College enrollment in the U.S. continues to grow as individuals from all backgrounds seek the education and training needed for career entry and advancement. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the total number of undergraduate students is projected to expand from 16.8 million in 2017 to 17.2 million in 2028. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that associate degree-holders earn about $7,000 more, on average, each year than professionals with only high school diplomas. In general, individuals with college credentials enjoy better job prospects, lower unemployment rates, and higher earnings.
Top 10 Community Colleges in Texas
|1||Laredo Community College||Laredo, TX|
|2||Lee College||Baytown, TX|
|3||College of the Mainland||Texas City, TX|
|4||Northwest Vista College||San Antonio, TX|
|5||Southwest Texas Junior College||Uvalde, TX|
|6||Amarillo College||Amarillo, TX|
|7||San Jacinto College||Pasadena, TX|
|8||Galveston College||Galveston, TX|
|9||El Paso Community College||El Paso, TX|
|10||Palo Alto College||San Antonio, TX|
As you conduct research on postsecondary schools, you may find the total cost of many four-year institutions to be untenable. Fortunately, community colleges offer an affordable alternative, with flexible associate programs that include seamless transfer pathways to bachelor's completion tracks. These schools also offer career training that can prepare you for high-demand technical roles in medical assisting, pharmaceutical technology, and industrial machinery operations. Community colleges also provide distance education options, dual-enrollment opportunities for high school students, and noncredit continuing education classes.
To help you find a school that supports your professional goals, we have created this guide, which discusses the 25 best community colleges in Texas. Each school's profile contains information like program options, admission requirements, financial aid opportunities, and student resources. If one of these colleges interests you, contact the institution's academic specialists directly. These counselors can help you navigate enrollment and apply for scholarships and grants.
By attending a community college in Texas, you can benefit from the state's relatively affordable living costs. Even in metropolitan centers like Austin and San Antonio, the cost of living falls below the national standard. The Lone Star State's growing economy should lead to ample career opportunities, especially in the construction, manufacturing, health services, and hospitality industries. The BLS reports that, as of October 2019, Texas's unemployment rate sits at 3.4% -- below the U.S. average of 3.6%.
2020 Best Community Colleges in Texas
Laredo Community College
|Laredo, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
Founded in 1947 on the site of Fort McIntosh, Laredo College serves over 10,000 students through its associate and certificate programs and continuing education classes. The college offers online and classroom-based courses and maintains dual-enrollment and dual-credit programs that allow high school students to earn college-level credit.
As one of the best community colleges in Texas, LC provides transfer-oriented associate degrees in fields like computer science, foreign languages, and engineering (with seven options for specialization). Learners can also choose from several AA and AS programs, including applied accounting, culinary arts, and business tracks.
Certificate programs in medical assisting, network and data security, and automotive technology enable students to quickly gain skills related to in-demand careers.
LC maintains an open-door admission policy that only requires candidates to complete an online application, furnish a high school diploma or the equivalent, and complete the Texas Success Initiative assessment test. In addition to LC's affordable tuition, students benefit from campus employment opportunities and institutional scholarships.
|Baytown, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 36%||
With its main campus in Baytown and a satellite location in nearby Liberty, Lee College serves about 8,200 students across an 11-county region. The school provides more than 100 academic programs that prepare students for entering the job market or transferring to a bachelor's program. Lee also provides noncredit workforce and community education classes.
The college maintains a variety of associate degree programs in fields such as criminal justice, environmental science, and Mexican American studies. Lee also offers career-oriented certificates in administrative technology, cosmetology, industrial systems, and welding technology. Students with work or family responsibilities can take advantage of hybrid and fully online classes offered through Blackboard.
Applicants must supply official high school transcripts and proof of residence. In-state learners pay lower tuition prices and can apply for institutional awards, including scholarships for minority and STEM students. The college also facilitates a state-sponsored tuition rebate program for candidates who go on to complete their college education at a four-year institution.
College of the Mainland
|Texas City, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 21%||
College of the Mainland first opened its doors in 1967 to a class of 414 students. Today, the institution enrolls more than 4,700 students in comprehensive associate and career-training programs. Distance learners can take individual courses or pursue full associate degrees through the Blackboard platform. High school students can earn college-level credit through a dual-credit program.
Students wishing to enter the workforce quickly can earn certificates in professional bookkeeping, entrepreneurship, and firefighting. COM offers one of the best fire protection technology programs among community colleges in Texas. The school's Fire Academy offers multiple certification levels and an associate of applied science.
Additional associate degree options include general studies, health information management, teaching, graphic arts, and marketing. Learners can also enroll in the school's nursing program, which offers tracks that prepare graduates to work as licensed vocational and registered nurses.
COM provides work-study programs and a wide range of scholarship opportunities to help defray the costs of attendance.
Northwest Vista College
|San Antonio, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Northwest Vista College is based in San Antonio and boasts an enrollment of more than 16,000 students. In addition to technical certificates and transfer-oriented associate degrees, the college offers dual-enrollment classes that enable high school juniors and seniors to jumpstart their college education or build skills for entry-level jobs. Similarly, NVC offers noncredit classes and programs that allow professionals in child development, medical insurance billing, and community health field to advance their careers.
As one of the best community colleges in Texas, NVC provides associate degrees in advanced materials technology, information assurance and cybersecurity, and speech and communication studies. Students can earn credentials for game development, picking from production and programming tracks.
The college also offers an associate degree in peace and conflict studies, which prepares learners for careers in public policy and international affairs. Many of NVC's associate programs are available online and powered by the Canvas course management platform.
Southwest Texas Junior College
|Uvalde, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Southwest Texas Junior College was founded in Uvalde in 1946 as a vocational school for returning war veterans. Today, SWTJC is a comprehensive two-year institution that supports almost 7,000 students through its associate, adult education, dual-enrollment, and workforce development programs.
SWTJC offers transfer-oriented associate degrees that allow students to enroll in a general education track or fulfill introductory coursework requirements for engineering and teaching careers. For learners interested in technical education, the college provides training in emergency medical services, radiologic technology, and aviation maintenance. In addition, SWTJC maintains a wildlife management program that prepares students for careers in game refuge management, ecotourism, and conservation science.
Individuals enjoy a flexible admissions process and affordable tuition based on residency status. The college provides ample financial aid opportunities, including scholarships for academic achievement and service learning.
|Amarillo, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
Amarillo College boasts an enrollment of over 10,000 students across its six campuses. The institution offers a comprehensive catalog of certificates and degrees, many of which learners can earn entirely online through the Blackboard system. Remote associate degree options include business management, radiation therapy, and criminal justice. Distance learners can also earn an online certificate in mortuary science, which prepares them to work as funeral directors and forensic technologists.
Students enjoy a variety of campus-based programming, including associate tracks in hospitality management, graphic design, dental hygiene, and psychology. AC stands apart from many other community colleges in Texas by offering a two-year program in renewable energies, with concentration options for wind and solar energy. The college also offers an associate degree in teaching that prepares candidates for advanced training leading to state licensure.
Students can take advantage of low tuition costs and a variety of financial aid opportunities, including over 700 foundational scholarships.
San Jacinto College
|Pasadena, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
San Jacinto College operates three campuses and 12 extension centers to serve more than 30,000 students in the greater Houston area. Like many other community colleges in Texas, San Jac delivers dual-enrollment opportunities for high school and home-schooled students. Dual-enrollment participants pay only 25% of standard tuition and fees for classes, and those who qualify for the Public Texas Education Grant pay even less.
San Jac's catalog contains comprehensive offerings for career training, including certificates in administrative assisting, game design and development, and global logistics and supply chain management. Students can earn an associate of applied science in fields like restaurant management, HVAC, and maritime transportation. They can also develop skills in process technology, preparing for growing career opportunities in refining and petrochemical operations.
Learners interested in university transfer programs can pursue associate credentials related to engineering, communication, business, and education (with options for K-6 and 7-12 teaching).
The school maintains an open-door admission policy and offers affordable tuition based on residency status.
|Galveston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 25%||
Galveston College is a comprehensive two-year school that supports over 2,000 students through on-campus, distance education, and study abroad programs. Students who want to earn associate credentials can choose from academic transfer programs in criminal justice, social work, and general studies. They can also pursue pre-professional health training, selecting from options in dentistry, medicine, and veterinary medicine.
The school also boasts affordable workforce education programs, preparing candidates for careers in healthcare. Students can select from diagnostic medical sonography, nuclear medicine, and emergency medical services options or enroll in a 45-credit vocational nursing program. In addition, GC's law enforcement academy offers a flexible one-year program for working professionals, teaching learners the skills needed to work as entry-level officers.
All students apply to GC through the ApplyTexas website. The college offers numerous merit- and need-based scholarships, including the Rudy Tomjanovich scholarship.
El Paso Community College
|El Paso, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
El Paso Community College was established in 1971 with an opening enrollment of 901 students. Today, EPCC is one of the fastest-growing community colleges in Texas, serving more than 35,000 students.
For learners who want to quickly develop career-ready skills, EPCC delivers certificate programs in real estate management, medical billing and coding, and renewable energy technology systems. Students can also pursue training in border health issues to help meet the complex healthcare needs of U.S/Mexico border communities. EPCC offers a variety of technical associate programs, with options like culinary arts, homeland security, and drug and alcohol abuse counseling. Candidates may also earn transfer-oriented associate credentials.
Prospective students apply to EPCC through the ApplyTexas website. The college has a variety of available scholarships, including opportunities for architecture majors and business majors. Students who complete the FAFSA are eligible for work-study programs.
Palo Alto College
|San Antonio, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
Palo Alto College delivers affordable academic transfer programs and career training that empowers students and enhances the local economy.
Like other community colleges in Texas, PAC operates dual-enrollment and early college programs that allow students to fulfill high school requirements and work toward postsecondary degrees. The college helps high school graduates transition into college life through the TRiO Upward Bound program. Participants receive tutoring support, academic advising, and test preparation assistance.
PAC operates associate transfer programs in fields like geology, drama, engineering, kinesiology, and health. Students can also pursue a biology-related education, selecting from a generalist path or a pre-nursing curriculum. Certificate training covers occupations such as nurse assistant, cosmetologist, and pharmacy technician. The college also operates five online programs, including tracks in energy technology and office management.
The school uses an open-door admission policy and welcomes approximately 10,000 learners each semester. In addition to federal aid and state grants, PAC facilitates more than 30 institutional scholarships, including awards for STEM and allied health students.
Texas Southmost College
|Brownsville, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Based in Brownsville, Texas Southmost College was founded in 1926 as an extension of a local independent school district. TSC now provides training and education to more than 7,000 students across four academic divisions. This school stands out from other community colleges in Texas by offering programs in conjunction with the Texas A&M-Chevron Engineering Academy.
At the associate level, students can select from degree options including commercial and residential electricity, Spanish translation, and architecture. On top of flexible, campus-based associate degrees and certificates, students can pursue distance education powered by Canvas. Students take asynchronous classes and can pursue accelerated program options.
TSC provides career training in areas like vocational nursing, auto body repair technology, and legal assisting. Students can also prepare for careers as office administrators by enrolling in office management and Microsoft-certified specialist programs.
Students can apply to TSC through the ApplyTexas website or in person at the student services center.
Western Texas College
|Snyder, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 39%||
Located in Snyder, Western Texas College offers academic programs that promote lifelong learning and prepare students for gainful employment in high-demand industries. Approximately 2,200 students attend WTC each term, taking advantage of flexible programming, affordable tuition, and generous financial aid. The school facilitates state-sponsored TRiO grants and funds several institutional scholarships.
Individuals who wish to transfer to a four-year institution can earn associate degrees in general arts or sciences. They can also enroll in a two-year, 61-credit teaching program. This option enables students to personalize their degree plan according to their professional objectives, from teaching grades 8-12 to focusing on areas like physical and special education.
Like many other community colleges in Texas, WTC focuses on career and technical programs, including subject areas like criminal justice, electrical lineman technology, and welding. Students can also cultivate skills in turfgrass and landscape management -- programs that prepare them to work in parks and recreation, horticulture sales, and irrigation maintenance.
Tarrant County College
|Fort Worth, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Tarrant County College enrolls approximately 51,000 students at five campuses located in and around Fort Worth. The school also operates Connect Campus -- a system that facilitates over 100 online courses and weekend college programs. Weekend options enable students to balance other responsibilities and higher education through once-per-week classes and accelerated one-year associate tracks.
TCC offers flexible associate programs that enable students to complete general education requirements and introductory major classes before transferring to a four-year institution. Program options include electronics technology, human resources management, and kinesiology.
Students may also pursue information technology degrees, picking from concentrations like cloud technology; cybersecurity; web applications programming; and game, simulation, and animation design. Consistent with other community colleges in Texas, TCC also delivers noncredit courses and programs that lead to industry certification.
TCC helps students save money by providing low tuition and generous scholarships. Learners may also reduce the cost of earning their credentials by receiving credit for prior learning, work experience, and military service.
Alvin Community College
|Alvin, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 25%||
Since its inception in 1948, Alvin Community College has provided affordable, high-quality academic programming and career training to a diverse student body. ACC delivers certificates and associate degrees in eight career pathways, including education; tourism and hospitality; and manufacturing, construction, and logistics. Learners may also prepare for health professions by earning a credential in respiratory care or sports and human performance.
As one of the top community colleges in Texas, ACC offers university transfer pathways to 27 state universities. An agreement with University of Houston-Clear Lake provides an automatic transfer scholarship for ACC students.
Learners can access individual courses through hybrid and fully remote formats using the Blackboard system. They may also earn online certificates and degrees in management, psychology, and sociology.
The school boasts low tuition rates for residents, discounts for military personnel and distance learners, and ample scholarship and grant opportunities.
|Odessa, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 25%||
Odessa College offers accessible certificate and degree programs that empower students, preparing them for careers and lifelong roles as community builders. Similar to other community colleges in Texas, OC offers dual-credit classes for high school students and continuing education opportunities for working professionals.
OC's catalog includes programs covering small business management, energy technology, and mass communication. Alternatively, students can prepare to work as vocational and registered nurses by completing nursing certificate and associate programs. The school also provides training in precision manufacturing technology, which enables candidates to occupy roles as computer-controlled machine tool operators.
The school uses a rolling admissions process that allows learners to start classes at their convenience. Prospective students should apply through the ApplyTexas website and submit academic transcripts and standardized test results. OC provides comprehensive financial aid, including the First Class Free Scholarship for new learners and the Academic Progress Scholarship for enrolled students who maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.
|Clarendon, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
Established in 1898, Clarendon College is the oldest postsecondary institution in the Texas Panhandle. The school serves approximately 1,800 students and delivers accessible technical programs and occupational training.
Undecided students may complete a core curriculum at CC, earning an associate of general studies before transferring to a four-year institution. Alternatively, they can obtain associate credentials in fields like behavioral science, agricultural economics, and criminal justice. CC also operates a two-year drama program with coursework in stagecraft and public speaking.
As one of the best community colleges in Texas, CC prepares students for entry-level careers in growing industries like welding and industrial maintenance. Learners can gain their commercial driver's license through truck driver training. The college also provides vocational and registered nursing training.
Dual-credit students can enroll in the Honors College and enjoy benefits like tuition waivers and specialized transfer advising from advisors at West Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University.
Houston Community College
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
Houston Community College provides more than 280 certificate and associate programs through its main campus and 15 Centers of Excellence. HCC offers more than 70 hybrid and fully online programs. Working professionals can also earn their credentials through Weekend College options.
HCC delivers transfer-focused associate degrees in computer programming, world languages, and kinesiology and exercise science. Students may also enroll in applied associate programs, choosing from career-oriented options like maritime logistics, finance and banking, and corrosion technology. Learners can also earn two-year credentials for draft and design engineering technology, with concentrations in architecture, mechanical engineering, and civil engineering.
To enroll, applicants must submit an online application and official academic transcripts. They also need to furnish ACT/SAT scores or sit for assessment testing. Like other community colleges in Texas, HCC keeps tuition costs low for in-state students and provides a variety of financial aid and scholarship opportunities, such as the Impact and Chancellor Scholarships.
St Philip's College
|San Antonio, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Located in San Antonio, St. Phillip's College has an enrollment of more than 11,000 students in its academic and career-readiness programs. The school offers dual-credit and early college opportunities for high school juniors and seniors who want to jumpstart their higher education. High school students can also enroll in the Middle College program, which focuses on career and technology courses. For experienced professionals who want to advance their careers, SPC offers noncredit courses through its Workforce Training Network.
Students can enroll in associate programs in automotive technology, web and mobile development, and electrical trades. SPC stands out from other community colleges in Texas by delivering a two-year intensive cardiovascular technology program. Here, candidates learn to perform complex cardiac procedures, developing the competencies needed to earn professional credentials from Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Learners who want to complete their education at four-year institutions can enroll in pre-major programs related to broad fields, like psychology, biology, and mechanical engineering.
SPC provides six online programs, including network administrator and cybersecurity specialist tracks for IT students.
|Carthage, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
Panola College operates as a comprehensive two-year school, offering certificate programs and associate-level training across a four-county service area.
Like many of the best community colleges in Texas, Panola provides distance education through fully online, hybrid, and interactive television courses. Its academic catalog contains associate of applied science programs in computer information technology, cosmetology, and general business. Students may also enroll in an industrial technology program, with tracks for welding and petroleum science.
Panola operates a variety of allied health programs. Candidates can earn certificates that prepare them to work as occupational therapy assistants and medical laboratory technicians. They can also enroll in a nursing program, with a one-year option for working vocational nurses and a two-year degree plan for students without relevant career experience.
The institution supports a diverse student population by providing affordable tuition, endowed scholarships, tutoring services, and childcare assistance. Learners can build personal and professional relationships by engaging with campus organizations, including Phi Beta Gamma (the business honor society) and Delta Psi Omega (the drama student society).
Wharton County Junior College
|Wharton, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 17%||
Wharton County Junior College supports over 7,000 students by providing nine vocational and academic pathways. Similar to other community colleges in Texas, WCJC offers transfer-oriented associate degrees in fields such as business administration, engineering, anthropology, and human services. Undecided students can earn an associate degree in general studies.
The school also offers technical training, including certificates in vocational nursing, HVAC, welding technology, and health information technology. Additionally, students may train for entry-level positions in the nuclear power technology industry. Here, WCJC offers three certificate options and an associate program with specialty tracks for mechanical technicians and instrumentation/control technicians.
The school welcomes learners of all backgrounds through an open-admission policy that only requires applicants to complete an online form, submit transcripts, and fulfill testing requirements. Financial support includes the Rachel Haden Abshier Memorial Scholarship for local high school graduates who want to pursue nursing careers.
Collin County Community College District
|McKinney, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
As the only two-year school in Collin County, Collin College serves roughly 55,000 students by delivering more than 100 certificate and degree programs in a wide array of disciplines.
Transfer-oriented students can complete the Texas Core or earn credentials in areas like business, communication, engineering, and music. Each associate program comes with emphasis options that provide degree personalization opportunities. For example, learners can pair their engineering degree with a robotics concentration to prepare for careers in mechanical engineering or machine learning.
Students who want to pursue workforce training can select from programs like insurance management, surgical technology, and web and mobile development. They can also enroll in the school's interpreter education program, developing the language skills needed to support the deaf community.
Collin also offers scholarships in partnership with four-year institutions, allowing students to seamlessly transition from a two-year program to a bachelor's completion path. As one of the top community colleges in Texas for military personnel, Collin provides one-on-one counseling and targeted financial aid for veterans.
|Texarkana, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
Founded in 1927, Texarkana College currently provides comprehensive education to approximately 4,200 students each semester. TC delivers certificate and degree programs at its main campus and the TexAmericas Center -- a satellite location that supports the Red River Army Depot community.
TC is one of the best community colleges in Texas, offering programs in high-demand fields like diesel technology, welding, and culinary arts. Students who want to pursue IT careers can earn certificates in CompTIA A+, Cisco networking, and computer operations and programming.
For students interested in transfer options, TC delivers associate degrees in general studies, fine and studio arts, and criminal justice administration. Learners may also enroll in the school's business administration program, which covers core topics like managerial accounting, micro- and macroeconomics, and business law.
Students can take advantage of flexible distance education opportunities powered by Moodle. The school also operates dual-credit courses, which students can take at local high schools or online.
Lamar State College-Orange
|Orange, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
For over 50 years, Lamar State College Orange has provided affordable and career-relevant training to a diverse student body.
LSCO offers fully transferable associate programs in fields like liberal arts, natural science, and communication. Students can enroll in a pre-medical professional track, which prepares them for advanced training in dentistry and general medicine. Learners who want to pursue technical studies can choose from programs for industrial/process technology, dental assisting, and advanced nurse aide. The college also delivers programming for prospective vocational and registered nurses.
LSCO is one of the few community colleges in Texas that offers a 25% discount to newly enrolled learners. The school maintains an open-door admissions process that only requires applicants to submit an online form and proof of a high school diploma or GED certificate. Texas and Louisiana residents enjoy the lowest tuition rates. Scholarship opportunities include the Edmund P. Kuempel Scholarship for returning students who maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA.
McLennan Community College
|Waco, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 30%||
McLennan Community College is based in Waco and serves approximately 9,000 students each semester. The school delivers affordable academic programs that empower students and boost local communities.
Students can select from certificates and associate degrees in creative arts, liberal arts, STEM, and public service. They can also enroll in business and industry programs, choosing from options like food service management, computer systems analysis, and business sales (with separate tracks for financial services and wholesale manufacturing). Additionally, the college provides training in the health professions, preparing candidates for lucrative careers as informatics nurse specialists, radiologic technologists, and medical secretaries.
MCC sets itself apart from many other community colleges in Texas by facilitating travel classes, allowing students to earn college credits while engaging in hands-on learning all over the world.
To apply, candidates must submit an online application, school transcripts, and Texas Success Initiative exam results. MCC offers more than 400 institutional scholarships, including awards for honors students and first-generation learners. Candidates can also access state grants and work-study opportunities.
South Plains College
|Levelland, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
Located in Levelland, South Plains College boasts an enrollment of more than 9,000 students in 100 associate and certificate programs centering on the arts and science, technical fields, and health occupations.
Students who want to pursue healthcare occupations can earn credentials for respiratory care, surgical technology, and nursing. Learners can also gain child development competencies, which enable them to work as teaching assistants and family service personnel; this 60-credit program combines classroom instruction with practical training, preparing candidates to obtain certification from the National Council for Professional Recognition. Like other community colleges in Texas, SPC also operates career-focused programs in kinesiology, paralegal studies, welding technology, and business administration.
SPC offers generous financial aid opportunities, such as college-wide scholarships that require candidates to possess a minimum 2.5 GPA and demonstrate adequate SAT/ACT scores. The school also offers specific awards based on academic pursuit (like nursing and automotive technology) and extracurricular talents (like cheerleading and musical performance).