Whether you're just beginning your studies or returning to school after an extended absence, community college offers an affordable, accessible pathway to higher education. While community colleges and four-year universities both offer academic degrees, the institutions differ in a couple of significant ways. First, most community colleges enable you to complete only a certificate or two-year degree. Second, tuition at a community college is almost always substantially less expensive than a four-year university.
Enrolling in community college typically enables you to complete either an associate degree or a professional certificate. An associate degree often offers a more academic focus, and many programs prepare you to transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor's degree after completing your lower-division credits. A certificate usually focuses on more specialized career or technical training, enabling you to enter a professional field after completing your studies.
Once you're ready to narrow your college search, you have several factors to consider. Different schools offer different academic emphases, enrollment opportunities, distance education options, and transfer pathways. This list of the top community colleges in Alabama serves as a guide when beginning your research. Below, you'll find information on the academic offerings of various schools, along with distinguishing characteristics and other useful information.
Alabama offers strong potential for job-seekers, particularly those with a college education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state boasts an unemployment rate of 3.3% as of July 2019, below the national average. Some of Alabama's most popular fields of employment include office and administrative support, production, transportation and materials moving, sales, and healthcare. Alabama also features a lower cost of living compared to the national average, allowing your salary to go even further.
Best Community Colleges in Alabama
- Northeast Alabama Community College - Rainsville, AL
- Lurleen B Wallace Community College - Andalusia, AL
- Coastal Alabama Community College - Monroeville, AL
- Wallace Community College - Dothan, AL
- H Councill Trenholm State Community College - Montgomery, AL
- George C Wallace State Community College-Hanceville - Hanceville, AL
- Snead State Community College - Boaz, AL
- Central Alabama Community College - Alexander City, AL
- John C Calhoun State Community College - Tanner, AL
- Gadsden State Community College - Gadsden, AL
- Shelton State Community College - Tuscaloosa, AL
- Chattahoochee Valley Community College - Phenix City, AL
- George C Wallace State Community College - Selma, AL
- Southern Union State Community College - Wadley, AL
- Enterprise State Community College - Enterprise, AL
- Bishop State Community College - Mobile, AL
- Bevill State Community College - Jasper, AL
- Northwest-Shoals Community College - Muscle Shoals, AL
- Lawson State Community College - Birmingham, AL
Ranking the Best Community Colleges in Alabama
Northeast Alabama Community College
|Rainsville, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
Located in Rainsville, NACC boasts national recognition, winning praise from the nonprofit Aspen Institute as one of the country's 150 best community colleges from 2012 to 2014. NACC serves around 3,000 students, offering associate degrees, technical programs, and professional certificates. The school hosts a wide assortment of both professional and academic degree programs in areas including the arts, business, engineering, education, and health sciences.
NACC offers both career programs, for learners looking to enter the workforce quickly, and transfer programs for students looking to complete the first half of a four-year bachelor's degree. Candidates interested in career and technical education can pursue a variety of specialized degrees in fields such as air conditioning and refrigeration, medical assisting technology, child development, computer information systems, and salon and spa management. For distance learners, NACC offers both fully online and hybrid courses in many subjects.
Lurleen B Wallace Community College
|Andalusia, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
Operating campuses in Andalusia, Greenville, and Opp, LBWCC serves nearly 1,800 students through campus and online programs. Named after the former governor of Alabama, the school offers a variety of degrees in the humanities, math and science, business, technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing.
Along with transfer programs for students looking to earn their bachelor's, LBWCC emphasizes professional and technical education, with a unique cooperative learning program that enables learners to earn credit for working full or part time. Business co-op courses enable students to replace lab or shop courses with on-the-job experience, earning academic credit while maintaining their current job.
LBWCC also offers distance education courses using the Canvas online learning platform. Students can pursue either an associate of arts or science through online courses, though some degrees may include on-campus courses. Most online courses use an asynchronous format that enables distance learners to complete coursework without requiring them to log in at particular times.
Coastal Alabama Community College
|Monroeville, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 37%||
Based around Alabama's Gulf Coast, CACC operates campuses in nine cities, including Bay Minette, Jacksonville, Gulf Shores, and Monroeville. The school offers a wide assortment of associate degrees, certificates, and other technical programs in areas including allied health, aviation, hospitality management, technology, and engineering. CACC hosts many courses via distance education, and the college also offers online courses to residents of most U.S. states (excluding California, Florida, and Massachusetts).
CACC maintains articulation agreements with all public colleges and many private colleges in Alabama, enabling students to complete their lower-division credits at CACC before transferring to a four-year institution to complete their studies. Most of the school's associate of arts and associate of science degrees fall under the articulation agreement, enabling candidates to pursue programs such as English, computer science, business administration, elementary education, and environmental science.
Wallace Community College
|Dothan, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 24%||
Serving around 4,000 students from its main campus in Dothan, WCC also maintains an auxiliary campus in Eufaula along with a major online program. The school ranks as one of the top community colleges in Alabama, and the American Association of Community Colleges has also honored the school for its faculty innovation. Learners at WCC select from a variety of associate degrees and professional certificates within three categories: general academics, health sciences, and career/technical programs.
Programs available through the academic division include degrees in English, humanities, natural sciences, and fine arts. Health sciences students choose from programs such as medical assisting, surgical technology, nursing, and respiratory therapy. Career and technical programs include air conditioning and refrigeration, automotive technology, small engine repair, and welding technology. Along with campus courses, WCC offers an assortment of distance learning options, including online courses and over 300 fully online certificate programs.
H Councill Trenholm State Community College
|Montgomery, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Another of the top community colleges in Alabama, Trenholm serves around 1,700 students annually and offers education through three major divisions: academic, allied health, and career/technical. The academic division offers an assortment of associate degrees in the arts, sciences, and business. The allied health division provides professional training for the healthcare sector, in areas such as dental assisting, emergency medical services, and radiology. The career/technical division includes programs such as culinary arts and cosmetology.
Trenholm also offers a significant number of courses online through its distance learning program. Using a fully asynchronous format, these courses enable students to log in at any time and complete assignments on their own schedule. Trenholm also features many courses with a hybrid format that combines campus sessions with online learning. The school does not offer any degrees entirely online, so students must complete some on-campus courses regardless of their major.
George C Wallace State Community College-Hanceville
|Hanceville, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
Not to be confused with Wallace Community College, Wallace State educates more than 6,000 students annually. As one of the most comprehensive community colleges in Alabama, the school offers a sizeable assortment of degrees and certificates grouped into four major categories: liberal arts/general studies, applied technology, health sciences, and STEM. Learners choose from a wide variety of programs, with options including agriculture production/horticulture, aviation/flight technology, collision repair, and diagnostic medical sonography.
Wallace State offers several programs entirely online, enabling students to earn a degree without visiting campus. Candidates planning to transfer to a four-year institution can pursue a general associate of arts or science with concentration options including business administration, criminal justice, pre-engineering, music education, and religious studies. The school also offers additional online programs in health information technology and medical coding, computer science, business management, and child development.
Snead State Community College
|Boaz, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Originally established as a seminary in 1898, SSCC joined the Alabama Community College System in 1967. Today, SSCC ranks among the top community colleges in Alabama, serving more than 2,400 students each year from its campus in Boaz. The school offers academic programs through several departments, including business, English and languages, health sciences, social sciences and human services, and technology and computer science. SSCC also hosts career/technical programs including aviation and office administration.
SSCC offers a wide selection of distance education courses, with more than half of its credits currently awarded through online and hybrid learning. In addition to several certificates, the school features four associate degrees in a fully online format: applied business, child development, nursing, and office administration. While courses are online, both the child development and nursing programs require candidates to participate in face-to-face practicum activities that take place in a professional environment.
Those who attend classes at SSCC in person, however, have the rare opportunity to study on a campus classified as a national historic landmark.
Central Alabama Community College
|Alexander City, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Operating campuses in Alexander City, Childersburg, and Talladega, CACC enrolls more than 2,000 students annually. The school offers several degrees, including an associate of science, associate of applied science, and associate of occupational technology. Students choose from professional programs including computer information science, cosmetology, drafting and design, general business, and machinery. Transfer degree options include political science, philosophy, and history.
Both on-campus and online students benefit from a wide selection of college resources, including library services, tutoring, the campus bookstore, and the testing center. CACC's Student Support Services (SSS) program offers tutoring, advising, financial literacy assistance, and career training for all students. The SSS program also focuses on transfer support, encouraging learners to continue their education at a four-year education. CACC's testing center offers a variety of standardized and specialized exams, including the ACT.
John C Calhoun State Community College
|Tanner, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 25%||
Educating more than 10,000 students, Calhoun Community College ranks as one of the largest community colleges in Alabama. Thanks in part to its size, the school offers a wide selection of degrees and certificates in six major divisions: business and computer information science, health sciences, humanities and social sciences, general studies, mathematics and natural sciences, and technologies. For students unsure of their academic goals, the school's career services and academic advising departments can help with degree planning and course selections.
CCC offers professional certificates, associate of science degrees, and associate of applied science degrees. Associate of science programs prepare students to transfer into a bachelor's program at a four-year institution, with Alabama's Statewide Transfer & Articulation Reporting System (STARS) program offering seamless transfer to many public colleges in the state. Associate of applied science programs prepare learners to enter the workforce directly upon graduation, though some credits may transfer to four-year colleges.
Gadsden State Community College
|Gadsden, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Operating campuses in Gadsden, Anniston, and Centre, GSCC serves around 5,000 students across five Alabama counties. The college offers more than 70 degrees and certificates, divided into three main areas: academic programs, technical programs, and health sciences. Academic programs include business, fine arts, humanities, and sciences, while technical programs explore professional fields such as automotive manufacturing, mechanical design, and welding. Health science programs include nursing, radiology, and massage therapy.
GSCC offers an array of support services and resources for learners, including library services, enrollment counseling, academic advising, career services, and tutoring. The Cardinal Tutoring Center offers peer tutoring free of charge to all enrolled students, with drop-in appointments available during regular campus hours. Academic advisors assist with course selection and transfers to four-year institutions, while career counselors can help students plan both their education and future careers.
Shelton State Community College
|Tuscaloosa, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
Based in Tuscaloosa, SSCC enrolls over 7,000 students each year, making it one of the largest community colleges in Alabama. Well-known for its fine arts programs, the school also hosts the Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame (Jim Nabors and Truman Capote are among its honorees) and the renowned Tuscaloosa Theater. SSCC offers a wide selection of academic, technical, and health services programs, with both campus and distance education delivery options available. Online courses use a fully asynchronous format that enables distance learners to complete coursework at any time of day.
SSCC offers a wide assortment of academic programs in fields including behavioral sciences, humanities and communication arts, languages, natural sciences, and mathematics. Following a designated study plan, candidates can easily transfer to a four-year college in Alabama after completing their associate degree at SSCC. Students can also pursue a variety of technical and professional programs, including automotive services technology, computerized numerical control, culinary arts, and diesel mechanics.
Chattahoochee Valley Community College
|Phenix City, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Located near the Georgia border in Phenix City, CVCC is one of the only community colleges in Alabama that serves Georgia residents, enrolling students from the Columbus metropolitan area along with residents of Russell County in Alabama. CVCC serves about 1,500 students annually through both on-campus and online courses, offering both associate degrees and certificate programs. Students select from several areas of study, including academic/transfer, applied technology, business, computer information technology, and visual communications.
While CVCC does not offer any fully online programs, students can complete many courses entirely online. All distance courses require proctored exams, which learners can complete either on the CVCC campus, at testing locations in their community, or through the ProctorU remote service. Online courses feature an asynchronous format, with no scheduled attendance or class meetings, though students must still complete assignments accordingly to weekly deadlines.
George C Wallace State Community College-Selma
|Selma, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Another of the top community colleges in Alabama, WCCS serves around 2,000 students from its campus in Selma. Offering both classroom and online degrees, the college features programs in arts, sciences, business, criminal justice, computer science, and allied health. Students can pursue transfer degrees that prepare them to enter one of Alabama's four-year colleges or associate of applied science programs and certificates that prepare them to enter the workforce.
WCCS supports learners through a variety of campus and online resources. The school's Student Success Coaching Program pairs students with professional advisors who assist with personal, social, academic, and career counseling. For low-income or first-generation college students, WCCS also offers the Student Support Services program, which includes career counseling, professional and peer tutoring, academic advising, and transfer assistance. Learners must apply online to receive assistance through the Student Support Services program.
Southern Union State Community College
|Wadley, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 21%||
Serving both Alabama and parts of Georgia, SUSCC operates campuses in Wadley, Opelika, and Valley, with a wide variety of degree options available to students. The school's academic offerings include programs in business, computer science, child development, language arts, and social sciences. For learners seeking immediate employment, SUSCC also offers several technical education programs, including air conditioning and refrigeration, cosmetology, engineering and design, and machine shop technology.
As a smaller school, SUSCC offers a more cozy, personal learning environment, but it also hosts more than 60 distance education courses, including both fully online and hybrid options. Distance learners can also pursue a fully online associate of science degree or a general education short certificate. Articulation agreements with most four-year colleges in Alabama enable SUSCC students to earn their lower-division credits before seamlessly transferring to a public college to earn a bachelor's degree -- often entirely online. The school also offers free online tutoring through PrepStep, a virtual tutoring service.
Enterprise State Community College
|Enterprise, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Located in the southeastern city of Enterprise, ESCC hosts a wide selection of career and technical programs along with a fine arts division that includes degrees in art, theater, and music. Students can also pursue a general studies degree that prepares them to transfer to a four-year institution and saves on the overall cost of a bachelor's degree. ESCC hosts more than a dozen technical programs, including computer technology, emergency medical services, digital modeling and simulation, child development, and legal assistant/paralegal.
ESCC also maintains a unique reputation as one of the top community colleges in Alabama for aviation studies. The school hosts the Alabama Aviation College, which offers programs in airframe and power plant mechanics, avionics, mechatronics, and commercial trucking. The Aviation College offers courses at satellite campuses in Ozark and Andalusia, preparing students to enter Alabama's burgeoning aviation industry immediately upon graduation.
Bishop State Community College
|Mobile, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 15%||
One of the only historically black community colleges in Alabama, BSCC serves around 2,800 students from its campus in Mobile. The school offers both academic and technical degrees, equipping learners to either transfer to a four-year college or enter a professional field upon graduation. Some of the school's academic areas of study include early childhood education, natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences, while professional areas of study include computer information systems, welding technology, engineering, and construction.
Both on-campus and online students benefit from a generous selection of academic resources and support services. The school's Learning Assistance Center helps students improve academic performance, offering help with study techniques, testing skills, time management, reading proficiency, and even job interview skills. BSCC's Academic Advising Center helps learners map out both their education and their professional future, assisting with course selection, scholarship opportunities, and career planning.
Bevill State Community College
|Jasper, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Based in Sumiton, BSCC also maintains campuses in Fayette, Hamilton, and Jasper, serving a seven-county area. The school offers a wide assortment of academic, career/technical, and health sciences programs, with two-year degrees and professional certificates available in many fields. Students have several options for course formats, including on campus, online, hybrid, and interactive inter-campus television, which enables learners to interact with instructors remotely through a closed-circuit television system.
For students interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree, BSCC offers articulation partnerships with both the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Mississippi – Tupelo. These agreements enable learners to complete all required lower-division courses at BSCC before transferring to either of these four-year institutions. Transfer candidates can go on to earn bachelor's degrees in areas such as accountancy, business administration, criminal justice, elementary education, and social work.
Northwest-Shoals Community College
|Muscle Shoals, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
Operating two campuses in Phil Campbell and Muscle Shoals, NW-SCC serves around 3,500 students through both on-campus and online courses. The school offers associate in arts, science, applied science, and occupational technology degrees, along with short- and long-term career certificates. Learners choose from a variety of professional and academic programs, with options including business office management, child development, computer information systems, design engineering technology, and cosmetology. Their registered nursing program is held in particularly high esteem.
For students looking to earn their degree quickly, the NW-SCC offers the accelerated 5:2 Finish program, which enables participants to earn their associate degree in five semesters by attending just two weekly class sessions. Students who maintain a 3.5 GPA during the first year of the program receive a scholarship during their second year that covers half of all tuition expenses. All 5:2 Finish participants receive personalized support services, including academic advising, career coaching, financial literacy training, and success coaching.
Lawson State Community College-Birmingham Campus
|Birmingham, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 14%||
Designated as a historically black community college, LSCC serves more than 5,400 students from its main campus in Birmingham. The school offers degrees and certificates in several academic and professional fields, including business technologies, technical education, health professions, and transfer programs. LSCC also offers two fully online degrees in business and business education. These programs use a flexible asynchronous format that requires no set times for students to log in and no campus visits.
LSCC learners can take advantage of generous campus support services, including academic advising and career counseling. Academic advisors assist with enrollment, course selection, degree mapping, and transitioning to college study. The LSCC Career and College Transfer Services Office provides job listings, career coaching, and connections to alumni resources, along with support for students who plan to transfer to a four-year college after earning their associate degree at LSCC.
Jefferson State Community College
|Birmingham, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 90%||
One of the largest community colleges in Alabama, Jefferson State educates more than 10,000 students across several campuses, including locations in Jefferson, Chilton-Clanton, Shelby-Hoover, and St. Clair-Pell City. The school also offers a variety of distance and hybrid education options, with both synchronous and asynchronous courses available. Learners can participate in interactive video conference courses that mimic campus learning, but the college also hosts fully online, asynchronous courses that allow students to complete coursework when it's convenient for them.
Jefferson State offers both career/technical education and transfer/general studies programs, most of which require two years to complete. The school's technical options include banking and finance, building science technology, funeral service education, physical therapy assistant, and veterinary technology. Transfer/general studies program options include biology, business, and liberal arts. Students can also complete select bachelor's programs at Jefferson State through partnerships with Huntingdon College and Samford University.