Best Online Community Colleges

Community colleges' online programs can help you transfer to a four-year school. Learn more about the best online community colleges and their many benefits.
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Best Online Community Colleges

Millions of students from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds attend community college every year, taking advantage of an affordable education close to home. The best online community colleges go even further by letting you learn from anywhere with an internet connection, and some offer asynchronous instruction options.

Whether you're preparing to enter the workforce immediately after graduation or planning to transfer into a four-year program, online community colleges can help you achieve academic and professional success.

Featured Online Associate Degree Programs

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

Best Online Community Colleges Rankings Summary

Jump to a school below using the links in the "School" column.

Rank School In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition Acceptance Rate
#1 Eastern Gateway Community College
Steubenville, OH
$4,115 $7,727 Not provided
#2 Houston Community College
Houston, TX
$2,904 $3,624 Not provided
#3 Northern Virginia Community College
Annandale, VA
$5,412 $10,790 Not provided
#4 Ivy Tech Community College
Indianapolis, IN
$4,487 $8,777 Not provided
#5 Panola College
Carthage, TX
$792 $792 Not provided
#6 Northwood Technical College
Shell Lake, WI
$4,570 $6,630 Not provided
#7 Stanly Community College
Albemarle, NC
$2,554 $9,005 Not provided
#8 Lakeshore Technical College
Cleveland, WI
$3,868 $5,802 Not provided
#9 James A. Rhodes State College
Lima, OH
$4,325 $8,649 Not provided
#10 Itawamba Community College
Fulton, MS
$2,900 $5,100 Not provided

Top Online Community Colleges of 2024

We use datasets from sources like the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. 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. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such. All data is current as of the date this article was published. Program-specific information may vary.

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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#1 Best Online Community Colleges

Eastern Gateway Community College

  • Steubenville, OH
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $131-$137
Out-of-State | $138

Credits to Graduate: 60

Eastern Gateway Community College offers fully online associate degrees in business, education, engineering and manufacturing, health, public service, and public safety.

Depending on the program and your career objective, you can enter the workforce with your associate or enroll in one of the two transfer programs to prepare for your transition into a bachelor's degree.

As a student in the transfer program, you can earn either an associate of arts (AA) or an associate of science (AS). Eastern Gateway Community College has over 250 transfer agreements, which can help prepare you to pursue further education.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,115
Out-of-state
$7,727
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
64%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
45,173
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#2 Best Online Community Colleges

Houston Community College

  • Houston, TX
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $33-$121
Out-of-State | $151

Credits to Graduate: 60

As a student at Houston Community College (HCC), you have your choice of fully online courses, on-campus classes, or a combination of both.

You can enroll in one of 60 online or 70 hybrid programs to fit your studies in with your work and other obligations. If you're an online student, your program may require you to take up to 15% of your courses on one of HCC's campuses.

You can earn an associate from one of HCC's academic programs to prepare you for transfer to a four-year school. Another option is to graduate from one of the workforce programs to transition into employment.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$2,904
Out-of-state
$3,624
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
63%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
46,780
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
77% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#3 Best Online Community Colleges

Northern Virginia Community College

  • Annandale, VA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $185
Out-of-State | $364

Credits to Graduate: 60-69

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) offers classes that last 4-15 weeks, offering flexibility to recent high school graduates and working professionals alike. Through NOVA Online, you can opt for an AA, AS, or an AAS — depending on the program and your career objectives.

NOVA has strong ties with many surrounding communities in Virginia, including Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax. A NOVA Online degree can give you an advantage when pursuing employment opportunities in this region.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,412
Out-of-state
$10,790
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
69%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
49,560
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
63% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#4 Best Online Community Colleges

Ivy Tech Community College

  • Indianapolis, IN
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $170
Out-of-State | $333

Credits to Graduate: 60-75

If you're concerned about carrying student loans after graduation, you might consider Ivy Tech Community College. The school reports that four out of five students graduate with no college debt.

The diversity of concentrations might be another reason to look at Ivy Tech Community College. You can find your chosen field from among the 21 fully online degree programs available, from accounting to software development. Some of the school's more popular programs include nursing, healthcare specialist, and precision agriculture.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,487
Out-of-state
$8,777
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
57%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
86,100
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#5 Best Online Community Colleges

Panola College

  • Carthage, TX
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $122
Out-of-State | $378

Credits to Graduate: 60

Panola College is a small community college located in Carthage, Texas, a city known for its gas fields and country music. Over 80 degrees and certificates are available, including nine fully online degree programs.

Through Canvas, Panola offers six online associates of applied science degree programs. The subjects include cybersecurity, general business, and computer information technology. Other online degree programs include teaching education, medical laboratory technician, and office professional. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$792
Out-of-state
$792
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
68%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,469
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
71% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#6 Best Online Community Colleges

Northwood Technical College

  • Shell Lake, WI
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $160
Out-of-State | $165-$234

Credits to Graduate: 60-62

Formerly Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Northwood Technical College has over 100 years of history and was one of the first technical schools established in Wisconsin.

Northwood Tech offers 13 fully online associate degrees in diverse fields, including accounting, early childhood education, health information technology, and nonprofit leadership.

Northwood Tech's mission emphasizes a career-focused education. The school reports that 95% of graduates find employment within six months, and the average starting salary is over $43,000.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,570
Out-of-state
$6,630
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
67%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,656
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
73% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#7 Best Online Community Colleges

Stanly Community College

  • Albemarle, NC
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $196
Out-of-State | $388

Credits to Graduate: 64-76

Stanly Community College first opened its doors in 1971. It now serves about 10,000 students annually, using a professional advising model to provide students with industry knowledge and mentoring. 

Stanly offers 11 fully online associate degree programs in law, business, education, information technology, and human services. Examples of Stanly's online programs include:

  • Accounting
  • Business administration
  • Early childhood education
  • Human services developmental disabilities
  • Information technology cybersecurity

Stanly also offers online diplomas for programs including information technology network management and criminal justice. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$2,554
Out-of-state
$9,005
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
83%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,456
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
89% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#8 Best Online Community Colleges

Lakeshore Technical College

  • Cleveland, WI
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $189
Out-of-State | $219

Credits to Graduate: 60-61

Established in 1977, Lakeshore Technical College is a small institution located in Cleveland, Wisconsin. The college offers over 30 online associate degree programs. In some career areas, students can choose from multiple concentrations, such as:

  • Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources: agriculture technician and agriculture science and technology
  • Business Management and Administration: business management, human resource administration, manufacturing management
  • Finance: accounting and accounting assistant 

Two of LTC's degrees in law, public safety and security are available in an iFlex format, meaning students have the option of attending online or in person. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$3,868
Out-of-state
$5,802
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
65%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,322
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#9 Best Online Community Colleges

James A. Rhodes State College

  • Lima, OH
  • 2 years
  • Online

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $190
Out-of-State | $380

Credits to Graduate: 62-65

Rhodes State College has 16 fully online associate degree programs. Areas of focus include marketing, human resources, and accounting. The newest degree at the college in Lima, Ohio is an associate in science in artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

Some people are more ready for online learning than others. That's why the college provides a questionnaire on its website for students to consider before enrolling. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,325
Out-of-state
$8,649
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
65%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
3,402
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#10 Best Online Community Colleges

Itawamba Community College

  • Fulton, MS
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $140
Out-of-State | $240

Credits to Graduate: 60

Located in Fulton, Mississippi, Itawamba Community College offers the following fully online AAS programs:

  • Business and marketing management
  • Criminal justice
  • Early childhood education
  • General studies
  • Hospitality management
  • Paralegal studies
  • Public health

The school also provides various services for remote students, especially individuals new to online classes. Enrollees also get access to technical support and online orientation.

Itawamba Community College has a career services center committed to helping you navigate the job search process and find meaningful employment.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$2,900
Out-of-state
$5,100
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
65%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
4,348
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

How We Rank Schools

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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.

Applying to the Right Online Community College for You

Once you've found a community college online program that meets your needs, your next step is to apply to that school. You'll need to prepare your application materials, and there may also be an application fee. Below is an overview of common application requirements.

Requirements/Prerequisites

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 specific 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.

Application Fees

Application fees vary from college to college. 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.

Application Materials

In addition to paying an application fee and providing your high school transcripts or 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 explain why you should be accepted into your desired community college online program.

Location

You may want to choose an online community college close to home, as some programs use a hybrid learning model. Additionally, out-of-state students may need to pay a higher tuition rate than their in-state peers.

Accreditation

College accreditation signifies that a school or program meets certain academic standards. Four-year colleges and employers may not regard your diploma as valid if you graduated from an unaccredited online community college.

Is It Cheaper to Attend an Online Community College Than a Four-Year College?

The latest reported data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) shows that community college students attending an in-state school pay the lowest average tuition and fees of all undergraduates. Their out-of-state peers typically spend more than twice as much to earn a certificate or degree.

Additionally, in-state learners attending a four-year public college pay considerably more for their education, especially as the cost of college has steadily increased over the last several decades.

The cost of attending community college online can provide even further savings. Learning entirely online means you don't need to worry about commuting to or parking on campus. Your school may also provide extra financial benefits to online learners, such as free e-textbooks.

However, remember that many factors can influence your out-of-pocket costs, such as your financial aid package and other indirect expenses.

Cost of Two-Year vs. Four-Year College, 2021-2022
Institution Type Average Tuition & Required Fees
Public 4-Year (In-State) $9,596
Public 4-Year (Out-of-State) $27,457
Private 4-Year $34,041
Public 2-Year (In-State) $3,564
Public 2-Year (Out-of-State) $8,415
Source: NCES

How Much Can You Make With an Associate Degree?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the typical worker with an associate degree earns over 15% more than a professional with only a high school diploma.

Speak with your online community college's academic advisors to find out which degrees align with well-paying jobs. And check out the following table of high-paying jobs with an associate degree.

Popular Jobs You Can Get With an Associate Degree
Job Median Annual Salary (May 2022) Job Outlook (2022-2032)
Computer Network Support Specialist $59,660 5%
Dental Hygienist $81,400 7%
Occupational Therapy Assistant $63,450 23%
Physical Therapy Assistant $57,240 19%
Respiratory Therapist $70,540 13%
Source: BLS

Online Community Colleges by State

One of the potential benefits of enrolling in community college online is that you can explore different schools across the nation. This may lead to opportunities you hadn't considered, enabling you to embark on a new adventure.

However, if you do want to attend school closer to home, each state has many community colleges with online offerings.

Browse online community college and trade school programs across the United States:

What's the Difference Between an Online Trade School, Technical College, and Career College?

Trade schools, like community colleges, typically offer students the opportunity to earn a degree in two years or less. That said, 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 different vocations, such as automotive repair, plumbing, and cosmetology. They are typically government backed or approved, and their credits can often be transferred 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 you for specific careers; however, graduates typically receive associate degrees — rather than certificates — after completing course requirements. Technology-related programs, such as information technology, are common areas of study at technical colleges.

Career Colleges

The term "career college" is usually associated with for-profit schools that are not accredited. As a result, credentials earned at these institutions may not be recognized by other schools. Employers may also skip over candidates who hold an unaccredited degree.

Career college programs focus on specific careers, and students can often graduate in nine months to a year.

Can You Transfer From Community College Into a Bachelor's Program?

Yes — many community colleges offer associate degrees well suited for transfer to on-campus or online colleges and universities. These two-year degree programs let you complete the general education courses required in a bachelor's program. Typical classes include English composition, history, and science.

An associate for transfer track may appeal to many types of learners, including students unsure of their major and those who want to save on tuition. Also, you can explore different tracks while paying a per-credit tuition rate well below the average cost at a four-year school.

Consider checking a school's transfer policies and reciprocity or articulation agreements before enrolling in an online community college. Once you're a student, academic advisors can help you explore four-year schools and understand transfer requirements. Many four-year programs will accept up to 60 credits from accredited community colleges.

What Associate Degrees Can You Earn Online?

If you want to get a two-year degree online, remember that several types of associate degrees are available. Take some time to research the types of associate degrees and find the best one for your academic and career goals.

Associate of Arts (AA)

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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 of arts program in the future. Courses usually include English, mathematics, social sciences, and laboratory science.

Associate of Science (AS)

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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. However, some AS programs offer concentrations in majors like biology, computer science, physics, and health science.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

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These programs usually focus on preparing you to enter specific career fields upon graduation, as opposed to transferring to a four-year program. They may require you to complete a few general education classes, but most of the coursework relates to your chosen major. Examples of AAS programs include computer technology, healthcare systems technology, and hospitality management.

Associate of Applied Arts (AAA)

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This category also 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. You may take some general education classes, along with major-focused coursework like photography, graphic design, and art history.

More Featured Online Associate Degree Programs

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

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. And, of course, your major affects the jobs you may qualify for after graduation.

The list below describes a few common majors you can pursue through community college online programs.

Business Administration

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This major covers a variety of topics related to the business world, including management, sales, marketing, accounting, and organizational structures. You'll also learn how to apply your newly acquired skills in a practical setting.

Healthcare

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Associate degrees in healthcare provide a comprehensive introduction to the healthcare sector. These programs often attract students who plan to enroll in a health services bachelor's program. You'll take courses across the sciences, including those pertaining to research, clinical procedures, and various healthcare professions.

Education

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In an associate in education program, you'll cover theories and practices in teaching and learning, along with basic educational psychology. You'll also learn how to plan lessons, contribute to the social and academic growth of students, and manage school health and safety issues. Many students go on to enroll in four-year elementary or secondary education programs.

Social Sciences and History

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Social sciences and history associate degrees prepare you for various bachelor-level programs. They may cover a variety of subjects, including sociology, ancient and modern history, social issues, and political science. The ultimate goal is to give you a solid foundation covering social institutions and behaviors.

Psychology

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

Communications

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An associate degree in communications explores facets of communication among people and groups, including through different forms of media. Interpersonal, organizational, professional, and intercultural communication are key areas of study.


Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed November 18, 2023.

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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