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What's the biggest perk of a community college over a four-year university? For many, it's affordability. Mississippi community colleges can offer that. No-cost tuition is available for some in-state students.
Some other advantages about community colleges? Smaller class sizes and a wide variety of courses.
Mississippi also boasts some of the top online community colleges in the nation.
Why Study in Mississippi?
There are all kinds of educational opportunities in Mississippi. One path allows students to start at a community college and then finish their studies at one of the state's well-known four-year schools.
"There's no doubt that the data for decades talks about that if you graduate from a community college in Mississippi that you will perform better in years three and four academically when you go to university," said Meridian Community College President Dr. Thomas Huebner in an interview with WTOK TV.
Like every other state, Mississippi is working to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For 2022, the state is projected to see steady, slow economic growth. The job outlook follows a similar pattern. Some professions like healthcare and various technology fields are growing faster than others.
While Mississippi's economy isn't "booming," the relative stability has helped the state overcome some economic ups and downs.
Cost of Living
According to the World Population Review, the cost of living in Mississippi was the lowest in the nation in 2021. Certainly, a contributor to this low cost of living is having the lowest housing costs in the country as well, with an average home price of $128,000.
Groceries and utilities cost less than in other areas of the country, along with transportation and gas prices.
Cultural and Community Offerings
Mississippi has plenty of cultural and community offerings. And they vary across the state.
Cities like Natchez have thriving tourism economies. Towns along the coast tend to be more relaxed.
The music scene in Mississippi can be incredible. It's the birthplace of the Delta blues. Gospel and rock also have a strong presence in the state.
Larger cities like Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Biloxi feature a rich nightlife with many restaurants and other venues that offer fine Southern dining and great entertainment.
If you prefer warmer weather over colder temperatures, Mississippi may be the right fit for you. Wintry weather rarely shows up in the state. Summers can be hot, and humid. High humidity is common throughout the summer months, and rainfall is pretty evenly distributed year-round.
However, Mississippi rarely has an "average" year.
Some years contain flooding and storms, and others are marked by drought. Locals call it "feast or famine" when it comes to weather. The year will either be calm or filled with weather events, with little in between.
Top Degree Programs in Mississippi
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Mississippi Employment Outlook
Mississippi's employment outlook overall is stable, but there are growing industries and careers. Average job growth is expected to remain between 1-2% overall. This is due to the declining number of jobs in the mining and logging industries and increases in manufacturing, leisure and hospitality, and information technology occupations.
Employment in government jobs saw declines, but education and health services fields have added jobs slightly faster than other sectors.
5 Mississippi Jobs in Demand
Physical Therapist Assistant
- U.S. Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $49,970
- Job Outlook: The demand for physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 32% nationwide from 2020-2030. This is one of the jobs most in demand in Mississippi as well. It indicates the state is making strides in adding healthcare professionals to its workforce.
Job Outlook: The demand for physical therapist assistants is projected to grow 32% nationwide from 2020-2030. This is one of the jobs most in demand in Mississippi as well. It indicates the state is making strides in adding healthcare professionals to its workforce.
Description: Supervised by physical therapists, these assistants help patients regain movement and strength after illness, injury, or disease.
Home Health Aide
- U.S. Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $27,080
- Job Outlook: A job growth of 33% is projected in this field from 2020-2030, and this is one of the fastest-growing career areas in Mississippi as well.
Description: The home health aide or caregiver helps those with severe illness, dementia, or injury to manage everyday activities. They also monitor the health of these patients, assist them with nutrition and mobility, and more.
This career is often a gateway to other opportunities in the medical field. Those with some college or trade school education and on-the-job training may pursue these jobs. However, those with an associate degree in a healthcare-related field generally earn more.
Computer Programmer and Software Developer
- U.S. Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $89,190 and $110,140
- Job Outlook: Jobs for computer programmers are projected to decline nationally from 2020-2030. At the same time, jobs for software developers are projected to grow 22%. In Mississippi, information technology jobs are in demand.
Description: A computer programmer writes code or other computer languages that enable computer or phone applications and software to operate correctly. They'll usually work in offices or even remotely. Software developers design computer applications and programs.
You can pursue a job as a computer programmer or software developer with an associate of sciences in software development. However, many employers will want additional on-the-job training or a bachelor's degree if you want to move ahead in your career.
- U.S. Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $38,270
- Job Outlook: The number of these jobs, while projected to slightly decline nationally between 2020 and 2030, is on the rise in Mississippi. This is partly due to increases in the state's manufacturing industry.
Description: Plastics technicians set up, operate, and monitor the machines that shape, mold, and cut plastics, often as a part of a more extensive manufacturing process. Most of the time they work in plants or factories. The most common degree is an associate of science in manufacturing or, in some cases, process management.
- U.S. Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $54,290
- Job Outlook: The number of industrial mechanics jobs is projected to grow 19% from 2020-2030, faster than the average for all U.S. occupations. As machinery in factories gets more advanced and complex, industrial mechanics will be required to develop more skills. These professionals are in high demand due to Mississippi's emerging manufacturing industry.
Description: The duties of the industrial mechanic involve installation, maintenance, and repair of factory machinery and other industrial machines in a variety of industries. The most common associate degree in the field is in mechanical engineering. Many industrial mechanics move on to pursue a bachelor's degree or other on-the-job and formal training.
Popular Career Paths in Mississippi
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Mississippi
Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
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Best Community Colleges in Mississippi
Copiah-Lincoln Community College
At Co-Lin, learners can select a transfer- or career-orientated associate degree in one of eight academic areas, including business, fine arts, and science. Many degrees boast an entirely online curriculum, and program websites link current and prospective degree-seekers with extracurricular activities and leadership opportunities.
Both online and on-campus undergraduates at this Mississippi community college can access the school's valuable student services. At The Write Place, students receive one-on-one writing assistance from volunteer instructors. As degree-seekers approach graduation, they can also consult with career and transfer advisors. Co-Lin boasts transfer agreements with many in-state public colleges and universities.
Co-Lin accepts students who hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. Incoming students without ACT scores must take placement tests. All students can apply for financial aid, and Co-Lin awards scholarships to learners who earned a 19 or higher on the ACT; these awards max out at $1,400 per semester.
Southwest Mississippi Community College
SMCC's academic programs include pre-professional associate degrees and career and technical education in areas such as automotive technology, cosmetology, and marketing management technology. Certificate programs may vary throughout the year, depending on student demand. Online courses use Canvas and Cengage, among other online learning tools. SMCC also offers Net Tutor software to all online students at no additional cost.
SMCC boasts multiple clubs, teams, and organizations that allow students to build interpersonal bonds outside of class. Academically gifted degree-seekers can join Phi Theta Kappa or the Student Government Association. Intramural sports include basketball, ping pong, and dodgeball.
Prospective students can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. SMCC highly recommends that applicants submit ACT scores. Financial aid opportunities at this community college in Mississippi include merit-based scholarships; students with a minimum 21 ACT score qualify. The college awards additional financial aid to undergraduates who maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.
East Central Community College
ECCC's academic programs boast transfer- and career-orientated degrees, as well as four healthcare programs that train future EMTs and surgical technicians. Distance learning at this Mississippi community college features all courses offered by the Mississippi Virtual Community College. This allows online learners at ECCC to benefit from many of the state's best community college instructors.
In addition to associate degrees and certificates, ECCC offers GED preparation courses and dual-enrollment programs for high school students who live in the Decatur area. High school students can earn college credit through dual-credit and dual-enrollment tracks. The college's Success Center provides one-on-one tutoring support in over 15 academic areas, and faculty members lead tutoring sessions.
ECCC accepts new degree-seekers in the summer, fall, and spring semesters. New learners without ACT scores must take the ACCUPLACER exam to determine their initial English and math course placements. Incoming students may qualify for institutional scholarships. The college awards a full-tuition scholarship to all learners who earned a 29 or above on the ACT.
East Mississippi Community College
EMCC's academic programs feature career- and transfer-orientated associate degrees, as well as professional certificates. Students planning to transfer to a four-year college can select a major from one of three academic divisions: humanities and fine arts, mathematics and science, or social science and business. Popular associate programs at this Mississippi community college include forensics, geoscience, and poultry science.
Distance learning students at EMCC can select from over 450 courses each semester through the Mississippi Virtual Community College -- a consortium of 15 community colleges throughout the state. Many courses offer eight- and 15-week options, and new courses start every two months.
Prospective degree-seekers who are 20 years old and younger must submit ACT scores. Both on-campus and online learners complete a virtual orientation session before registering for courses. Full-time students with excellent ACT scores may qualify for an institutional scholarship. EMCC also awards financial aid to student athletes and learners who maintain an excellent undergraduate GPA.
Mississippi Delta Community College
MDCC offers transfer degrees, career and technical education, and professional development for working professionals. Transfer students can select from dozens of degrees in seven academic areas. Degree-seekers who need to take remedial coursework enroll in the College Prep, Life Skills, and Education Department. After meeting academic benchmarks, these students can start an associate degree.
MDCC also boasts an Honors College. Requirements include a minimum 25 on the ACT. Degree-seekers must also maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA, take at least 16 credits each semester, and complete honors courses. Finally, Honors College students receive a book allowance and may qualify for additional scholarships.
Prospective degree-seekers can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. First-time college students submit ACT scores in addition to high school transcripts or GED scores. Incoming learners with a minimum 18 ACT score receive a college-funded scholarship. MDCC also awards grants and runs work-study programs on campus.
Coahoma Community College
CCC features a small student-to-teacher ratio, affordable tuition for in-state students, and over 60 associate degrees. This Mississippi community college's seven academic departments award transfer degrees in art, English, math, music, and many other in-demand subjects. Career and technical education programs include barbering, child development, and culinary arts. Many academic programs boast honor societies, clubs, and student organizations.
Prospective distance learners can take the READI Assessment to determine whether they are likely to succeed academically through online learning. Some online courses may ask degree-seekers to take proctored exams on campus. As a result, learners who do not live near the college's Clarksdale campus should look into testing requirements before enrolling.
CCC uses different application requirements for first-year students, transfer students, dual-enrollment students, and veterans. All prospective degree-seekers applying to associate programs must submit ACT scores, regardless of their age. Scholarships at this Mississippi community college consider applicants' high school and/or college GPAs, as well as standardized test scores. CCC posts new scholarship opportunities in the fall and spring semesters.
Itawamba Community College
ICC offers transfer degrees, career and technical education pathways, and health science programs. This Mississippi community college offers 112 associate degrees from its Belden, Fulton, and Tupelo campuses. ICC also offers online courses outside of those available through the Mississippi Virtual Community College. ICC provides online students with tutoring resources at no additional cost.
In addition to awarding degrees, ICC partners with community agencies to provide workforce training to Mississippi residents. The Workforce Development Center on the Belden campus partners with outside companies and organizations to create professional development courses for employees.
Applicants ages 23 and younger must submit ACT scores. In addition to GED scores, ICC accepts HiSET and TASC scores. In-state degree-seekers save approximately 40% on tuition compared to their out-of-state peers. Incoming ICC students should apply for financial aid by deadlines on August 15 or January 15.
Northwest Mississippi Community College
Northwest boasts three academic pathways for current students: academic degrees, technical degrees, and career certificates. The college also offers professional development courses for primary and secondary school teachers living in and around Senatobia, Oxford, and Southaven. This Mississippi community college's non-credit courses also provide community members with personal enrichment opportunities at an affordable cost.
Distance students at Northwest use Canvas to access course content. Students and professors interact through discussion boards, blogs, and instant messaging software. Online courses have the same academic rigor as their on-campus equivalents. In the summer semester, online degree-seekers can complete courses in an accelerated format.
Mississippi residents must submit ACT scores, while out-of-state applicants can turn in either ACT or SAT scores. Some degrees and certificates have additional application requirements. Incoming students with a minimum 20 ACT score may qualify for a Presidential or Leadership Scholarship. Other financial aid opportunities include work-study programs.
Northeast Mississippi Community College
Northeast awards degrees and certificates in seven academic divisions, including fine arts, health sciences, and mathematics and sciences. The mathematics and sciences division boasts 21 associate degree options, many of which transfer to four-year colleges in Mississippi. Distance learning at Northeast features both traditional and accelerated courses. Each online course requires 2-3 proctored exams on the college's Booneville campus.
Outside of class, undergraduates can participate in student government or select from dozens of clubs and organizations. Although it operates as a public college, Northeast hosts many faith-based clubs (e.g., Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Good Shepherds, and Christians on Campus). Also, Northeast's counseling center provides essential academic advising and tutoring resources.
Like other Mississippi community colleges on this ranking, Northeast has different application requirements for first-year, returning, transfer, and dual-enrollment students. Prospective students ages 21 and older do not need to submit ACT scores. Institutional scholarships consider applicants' ACT scores, undergraduate GPA, and other academic achievements.
With three campuses throughout Mississippi -- as well as distance learning opportunities -- Holmes Community College attracts students living throughout the state. This Mississippi community college offers associate degrees in eight academic pathways, career and technical programs, GED courses, and dual-enrollment for high school students.
Student services at Holmes Community College include course planning, IT support, and degree checklists. The college also provides online and on-campus degree-seekers with free tutoring resources. Academically gifted students tutor their peers by appointment.
Applicants should submit academic transcripts and test scores; the college uses these documents to determine financial aid. Students who possess a 20 or higher on the ACT may qualify for free tuition. The college awards full tuition -- as well as room and board -- to incoming degree-seekers who possess a minimum 28 ACT score.
Jones County Junior College
Offering hundreds of degrees and certificates, JCJC attracts learners from throughout Mississippi. Most academic departments boast programs that full-time students can complete in four semesters. Career and technical programs at this Mississippi community college prepare graduates to work as automotive technologists, entry-level petroleum technicians, and long-term healthcare assistants.
Outside of class, JCJC students can select from over two dozen clubs and organizations. Many academic departments also feature honors programs and societies that help academically gifted students network with experienced professionals. Student services at JCJC include the Enrollment Services Department, which helps learners select a major and find tutoring resources as necessary.
Prospective students can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. Some programs (e.g., emergency technology and commercial truck driving) charge fees that exceed JCJC's per-credit tuition rate. Learners ages 65 and older do not pay tuition or fees. Full-time degree-seekers with a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA may qualify for certain institutional scholarships; these use both spring and fall application deadlines.
Meridian Community College
MCC boasts four learning tracks: work-based learning, workforce training, university transfer, and career and technical workforce education. Students earning a transferable associate degree at this Mississippi community college can select from six academic divisions. All associate programs blend general education and major requirements. Most full-time students can earn an associate degree in two years.
Academically gifted students at MCC can enroll in the school's Honors College. Degree-seekers take at least one honors course each semester and complete 20 hours of community service throughout the program. Honors College learners receive priority registration privileges and travel opportunities not available to other students.
Applicants must submit high school transcripts or GED scores. MCC requires ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER scores to determine initial English and math course placements. Incoming learners who earned a minimum 21 on the ACT receive $600 in financial aid each semester. Students interested in other financial aid opportunities should submit a scholarship application; application requirements include a short essay.
Pearl River Community College
With campuses in Hattiesburg, Poplarville, and Waveland -- in addition to online offerings -- PRCC provides many degree and certificate programs to students living throughout the state. Incoming learners can select from eight plans of study, including health sciences and nursing, business, and hospitality and human services. Degree-seekers can use the Mississippi Articulation and Transfer Tool to determine which degrees and certificates will transfer to four-year public schools.
In addition to certificates and degrees, this Mississippi community college boasts multiple adult education programs on each of its three campuses. Learners can enroll in a GED course and take the test on campus. Also, local companies and organizations regularly rent space on campus to provide workforce training to employees and community members.
Application requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores and ACT scores. The college strongly recommends that all incoming degree-seekers submit the FAFSA. The college awards academic, service, and foundation scholarships. Each scholarship opportunity requires a separate application.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
At MGCCC, nearly three-fourths of students enroll in a transfer program. Degree-seekers can select a major in one of eight academic areas, including business, health sciences, and public safety administration. This community college in Mississippi also features online courses, career and technical education, and a collegiate academy that allows juniors and seniors in high school to pursue an associate degree and a high school diploma simultaneously.
MGCCC degree-seekers can access ample student services. Each of the college's four campuses host clubs and organizations, as well as student life advisors who help learners select courses and explore career opportunities. Students with small children can take advantage of affordable on-campus childcare centers.
Incoming first-year students complete an on-campus or online orientation. In-state students save 50% on tuition compared to out-of-state students. Each year, MGCCC awards over 200 scholarships to eligible degree-seekers. Learners only need to submit one financial aid form to apply to all scholarship opportunities.
Study pathways at Hinds include transfer degrees, career and technical education, and nursing and allied health programs. Students planning to transfer can select from 22 majors, while career-oriented programs feature degrees like culinary arts and computer networking. Health programs educate the next generation of nurses, dental assistants, and EMTs.
Advising and counseling services at this Mississippi community college feature one-on-one sessions where advisors help students enroll, select courses, and stay on track for graduation. As degree-seekers near graduation, advisors take on a new role by connecting students with transfer and/or career search resources. To help learners succeed, Hinds requires that all students meet with an advisor at least once.
Prospective students without a high school diploma or GED certificate may still apply; however, these learners must take remedial coursework before entering an academic program. Hinds accepts transfer credits and awards credit based on prior learning assessments. Incoming degree-seekers may qualify for one or more scholarship opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Mississippi
Community college can be a great and inexpensive way to get an associate degree and training. And it can be a good choice for those who decide to begin there and then continue on to a four-year college or university.
Mississippi offers some of the most affordable online community colleges and programs where eligible students can get free tuition. So community college in Mississippi can be worth it.
Mississippi has some great community colleges that can offer an affordable education. Small class sizes allow students to interact more with professors and peers.
The education students receive can help them go straight into the workforce or pursue additional education at a four-year institution. These are just a few of the benefits of attending a community college.
Mississippi Delta Community College is among the most affordable. In spring 2022, the full-time tuition rate is $1,545.
Many people are drawn to live and study in Mississippi because of the wide-open spaces, outdoor opportunities, low cost of living, and inexpensive educational opportunities. If you love summer, loathe winter, and are interested in a simpler, slower-paced lifestyle, Mississippi could be the place for you.
Feature Image: Sean Pavone / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images