Community college can help you quickly develop the knowledge and skills required to enter a new field or take the next step in your career. For example, many community colleges offer technical certificate programs -- in areas like industrial electronics, office administration, and carpentry -- that require only a year or less of full-time study.
Community colleges also give students the option to earn a two-year associate degree. With an associate, you can qualify for a variety of entry-level positions, including in-demand jobs like registered nurse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses in Nebraska earned an average salary of $64,470 in 2018, roughly $18,000 more than the average pay for all other occupations in the state.
Top 5 Community Colleges in Nebraska
- Central Community College - Grand Island, NE
- Northeast Community College - Norfolk, NE
- Western Nebraska Community College - Scottsbluff, NE
- Mid-Plains Community College - North Platte, NE
- Metropolitan Community College Area - Omaha, NE
Many students also attend community college because it offers an inexpensive way to begin working towards a bachelor's degree. In 2017, the National Center of Education Statistics reported that the average annual cost of tuition and fees at a two-year college was $10,598. By comparison, a year's tuition and fees at the average four-year institution was $26,593 that same year. By earning an associate degree and then transferring to another college or university, you may be able to save as much as $32,000 on your bachelor's degree.
The Nebraska Department of Labor projects that employment across all industries in the state will increase by 8.93% from 2016 to 2026, slightly faster than the national average. Most jobs in the fields expected to experience the highest growth -- such as healthcare and information technology -- will require at least some form of postsecondary education.
Studying at a community college can help position you for a variety of professional opportunities, but it's often difficult to know which school best suits your unique interests and aspirations. With information on accreditation, admission requirements, available programs, and financial aid opportunities, our ranking of the best community colleges in Nebraska can help you make the right decision.
2020 Best Accredited Community Colleges in Nebraska
Central Community College
|Grand Island, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
With a diverse selection of more than 36 certificate, diploma, and degree programs, Central Community College ranks as the best community college in Nebraska. The college is also one of the state's most accessible, with six campuses and many fully online programs, including two associate degrees specifically designed for students hoping to transfer into a bachelor's program after graduation.
CCC prepares students for a wide range of careers, featuring technical programs in agricultural sciences, information technology and systems, and health management. The college also emphasizes work-based learning, making internships available to all students through cooperative education partnerships with nearby businesses.
While CCC does not require applicants to have a high school diploma, all prospective students must complete a pre-enrollment assessment to determine if they are ready to study at the college level. Applicants who receive low scores on this assessment may need to take remedial coursework prior to entering their chosen program.
CCC holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Northeast Community College
|Norfolk, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Chosen by the Aspen Institute as one of the 10 best community colleges in the nation, Northeast Community College offers an affordable and convenient path to continuing your education. In addition to workforce training and technical certificate programs, the college offers associate degrees in fields like animal science, criminal justice, early childhood education, and surgical technology.
Northeast also offers 20 programs in an online, asynchronous format, meaning students can schedule their coursework around the demands of a full-time job or family responsibilities. Distance learners at the college enjoy many of the same services as on-campus students, including academic advising, tutoring, and career counseling.
To apply to Northeast, you must submit official copies of your high school transcript or GED scores. If you have not taken either the ACT or SAT, you may also need to take the ASSET/COMPASS placement test. Certain programs, such as nursing and veterinary technology, may have additional requirements for admission.
Northeast holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Western Nebraska Community College
|Scottsbluff, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
Western Nebraska Community College serves the educational and career training needs of 12 counties in the Nebraska Panhandle. Additionally, students from across the state can take advantage of the college's fully online and hybrid programs in subjects like business administration, cybersecurity, and health information technology. In-person programs cover additional subjects such as dental hygiene and powerline construction.
While already one of the most affordable colleges in Nebraska, WNCC offers a variety of scholarship programs to further reduce the overall cost of education for its students. For example, the college covers all tuition for those who received a composite ACT score of 25 or higher. WNCC also provides financial support to students who maintained a certain GPA during high school or received an exemplary score on their GED tests.
All applicants must have either a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate. If you have not taken either the ACT or SAT, you also need to take the ACCUPLACER exam.
WNCC holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Mid-Plains Community College
|North Platte, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
Mid-Plains Community College provides the flexibility that students need to achieve a wide variety of academic and professional goals. The college's technical certificate programs provide training in fields like fire science and welding technology, while associate programs help prepare learners for entry-level roles such as nurse and corrections officer. Students who plan to ultimately pursue a bachelor's degree can earn transferable credits that are guaranteed to meet the general education requirements of any public four-year institution in the state.
In addition, MPCC offers five fully online degree programs. Just like on-campus students, distance learners work with a personal academic advisor to select courses and navigate the enrollment process. Online students also enjoy easy access to tutoring and career counseling, as well as the convenience of learning on their own schedule and from the comfort of their own homes.
Prospective students must have a high school diploma or GED. They must also take a college placement exam, such as the ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER.
MPCC holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
Metropolitan Community College Area
|Omaha, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
Students at Metropolitan Community College benefit from small class sizes, the choice of more than 100 degree and certificate programs, and one of the lowest per-credit tuition rates in Nebraska. In many programs, students can also choose to complete some or all of their coursework online, making it easier to balance their education with professional and personal responsibilities.
Whether they plan to study accounting, health sciences, or information technology, all applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. Once admitted, incoming students participate in the college's First-Year Experience. As part of this orientation, students meet or remotely connect with a financial aid counselor, academic advisor, and a group of peer mentors.
MCC students can also access tutoring services, research and writing assistance, and personalized career guidance. Veterans and military personnel receive additional support, including an initial review of whether they are eligible to receive college credit for their service.
MCC holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.