Best Community Colleges in Nebraska
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Nebraska ranks 37th in population and 16th in size out of all 50 states. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Nebraska had the lowest unemployment rate in the country as of November 2021 — just 1.8%. Leading industries in Nebraska include agriculture and food processing, life science, manufacturing, and renewable energy.
In addition to high employment rates, Nebraska boasts one of the nation's lowest average student loan debts. More than 90% of Nebraska is farmlands, and it also possesses the most extensive irrigation system in the U.S., which makes it a strong agricultural state. The state's natural resources also include nearly 80,000 miles of rivers and streams.
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Students who wish to study at a top community college in Nebraska can choose from 13 different community college campuses.
Why Study in Nebraska?
Community colleges in Nebraska provide many two-year degrees in fields like agricultural sciences, nursing, automotive technology, aviation maintenance, and criminal justice. These programs offer hands-on training to students at a relatively affordable rate, and they can also help prepare graduates to pursue bachelor's degrees in their respective fields.
In addition, several financial aid options are available at these colleges, including federal Pell Grants, district student loans, summer financial aid, and federal work-study programs. Prospective students planning to study in Nebraska can also benefit from the Midwestern Student Exchange Program by getting discounts at schools in any of the nine member states.
Due to the pandemic, Nebraska's employment declined by 3.7% in 2020 compared to 2019. However, projections show that employment will likely return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022. The state's total GDP amounts to $127 billion, while the per capita income is $32,302. One of the most prominent industries in Nebraska is agriculture — one in four jobs in the state is related to agriculture.
Cost of Living
In the third quarter of 2021, Nebraska ranked 19th out of all states in terms of the cost of living. Grocery, transportation, and utility expenses fall below the national average. In addition, the housing cost in Nebraska is impressively low. However, healthcare is roughly 2.6% more costly in Nebraska than the national average.
Cultural and Community OFferings
Many members of the Indigenous American population in Nebraska celebrate lively powwow festivals. The Ho-chunk tribe holds a festival in July, while the Omaha tribe holds a festival in August. In addition, folk celebrations such as the Czech fest in Wilber represent the diverse origins of Nebraska's citizens.
Nebraska experiences warm summers and cold winters with an average annual temperature of around 50 degrees. The average high exceeds about 87 degrees in July, while the average low is about 14 degrees in January. The typical 12-month rainfall since 2007 is almost 30 inches, but the overall extent of rainfall varies widely across the state.
Top Degree Programs in Nebraska
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Nebraska Employment Outlook
According to the BLS, Nebraska had the lowest unemployment rate in the United States, as of November 2021. Moreover, projections indicate that employment in many sectors — including leisure and hospitality, financial service, manufacturing, and construction — will fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic at some point in 2022 or 2023.
4 Nebraska Jobs for 2022
Registered nurses are an integral part of everyday operations at medical and healthcare facilities. They provide patient care and educate patients about various health conditions. These professionals typically work in hospitals, nursing care facilities, home healthcare services, and physicians' offices.
- U.S. Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $68,010
- Job Growth Projection (2018-2028): 11%
Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologists and Technicians
These professionals help engineers design and develop electrical and electronic equipment, computers, communication systems, and other electrical and electronic devices. They typically work in manufacturing, research, utility industries, and engineering services.
- U.S. Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $61,630
- Job Growth Projection (2018-2028): 7%
Forensic Science Technicians
Forensic science technicians handle evidence from crime scenes and play an essential role in investigations. Their primary role involves collecting evidence, analyzing it, and summarizing their findings in written reports. Forensic science technicians often work for enforcement agencies at the local, state, or federal level. Others work in crime labs, hospitals, or as independent consultants.
- U.S. Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $56,290
- Job Growth Projection (2018-2028): 9%
Radiologic Technologists and Technicians
Radiologic technologists and technicians specialize in performing X-rays and other diagnostic imaging examinations on patients. They are responsible for producing accurate diagnostic images by accurately positioning the patients. They work closely with radiologists and physicians, interpreting medical images and diagnosing or ruling out the possibility of a disease or injury.
- U.S. Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $56,660
- Job Growth Projection (2018-2028): 12%
Popular Career Paths in Nebraska
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Nebraska
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Best Community Colleges in Nebraska
Central Community CollegeLocation
Grand Island, NETuition
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 CollegeLocation
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 CollegeLocation
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 CollegeLocation
North Platte, NETuition
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 AreaLocation
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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Nebraska
Are community colleges worth it?
Community colleges are often a good option for students seeking higher education. These colleges tend to be less expensive than four-year schools, and students can save considerably by determining a workable transfer credit pathway. Most four-year institutions accept credits from community colleges, making bachelor's degrees more affordable.
Community colleges generally have smaller classes and fewer students than four-year schools, which can make education feel more personalized. Many community colleges provide similar student services and courses as traditional colleges and universities.
How many community colleges are in Nebraska?
There are 13 community college campuses and almost 300 off-campus sites across the state of Nebraska. The Nebraska Community College System includes five member colleges: Central Community College, Mid-Plains Community College, Northeast Community College, Southeast Community College, and Western Nebraska Community College. Nebraska community colleges mainly emphasize occupational education and make postsecondary education more accessible.
How many colleges in Nebraska?
The higher education system in Nebraska features a total of 31 nonprofit institutions. This includes 16 private schools and 15 public schools. The total number of students enrolled at public and private colleges in Nebraska during the 2020-21 school year was roughly 135,000.
What is the best school in Nebraska?
Located in Grand Island, Central Community College is one of the best community colleges in the state. CCC offers more than 36 diploma, certificate, and degree programs. The school operates six campuses and offers full-time, part-time, and online programs.
What is the hardest college to get into in Nebraska?
College of Saint Mary in Omaha had an acceptance rate of 49.3% in 2019. However, students applying for open-admission community colleges in Nebraska can generally earn admission if they hold a GED or high school diploma.