Best Community Colleges in Texas

Discover affordable community colleges in Texas and why the Lone Star State is an excellent place to live and study.

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by Staff Writers

Published on February 1, 2022 · Updated on April 26, 2022

Edited by Darlene Earnest
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Sixty-three community colleges in Texas serve more than 720,000 students, offering a variety of two-year associate degrees and certificates.

The Texas Association of Community Colleges is a nongovernmental organization that serves the public community college districts in Texas. It has partnered with agencies and nonprofit organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for Community College Student Engagement, Educate Texas, Greater Texas Foundation, Jobs for the Future, Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Workforce Commission.

With an annual student population of more than 720,000, community colleges make up the largest sector of higher education in Texas.

Why Study in Texas?

Educational Opportunities

Community colleges in Texas offer two-year associate degrees in high-demand industries like business administration, education and training, healthcare, and science and technology.

Along with associate degrees, the state's community college system also offers unique educational initiatives, including the adult education and literacy program, development education, dual credit, and other guided pathways and shorter-term programs that may immediately lead to entry-level professional jobs.

Economy

Texas entered 2021 as the ninth-largest economy globally, boasting a civilian workforce of more than 14 million. That's the second-largest in the United States, just behind the state of California.

With numerous commercial airports, freight railroads, foreign trade zones, seaports, interstate highways, and miles of coastline, Texas has consistently been a top U.S. exporter. Texas is also the largest energy-producing state in the nation and is home to many Fortune 500 company headquarters.

Cost of Living

Even though Texas has become a nationwide center for business, it's surprising how affordable it is to live in the Lone Star State. Texas is the second-largest state in the United States, but reports show the average cost of living here is 7% lower than the national average.

Cultural and Community Offerings

With a large population of more than 29.7 million people as of 2021, Texas is the second-most populated state in the United States.

The state also offers a diverse array of cultural influences and significant historical moments. People can explore Texas' arts, culture, and history through its world-class museums. These include the Dallas Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Witte Museum, The Art Museum of South Texas, and the Museum of Science and History.

Climate

The weather patterns in Texas vary based on each location, but the climate is mostly continental in the northwest and subtropical in the rest of the state.

Except for some areas in the northwestern part of the state, winters in Texas are only moderately cold, although there could be occasional cold fronts. The mountainous region in the west is the state's dry area, while the southeast region usually gets the most rain.

The state experiences summer-like conditions from the middle of April through October.

Top Degree Programs in Texas

Texas Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas was the top job creator in the country in 2019, adding about 342,800 jobs during that year.

The state of Texas has always been known for the cotton, ranching, and oil industries, but it has also seen significant growth in jobs related to technology. With an excellent business climate and favorable tax climates, more businesses are opening up in Texas, resulting in an uptick in employment.

5 Texas Jobs in Demand

Office and Administrative Support

Mean Annual Wage (as of May 2020): $40,000

Job Outlook: With a total employment of 1,765,820 as of May 2020, the office and administrative support field is the largest industry in the state of Texas. This field offers high-demand roles in accounting and auditing, bookkeeping, customer services, communications, and human resources.


Sales

Mean Annual Wage (as of May 2020): $43,280

Job Outlook: The sales industry is currently the second-largest field in Texas, employing a total of 1,200,130 Texans as of 2020. This industry provides entry-level jobs in retail and non-retail sales, insurance sales, financial services sales, and advertising sales.


Transportation and Material Moving

Mean Annual Wage (as of May 2020): $40,330

Job Outlook: The transportation and material moving industry produced a total of 1,063,900 jobs as of May 2020, making it the third-largest industry in Texas. This industry offers jobs in aircraft cargo handling, flight engineering, and vehicle and heavy machine operations.


Food Preparation and Serving

Mean Annual Wage (as of May 2020): $23,980

Job Outlook: With a total employment of 1,047,300 jobs, food preparation and other serving-related occupations make up the fourth-largest industry in Texas. This industry offers entry-level roles as assistants to chefs and head cooks and first-line supervisors in food preparation.


Educational Instruction and Library

Mean Annual Wage (as of May 2020): $52,920

Job Outlook: The educational instruction and library industry is the fifth-largest field in Texas, providing 740,670 jobs as of May 2020. Careers include teaching positions in preschool, elementary, middle school, special education, and secondary classrooms.


Popular Career Paths in Texas

Best Accredited Community Colleges in Texas

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Best Community Colleges in Texas

  1. Laredo Community College
    Location

    Laredo, TX

    Tuition

    $6002

    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.

  2. Lee College
    Location

    Baytown, TX

    Tuition

    $7685

    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.

  3. College of the Mainland
    Location

    Texas City, TX

    Tuition

    $3463

    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.

  4. Northwest Vista College
    Location

    San Antonio, TX

    Tuition

    $7269

    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.

  5. Southwest Texas Junior College
    Location

    Uvalde, TX

    Tuition

    $6780

    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.

  6. Amarillo College
    Location

    Amarillo, TX

    Tuition

    $4089

    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.

  7. San Jacinto College
    Location

    Pasadena, TX

    Tuition

    $8932

    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.

  8. Galveston College
    Location

    Galveston, TX

    Tuition

    $4421

    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.

  9. El Paso Community College
    Location

    El Paso, TX

    Tuition

    $4553

    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.

  10. Palo Alto College
    Location

    San Antonio, TX

    Tuition

    $6795

    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.

Best Online Colleges in Texas

Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Texas

Are community colleges worth it?

Yes. Community colleges create an academic pipeline for students to quickly transition from college to the workforce, a unique path that allows them to earn an associate degree or a short-term educational certificate within 1-2 years. Community colleges in Texas establish long-term partnerships with different businesses and companies in their effort to provide students with a direct route toward entry-level professional jobs. Furthermore, community colleges are generally affordable and flexible, and most credits earned at community colleges transfer to four-year schools.

Does Texas have good community colleges?

Yes. Texas maintains an excellent lineup of community colleges, and a large portion of the state's student population has chosen this path to help secure the career they want. The state's community college system serves more than 720,000 learners. It offers both two-year associate degrees designed for students interested in transferring to four-year universities and professional programs for learners interested in quickly entering the workforce.

How much does it cost to go to community college in Texas?

Community colleges in Texas cost approximately $2,280 in tuition fees per year for in-state students and around $6,610 for out-of-state students, according to the Education Data Initiative.

What is the cheapest community college in Texas?

Starting at $88 per credit, Trinity Valley Community College (TVCC) is among the least expensive community colleges in Texas. TVCC opened as a junior college in 1946 and now operates different campuses spread across the communities of Athens, Kaufman, Palestine, and Terrell. TVCC's degree programs include business and technology, health sciences, language arts, and public service, among others. It also has specialized programs for adult education and continuing education.

Is Texas a good place to live and study?

Boasting an affordable cost of living and many inexpensive community colleges, Texas is a good place to live and study. Although Texas is the second-largest state in the United States, the average cost of living in Texas is 7% lower than the national average. Moreover, the state government has created several initiatives that grant scholarships and financial aid to prospective college students, including the AlamoPROMISE program, Dallas County Promise, and the Harris County Promise. Incoming students can also qualify for financial aid, grants, job opportunities, and student loans by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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