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Total Enrollment: 8,364
  • Undergrad Students: 8,364
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $43,600
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • Chippewa Valley Technical College
20

Miles Community College

Score: 63.12

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,160
    • Out-of-State: $10,768
  • Net Price: $8,059
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 63%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Total Enrollment: 583
  • Undergrad Students: 583
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $38,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 12:1
  • Miles Community College
21
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $1,312
    • Out-of-State: $9,012
  • Net Price: $7,398
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Total Enrollment: 16,097
  • Undergrad Students: 16,097
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $39,700
  • Student-to-faculty: 24:1
  • Diablo Valley College
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
22

Waukesha County Technical College

Score: 63.04

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $4,720
    • Out-of-State: $6,996
  • Net Price: $9,316
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Total Enrollment: 7,268
  • Undergrad Students: 7,268
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $41,400
  • Student-to-faculty: 22:1
  • Waukesha County Technical College
23

Southern Crescent Technical College

Score: 62.89

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $3,126
    • Out-of-State: $5,526
  • Net Price: $4,354
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 63%
  • Graduation Rate: 57%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,018
  • Undergrad Students: 5,018
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $33,600
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Southern Crescent Technical College
24

Pennsylvania Institute of Technology

Score: 62.71

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $14,445
    • Out-of-State: $14,445
  • Net Price: $17,354
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 40%
  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • Total Enrollment: 651
  • Undergrad Students: 651
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $36,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Pennsylvania Institute of Technology
25

Renton Technical College

Score: 62.68

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,723
    • Out-of-State: $7,257
  • Net Price: $8,163
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: N/A
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,072
  • Undergrad Students: 3,072
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $43,200
  • Student-to-faculty: 9:1
  • Renton Technical College

Benefits of Online Community College Programs


Online community college programs offer a range of advantages that cater to your personal and financial circumstances. From the convenience of studying from anywhere to the affordability of courses, these programs can provide a robust educational experience that suits your lifestyle.

  • Flexibility and Accessibility

    :
    You'll find that online community college programs are highly flexible, allowing you to choose between asynchronous and synchronous courses to fit your schedule. With asynchronous learning, you can access course materials, lectures, and assignments at any time, providing the ultimate convenience. If you prefer a more structured environment, synchronous classes offer real-time interaction with instructors and peers.
  • Asynchronous vs Synchronous

    :
    Asynchronous learning offers you the opportunity to log in from anywhere, anytime to study online. Synchronous learning is an option where you attend scheduled virtual classes online. Online community colleges present an affordable education option with lower tuition rates compared to four-year institutions. You can often apply for financial aid or scholarships, and save on associated costs like commuting and housing. Especially if you qualify for in-state tuition, the cost benefits are significant, although out-of-state tuition can also be more reasonable than at traditional universities.
  • Tuition and Financial Aid

    :
    With many online programs you may find reduced rates for online learning programs and you are still able to take advantage of grants and scholarships to mitigate tuition costs.
  • Diverse Program Offerings

    :
    The array of programs offered by online community colleges is expansive, giving you the chance to pursue various fields and specialties. You can earn certificates, diplomas, or associate degrees in subjects ranging from business to healthcare. Such diversity in online learning courses allows you to align your educational pursuits with your career goals. Many of these programs are career focused which enables you to take educational paths tailored to your future.

Understanding Accreditation and Quality


When exploring online community college programs, it's crucial to consider two key factors: accreditation status and the quality of the educational offerings. These aspects deeply impact the credibility and value of the education you receive.

The Importance of Accreditation

Accredited institutions have met rigorous standards set by accreditation agencies, which are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. It is a mark of quality and reliability in higher education. For you, this means that the credits earned are more likely to be recognized by employers and transferable to other colleges or universities. Always verify that your chosen community college is accredited by reviewing their official website or checking with recognized accreditation bodies.

Evaluating Program Excellence

To gauge program excellence in an online community college, look for:

  • Reputation:
    A college's reputation often reflects the quality of its education. Seek out student reviews, graduation rates, and post-graduation employment statistics.
  • Online Offerings:
    Examine the range and depth of online programs available. High-quality programs should provide robust online resources, comprehensive support services, and interactive digital platforms for a seamless learning experience.
  • Program quality is not just about academic rigor but also the relevance to your career aspirations and the support available to help you succeed in your studies.

Community College Programs and Degrees Available Online


Online community colleges offer a range of programs to help you achieve your academic and professional goals from the comfort of your home. You can earn widely-recognized qualifications like associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas in various fields.

Popular Degree and Certificate Programs

Your education journey may begin with the pursuit of an associate degree. Common offerings include degrees in:

  • Liberal Arts

    :
    Fostering a broad understanding across humanities and social sciences, this is an optimal springboard into many different bachelor's degree paths.
  • Criminal Justice

    :
    Equip yourself with the knowledge required for careers in law enforcement or corrections.
  • Accounting

    :
    A critical skill for the business world, an accounting degree can open doors in both public and private sectors.
  • Computer Science

    :
    With technology's everlasting growth, a computer science degree offers diverse job prospects.
  • Nursing

    :
    These programs prepare you for rewarding careers in various healthcare settings.
  • Early Childhood Education

    :
    If shaping young minds is your calling, this is where you start.
  • Human Services

    :
    Support community well-being by learning skills that can help individuals and groups with their needs.
  • Social Science

    :
    Analyze and understand societal dynamics to prepare for a career in public policy, education, or community outreach.

By engaging with these online degree or certificate programs, you can tailor your academic pursuits to the trajectory you envision for your career.

Admissions and Financial Aid Considerations


When considering enrollment in one of the best online community colleges, understanding the admission process and financial aid options is crucial for success.

Navigating Admissions

Your journey begins with the admissions process, which typically requires a high school diploma or a GED. As an online learner, you'll complete an application form, often available on the college's website. Be prepared to submit your transcripts and possibly undergo placement testing to ensure proper course selection. Some programs may have specific admission requirements, so check the details carefully to avoid surprises.

Securing Financial Aid

Affordable education is a hallmark of community colleges, with many offering low tuition rates. However, you still need to consider the cost of college. Explore financial aid options, including federal financial aid, which comprises grants, loans, and work-study programs. Begin by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility. You may also qualify for scholarships, which, unlike student loans, do not need to be repaid. Scholarships can be based on merit, need, or a combination of factors.

Check out our Financial Aid Guide

Frequently Asked Questions


Here you'll find answers to common questions about online community college programs in the USA, including their recognition for excellence, availability of free courses, accreditation, specific criteria for California's programs, and the acceptance of these credentials by employers.

Which online community college programs in the USA are recognized for excellence?

Several online community college programs have garnered recognition for their quality and comprehensive offerings. Forbes Advisor lists institutions like Albany Technical College and Pima Community College among the best for 2024. Our rankings highlight the top 25 best online programs in the U.S.

Are there any reputable free online community college programs available?

While most community college courses require tuition, there are occasional opportunities for free programs through scholarships, grants, or specific community initiatives. However, free online community college programs as a standard offering are not commonly available.

What are the top accredited online community colleges?

Accreditation is a key component in ensuring the quality of an online community college. Top accredited institutions include many different community colleges, which many utilize Canvas to access asynchronous classes, ensuring that students receive education adhering to high standards.

How do online community college credentials compare in terms of employer acceptance?

Online community college credentials are increasingly accepted by employers, particularly when the institution is accredited and reputable. Earning potential for graduates from community college programs can vary by field, with the average salary being approximately $46,000 a year.

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