Choosing the right community college in Minnesota can be challenging, but the following ranking can make the process more manageable. Below, we outline schools and provide valuable information to help you begin your search, such as a college's location, programs and degrees, and degree requirements. Learn about the types of programs each school offers and whether they fit your schedule, educational needs, and career goals. Note that all of the schools included in this ranking hold regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Community colleges in Minnesota provide a relatively affordable way to gain job training or start your college education. These schools differ from four-year colleges and universities in that they usually award career certificates and two-year associate degrees, rather than bachelor's or graduate degrees. However, starting a college degree at a community college can save you a great deal in tuition costs and allow you to demonstrate your readiness for college-level work. Many colleges and universities also accept transfer credits from community colleges through articulation and partnership agreements.
Top 10 Best Community Colleges in Minnesota
- Riverland Community College - Austin, MN
- Mesabi Range College - Virginia, MN
- Hibbing Community College - Hibbing, MN
- Ridgewater College - Willmar, MN
- Itasca Community College - Grand Rapids, MN
- Normandale Community College - Bloomington, MN
- Rainy River Community College - International Falls, MN
- Central Lakes College - Brainerd, MN
- Saint Paul Community & Technical College - Saint Paul, MN
- North Hennepin Community College - Brooklyn Park, MN
Minnesota offers community college graduates a robust economy and plentiful job opportunities. Minnesota's top industries include education and health services; trade, transportation, and utilities; and professional and business services. The state boasts a lower than average unemployment rate (3.2% as of October 2019) and an above average mean wage of $54,200. A relatively affordable place to live, Minnesota's estimated cost of living for a single adult is around $31,000 a year.
Nursing, nursing assistants, and licensed practical nurses rank among the most in-demand jobs in Minnesota. Registered nurses -- ranked highest on this list -- earn annual median wages of almost $80,000. Associate and bachelor's degree-holders with computer skills can also look forward to ample job openings in software development, computer systems, and web development.
2020 Best Accredited Community Colleges in Minnesota
Riverland Community College
|Austin, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Riverland Community College serves students in southeast Minnesota across three campuses in Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna. Students can earn high school credits through postsecondary or concurrent enrollment, college credits, and job training certificates.
Riverland offers several associate degrees guaranteed to transfer to all seven Minnesota state universities, including accounting, chemistry, psychology, and theatre. Riverland's Business Flexspace program allows working adults to complete a degree in business administration online, one course at a time. The school also offers bachelor's degrees in elementary education and social work in cooperation with four-year colleges. Riverland's career training diplomas and technical certificates take as little as one semester to complete, and many include online course offerings.
The college sponsors more than 160 institutional scholarships. The school offers in-state tuition to international students and residents of bordering states.
Mesabi Range College
|Virginia, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Mesabi Range College serves about 1,700 students in northern Minnesota at locations in Virginia and Eveleth. MRC offers a variety of two-year degrees, including AA degrees designed for students planning to transfer to a four-year school and AAS degrees for those interested in directly entering the workforce upon graduation. Popular majors include liberal arts and practical nursing.
MRC also offers career preparation through 1-2 year diploma and certificate programs. These technical programs provide job training in areas such as carpentry, addiction studies, and human services. Some programs host online classes, including business operations and management and construction management.
The college follows an open-door admission policy. Many MRC students qualify for and receive financial aid. The school awards more than $100,000 in institutional scholarships each year, and local Native American tribes offer scholarships to students who demonstrate tribal heritage.
Hibbing Community College
|Hibbing, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Located in northern Minnesota's Iron Range, Hibbing Community College offers a variety of two-year degrees and online and on-campus technical programs. HCC graduates can enter the workforce directly or transfer their credits to pursue a four-year degree. High school students may also receive college credit through concurrent enrollment.
Career-training AAS programs at HCC include IT networking and security, law enforcement, culinary arts, and dental assistant. Students may select from a variety of transferable AA and AS degree options in the liberal arts, such as business, communication, chemistry, and psychology. Learners may also earn job training certificates and diplomas in areas such as law enforcement, culinary arts, and diesel mechanics.
HCC students have access to on-campus housing, college athletics, and a variety of campus services. Additionally, the school uses an open-enrollment policy.
|Willmar, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Located west of the Twin Cities, Ridgewater College operates campuses in Willmar and Hutchinson. Ridgewater offers more than 100 programs, including associate degrees that transfer to any public university in the state, AAS degrees for those seeking immediate employment, and technical diplomas and certificates.
AA degrees in four areas meet qualifications for transfer to a Minnesota public university: communication studies, English, liberal arts and sciences, and psychology. AS degrees provide eight transfer pathways, including agricultural science and technology and early childhood education. The school's AAS degrees require at least 20 credits of liberal arts and sciences. Ridgewater also provides a fully online option for many programs and an opportunity to study abroad in Scotland.
Qualified Ridgewater students may benefit from more than $250,000 in institutional scholarships, as well as federal and state aid and work-study jobs.
Itasca Community College
|Grand Rapids, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
Located in the northern Minnesota community of Grand Rapids, Itasca Community College serves about 1,700 students annually. ICC prepares graduates to transfer to a four-year university by offering two-year associate degrees. It also offers a variety of career and technical education programs, including AAS degrees in natural resources and industrial-technology process operations.
ICC students may select from transferable AS and AA programs, such as accounting, business, psychology, and health sciences. Each of these tracks consists of 60 credits. Learners can also pursue opportunities in engineering, natural resources, coaching, and American Indian studies.
Itasca operates an active chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and offers a spring study abroad program in Denmark. Students may access some courses online, including a fully online geographic information systems certificate track. Interested students may apply online. ICC provides nearly $400,000 in institutional financial aid annually.
Normandale Community College
|Bloomington, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
Located just outside the Twin Cities in Bloomington, Normandale Community College is one of the state's largest community colleges, serving nearly 15,000 students. Local attractions include the school's Japanese Garden and the nearby Mall of America.
Normandale offers numerous associate degrees that include the 40-credit Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, which qualifies graduates for seamless transfer to the state's public universities and many private colleges. The school offers transfer pathways through AA and AS degrees in a variety of areas, including business, liberal education, and the sciences. Students pursuing an AA degree may select an area of emphasis, such as sociology or physics. In some cases, students may take advantage of four-year partner programs, transferring to another college to finish their bachelor's degree while still taking classes at Normandale.
Normandale also offers technical certificates that require 4-30 credits. These programs provide career training for jobs such as community health worker, casino operations worker, and nursing assistant.
Rainy River Community College
|International Falls, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
Founded in 1967 to serve Minnesota's North Woods community, Rainy River Community College boasts an 80-acre campus with buildings connected by heated walkways. Located near the U.S.-Canada border in International Falls, RRCC oversees a variety of academic and technical programs.
RRCC offers AA degrees in liberal arts and sciences, communication studies, English, and history, as well as AS degrees in exercise science and health science. The curricula of these two-year pathways include the requirements needed to transfer to a four-year university. RRCC also offers technical certificates in professional truck driving, coaching, fitness, and healthcare. Through partner programs with other Minnesota colleges, RRCC offers additional academic programs, such as addiction studies, early childhood education, and practical nursing.
Students interested in financial assistance may apply online for scholarships ranging from $200-$6,000.
Central Lakes College-Brainerd
|Brainerd, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
With two locations in the Brainerd area, Central Lakes College provides liberal arts and career/technical educational pathways to students in central Minnesota. The school offers more than 70 programs, including an associate of arts honors degree and college courses for high school students.
CLC features affordable program options, including an associate of arts degree that requires no textbook purchases. The school also offers a variety of flexible online courses and career training programs. Some online classes give students the option to attend class meetings via web conferencing in real time. Available program offerings prepare students for careers in agriculture, business, education, information technology, law enforcement, manufacturing, media, transportation, and health.
CLC awards financial assistance to about 80% of its students. The school provides more than $350,000 in institutional scholarships each year.
Saint Paul Community & Technical College
|Saint Paul, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Located in Minnesota's capital city, Saint Paul College offers 54 associate degrees and 74 technical certificates and diplomas. The school also oversees a dual-enrollment program that enables high school students to finish secondary school while starting college.
Programs at Saint Paul College fall into six divisions: business, career and technical education, health science, liberal and fine arts, human services, and STEM. Liberal arts programs include AA degrees that learners can transfer to a four-year university; participants can choose from specializations in communication, criminology, public affairs, and history. STEM programs include college transfer pathways in biology and chemistry, as well as technical certificates in computer animation and web design.
All students receive free tutoring and academic resources from the school's tutoring center, as well as access to 24/7 online tutoring. Saint Paul College offers many online and hybrid courses.
North Hennepin Community College
|Brooklyn Park, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Situated in Brooklyn Park -- a northern suburb of Minneapolis -- North Hennepin Community College offers more than 60 college transfer and career training programs -- online and on campus. Through Minnesota's bachelor's degree partnership program, NHCC also provides a dozen bachelor's degrees in cooperation with four universities. Students may earn bachelor's degrees in gender studies, nursing, exercise science, and special education, for example.
At NHCC, students can complete the first two years of college by earning associate degrees in areas such as economics, business, and psychology. Alternatively, a variety of AAS degrees and technical certificates in areas such as business and computer science prepare graduates to directly enter the workforce. NHCC's program offerings also include a leadership program that gives students the chance to gain leadership skills and experience. To help students succeed, NHCC offers students access to free peer tutoring sessions and 24/7 online tutoring services.
South Central College
|North Mankato, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 25%||
Located 75 miles southwest of the Twin Cities, South Central College serves students with two campuses in North Mankato and Faribault. SCC offers more than 50 two-year associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certificates.
In addition to transferable associate degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, SCC offers degrees and certificates in advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, allied health, building and design, transportation, and nursing. The school serves the local community by providing continuing education opportunities in business and industry, as well as nine areas of study related to agribusiness, including professional swine management, agriculture education technology, and farm business management. SCC offers numerous courses online or in blended formats.
SCC currently charges residents and non-residents the same tuition and fees, and the school award more than $350,000 in institutional scholarships annually.
Lake Superior College
|Duluth, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
The 97-acre campus of Lake Superior College overlooks Lake Superior and the city of Duluth, providing students with access to several hiking trails and a trout stream. LSC offers more than 90 associate degrees and career/technical certificates and diplomas, including 20 online degrees.
Students interested in transferring to a four-year college may select from a variety of pre-baccalaureate majors. LSC also offers programs in aviation, emergency response training, and integrated manufacturing training. The school's Distinction Program enables participants to develop job and leadership skills while connecting with potential employers. The college offers more than 200 online courses per semester, and online students receive access to all campus resources.
LSC provides more than $200,000 in institutional scholarships annually, including $60,000 in workforce development grants to students enrolled in courses leading to employment in high-demand sectors, such as healthcare and education.
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
|Cloquet, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 25%||
Operating under a state and tribal partnership, the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College offers two-year associate degrees, career training certificates, and a diploma in practical nursing. Located in Cloquet, the school features licensed childcare services and the Ojibwemowining Language and Culture Resource Center -- home to the region's largest collection of contemporary Ojibwe art.
FDLTCC's program areas include law enforcement, electric utility technology, clean energy, American Indian studies, and environmental science. About 40% of students enroll in Minnesota Transfer Curriculum courses, enabling them to earn an associate degree that transfers to a four-year university. AAS degrees and technical certificates train students for immediate employment in careers such as chemical dependency counselors, paraprofessional educators, and nursing assistants.
The school encourages American Indian students to contact their tribal agency, the American Indian College Fund, and the Cobell Scholars program regarding scholarship opportunities. FDLTCC no longer accepts international students.
|White Bear Lake, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
As one of the largest two-year community and technical colleges in Minnesota, Century College serves more than 21,000 students each year from its White Bear Lake campus, just north of St. Paul. The school offers associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates, general education courses, and workforce training.
Century College groups its programs into eight academic areas, including applied design, STEM, and health sciences. As an example, health sciences students may train for a wide variety of careers, including dental hygiene, paramedic science, orthotics, and radiology. The college offers courses on campus and online in asynchronous, synchronous, and blended formats.
Century College's campus features a digital fabrication laboratory, an LGBTQ+ resource center, and a mentoring and leadership program for male African American high school students. The school awards institutional scholarships totaling more than $300,000 annually.
Inver Hills Community College
|Inver Grove Heights, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 25%||
Located south of the Twin Cities in Inver Grove Heights, Inver Hills Community College offers close to 40 degrees. Students can pursue AA degrees that transfer easily to a university, as well as AS degrees designed for college transfer or direct entry into a job. The college also offers AAS degrees in information technology and business and AFA degrees in art, music, and theatre.
The college's 60-credit AA degree includes the 40-credit Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, two credits of health and P.E., and 18 credits of electives. Students may complete this degree on campus or online. Through partnerships with four-year schools, such as Concordia University and the College of St. Scholastica, IHCC also prepares learners to transfer to a bachelor's program. Joint degree options include business administration, social work, and psychology.
Students who demonstrate financial need may qualify for a tuition-matching program, and learners experiencing financial hardship may apply for emergency assistance.
Minnesota State College Southeast
|Winona, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Located on the banks of the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota, Minnesota State College Southeast operates campuses in Winona and Red Wing. The college offers nearly 30 programs in eight areas, including business, human services, musical instrument repair, and health/medicine. Twenty of these programs can be completed fully online.
The school offers a 60-credit AA in liberal arts and sciences and AS degrees in scientific and technical fields; these degrees are designed for transfer to a four-year school. AAS degrees require 60 credits in a scientific, professional, or technical field and prepare graduates for immediate employment. Diploma requirements range from 31-72 credits, with a minimum of 24 credits in technical or occupational courses. Undergraduate certificate programs range from 9-30 credits. Both certificates and diplomas provide career and technical training. The college also offers customized professional education options to local companies.
White Earth Tribal and Community College
|Mahnomen, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 6%||
Located on the White Earth Reservation in the northwestern Minnesota community of Mahnomen, White Earth Tribal and Community College provides adult education to members of the reservation and other area residents. Grounded in the Anishinaabe culture, WETCC offers an associate of arts in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
WETCC's AA program fulfills the state college system's requirements for transfer to a four-year degree program. Course requirements include college writing, natural sciences, and social sciences. Students may select courses on Native American culture, language, and history that fulfill degree requirements, with specific topics that include the history of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe, Anishinaabe culture, and beginning Ojibwemowin. WETCC boasts one of the lowest tuition rates in the state.
Anoka-Ramsey Community College
|Coon Rapids, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 24%||
Set on a 101-acre suburban campus 20 miles north of the Twin Cities in Coon Rapids, Anoka-Ramsey Community College offers more than 50 degree and career training programs. The school also offers bachelor's degree programs in partnership with six participating four-year colleges. These programs cover topics like nursing and education.
The college's academic departments include anthropology, business, engineering, and world languages. Students may enroll in two-year, 60-credit transfer pathway programs that qualify for transfer to a four-year college. Alternatively, students may prepare for direct entry into the workforce by selecting from diplomas, technical certificates, and certain associate degrees. In some cases, students may apply their training certificate to an AS or AAS degree in the same field.
ARCC offers fully online programs in fields such as accounting, business, creative writing, and integrative health. Students enrolled in STEM programs may qualify for special scholarships.
Leech Lake Tribal College
|Cass Lake, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 8%||
Leech Lake Tribal College serves approximately 200 students -- mostly from the Leech Lake Reservation. Located in the city of Cass Lake, the college offers associate programs in the arts and humanities and STEM fields, as well as career and technical education grounded in Anishinaabe values.
LLTC offers AA degrees in liberal education, indigenous American leadership, early childhood education, and liberal education with a STEM emphasis. Each of these 60-credit programs introduce students to Ojibwe language and culture. The school offers AS degrees in earth systems science and forest ecology. Students may also prepare for careers in business, construction, education, and law enforcement by enrolling in the college's career and technical training programs.
LLTC offers an open-door admission policy and low tuition rates. While the college holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, it is currently on probation.
Vermilion Community College
|Ely, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
Located in Ely on the edge of Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Vermillion Community College serves about 700 students in a natural setting. Program offerings such as natural resource and water management, ranger training, and outdoor recreation reflect the school's remote location.
VCC's natural resources programs include a 60-credit AS in wildlife management, an AS or certificate in land surveying, and a 67-credit AAS in natural resource technology. Students can also select from law enforcement programs that offer training as police officers, rangers, and EMTs. Other training programs teach learners to work as a vet tech or backcountry guide. Students wishing to transfer to a four-year college may enroll in AA programs in liberal arts and business.
The college enrolls new students at the start of each semester. VCC awards more than $100,000 in institutional scholarships each year.