Best Community Colleges in West Virginia
Share this Article
In the past decade, online learning has become more prevalent. And with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, more students are receiving their education remotely than ever before. It is now easy for students to engage with their professors and classmates in real-time, take exams, and submit assignments through online learning platforms.
Many online community colleges in West Virginia offer an additional benefit: asynchronous classes. Asynchronous courses allow students to attend pre-recorded lectures so that they can learn at their own pace and convenience.
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.
Ready to Start Your Journey?
Community colleges in West Virginia are often less expensive to attend than four-year institutions. They can provide students with a quick, flexible, and relatively affordable pathway to joining the workforce or transferring to a university after graduation.
Why Study in West Virginia?
Community colleges in West Virginia can provide students with hands-on learning and on-the-job training opportunities in high-demand fields and industries. Attending a community college is often a more affordable and flexible way to secure an entry-level job or earn credits toward a bachelor's degree at a four-year college or university. Community colleges in West Virginia also offer online classes, which can allow students to earn their degrees at their own convenience.
Like the rest of the world, West Virginia has been impacted economically by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the economy in West Virginia is steadily recovering. The state is seeing high growth in the sectors like healthcare and social assistance, manufacturing, real estate, retail trade, and other professional and technical services. The state of West Virginia had a population of 1.8 million in July 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reports that West Virginia possessed a gross domestic product (GDP) of $76 billion in 2020.
Cost of Living
West Virginia is known as one of the lowest-cost states in the U.S. Its overall cost of living rating is only 78.1, which is more than 20 points below the national average. Housing and other living costs, such as groceries, utilities, and transportation, are also comparatively inexpensive in West Virginia. The only living cost in West Virginia that is above the national average is healthcare, which is six points above the U.S. average.
Cultural and Community Offerings
West Virginia is divided into 55 different counties, and each is home to diverse communities and cultural offerings. Residents and tourists can visit the state's renowned art galleries such as the Harmony Ridge Gallery, Buxton and Landstreet Gallery, and Tamarack's Fine Arts Gallery. West Virginia is also home to art museums like the Huntington Museum of Art and the Art Museum of West Virginia University. Those who like the outdoors and history can visit Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, and New River Gorge National River.
According to Britannica, the state of West Virginia has a humid continental climate. Summers are warm and damp, while winters are moderately cold. January is the coldest month, and July is the hottest. Average temperatures and rainfall vary in different areas of the state. In the mountainous zones, the average annual temperature is 48 degrees, whereas in the southern region, it's 56 degrees. Precipitation ranges from 35-60 inches per year depending on location and elevation.
Top Degree Programs in West Virginia
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
West Virginia Employment Outlook
After being hit hard by COVID-19, West Virginia's economy and employment outlook continues to recover. According to the Great Falls Tribune, the state's unemployment rate went up to nearly 16% in April 2020, but the figure has steadily decreased since then. According to West Virginia's Department of Commerce, West Virginia's unemployment rate decreased to 4% in November 2021 — an all-time low record for the state. The state has seen drastic employment gains in the industries of trade and transportation, utilities, leisure and hospitality, construction, and manufacturing.
5 West Virginia Jobs in Demand for 2021
Healthcare Support Occupations
Earning an associate degree or even a nondegree certificate can allow individuals to apply for healthcare support roles. Some of the positions that fall into this category are dental assistant and hygienist, emergency medical technician and paramedic, licensed practical and vocational nurse, home health aide, occupational therapy assistant, medical transcriptionist, nursing assistant, physician assistant, and respiratory therapists.
Community and Social Service Occupations
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), community and social service occupations are projected to grow more quickly over the next decade than other positions. The state of West Virginia could see an uptick in new jobs for social workers, social and human service assistants, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, health education specialists, community health workers, family therapists, school and career advisors, and mental health counselors.
Computer and Information Technology Occupations
As businesses and companies rely more on computers for day-to-day functions, the demand for professionals in the computer and information technology industry will likely also grow. Workers in this field may specialize in information research, computer network, computer programming, computer systems, information security analysis, database administration, web development, digital design, or software development.
Education, Training, and Library Occupations
According to the West Virginia Department of Education, the state is currently undergoing a teacher shortage, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, teachers are in demand in the state. Professionals are also needed in the fields of career and technical education, library media, library technology, and special education. Employees in this industry also include archivists, curators, and teacher assistants.
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations
Recent graduates interested in the installation, maintenance, and repair industry can pursue entry-level roles as aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics, automotive service technicians, electrical and electronics installers, medical equipment repairers, and wind turbine technicians. These roles only require an associate degree or a technical certificate, both of which can be obtained at a community college in West Virginia.
Popular Career Paths in West Virginia
Best Accredited Community Colleges in West Virginia
Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.
How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
Best Community Colleges in West Virginia
BridgeValley Community & Technical CollegeLocation
South Charleston, WVTuition
With two campuses in the Charleston area, BridgeValley Community and Technical College offers approximately 2,000 students more than three dozen associate degree and certificate programs.
Popular associate degrees at this West Virginia community college include computer science technology, early childhood education, and marketing. The college recommends that degree-seekers who are planning to transfer to a bachelor's degree completion program choose to major in general education.
Besides earning a certificate or degree, students at BridgeValley can enroll in one of the school's many workforce and economic development programs. These programs, available in subjects such as pipefitting, pharmacy, and phlebotomy, instill in-demand skills that prepare learners for entry-level positions. BridgeValley also partners with local companies and organizations to design and implement workforce training programs.
Like all West Virginia community colleges on this ranking, BridgeValley has an open-door admissions policy, meaning that any prospective students with a high school diploma or GED scores can attend. Incoming degree-seekers without ACT or SAT scores take the ACCUPLACER exam.
Blue Ridge Community and Technical CollegeLocation
With over 40 associate degree and certificate programs, Blue Ridge Community and Technical College caters to learners preparing for a wide range of careers. Career-aligned associate degrees at this West Virginia community college include options in electric distribution technology, business operations, and environmental science. Students planning to transfer to a four-year school can earn a degree in liberal arts or social sciences.
Blue Ridge's Career Advancement Education (CAE) program attracts learners who need additional skills to gain a promotion or start a new career. These self-paced online courses cover diverse topics including animal care, occupational safety, and computer software. Prospective students can take a free online seminar to practice learning with CAE.
Blue Ridge may ask some incoming degree-seekers to take placement tests to determine initial math and English courses. The college charges in-state students approximately 40% less tuition than out-of-state students. Financial aid counselors work closely with all learners to fill out the FAFSA and research scholarship opportunities.
West Virginia Northern Community CollegeLocation
Prospective students who live in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle should consider West Virginia Northern Community College for an associate degree or certificate. Programs at WVNCC include tracks in business, liberal arts, and education and human services.
Each program of study features multiple degree and certificate options, with healthcare learners able to choose from four certificates and four degrees. Additionally, the school website features informational articles that describe how each program can influence a graduate's career path.
This West Virginia community college hosts many extracurricular activities, such as the Student Government Association, intramural sports, and a chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. Popular clubs include the Bible Club and the Petroleum Technology Club.
In addition to high school graduates and individuals with GED scores, homeschooled students may also apply to WVNCC. Some programs with limited enrollment use additional application requirements to select the most qualified degree-seekers. Incoming learners who possess a high school diploma can apply for WVNCC's Foundation Scholarships.
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical CollegeLocation
Mount Gay, WVTuition
Situated in Mount Gay, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College educates approximately 2,000 students, many of whom earn a degree for transfer.
Career-orientated associate degrees at this West Virginia community college include programs in criminal justice, medical laboratory technology, and respiratory care technology. Certificate programs prepare the next generation of electrical engineers and early childhood educators, among other professionals in rapidly growing career fields.
Online learners at Southern use Blackboard to access asynchronous course content. Both transfer degree options feature an entirely online curriculum, meaning that students can work full time or raise a family while earning a degree. Some programs also have a hybrid learning option.
Prospective students can apply online or through the mail. All applicants, whether they graduated high school or not, submit high school transcripts. In-state degree-seekers may qualify for the PROMISE Scholarship, which awards full tuition. Other financial aid opportunities include the federal work-study program.
New River Community and Technical CollegeLocation
A relatively new community college in West Virginia, New River Community and Technical College offers 15 associate degrees as well as certificate programs. Students can choose from a diverse selection of majors, including business administration, computer science - application specialist, and criminal justice - law enforcement.
New River CTC also helps community members prepare for new careers by offering continuing education programs.
A host of resources at New River CTC help learners succeed academically and translate a degree or certificate into a fulfilling career. The Student Success Center provides one-on-one tutoring services. Highly trained career counselors help degree-seekers and alumni explore careers and craft a resume. Also, local employers routinely post new jobs on the New River CTC website.
All incoming learners submit ACT or SAT scores and FAFSA results. The college requires an online new student orientation as well. Financial aid opportunities at New River CTC include the Presidential Scholarship, which awards funding to in-state students with a high school diploma.
Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in West Virginia
Are community colleges worth it?
If you are aiming for a quick and direct transition from college to the workforce, enrolling in a community college may be the right fit for you. Community colleges offer a wide variety of alternative education pathways, including two-year associate degree programs, postsecondary nondegree awards, and short-term certification programs focused on skill-based competencies.
West Virginia's community colleges also offer 100% online degree programs, providing prospective students with the ability to learn from anywhere. Earning a degree at a community college is often a more affordable and flexible option than attending a four-year institution.
Does West Virginia have good community colleges?
Yes. West Virginia's community colleges offer a wide array of flexible, online programs. Tuition rates at the state's community colleges are typically under $5,000 per year for West Virginia residents, and under $11,000 per year for out-of-state students.
At community colleges in West Virginia, students can pursue two-year associate degrees in diverse areas like accounting, business administration, cybersecurity, digital media, education, nursing, occupational development, and technical studies.
How much does it cost to go to community college in West Virginia?
Tuition rates at West Virginia's community colleges are typically under $5,000 per year for West Virginia residents, and under $11,000 per year for out-of-state students. Enrolling in a community college is often less expensive than attending a four-year school.
The state of West Virginia has also created initiatives and with partner organizations to offer certain students financial assistance and sometimes free tuition. For instance, West Virginia Invests is a state-funded grant program that offers free tuition to students enrolled in certificate and associate degree programs, especially those in high-demand fields like information technology and healthcare.
What is the cheapest community college in West Virginia?
The Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College is one of the cheapest community colleges in West Virginia. Easter currently charges state residents under $4,000 per year to attend the school full time. Non-resident students pay about $8,500 annually. Eastern offers associate degree programs and certification programs in high-demand fields such as allied healthcare, elementary education, nursing, wind energy technology, welding, and phlebotomy.
Is West Virginia a good place to live and study?
Colleges and universities in West Virginia already offer less expensive tuition and fee rates than many other higher education institutions in the country. Many resident students can qualify for free tuition or financial assistance programs.
If you are a legal resident of West Virginia for at least one year before you apply to a state school, you may be eligible for the West Virginia Invests grant program that provides free tuition for students enrolled in public two- or four-year institutions. Students can also take advantage of the West Virginia Promise Scholarship, Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars Program, and the West Virginia Higher Education Grant.
Feature Image: Ali Majdfar / Moment / Getty Images