Best Online Community Colleges and Trade Schools of 2021

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Published on July 30, 2021

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Technology and the internet have made higher education more accessible than ever, with ever-increasing numbers of colleges and universities offering digital learning. In fact, according to Babson Survey Research Group, 70% of education leaders say that online learning will be a critical factor in their institutions' long-term growth.

An associate degree online is a great place to start your academic journey, even if your ultimate goal is to get a bachelor's or master's degree. These programs are usually much more affordable than the typical four-year school, and they also offer the flexibility you need to take classes and complete assignments on your own schedule.

What Are the Best Online Community Colleges and Trade Schools of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#1 Pamlico Community College Grantsboro, NC
#2 Frontier Community College Fairfield, IL
#3 Wabash Valley College Mount Carmel, IL
#4 Olney Central College Olney, IL
#5 Lewis and Clark Community College Godfrey, IL
#6 Southwestern Community College Sylva, NC
#7 Wiregrass Georgia Technical College Valdosta, GA
#8 Southwest Mississippi Community College Summit, MS
#9 Clovis Community College Clovis, NM
#10 Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wesson, MS

Thanks to credit transfer agreements, high-quality instruction, and the efficiency that comes with online learning, it's no surprise that it has become such an attractive option for students across the country and around the world.

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

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.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

2021 Best Accredited Online Community Colleges and Trade Schools

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Pamlico Community College View School Profile Grantsboro, NC

School Overview

Distance learning at PCC helps students achieve their education and career goals while maintaining work and family life. Online, asynchronous programs are hosted on the Moodle portal, with student email available through Microsoft Office 365.

The college offers associate degrees in accounting, business administration, cosmetology, and early childhood education, among others. It also offers certificate programs in fields like banking and welding. Students have access to services such as online tutoring, a career center, and advising and counseling.

Based on Grantsboro, North Carolina, Pamlico Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The institution is also a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $76 per credit (in-state); $268 per credit (out-of-state)
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: Students may need to sit for placement tests

Contact the School

Request more information about this school.

Frontier Community College View School Profile Fairfield, IL

School Overview

Located in Fairfield, Illinois, FCC offers its online classes through the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges (IECC) online portal. Overall, IECC offers approximately 200 courses online, using the Canvas learning management system for instruction.

FCC offers associate, certificate, and transfer programs in a wide variety of categories. Certificates include options like advanced fire suppression and phlebotomy, while transfer programs include associate degrees in arts, science, and general studies. These degrees can be transferred to four-year colleges and universities. Online students can access flexible courses, along with technical and administrative support.

Frontier Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $100 per credit (in-state, in-district); $105-$135 per credit (all other students)
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT, SAT, COMPASS, ACCUPLACER, or the equivalent required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Wabash Valley College View School Profile Mount Carmel, IL

School Overview

Located in Mount Carmel, Illinois, WVC offers online and hybrid courses under the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges distance learning umbrella. The student population totals almost 3,000 learners.

Students may select from transfer degrees, such as an associate in general studies. WVC also offers online certificates in early childhood level 2 and early childhood level 3. Students access online instruction through the Canvas learning management system. Support services for distance learners include administrative support and various learning resources.

Wabash Valley College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $100 per credit (in-state, in-district); $105-$135 per credit (all other students)
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT, SAT, COMPASS, ACCUPLACER, or the equivalent required

Contact the School

Request more information about this school.

Olney Central College View School Profile Olney, IL

School Overview

A two-year college that belongs to the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges network, OCC's online offerings include around 200 classes that learners can access through the IECC online portal. OCC welcomes just over 1,000 enrollees each year. Students who enroll in hybrid and online classes benefit from a variety of academic and learning resources, students support services, and administrative support.

OCC offers 15 associate degrees, including administration of justice, unmanned aerial technology, and radiography. It also delivers certificates in medical transcription, cosmetology, and entrepreneurship.

Olney Central College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $100 per credit (in-state, in-district); $105-$135 per credit (all other students)
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT, SAT, COMPASS, ACCUPLACER, or the equivalent required

Contact the School

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Lewis and Clark Community College View School Profile Godfrey, IL

School Overview

Located in Godfrey, Illinois, L&C offers nearly 40 different degree and certificate programs. It also provides transfer, GED, high school partnership, and continuing education options for learners of all ages. The school educates about 12,000 students each year.

L&C offers a variety of popular career programs covering fields like criminal justice, dental hygiene, radio broadcasting, and restoration ecology. Distance learners utilize the Blackboard learning management system to keep current with assignments and to maintain contact with peers and instructors.

Lewis and Clark Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

School Snapshot

Tuition: Up to $146 per credit
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT scores required by some programs

Contact the School

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Southwestern Community College View School Profile Sylva, NC

School Overview

Located in Sylva, North Carolina, SCC offers students online options for many of its associate of arts, associate of applied science, and certificate programs.

The e-learning suite at SCC includes programs in cybercrime technology, medical office administration, and information technology. Students can also earn certificates in early childhood administration, finance and bookkeeping, and health information technology, as well as diplomas in accounting, finance, and business administration.

Online learners log on to Moodle to keep track of classes and homework assignments, and to get in touch with other students and their professors.

Southwestern Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $86 per credit (in-state); $278 per credit (out-of-state)
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or SAT scores required by some programs

Contact the School

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Wiregrass Georgia Technical College View School Profile Valdosta, GA

School Overview

Wiregrass boasts four main campuses located throughout southern Georgia. It also offers distance learning opportunities through the Georgia Virtual Network Connection. Its online programs feature the same curriculum as on-campus options.

Degrees are available in areas like business management, criminal justice technology, and fire science technology. Students may also earn diplomas related to business technology and business administration. Online certificates include technical specialist, criminal justice fundamentals, and early childhood program administration.

Distance learners use Blackboard to keep track of assignments and to get in touch with their peers and instructors. Online participants may also access student resources, including library services, tutoring, and a virtual bookstore.

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $100 per credit (in-state); $200 per credit (out-of-state)
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACCUPLACER required

Contact the School

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Southwest Mississippi Community College View School Profile Summit, MS

School Overview

Located in Summit, SMCC participates in the Mississippi Virtual Community College — a consortium of 15 colleges that offer students additional course options through distance learning. SMCC delivers online programs through the Canvas learning management system.

SMCC oversees associate programs, as well as career, technical, and military instruction options. Students can take online classes in many areas, including art, business, financial management, and biology.

Southwest Mississippi Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $130 per credit (in-state); $250 per credit (out-of-state)
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Clovis Community College View School Profile Clovis, NM

School Overview

Located in Clovis, New Mexico, CCC's distance learning component offers online degrees and classes, online noncredit courses, and military educational services. Students may enroll in online courses or participate in two-way interactive courses.

Online programs include behavioral science, early childhood education, business administration, and liberal arts. Noncredit online courses cover topics like team building, Spanish, sign language, and interior design. Students may also earn certificates in areas like behavioral health and complementary and integrative health. Students use Canvas learning management system to keep track of coursework and to connect with instructors and peers.

Clovis Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $44 per credit (in-state, in-district); $54 per credit (in-state, out-of-district); $111 per credit (out-of-state)
Format: Asynchronous and synchronous
Instruction Style: Online

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACCUPLACER required

Contact the School

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Copiah-Lincoln Community College View School Profile Wesson, MS

School Overview

In addition to campuses in Wesson, Natchez, and Mendenhall, Mississippi, Co-Lin hosts an online division that provides a convenient way for students to learn a new skill or industry-recognized certificates. Co-Lin hosts more than 300 online career-training courses and 700 online classes in personal enrichment, professional development, and skills training.

Available career training and certificate topics include computer science, hospitality, information technology, and trades. Those interested in single courses can choose from topics like health and fitness, language, math and science, or writing. Classes may utilize an instructor-led or self-paced delivery format.

Copiah-Lincoln Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Tuition: $140 per credit (in-state); $240 per credit (out-of-state)
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT or ACCUPLACER required

Contact the School

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Coastal Pines Technical College View School Profile Waycross, GA

School Overview

CPTC — with a main campus in Waycross, Georgia — also offers a selection of college courses online. Virtual courses cover the same content as traditional, on-campus classes. Learners can enroll in certificate, degree, and diploma programs in areas like forestry technology, culinary arts, and respiratory care.

Online classes are delivered via the Angel learning management system, and students complete assignments through the Blackboard platform. Final exams must be carried out in a proctored setting, either on campus or at a pre-approved location. Online students have access to many resources, including counseling, career placement, and library services.

Coastal Pines Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $89 per credit (in-state); $178 per credit (out-of-state)
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT, SAT, and/or ACCUPLACER required

Contact the School

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Lincoln Trail College View School Profile Robinson, IL

School Overview

A member of the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges (IECC) network, LTC's areas of study include STEM, public safety, health and wellness, and education. Distance learning programs are available through the IECC portal, which offers approximately 200 online courses. Students studying online utilize the Canvas learning management system.

Students may also earn an online certificate in customer service management, medical assisting, electronic medical records, or special event management.

Located in Robinson, Illinois, Lincoln Trail College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $100 per credit (in-state, in-district); $105-$135 per credit (all other students)
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACT, SAT, COMPASS, ACCUPLACER, or the equivalent required

Contact the School

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Wilkes Community College View School Profile Wilkesboro, NC

School Overview

WCC invites enrollees to participate in distance education programs — either entirely online or through a blend of online and face-to-face learning. Certified online instructors use the latest tools and technology for distance instruction.

Online options include associate degrees in arts and general education, business administration, criminal justice technology, and early childhood education. Courses may utilize Microsoft Teams, and students use Moodle to access courses and communicate with their peers and instructors.

Wilkes Community College — with North Carolina campuses in Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany — is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $76 per credit (in-state); $268 per credit (out-of-state)
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: Students may need to sit for placement tests

Contact the School

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Bates Technical College View School Profile Tacoma, WA

School Overview

Bates offers online options that focus on refresher studies and adult learning through its continuing education branch. Online topics include business administration, career technical education, and construction and trades. Additionally, students may obtain continuing education credits through online phlebotomy and certified nursing assistant refresher courses. Bates also offers virtual public safety and transportation and distribution education.

Students access virtual coursework through the Canvas learning management system portal. Located in Tacoma, Washington, Bates Technical College is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $89 per credit (in-state); $253 per credit (out-of-state)
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: ACCUPLACER, COMPASS, ACT, or SAT required by some programs

Contact the School

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West Kentucky Community and Technical College View School Profile Paducah, KY

School Overview

WKCTC — based in Paducah — has ample experience with online education; the school began its distance learning operations during the late 1990s. Online students can choose from nine degree or certificate programs. Degree programs include marine technology, logistics and operations management, and criminal justice, while diploma options include business administration systems, CAD, and medical information technology.

Available student resources for online learners include tutoring services, career placement assistance, counseling, and library services. Students access coursework through Blackboard.

West Kentucky Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

School Snapshot

Tuition: $179 per credit (in-state); $358 per credit (contiguous counties); $627 per credit (out-of-state)
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

Standardized Tests: Placement exam, ACT, or SAT scores required

Contact the School

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Why Choose to Attend an Online Community College or Trade School?

Is it Cheaper to Attend an Online Community College or Trade School than a Traditional University?

Attending an accredited online community college or trade school offers a range of benefits, especially when it comes to saving on expenses. While online programs usually charge the same tuition rates as their on-campus counterparts, they also provide flexibility and freedom that can save you a considerable amount as you work toward your degree.

Because you can complete your coursework from anywhere with an internet connection, you may realize savings in the form of reduced childcare and transportation costs, along with fewer academic fees.

The total amount of money you spend on your associate degree online will depend on many different factors, including the type of degree you pursue, your chosen area of study, and your desired career path. These factors also may affect the length of time required to meet your course requirements, especially if your program includes an internship or practicum.

The cost of earning a trade school certificate online is typically tens of thousands of dollars less than earning a degree from a four-year university. Some programs can be completed in as little as one year, compared to spending four or five years working towards a bachelor's degree. However, earning an online associate's degree remains the most affordable community college option.

If you need help paying for online community college classes or trade courses, financial aid is available in the same way as with on-campus schools and programs. As long as your school is accredited, you may qualify for aid based on financial need.

Learn more about a trade school education in our Guide to Trade School vs. College.

Average Full-time Cost of Community College, 2016-17
Tuition $3,520
Room and Board $8,060
Books and Supplies $1,390
Transportation $1,760
Other Expenses $2,270
TOTAL $17,000

Salary for Associate Degree Graduates

Earning an online associate degree is an investment that can pay incredible dividends, both short and long term. Equipped with a degree, you'll qualify for many jobs unavailable to those with a high school diploma alone. A College Scorecard study found that college graduates typically earn $1 million more than high school graduates over their lifetimes.

If you want to earn more money and provide yourself with greater career opportunities, exploring various online associate degree programs is an important first step. The table below reflects the value an associate degree can provide:

Online Trade Schools, Technical Colleges, and Career Colleges

Trade schools, like community colleges, typically offer students the opportunity to earn a degree in two years or less at relatively low tuition rates. However, trade schools are somewhat different from colleges in that they provide more focused training on specific jobs or industries. Community colleges, meanwhile, tend to offer more generalized degrees.

Trade Schools

These schools provide focused study on a broad range of vocations, such as automotive repair, plumbing, and cosmetology. They are typically government backed or approved, and their credits will typically transfer to other accredited institutions. Students usually receive certificates, rather than degrees, upon completing these programs.

Technical Colleges

These two-year colleges are similar to trade schools in that they train students for specific careers. However, graduates typically receive associate degrees—rather than certificates—as a result of their coursework. Technology-related programs, such as information technology, are common areas of study.

Career Colleges

The term "career college" is usually associated with for-profit schools that are not accredited and therefore not recognized by most reputable two-year or four-year institutions. These programs focus on specific careers, and students often complete them in nine months to a year.

Still not sure if community college is right for you? Visit our blog to learn more about the benefits of community college.

How to Choose an Online Community College or Trade School

Choose Your Career Path and Major

Before you begin looking at community colleges or trade school programs online, think about your long-term career goals and the vocations that interest you most. Your desired career path will inform your choice of a major and ensure you're working toward a degree that will allow you to enter a specific field.

If your potential career requires a bachelor's degree, choose an online community college program that will enable you to transfer your credits to a four-year program later. If you're interested in a specific trade, vocational school offers an alternative education with a direct career path.

Think about your long-term career goals and the vocations that interest you most.

Also note that some schools don't offer all types of majors, and so you'll want to avoid enrolling at a college where you cannot pursue the career you want.

If you're deciding whether to pursue an online trade certificate or associate's degree, consider the limitations of being certified in one trade. While trade programs typically require less time to complete, associate programs provide you with a wide variety of skills that aren't necessarily tied to one specific occupation.

Finally, consider your local economy and the industries and employers that seem to be doing the best in your state. Opting for a career in a high-demand field can help ensure you secure a job after graduation.

Get the Facts

Once you've chosen a career path and major, take some time to research potential online associate degree programs. Check to see if each program meets your requirements, and if not, eliminate it from your list of possible schools. Below are several key factors to consider during this search:

Program Cost

When you're on a tight budget (and most college students are), even a small variance in tuition and fees can make a big difference. Make sure you know how much each school charges per term or per credit, and look into any technology and academic fees you may need to cover.

Transfer Policies

At some point, you may wish to transfer to a different institution, especially if you plan on pursuing a bachelor's degree. Try to find schools that have transfer agreements with other institutions. You will want as many credits as possible to transfer.

School Size and Type

Think about the type of academic experience you would like. If you prefer smaller class sizes, look at schools that highlight their small instructor-to-student ratios. Also consider whether you'd prefer a private or public college. Public schools may be less expensive, but private institutions generally offer more personalized instruction.

Program Length

How long will it take you to complete your program if you're attending full time or part time? See if you can find a planning guide for each program and determine how many credits you'll need to take each term to graduate within a certain period of time.

On-campus Requirements

Some online associate degree programs require students to attend class or seminars on campus periodically. If you live close to the campus, this might not be a problem. But if you live far away, an on-campus requirement could be extremely difficult to meet—especially if you have children, a full-time job, or other personal obligations.

Accreditation for Online Community Colleges

Among the most important factors when choosing an online community college is the school's accreditation status. All reputable colleges and universities are either regionally or nationally accredited. Regional accreditation is considered the more prestigious of the two, and there are six regional bodies for institutions across the country.

Many online-only schools are nationally accredited. These institutions still offer high-quality programs, and they tend to come with the added benefit of lower tuition. Some programs within schools may be independently accredited, as well.

The nonprofit Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education, a federal agency, oversee accrediting agencies. Both organizations maintain strict standards related to the processes accrediting agencies use when analyzing schools and programs nationwide.

This consistency is important, as it ensures that accrediting bodies use standardized, fair procedures when awarding schools with accreditation. Thus, students can rest assured that their programs are providing them with a quality educational experience.

Online Community Colleges & Trade Schools by State

One of the great things about the many community colleges online is that you can attend school in any state you wish. This can open up opportunities you might not have considered, giving you an excuse to embark on a new adventure. Conversely, there are so many great options out there that you're likely to find a school that meets your needs close to where you already live.

See the map below to browse online community college and trade school programs across the United States:

Online Community Colleges and Trade Schools

State

What Associate Degrees Can I Earn Online?

If you wish to get an associate degree online, you should understand that there are several types of these degrees available. The option you choose may have a long-term impact on your academic career, as it will affect the majors available and the four-year programs into which you can transfer. It could even influence the careers available to you after graduation. Take some time to understand the types of associate degrees and find the best one for you.

Associate of Arts (AA)

These programs typically focus on general education classes, rather than those concentrated on a specific career or major. This can prepare you well for transferring to a bachelor's of arts program in the future. Courses usually include English, mathematics, social sciences, and laboratory science.

Associate of Science (AS)

This two-year degree can be a great option if you wish to enroll in a bachelor of science program in the future. In most cases, an AS degree provides a strong academic foundation rather than specific career training. Some AS programs offer concentrations in majors like biology, computer science, physics, and health science.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

These programs are usually focused on preparing students to enter specific career fields upon graduation. They may require you to complete a few general education classes, but most of the coursework is concentrated on your chosen major. Examples of AAS programs include computer technology, healthcare systems technology, and hospitality management.

Associate of Applied Arts (AAA)

This category includes specialized programs that train you for a specific vocation. Unlike AAS degrees, AAA programs tend to focus more on the visual arts, music, and advertising. Students may take some general education classes, along with major-focused coursework like photography, graphic design, and art history.

Common Areas of Study for an Associate Degree

When you select a major for your online associate degree program, you make an important decision concerning the subject areas you will explore during your time in school. In fact, this decision could influence which bachelor's programs you can transfer into once you've completed your two-year degree. And, of course, your major affects the jobs you may qualify for in the future.

Below are a few of the most common majors within community college online programs:

Business Administration

This major covers a range of topics related to the business world, including management, sales, marketing, accounting, and organizational structures. Students also learn how to apply their newly acquired skills in a practical setting, while preparing themselves to move seamlessly into a four-year business program.

Healthcare

These programs provide a comprehensive introduction to the healthcare sector for students who typically go on to engage in more focused health services bachelor's degree programs. Students take courses across the sciences, along with those pertaining to research, clinical procedures, and various healthcare professions.

Education

Students in these online associate degree programs learn about theories and practice in teaching and learning, along with basic educational psychology. They also learn how to plan lessons, contribute to the social and academic growth of students, and manage school health and safety issues. Many students later enroll in four-year elementary or secondary education programs.

Social Sciences/History

These are general majors that prepare students for various bachelor-level programs. They may cover a range of subjects, including sociology, ancient and modern history, social issues, and political science. The ultimate goal is to give students a solid foundation of knowledge of social institutions and behaviors.

Psychology

Honing in on the study of the social behaviors of individuals and groups, an associate degree in psychology gives students a base of knowledge that they can use in their future studies. Students learn about various subfields of psychology, how to conduct thorough research, and how to conduct scientific experiments and tests.

Communications

This major explores the multiple facets of communication among people, including in person, in groups, and through different forms of media. Interpersonal, organizational, professional, and intercultural communication are key areas of study.

Typical Curriculum for Online Associate Programs

Most of the online community college courses you'll take will be general education classes. These typically revolve around core subjects like English, the humanities, mathematics, and the sciences.

For example, your school could require you to complete two science classes, with the options including astronomy, biology, chemistry and physics. Therefore, you'll have some flexibility as to which classes you take to meet various general education requirements. Some programs may require you to take other types of general education courses, such as those focused on cultural literacy, communication, or foreign languages.

Often, the general education classes you take as part of an associate degree online program are the same as those you'd find in a four-year program. This is why so many students choose to complete this coursework at a less expensive community college before transferring into a bachelor's-level program at a four-year university.

Most of the online community college courses you'll take will be general education classes.

You may also be able to complete some major-focused or upper-division classes through an online community college. This is especially true if you pursue an AAS or AAA degree, which both focus on preparing students to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation.

Trade schools entail an entirely different curriculum. Rather than building knowledge across a variety of general education subjects, trade school curriculums focus on developing knowledge and skills for a specific career. Many trade school jobs require specialized training, often necessitating more hands-on work. While some associate programs offer courses with practical work, most curriculums are too broad to develop the skills required for a specialized trade.

How Do Online Classes Work for Community College?

Most online associate degree programs involve specialized software or digital platforms that allow students to access course materials, take part in class forums, interact with instructors, and complete assignments and exams. These platforms also give students access to technical support and tutoring resources. Ultimately, online programs aim to replicate the in-person educational experience, while making the best use of technology to make the learning process as efficient as possible.

In many courses, you will need to interact with your fellow students. This takes place via online discussion boards and forums, through which you may discuss assignments, ask questions, and provide feedback on the subjects covered in class. Your instructor will also post grades to the platform. If you have any questions or wish to discuss your grade with your instructor, you will have the opportunity to do so online.

When it comes to taking exams, many online community college classes require students to go to a certified testing center. There, professional proctors will issue your exam and ensure you are completing it within the allotted time frame and without the use of textbooks or other course materials, if necessary. In other situations, you may be able to take your exams online, but may have a limited amount of time to complete them.

Popular Online Associate Degree Programs

Applying to an Online Community College or Trade School

Once you've found a community college online program that meets your needs, your next step is to apply to that school. You will need to prepare a few documents regarding yourself and your academic history. There may also be an application fee and, for some associate degree programs, an admissions essay. Below is an overview of the most common application requirements:

Nearly all associate degree programs require prospective students to have a high school diploma or GED certificate to be eligible for admission. Some may require you to have completed certain prerequisite courses, such as a certain level of English or math. If you don't meet these requirements, you may need to take a remedial class before you can officially begin the program.

The application fee varies from college to college, but in general, you can expect to pay between $20 and $50 to apply to your desired program. Some schools don't have application fees, while others may waive the fees for applicants who can demonstrate financial need.

In addition to paying an application fee and providing your high school transcripts/GED certificate, you may need to submit a resume, one or more letters of recommendation, and a personal statement or essay. These materials give you an opportunity to make your case for why you deserve to be accepted to your desired community college online program.

Transferring to a Bachelor's Program from an Online Community College

Many students may wish to transfer into a bachelor's program after they complete their community college studies. Getting an early start can help ensure your online associate degree credits transfer seamlessly into a relevant four-year program.

To transfer credits, you'll work with a transfer counselor at the college or university you'd like to attend. This person informs you which credits will or will not transfer, and how transferred credits will cover various general education requirements. This process typically works best if you've planned ahead and attended a community college that has an established transfer arrangement with the four-year school in question.

Not all schools will accept your online associate degree program credits, and so it's important to do some research and make sure the courses you're taking will help you achieve your academic goals. In general, most transfer students find they can complete a bachelor's degree in about two years if they get an associate degree first.

What are Transfer Agreements?

Many community colleges online have credit transfer or transfer articulation agreements with four-year colleges and universities. These arrangements allow students to first obtain an associate degree and then use the credits they've already earned toward a bachelor's program. This can be incredibly helpful if your long-term goal is to continue your studies, as it ensures you won't waste your time on courses that will not ultimately count toward a more advanced degree.

Contact each of your prospective associate degree online programs to determine if they have credit transfer agreements with other institutions. If so, find out if you might wish to attend any of those institutions in the years to come so that you can plan the most efficient way to achieve your educational and professional goals.

Feeling first-day-of-college jitters? Learn what to expect and how to prepare for the first day of class. Looking for a good school in the Southwest? Check out our list of the top 10 online colleges in the southwestern United States. Students can make college life easier by bringing 10 documents that are essential for study, work, and other aspects of student life.

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