Finding the Best Online Community Colleges 2021

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Pursuing a degree from an affordable online college benefits cost-conscious students in many ways. For example, online learners do not incur commuting and living expenses like their on-campus counterparts. Online enrollees often save a substantial amount of money, even if on-campus and online tuition costs the same. Most online programs offer multiple start dates and rolling admissions, which means students can enroll almost as soon as they are accepted.

Prospective learners should look for the same indicators of quality in an online program or college as an on-campus one. Factors such as accreditation, faculty credentials, available specialization courses, and scholarship opportunities matter just as much for online schools as they do for brick-and-mortar institutions.

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Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility,
and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Community college benefits students uninterested in a four-year university as well. When applying for jobs that do not require a college diploma, associate degree-holders may experience a competitive edge. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of attending community college and helpful resources. Discover the best online community college for you by checking out the rankings below:

Read Our Rankings Methodology

Top 10 Best Online Community Colleges

FAQ


  • Is online college more affordable?

    Online colleges can yield substantial savings since students do not incur additional transportation and living expenses. Additionally, some colleges charge online enrollees the same tuition as in-state students regardless of residency.


  • Are online colleges accredited?

    The Distance Education Accrediting Commission accredits schools offering at least 51% of their academic programs online.


  • Does the physical location of an online community college matter?

    Online students enrolled in a nearby community college can engage in face-to-face interactions with their teachers and peers, which can foster greater collaboration.


  • How long does it take to earn an online degree?

    Several factors influence the length of time it takes to complete an online program, including enrollment status, number of starting dates each year, and specific program requirements.


 
 

Finding the Best Online Community Colleges 2021



  1. East Mississippi Community College
    Location

    Scooba, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    In addition to serving a number of counties in the east central part of the state, East Mississippi Community College provides more than 450 distance learning classes during the fall, spring and summer semesters. As one of the 15 community colleges in the state that make up the Mississippi Virtual Community College, students at EMCC are able to take classes at all participating institutions while being enrolled at just one school.

    Online students living in one of the six counties served by the school can take advantage of a tuition guarantee program, which makes attending the school completely free for four consecutive semesters. Degree seekers completing distance education courses outside that area can apply for a range of institutional scholarships based on merit, need and specific degree topics. Students can rest assured knowing the school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. Western Texas College
    Location

    Snyder, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    As the name suggests, Western Texas College serves approximately 2,300 students living in the western part of the state. In addition to a variety of campus-based classes, the school also has a flourishing distance learning department that caters to students both locally and out of state. Degree seekers can visit MyWTC, the college’s online learning platform, to see which distance classes are offered each semester. Those learners who need a class that isn’t offered at the college can take advantage of coursework on Virtual College of Texas. This consortium of other Texas community colleges makes it possible for students from any of the member schools to take online classes.

    Students who need financial aid can apply to the school for a number of institutional and programmatic scholarships offered to local and online students alike. Education attained from WTC is well respected - the school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and has also been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

  3. Western Wyoming Community College
    Location

    Rock Springs, W

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Arizona Western College has been providing certificates and associate degrees for more than 60 years. Most recently, the school began providing distance learning options for students who needed more flexibility or were living too far away to attend the brick-and-mortar campus. As of 2018, AWC offers more than 250 online courses each semester. Students interested in learning via the latest digital education technologies will be impressed by AWC’s department of distance education - curriculum incorporates video on demand, podcasts, interactive TV networks, live streamed videos, web conferencing and cloud services.

    Funding is available to students on the basis of merit and need, with aid coming from both the AWC Foundation and the institution itself. The school also provides a list of potential external funding sources. Aside from supporting learners looking to offset costs, AWC also works to provide other types of online student assistance, such as tutoring, tech support and career services.

  4. Arizona Western College
    Location

    Yuma, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Arizona Western College has been providing certificates and associate degrees for more than 60 years. Most recently, the school began providing distance learning options for students who needed more flexibility or were living too far away to attend the brick-and-mortar campus. As of 2018, AWC offers more than 250 online courses each semester. Students interested in learning via the latest digital education technologies will be impressed by AWC’s department of distance education - curriculum incorporates video on demand, podcasts, interactive TV networks, live streamed videos, web conferencing and cloud services.

    Funding is available to students on the basis of merit and need, with aid coming from both the AWC Foundation and the institution itself. The school also provides a list of potential external funding sources. Aside from supporting learners looking to offset costs, AWC also works to provide other types of online student assistance, such as tutoring, tech support and career services.

  5. Allen County Community College
    Location

    Iola, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    As one of the oldest two-year colleges in Kansas, Allen Community College maintains campuses in Iola, Burlingame and online. In addition to providing general education courses in areas ranging from accounting and physical sciences to art and theatre, the school also provides studies in allied health, addictions counseling, business, criminal justice and early childhood education. Students looking to take advantage of distance learning can feel confident in their decision, with 90 percent of ACC’s current students stating they found online coursework rigorous and would recommend the school to friends and colleagues.

    ACC also places great emphasis on ensuring students have access to the resources needed to succeed. Online students can take advantage of the same resources as traditional students - library support, a writing center, career advising and tech support. Degree seekers who need help with paying for college can apply for numerous institutional scholarships and grants. The Presidential Scholarship, for example, covers all tuition, fees and book rentals for learners who have a GPA of 3.75 or higher.

  6. Hutchinson Community College
    Location

    Hutchinson, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Hutchinson Community College started with less than 200 students enrolled at the Kansas campus in 1928, but today, the school is home to nearly 14,000 learners taking courses on campus and online. Aside from a range of traditionally delivered programs, online degrees are also available in general education, accounting, business, early childhood education, administrative technology, office support, health information management and paralegal studies. Certificates are available for students looking to learn about business tech, accounting, office support, early childhood education, health coding, healthcare IT, medical transcription, pharmacy technician or paralegal studies.

    HCC makes sure online students feel just as connected as those based in Kansas by providing technical support, information about proctors, library services and an online bookstore. The school as a whole is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, but numerous degrees also hold programmatic accreditation.

  7. Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
    Location

    Cincinnati, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Cincinnati State Technical and Community College is a great fit for students seeking a two-year degree, regardless of whether they’re based in Ohio or somewhere else. Aside from the four campuses located throughout the city and surrounding areas, CSTCC offers more than 200 fully online and hybrid degree and certificate programs. Examples of the associate programs offered include accounting technology, financial services, computer programming and database management, health information management and legal administrative assistance. Certificates programs range from computer applications to homeland security.

    CSTCC prides itself on providing a full complement of services for online students, including scholarships, online orientation workshops and tech support. CSTCC also maintains state reciprocity agreements with select counties in North Kentucky and southeast Indiana, which means these residents can take advantage of in-state tuition rates. The school also has various reciprocity agreements in place to help ensure students interested in earning a four-year degree can transfer applicable credits smoothly. CSTCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  8. College of Southern Idaho
    Location

    Twin Falls, ID

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Through a partnership with a number of four-year colleges in the state, the College of Southern Idaho is able to offer a limited number of bachelor’s degrees alongside its associate degrees and certificates. Many of these options are offered as online programs for students who need flexibility or aren’t close enough to attend the Twin Falls campus. Some of the degrees available include general business, entrepreneurship, early childhood education, surgical first assisting, liberal arts, library and information science, and criminal justice. Certificates in related areas of study are also available. Classes are offered via the online course management system, Blackboard, and students are allowed to log in and listen to lectures, turn in assignments and converse with their professors and peers at times best suited to their unique schedules.

    CSI maintains an absolute devotion to academic rigor and intellectual growth and holds accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  9. Yavapai College
    Location

    Prescott, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Yavapai College has campuses in Prescott, Clarkdale, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Sedona, Arizona, for learners living throughout the state who want to complete a degree or certificate in a traditional learning environment. For degree seekers looking for a more flexible option, the college provides a number of degrees and certificates that can be earned anywhere via distance learning. Some of the associate programs include business, accounting, administration of justice, paralegal studies and the innovative video game development degree. Examples of certificates include advanced bookkeeping, law enforcement and corrections, and screenwriting.

    No matter which path an online student chooses, each can rest assured knowing qualified faculty lead the class and dedicated administrators are on hand to provide support. Some of the services available include academic advising, career services, tech support and access to library and bookstore resources. The school maintains accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  10. Barton County Community College
    Location

    Great Bend, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Rounding out the top 10 best two-year schools in America for 2018 is Barton Community College, a public institution located in Kansas. BCC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015 and recently expanded its online offerings to serve even more students outside the brick-and-mortar campus. The school currently makes available more than 50 associate degrees and certificates via BARTonline, the distance learning wing of the school. Examples of programs offered include finance, networking specialist, math education, dietary management, anthropology and cultural studies, chiropractic, hazardous materials management and wildlife science. If the program you want isn’t available, have no fear because BCC also maintains partnerships with six other Kansas-based community colleges. Some of the services offered to online degree seekers include IT support, counseling, disability support, academic advising and tutoring. Library and book services are also available.

Why Study Online?

Learners often cite affordability and flexibility as the two main reasons for choosing an online program. The flexibility of online degrees refers as much to the asynchronous delivery of courses as it does to multiple starting dates and rolling admissions. An asynchronous delivery format means learners can attend classes when it fits their schedule. Students with family, work, and personal responsibilities often benefit greatly from asynchronous online programs.

Online programs also offer flexibility, enabling working students to keep their jobs while they pursue their degree. As a result, they can continue to earn an income. Many colleges and universities permit online learners to enroll full time or part time, giving students more control over their learning experience and completion time.

Prospective students should look for schools that allow out-of-state online enrollees to pay in-state tuition. This can result in significant savings since the average difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition hovers around $9,000 a year.

Career and Salary Outlook



According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals with an advanced degree earn significantly more than workers with just a bachelor’s or an associate degree. For example, doctoral degree-holders earn a median weekly salary of $1,883, while bachelor’s degree-holders earn $1,248. Furthermore, professionals with postgraduate degrees enjoy a much lower unemployment rate than other workers.

Some high-paying professions require only an associate or the completion of a postsecondary non-degree program. For example, air traffic controllers (who must typically undergo extensive on-the-job training) need only an associate degree. According to the BLS, these professionals earn an annual median salary of $122,990. Postsecondary non-degree programs in electrical repair and fire prevention qualify graduates for positions that pay twice as much as the average median wage ($78,410 and $76,170, respectively).

Accreditation

A voluntary and exacting process, accreditation signals the quality and rigor of a school’s educational offerings. Overseen by the Department of Education (ED) and the Commission for Higher Education Accreditation, the accreditation process requires several months to complete. Depending on the accreditation type, schools must complete the process every 5-10 years.

Students who plan to seek federal financial aid must enroll in an accredited school or program because the ED channels financial assistance only through accredited institutions. Most private organizations sponsoring scholarship and grant programs also prefer to extend financial aid to students enrolled in an accredited school or program.

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