The overall cost of living in New York is higher than the national average; this is driven primarily by high housing, grocery, and healthcare expenses. However, living costs vary widely from one region to another. Utica, Rochester, and Albany, for example, offer much more affordable living than New York City.
By number of employees, BLS occupational employment statistics show that the major New York state industries include office and administrative support, sales, education and training, business and finance, and healthcare and technical occupations. A career-focused community college education can help New Yorkers attain specific jobs that are currently in high demand, including automotive service technicians, bookkeeping clerks, childcare workers, and dental assistants.
Top 10 Community Colleges in New York
|1||SUNY Ulster||Stone Ridge, NY|
|2||Kingsborough Community College||Brooklyn, NY|
|3||Columbia-Greene Community College||Hudson, NY|
|4||Nassau Community College||Garden City, NY|
|5||Suffolk County Community College||Selden, NY|
|6||Niagara County Community College||Sanborn, NY|
|7||Corning Community College||Corning, NY|
|8||CUNY Queensborough Community College||Bayside, NY|
|9||Clinton Community College||Plattsburgh, NY|
|10||Rockland Community College||Suffern, NY|
Attending community college is also an excellent choice for prospective degree-seekers and university students. Students can save thousands of dollars by completing the first two years of school at a community college. Additionally, two-year schools often boast just as many opportunities for socializing, recreation, and networking as four-year institutions. Students can also access a variety of athletics programs, clubs and organizations, cultural and arts events, and study abroad opportunities.
The benefits of community college are clear, but it can still be a challenge to figure out which school best meets your needs. To help you better evaluate your options, we have compiled the following ranked list of the best community colleges in New York. Read on to learn more about these 25 accredited schools, including information about academic offerings, course flexibility, student engagement, and housing and funding options.
2020 Best Community Colleges in New York
|Stone Ridge, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
SUNY Ulster is one of 64 learning environments within the State University of New York (SUNY) system. This rural, two-year college features a main campus in Stone Ridge and two additional facilities in Kingston. More than 3,000 students attend SUNY Ulster each year. Learners enjoy high-quality, affordable academics and diverse involvement opportunities, including clubs, athletics, cultural events, and study abroad options.
Students can choose from more than 80 certificates, transferable associate degrees, and career-ready associate degrees. A variety of fields and disciplines are represented in SUNY Ulster's academic catalog, including arts, education, human services, nursing, public safety, and STEM. A selection of online courses are offered each semester, as well as accelerated online course options for adults. Five degrees and two certificates can be earned entirely online.
Prospective students must provide a high school diploma (or the equivalent). Students may also need to take placement tests.
Kingsborough Community College
|Brooklyn, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, Kingsborough Community College is the only community college in Brooklyn. The school's urban campus serves approximately 14,000 students each year and provides affordable access to liberal arts and career education. More than 70% of KBCC graduates pursue bachelor's degrees.
KBCC offers more than 50 programs in the form of professional certificates, career-focused associate degrees in applied science, and transferable degrees in the arts and sciences. Fields of study include forensics, graphic design, community health, philosophy, and secondary education. KBCC also boasts one of the most comprehensive adult and continuing education programs in New York City. Dozens of courses offer online and hybrid learning options.
Prospective students can apply online or in person. Admission requires an application fee, an official high school transcript or GED/TASC diploma, and proof of immunization. CUNY assessment tests are required for all first-time students.
Columbia-Greene Community College
|Hudson, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
Part of the SUNY system, Columbia-Greene Community College sits on 144 acres in Hudson. The rural campus boasts several major facilities, including a technology center; an arts center with a 450-seat theater; and a 130,000-square-foot main building, which houses classrooms, nursing and science labs, a library, a gymnasium, and a daycare center.
CGCC offers nearly 40 programs of study in 11 diverse fields, including math and science, automotive technology, arts and humanities, and education. The associate of applied science in business can be earned entirely online. Students in the transferable environmental studies program supplement their classroom and laboratory instruction with field study opportunities at the nearby Hudson River Environmental Field Station.
Prospective CGCC students can apply for free online or by turning in a printed application. Official high school transcripts (or the equivalent) are required. Incoming students must complete a placement exam unless they earn an exemption based on their test scores, GPA, or prior college experience.
Nassau Community College
|Garden City, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 24%||
Located on 225 acres in the heart of Long Island, Nassau Community College boasts one of the largest single campuses of any community college in New York. Annual enrollment numbers typically reach 20,000 credit-seeking students and 10,000 continuing education and professional students. NCC encourages student involvement by offering more than 1,000 study abroad opportunities, 25 NJCAA athletic teams, and dozens of clubs and organizations.
NCC faculty are highly qualified, holding doctorates at twice the national rate of other community colleges. Students can select from a catalog of 62 associate degrees and 20 certificates. More than two dozen academic departments offer study in both traditional disciplines and less common fields like Africana studies, fashion design, and mortuary science. Flexible scheduling opportunities are available, including online, hybrid, evening, and weekend classes.
All first-time applicants who hold a high school diploma or the equivalent are guaranteed acceptance to NCC. However, certain programs have additional admission requirements or procedures.
Suffolk County Community College
|Selden, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
Suffolk County Community College is a SUNY-sponsored, two-year college with campuses in Selden, Brentwood, and Riverhead. An additional satellite center in downtown Sayville expands continuing education opportunities to community residents. Altogether, SCCC's campuses enroll more than 25,000 students each year.
SCCC offers more than 100 two-year associate degrees, one-year certificates, and short-term technical training programs. Students can pursue transfer-ready associate degrees in liberal arts, science and engineering, fine arts, computer science, performing arts, and business administration. SCCC supports the diverse needs of students by offering flexible online and hybrid learning options; career counseling and planning services; and on-site childcare facilities at an affordable, sliding-scale cost.
New credit-seeking students can apply to SCCC by following a few simple steps: select a campus, complete an application and submit an application fee, send in required documentation, and apply for financial aid.
Niagara County Community College
|Sanborn, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
SUNY-sponsored Niagara County Community College is based on a 287-acre rural campus in Sanborn -- minutes away from Niagara Falls and the Canadian border. More than 5,000 students enroll at NCCC each year. The school has a rich sports history, with a variety of men's and women's teams participating in the NJCAA and the Western New York Athletic Conference.
Students can choose from 48 associate degrees and 17 certificate programs in five academic divisions. Many of SCCC's programs possess specialized accreditation, including those in culinary arts, medical assisting, surgical technology, and nursing. Online, hybrid, evening, and accelerated programs are available for students who require increased scheduling flexibility. Non-degree pursuits include customizable corporate, technical, and vocational training.
An open-enrollment admission policy means that NCCC accepts any applicant with a high school diploma or the equivalent. Early submission is encouraged, and applications are considered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Corning Community College
|Corning, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
SUNY Corning Community College serves Steuben, Chemung, and Schuyler counties, enrolling approximately 3,000 students each year. The main campus -- located just south of downtown Corning -- offers clubs, organizations, athletics, and recreational activities. SUNY CCC is one of the few community colleges in New York to offer on-campus housing.
More than 40 academic programs prepare graduates to enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year university. Major offerings include humanities and social sciences, automotive technology, computer science, and education. Three associate of applied science degrees are available in accelerated formats: business administration, criminal justice, and human services. Online and hybrid courses provide flexible scheduling options, and on-site childcare is available for student parents.
Prospective students can secure their spot at SUNY CCC by completing a free online application and submitting official transcripts. Select programs may have additional requirements.
CUNY Queensborough Community College
|Bayside, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Queensborough Community College -- a member of the CUNY system -- enrolls more than 15,000 credit-seeking students each year, with another 10,000 students participating in continuing education. The 37-acre QCC campus is located in Bayside, Queens, which is the most diverse county in the U.S. The school is comprised of 10 major buildings, including an art gallery, astronomy observatory, and the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archive.
QCC places all full-time students in one of five academies based on their academic interests and future goals: business, health-related services, liberal arts, STEM, and visual and performing arts. Each academy provides faculty-led experiences, specialized learning activities, and personalized academic advising. More than 50 programs of study are available, with various courses offered in online and hybrid formats.
QCC uses an open-door admission policy. First-year applicants only need proof of high school graduation or the equivalent.
Clinton Community College
|Plattsburgh, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 37%||
Clinton Community College is a member of the SUNY network. Its 100-acre campus sits just south of Plattsburgh and offers scenic views overlooking Lake Champlain. CCC enrolls more than 2,000 students each year. The school no longer offers on-site housing, but students can participate in athletics, clubs, and events.
CCC offers 24 associate degrees and 7 certificates in traditional academic disciplines, as well as technical and vocational fields. Customizable associate degrees in individual studies feature curricula with a large number of electives, allowing students to shape their program according to their interests. Dozens of courses and six complete degrees are offered online. CCC maintains transfer agreements with many four-year universities in the SUNY system.
Prospective students can apply online at no cost. Official high school transcripts or GED score reports are required. Applicants with qualifying SAT or ACT scores may be exempt from placement testing.
Rockland Community College
|Suffern, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Established in 1959, Rockland Community College was the 18th community college in New York to join the SUNY system. Located in Suffern -- just 25 miles northwest of New York City -- RCC serves a population of about 9,000 students. A majority of these learners go on to transfer to four-year institutions.
RCC students can choose from 40 associate degrees and 10 certificate programs in the humanities, social sciences, arts, technology, business, healthcare, math, and sciences. Evening, weekend, hybrid, and online courses are available, with more than a dozen programs offering fully online completion. Students can also pursue a bachelor's or master's on RCC's campus through articulation agreements with partnership institutions located throughout the state.
RCC is an open-admission college. Degree-seeking applicants must provide proof of high school graduation or the equivalent.
Sullivan County Community College
|Loch Sheldrake, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
SUNY-sponsored Sullivan County Community College is located in Loch Sheldrake. Its 405-acre campus in the scenic Catskill Mountains features nine interconnected buildings designed by the same architectural firm that worked on Radio City Music Hall and the Museum of Modern Art. SUNY Sullivan is among the few community colleges in New York offering on-campus housing.
Over 1,500 students attend SUNY Sullivan each year enrolling in more than 40 diverse program options, such as associate degrees in digital storytelling, childhood education, psychology, and green building maintenance and management. More than a dozen programs -- including certificate and associate tracks -- are available through hybrid and online learning. Outside of class, students can get involved in nationally competitive athletics programs, clubs, organizations, and campus events.
SUNY Sullivan offers a no-cost online application process for prospective students. Those interested in for-credit programs must provide proof of high school graduation or the equivalent. The nursing program requires a separate application process.
Orange County Community College
|Middletown, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
SUNY-sponsored Orange County Community College boasts two campuses in Middletown and Newburgh. SUNY Orange provides additional services through an education center in Port Jarvis, with classes occasionally held at local high schools across Orange County. Around 5,000 students attend SUNY Orange each year. Involvement opportunities include clubs, organizations, special events, and organized trips.
Academic offerings at SUNY Orange feature 35 associate degrees and 5 certificates. Students can pursue career- and transfer-ready programs in five major disciplines: business, health professions, human services, technology, and liberal arts. Matriculation agreements with more than 30 four-year institutions guarantee seamless transfer to a variety of bachelor's programs throughout New York. A selection of online and hybrid courses are offered each semester.
Applying to SUNY Orange requires payment of a nonrefundable fee. Incoming first-year students with no prior college experience must provide high school transcripts and schedule a placement test (unless they gain an exemption by holding qualifying ACT/SAT scores).
Jamestown Community College
|Jamestown, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
Established in 1950, Jamestown Community College was the first community college in New York to join the SUNY system. JCC operates three campuses in Jamestown, Olean, and Dunkirk. The main campus in Jamestown boasts on-campus housing options, one of the best-equipped athletics facilities in the region, and a science center that meets Gold certification standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
Each year, more than 2,000 students engage in JCC's continuing education and academic programs. The institution offers 37 associate degrees and 18 certificates, including studies in early childhood development and education, homeland security, sports management, and web design. Individual studies programs allow students to customize a unique associate degree according to their goals and interests. Sixteen JCC programs offer online completion pathways.
JCC is an open-admission school and welcomes all prospective students with a high school diploma. Applicants must complete a free online application and send in official transcripts.
Fulton-Montgomery Community College
|Johnstown, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
SUNY-sponsored Fulton-Montgomery Community College is located in Johnstown on a campus encompassing 195 acres in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. FMCC offers small class sizes, on-campus housing, study abroad opportunities, and several nationally ranked NJCAA athletics programs. More than 2,500 students attend FMCC each year.
This community college in New York offers more than 40 associate degree and certificate programs. Areas of study include health professions, business, arts and digital design, computer and information technology, and customizable individual studies pathways. Students who require a more flexible schedule can take advantage of evening, weekend, and online courses. FMCC partners with local businesses to arrange critical workplace experiences through internships. For those interested in a bachelor's degree, the school holds more than 100 transfer agreements, which guarantee an easy transition to four-year programs across the state.
Prospective FMCC students can fill out a free application online. Submission of official high school transcripts or a GED/TASC certificate is required.
Genesee Community College
|Batavia, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Genesee Community College boasts a main campus in Batavia and six other campus center locations in surrounding counties. A majority of GCC's more than 5,000 students commute to their campus of choice, although the school does offer apartment-style living options in Batavia for out-of-area students. Day, night, and online classes are available to meet a variety of scheduling needs.
GCC's academic catalog features more than 65 programs of study. Options include two-year associate degrees and one-year certificates in disciplines like information technology, teaching, creative arts, and commerce. Fifteen programs can be completed entirely online. Student involvement opportunities include intercollegiate athletics, clubs and organizations, and organized campus activities.
GCC practices an open-door admission policy. To get started on a career- or transfer-ready program, prospective students need only fill out an application, provide proof of high school graduation, and sit for a placement exam (if needed). Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
CUNY LaGuardia Community College
|Long Island City, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Part of the CUNY system, LaGuardia Community College is located in Long Island City, Queens -- one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in the country. Dedicated to accessibility and affordability, LaGuardia's nonprofit foundation provides financial support to students through scholarships, emergency funding, and textbook aid, allowing 93% of graduates to complete their studies with no student loan debt.
More than 45,000 New Yorkers enroll in LaGuardia's 130+ credit and non-credit programs each year. The institution's main academic departments include business and technology; education and language application; English; health sciences; humanities; natural science; social science; and math, engineering, and computer science. Dozens of courses are offered in online and hybrid formats each semester. Associate degrees earned at LaGuardia easily transfer to other CUNY system schools.
Applicants must provide documents including official transcripts, standardized test scores, and recommendation letters.
CUNY Hostos Community College
|Bronx, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Part of the CUNY system, Hostos Community College provides educational opportunities to the South Bronx and other neighboring communities. More than 6,000 students attend Hostos each year. A student success coach program provides incoming students with one-on-one individualized academic and personal guidance from orientation to graduation.
Hostos offers two certificates and 28 associate degrees, many of which are designed for seamless transfer to four-year colleges in the CUNY system. Programs of study include forensic science, chemical engineering, game design, criminal justice, digital music, and aging and health studies. Select courses offer online completion opportunities. Students can get involved on campus through clubs, activities, student government, intramurals, and NJCAA athletics.
The online application process requires payment of a fee and submission of official high school transcripts (or the equivalent). Incoming first-year students may need to complete placement tests, unless they qualify for exemption based on their GPA or ACT/SAT test scores.
CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College
|New York, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Located in the heart of New York City and operating as party of the CUNY system, Borough of Manhattan Community College serves more than 26,000 credit-seeking students and 10,000 students in adult and continuing education programs. The main campus spans four blocks and provides easy access to the financial district and the artistic communities of Tribeca and SoHo.
Students can choose from more than 50 associate degrees and certificate programs in 17 departments, including ethnic studies, media arts and technology, teacher education, and business management. Select programs offer evening, weekend, and online learning options. Classes are also held at several off-site locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx to increase availability. Athletics, clubs and activities, experiential learning, and study abroad options enhance the BMCC student experience.
Prospective students can get started at one of the fastest-growing community colleges in New York by filling out an application and providing official high school transcripts.
Mohawk Valley Community College
|Utica, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Part of the SUNY system, Mohawk Valley Community College features a main campus in Utica and a branch campus in Rome. MVCC was founded in 1946, making it the oldest of all community colleges in New York. Today, MVCC serves thousands of students. Hundreds of community events, including the Boilermaker Expo, attract more than 35,000 people to campus each year.
Six academic schools offer more than 90 two-year associate degrees and one-year certificates in diverse fields like fire protection, theater, nutrition and dietetics, and digital animation. Many programs allow for online completion of at least 50% of the required credits. MVCC can house up to 500 students on site in its five modern residence halls. Campus engagement opportunities include clubs, organizations, and individual and team sports.
MVCC accepts applications year round. All prospective students with a high school diploma or the equivalent are guaranteed acceptance into the college. Additional requirements apply for selective programs.
SUNY Westchester Community College
|Valhalla, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 17%||
Westchester Community College is a two-year SUNY school occupying a main campus in Valhalla and several extension centers in surrounding communities. As the first national affiliate of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, WCC operates a nonprofit native plant center to educate and promote the value and preservation of native plants.
Approximately 13,000 credit-seeking students and 11,000 continuing education students attend WCC each year. Major academic offerings include 60 associate degrees and certificates in more than 30 subject areas. Many diverse fields -- such as business, creative arts, STEM, and health professions -- are represented in the WCC catalog. Several degrees offer fully online completion options. Campus involvement opportunities include athletics, intramurals, student publications, and clubs and organizations.
Like other SUNY-sponsored community colleges in New York, WCC uses an open-door admission policy. Prospective students must possess a high school diploma. ACT/SAT scores are not required, but qualifying scores allow for placement test exemptions.
|Herkimer, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
SUNY-sponsored Herkimer College sits on 500 acres overlooking the Mohawk River. Approximately 3,000 students attend each year. More than 600 of these students live in on-campus apartments, making Herkimer one of the largest residential community colleges in New York.
More than 40 programs of study are available in art, business, communication, criminal justice and law, education, healthcare, liberal arts, and STEM. A dedicated Internet Academy offers 24 programs and support services entirely online. Two-thirds of all graduates go on to pursue a bachelor's degree; Herkimer helps facilitate a seamless transition by maintaining more than 100 transfer agreements with four-year institutions throughout the state and around the country. Students can get involved in clubs, organizations, athletics, and events held throughout the year.
Herkimer is an open-admission school and offers a free online application process. Prospective students must provide official high school transcripts or their GED/TASC certificate.
Hudson Valley Community College
|Troy, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Part of the SUNY system, Hudson Valley Community College is situated on a 120-acre main campus in Troy. The college also features an academic extension center in Albany and a training center for semiconductor manufacturing and renewable energy technology in Malta. Altogether, these facilities enroll more than 10,000 students each year.
Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 80 degree and certificate programs in four schools: business, engineering and industrial technology, health sciences, and liberal arts and sciences. Day, evening, online, and off-site courses provide increased scheduling and formatting flexibility to fit diverse student needs. The school also hosts several bachelor's degree programs from partnering institutions, which allows students to complete all four years of an undergraduate degree in business, early childhood, elementary education, or human services from the Troy campus.
Prospective credit-seeking students must provide evidence of a high school diploma (or the equivalent). ACT or SAT scores are recommended but not required. Specific programs may have additional entrance requirements.
Cayuga County Community College
|Auburn, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Cayuga County Community College is a two-year SUNY institution serving both Cayuga and Oswego counties through a 50-acre main campus in Auburn and a branch campus in Fulton. Each year, nearly 4,000 students choose to pursue their educational goals at Cayuga.
Cayuga's five schools -- in business, health sciences, media and the arts, social sciences and education, and STEM -- offer a diverse selection of 31 associate degrees and 10 certificates. Students can earn their credentials through day, evening, weekend, and online classes. In partnership with local universities, Cayuga's University Center also offers several bachelor's and master's degrees on site at the Auburn campus.
An open-door admission policy guarantees college acceptance to any applicant who has graduated from high school or completed an equivalency program. High school students from eligible districts who graduate in the top 20% of their class may be eligible for full-tuition presidential scholarships.
Erie Community College
|Buffalo, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Established in 1946, Erie Community College is the third-oldest SUNY-sponsored community college in New York. More than 10,000 students attend classes at ECC's three campuses in Buffalo, Williamsville, and Orchard Park each year. ECC students can participate in club and organization activities, campus events, and athletics.
An academic catalog featuring more than 25 certificates and more than 50 associate degrees helps prospective students find a program that fits their career and academic aspirations. Diverse fields of study include traditional options like mathematics, communication, and humanities, as well as vocational training in mechatronics, brewing science and service, and green building technology. Seventeen associate degrees can be earned entirely online.
ECC is an open-admission college that guarantees acceptance to all prospective credit-seeking students who hold a high school diploma or the equivalent. Official transcripts are required to apply. Incoming first-year students may need to take a placement test.
North Country Community College
|Saranac Lake, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
North Country Community College is the only public college located in the Adirondack Park. More than 2,000 students enroll at NCCC's three locations each year. Suite-style residence halls offer an on-site living option for students at the main Saranac Lake campus.
Students can choose from 20 associate degrees and five certificates. NCCC's proximity to the expansive backcountry and rich ecosystems of the Adirondacks allows for two unique associate degrees in wilderness recreation leadership and environmental science. A degree in individual studies provides a customizable foundation curriculum, which may be ideal for students who want to explore a variety of fields. Online learning options include dozens of courses, two degrees, and one certificate.
Prospective students with a high school diploma (or the equivalent) can apply to NCCC at any time throughout the year.