According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state of Maryland has a 3.6% unemployment rate (as of October 2019), which is on par with the national unemployment rate. Top occupational areas in the state, according to the number of employed individuals, include office and administrative support, sales, food preparation, education and library services, healthcare/technical services, business, financial services, and transportation.
Maryland residents tend to pay more for housing and transportation than the national average, which contributes to the state's relatively high cost of living. Fortunately, earning a certification or degree from a local community college often provides increased job opportunities and income to help offset these higher costs.
Best Community Colleges in Maryland
|1||Carroll Community College||Westminster, MD|
|2||Frederick Community College||Frederick, MD|
|3||Harford Community College||Bel Air, MD|
|4||Hagerstown Community College||Hagerstown, MD|
|5||Montgomery College||Rockville, MD|
|6||Garrett College||McHenry, MD|
|7||College of Southern Maryland||La Plata, MD|
|8||Chesapeake College||Wye Mills, MD|
|9||Anne Arundel Community College||Arnold, MD|
|10||Baltimore City Community College||Baltimore, MD|
Four-year universities are the standard option for students pursuing a higher education, but prospective students should not discount the value of community college. Community colleges generally offer lower tuition costs, smaller student-to-faculty ratios, and a diverse academic catalog. Community colleges provide vocational and career training, continuing education services, and transferable associate degrees that cover the general education requirements of a bachelor's and help students save thousands of dollars on tuition.
The benefits of attending a community college are clear, but choosing which school you want to attend can feel overwhelming. School selection requires careful consideration of many factors, including location, cost, and available degree programs. Community college students may also be concerned about flexible learning options, like evening or online classes, as well as how the culture and feel of a two-year school compares to the traditional university experience.
Our ranked list describes the 15 best community colleges in Maryland and provides ample information about each school. Read on to learn more about what the top two-year schools in Maryland have to offer in terms of academics, affordability, accessibility, and student support and involvement.
Ranking the Best Community Colleges in Maryland
Carroll Community College
|Westminster, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Carroll Community College is a two-year commuter school located in Westminster. The college enriches and strengthens the local community by offering associate degrees, career education, entrepreneur support, and corporate training. Approximately 11,000 students enroll each year. Involvement opportunities include athletics; concerts; and student organizations like Latinx Club, Cru Club, and Dungeons and Dragons Club.
The five most popular majors at Carroll Community College include arts and sciences, general studies, business administration, nursing, and teacher education. By working with an advisor, students can customize their arts and science degree to meet their academic goals while preparing to transfer to a four-year university. More than 100 courses can be taken in an online or hybrid format.
Prospective credit-seeking students can fill out a free online application. Applicants need to complete placement testing or satisfy college-level course eligibility through other accepted means, such as qualifying ACT/SAT scores or a minimum GPA.
Frederick Community College
|Frederick, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
Frederick Community College serves approximately 15,000 students each year, more than 90% of whom are local residents of Frederick County. To better meet the needs of students, FCC offers a variety of flexible learning options, including traditional day classes, as well as evening, weekend, online, and hybrid courses.
FCC offers more than 85 degree and certificate options. Popular academic areas include general studies, healthcare, business administration, STEM, and cybersecurity. Qualifying students can participate in a credit for prior learning program, earning up to 15 credits toward their degree. Students can engage in a variety of on- and off-campus activities, such as clubs and organizations, community service, events, and field trips.
FCC welcomes all prospective students who hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. Applicants must fill out an online application, take placement tests, and participate in a student orientation.
Harford Community College
|Bel Air, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Situated on 350 acres in Bel Air, Harford Community College boasts an annual enrollment of nearly 10,000 credit-seeking students, with 11,000 additional students enrolled in noncredit, continuing education courses. This two-year commuter school provides students with engagement opportunities in the form of athletics, clubs and organizations, and local and national volunteerism.
HCC's affordable academic offerings include more than 80 associate degrees and certificate programs in six departments. Represented disciplines include humanities, social science, business, health professions, and STEM. Students interested in teacher education can pursue a career-ready associate of applied science or a transfer-ready associate of arts in teaching. HCC also offers a variety of online and hybrid courses each semester.
Prospective students can apply online or by submitting a paper-based application. Specific procedures and required documentation vary according to a student's status and residence. The nursing program requires separate admission.
Hagerstown Community College
|Hagerstown, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 37%||
Founded in 1946, Hagerstown Community College is the oldest community college in Maryland. Its 319-acre campus houses an outdoor amphitheater, community recreation center, and Maryland's largest and most comprehensive technology-based business incubator. More than 6,000 credit-seeking and 9,000 noncredit-seeking students attend HCC annually.
HCC currently offers over 100 programs for university transfer and career preparation, including substance abuse counseling, biotechnology, visual arts, dental hygiene, and truck driver training. Hundreds of courses are offered in online and hybrid formats, and more are added each semester. Outside of class, students can participate in intercollegiate athletics and a variety of student groups, including the student government, Robinwood Players theater club, and anime club.
Prospective learners must submit an application and official transcripts. Unless they obtain an exemption based on their GPA, ACT/SAT scores, or prior college experience, incoming students must complete a free placement test.
|Rockville, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Montgomery College is one of the most expansive community colleges in Maryland, encompassing three major campuses that serve thousands of students each year. The suburban Rockville campus is the largest, while the Takoma Park/Silver Spring location houses the school of art and design and MC's health sciences program. The Germantown campus features the Pinkney Innovation Complex for Science and Technology, including the Holy Cross Germantown Hospital.
MC's associate programs require students to complete 60-70 credits. Certificate requirements vary, with a minimum of 12 credits. Students can select their preferred academic pathway from 126 programs, including astronomy, broadcast media production, construction management, and world languages. MC offers four fully online degrees in business, computer science and technologies, criminal justice, and general studies. The school's student community boasts more than 130 clubs, cultural groups, and athletics and arts offerings.
MC has an open-door admission policy. Prospective students must complete an application, submit official transcripts, and determine placement through testing.
|McHenry, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
Garrett College is a two-year institution located in McHenry. Its 62-acre main campus overlooks Deep Creek Lake -- a scenic resort destination. Garrett College offers on-campus housing, intercollegiate athletics, study abroad opportunities, and a variety of clubs and organizations. Three outreach centers extend education services to surrounding communities in Accident, Grantsville, and Oakland.
Garrett College's unique location allows for two academic offerings not seen at other community colleges in Maryland: associate of applied science programs in adventure sports management and natural resources/wildlife technology. More than 30 other academic offerings are available in business and information technology, arts and sciences, health professions, and teacher education. Garrett College offers a variety of online and hybrid courses each semester.
The school uses an open-door admission policy and accepts all prospective degree-seekers with a high school diploma or GED certificate. Admission requirements vary according to a student's status, but applicants should be prepared to provide official transcripts and test scores.
College of Southern Maryland
|La Plata, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
The College of Southern Maryland serves more than 20,000 students from Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's counties. The school's main campus in La Plata is assisted by three other full-service campus locations throughout the tri-county area. The centrally located Hughesville campus is the future site of CSM's nursing, allied health, and trades programs.
CSM students can select from more than 100 transfer and career-readiness programs. All major academic disciplines are represented in CSM's catalog, including science and engineering, business and technology, arts and humanities, education, health sciences, English and communication, and mathematics. Students can enhance their experience through online learning, service learning, and travel study.
Like other community colleges in Maryland, CSM uses an open-door admission policy. Prospective students with a high school diploma or GED certificate are guaranteed acceptance. All incoming students must complete a new student orientation -- either online or in person.
|Wye Mills, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
Established in 1965, Chesapeake College was the first regional community college in Maryland. Today, it primarily serves five counties on the Eastern Shore: Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's, and Talbot. Cheseapeake boasts a 170-acre rural main campus in Wye Mills and a satellite campus in Cambridge. More than 7,000 students enroll in for-credit and noncredit courses each year.
Chesapeake's comprehensive academic offerings include 20 non-degree programs, 24 certificates, 22 career-focused associate degrees, and 18 transfer-ready associate degrees. Associate degree students have more than 70 majors to choose from, including accounting, early childhood education, and engineering technology. Hybrid, online, and accelerated course options are available. Chesapeake offers six intercollegiate sports programs; a variety of clubs and organizations; and on-site childcare for students, staff, and faculty with children between the ages of three and 10.
Prospective students can apply online or fill out a paper application. Placement testing is required for all applicants who do not meet exemption criteria.
Anne Arundel Community College
|Arnold, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Located on 230 acres in Arnold, Anne Arundel Community College is the largest single-campus community college in Maryland. AACC makes learning more accessible by offering flexible online course options, free evening childcare, and support programs for specific student populations. AACC is a three-time recipient of the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.
Approximately 40,000 students enroll each year in AACC's 3,500+ courses. Its main academic catalog offers 46 associate degrees and 62 certificates in 11 broad disciplines, including architecture and interior design, law and criminal justice, teacher education, and visual arts. Custom transfer degrees can be designed for students who plan to transfer to a four-year program.
AACC practices an open-door admission policy. Credit-seeking students must provide official high school transcripts or proof of GED completion. They must also take a placement test unless they are granted an exemption based on their GPA, ACT/SAT scores, or prior college experience.
Baltimore City Community College
|Baltimore, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 13%||
Baltimore City Community College is headquartered in the state's most populous city and provides comprehensive education opportunities to nearly 14,000 students each year. BCCC operates five major locations: the main Liberty Heights campus, a Downtown Harbor campus, a Reisterstown Plaza campus, the Life Sciences Institute, and the National Weatherization Training Center.
A majority of BCCC's students enroll in the school's workforce development and continuing education division; however, the school also offers 37 associate degrees and 17 certificates. Major academic disciplines represented at BCCC include technology, business, healthcare, and teacher education. Many courses are offered both on campus and online. Students can get involved in more than a dozen clubs and organizations.
BCCC welcomes all students with a high school diploma or GED certificate. Individuals interested in nursing or allied health programs must complete an additional admissions process.
Howard Community College
|Columbia, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Howard Community College serves approximately 14,000 credit-seeking students and 15,000 noncredit-seeking students each year. Its main campus and business training center are located in Columbia. In nearby Laurel, HCC is one of five area institutions working in partnership at the Laurel College Center -- a collaborative higher education community that provides diverse opportunities to the region.
HCC offers workforce development programs, noncredit courses, and more than 100 associate degrees and certificate programs. Transfer-ready associate degrees are available in all eight academic disciplines: business, mathematics, arts and humanities, science and technology, social sciences, teacher education, health sciences, and English and world languages. Students who need additional flexibility can take online, hybrid, or 4-7-week FastTrack courses.
An open-door admission policy guarantees acceptance to all high school graduates. Students interested in joining one of HCC's honors programs must complete a separate application.
|North East, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 21%||
Located in North East, Cecil College serves more than 3,000 credit-seeking students and 4,000 noncredit-seeking students each year. The main campus houses the Milburn Stone Theatre, a library, a physical education complex, and several academic buildings. Classes are also held at a variety of community locations in the surrounding area.
Cecil College offers 47 associate degrees and 30 certificate programs. The school maintains articulation agreements with public and private universities throughout the state and country. Many of its programs also prepare graduates for immediate entry-level work in dozens of fields, including addiction studies, marketing, and cybersecurity. Students can also participate in clubs, organizations, and athletics.
Cecil College uses an open-access admission policy. New students can apply online or with a paper-based application. Transcripts, test scores, and a skills assessment test are required.
Allegany College of Maryland
|Cumberland, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Allegany College of Maryland boasts six locations in Maryland and nearby Pennsylvania, including two major campuses, a downtown learning center housing the School of Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts, and three extension sites. ACM is one of the few community colleges in Maryland to offer on-site student housing, providing partially furnished apartments on its main campus in Cumberland.
Annual enrollment numbers at ACM typically exceed 2,500 credit-seeking students and 19,000 noncredit-seeking students. ACM's academic offerings include 27 certificates, 46 associate degrees, four noncredit career development programs, and 15 programs leading to letters of recognition. Students can select their preferred focus from more than a dozen areas of interest, including arts and humanities, education, health and medical, forestry, and criminal studies.
ACM has an open-door admission policy. All prospective students with a high school diploma or GED certificate are guaranteed acceptance into the college, although some programs have additional admission requirements.
Prince George's Community College
|Largo, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 9%||
Prince George's Community College is a two-year community college located in Largo, within the Washington, D.C. metro area. Several extension centers -- located in Hyattsville, Andrews Air Force Base, Camp Springs, and Laurel -- provide education options to the surrounding community. PGCC serves approximately 40,000 students each year.
Students can choose from more than 100 programs leading to associate degrees, certificates, and workforce development opportunities. Four major academic disciplines offer study in dozens of fields, including culinary arts, education, health, humanities, sciences, and technology. PGCC has received recognition from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency for academic excellence in two-year information assurance education. Numerous online learning options are also available.
Prospective students can apply online or in person. Individuals should submit transcripts, complete a new student orientation, and sit for placement tests.
The Community College of Baltimore County
|Baltimore, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 12%||
The Community College of Baltimore County is comprised of three full-service campuses across the Baltimore metro area. The Catonsville, Dundalk, and Essex campuses each have their own unique history, mascot, and academic offerings. Extension centers provide additional resources to the surrounding communities. Together, CCBC facilities serve a combined student population of more than 70,000 learners.
CCBC students can choose from more than 280 credit and noncredit programs in many popular disciplines, including healthcare, business, social sciences, creative arts, public safety, and general studies. CCBC is committed to supporting students who require scheduling flexibility. Hundreds of classes and dozens of degrees are available fully online or through blended learning. Every CCBC campus offers a variety of ways to get involved, including athletics, student clubs, and study abroad opportunities.
New students need to provide proof of high school graduation and submit either qualifying test scores or complete a placement test.