Best Community Colleges in Missouri
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For many, community colleges are an appealing and accessible path to higher education. About 4.5 million students enrolled in public community colleges in spring 2021, according to estimates compiled by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
These students pursued associate and technical degrees, either to help them jump-start their careers or transfer to a four-year school. Many students chose to enroll in online community colleges as well.
In Missouri, attending community college can prepare students to enter fast-growing industries in the state, including healthcare and professional services. If you're interested in earning an associate degree in the Show-Me State, you can learn about the best community colleges in Missouri with this guide.
Why Study in Missouri?
Missouri is home to several community colleges in both major and smaller cities, making education accessible to many. The A+ Program offers scholarships to community college students who excelled in Missouri high schools.
Additionally, associate degree graduates can transfer their credits to one of Missouri's four-year colleges. Missouri's public universities include the University of Missouri system, Missouri State University, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology, among many others. Students can also transfer to highly ranked private schools, like Washington University in St. Louis.
Although U.S. News & World Report ranks Missouri in the middle of the 50 states for its economy —it ranks 23rd overall — Missouri excels in some specific areas. For instance, it ranks fourth in opportunity, or the ability for upward mobility. U.S. News & World Report also ranks Missouri as the 11th best state for businesses and the 15th best state for fiscal stability.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Missouri remains relatively low, making it a great state for people who are more money conscious. U.S. News & World Report ranks Missouri as the fifth most affordable state, considering both housing costs and day to day expenses.
Like any state, certain areas come with a higher price tag for daily expenses than others. Larger cities like St. Louis or Kansas City may prove more expensive than smaller cities, towns, or rural areas.
Cultural and Community Offerings
Students can find cultural and community offerings in many of Missouri's cities and towns. Kansas City is known for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the jazz scene at 18th and Vine, and a thriving local music culture. St. Louis also offers several museums, the Gateway Arch, and one of the best-ranked zoos in the country. Plus, students can blow off steam at Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the city.
You can find plenty of culture in smaller cities too — you can find live theater in Springfield, and Columbia hosts the Roots N Blues music festival and the True/False documentary film festival.
If you enjoy all four seasons, Missouri could be a good fit. With a humid continental climate, Missouri's summers tend to be hot and its winters can seem cold. At the same time, temperatures and weather can change day to day without much warning — it's not uncommon to find yourself freezing on a day in February, and then enjoying 60 degrees and sunshine a few days later. Missouri also frequently sees tornados in late spring.
Top Degree Programs in Missouri
Missouri Employment Outlook
About three million people work in Missouri's labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These individuals work in some of the state's biggest industries, including food processing, chemicals, printing/publishing, electrical equipment, aerospace, and beer.
The Missouri state government lists the three industries with the highest levels of employment growth as healthcare, professional services, and construction. So it comes as no surprise that some of Missouri's top employers are major healthcare organizations, such as the Mercy Healthcare System, BJC HealthCare, SSM Health, and St. Luke's Hospital System.
With that in mind, you can find five jobs projected to see growth over the next decade in Missouri listed below.
4 Missouri Jobs in Demand for 2022
Radiologic and MRI Technologists
Annual Median Salary: $63,710
Job Outlook: 12.5% growth from 2018 to 2028
The healthcare industry comes with several job opportunities. Radiologic and MRI technicians carry out x-rays and other diagnostic imaging procedures on patients. They operate complex machinery and make sure patients remain safe in the meantime. These professionals need an associate degree in the field.
Medical Administrative Assistants
Annual Median Salary: $37,350
Job Outlook: 19.8% growth from 2018 to 2028
Another in-demand occupation in the healthcare field, medical administrative assistants take care of the important documentation when it comes to patients. They send patients bills, schedule appointments, and handle medical records. Their jobs are secretarial in nature, but they need specialized medical and healthcare knowledge that they learn while studying for an associate degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Annual Median Salary: $52,920
Job Outlook: 14.7% growth from 2018 to 2028
Paralegals and legal assistants take on many tasks to support lawyers. They carry out legal research, collect facts for cases, write drafts of documents, write summaries of cases for lawyers, and keep everything organized. This role requires good communication, organizational skills, and research skills. To qualify for this job, individuals usually need an associate degree in paralegal studies.
Annual Median Salary: $75,330
Job Outlook: 16.2% growth from 2018 to 2028
Nursing is a growing industry across the U.S., including Missouri. Registered nurses (RNs) play vital roles in the healthcare industry, providing patient care in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. RNs can obtain licensure with either an associate or bachelor's degree. Some nurses with associate degrees go on to continue their education to become a nurse leader or nurse practitioner.
Popular Career Paths in Missouri
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Missouri
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Best Community Colleges in Missouri
Mineral Area CollegeLocation
Park Hills, MOTuition
With a rich array of online, in-person, and hybrid programs, Mineral Area College is one of the best community colleges in Missouri. Students at the college can explore a wide variety of fields, including computer programming, criminal justice, industrial maintenance, and paramedic technology. They can also choose to earn an associate degree in general studies to more easily transfer to one of Missouri's state colleges or universities.
All prospective students must submit official copies of their high school transcripts or GED scores. MAC applicants must also share results from the ACT or ACCUPLACER placement exams.
In addition to state and federal aid, students can also apply for more than $1 million in MAC-funded scholarships. For example, a scholarship available through the Board of Trustees offers up to $3,000 in aid per year to high school students who graduated in the top 10% of their class.
St Charles Community CollegeLocation
Alongside workforce training and professional development programs, St. Charles Community College offers certificates and associate degrees in subjects like graphic design, business technology, computer security, and early childhood education. In addition, 16 of the college's programs can be completed online or in a hybrid format, making SCC an ideal choice for working professionals or those with familial obligations.
Distance learners also benefit from many of the same services provided to on-campus students, including tutoring in math, science, and writing. They can also access academic advising, mental health counseling, and a variety of career services, such as interview preparation.
To apply to SCC, you must have a high school diploma, GED certificate, or HiSET scores. Incoming students must also take either a placement exam and enroll in an orientation seminar.
Moberly Area Community CollegeLocation
With six locations and online and hybrid course offerings, Moberly Area Community College aims to increase access to high-quality education and strengthen local communities. The college offers degrees and certificates, a high school equivalency program, and an honors program in which current high school students can earn college credit. MACC also provides arts and personal enrichment opportunities to the general public.
Online classes allow students to watch lectures, contribute to class discussions, and complete assignments at home on their own schedules. An associate of arts, designed to meet the general education requirements of a four-year bachelor's program, is also available entirely online.
MACC requires prospective students to complete an online application and submit official copies of their high school transcripts or equivalency certification. Applicants must also take either the ACT or ACCUPLACER. They can also apply for a variety of scholarships, including awards for journalism and law enforcement students.
Since 1963, Jefferson College has prepared more than 25,000 learners for careers in fields such as business, healthcare, education, information technology, and law enforcement. New students can choose to pursue a degree or certificate at one of three campuses or through an online and accelerated format. Learners can also enroll in hybrid programs, combining the convenience of distance education with the interactions and support of a classroom experience.
Regardless of their location, online students at JC pay less per credit than those who study on campus. To further reduce the cost of education, the college provides a host of institutional scholarships. The Adult Re-Entry Scholarship supports older learners who have deferred their education due to work or family obligations, while the Special Opportunity Scholarship provides aid to students with high GED scores and demonstrated financial need.
State Fair Community CollegeLocation
With seven campuses and multiple programs available completely online, State Fair Community College provides an accessible and affordable path to a range of careers. For example, the college's online associate of applied science in management equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to take on entry-level roles in business. An associate degree at SFCC also helps meet the general education requirements of a bachelor's program at a four-year institution.
To apply to this community college in Missouri, you must have a high school diploma, GED certificate, or HiSET scores. You must also submit results from a placement exam, like the ACT or ACCUPLACER, taken within the last three years. Some programs, particularly those in the health sciences, may require applicants to meet certain academic or professional benchmarks to earn admission.
SFCC awards roughly $250,000 in scholarships each year. Incoming students may receive a scholarship on the basis of academic achievement, leadership and community service, or exceptional performance in the arts or athletics.
Serving students across nine counties, Crowder College provides more than 80 certificate and degree programs in subjects like journalism and public relations, psychology, alternative energy, and veterinary technology. While Crowder does not offer fully online programs, the school delivers many courses through its distance learning platform.
The college provides a variety of support services. For example, the career coach system allows learners to take an online career assessment, browse a database of academic programs and corresponding careers, and use a resume-building tool. Career advisors are also available to provide specific guidance and feedback.
Crowder awards more than 200 scholarships annually. While many of these are based on academic excellence, the College Assistance Migrant Program specifically supports seasonal farmworkers seeking to continue their education. Incoming students apply for aid during the admissions process, which also requires transcripts and placement exam results.
Metropolitan Community College-Kansas CityLocation
Kansas City, MOTuition
Metropolitan Community College is the oldest and largest public institution of higher education in Kansas City. Since its founding in 1915, this community college in Missouri has grown to offer more than 125 degrees and certificates at five campuses and online. MCC emphasizes diversity, with students of color making up more than 40% of the overall student body.
In addition to high-quality classroom learning, MCC works to provide field-based experiences to students. The college partners with local businesses to operate apprenticeship programs in fields like healthcare, manufacturing, and agriculture. MCC also offers job shadowing and other career research opportunities.
MCC has an open admissions policy. Applicants without a high school diploma or equivalent may still earn conditional admission. These students must take a limited course load and participate in a re-evaluation process at the end of their first semester. Incoming students can also apply for nearly 100 different scholarships.
East Central CollegeLocation
In addition to a suite of for-credit online courses, East Central College offers fully online workforce training programs in areas like child development, solar power, composites manufacturing and repair, and industrial automation. Students can complete most of these programs in four months or less to quickly develop the skills needed to enter a new field or advance in their career.
In-person degree and certificate programs at ECC cover subjects like fire technology, health information management, environmental science, and sociology. The college also offers dual-enrollment programs for current high school students and associate degree transfer programs for students planning to continue their education at a four-year institution.
Applicants must have either a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate. Prospective students must also take a placement exam if they did not maintain at least a 3.0 GPA during high school.
Three Rivers CollegeLocation
Poplar Bluff, MOTuition
With five convenient campuses in and around the Bootheel, Three Rivers College serves the educational needs of Butler, Carter, Ripley, and Wayne counties. Unlike many other community colleges in Missouri, however, TRC does not offer any fully online degree or certificate programs.
All associate programs at TRC incorporate the Core 42 Standard Transfer Curriculum. This set of core courses, covering subjects such as math and social science, satisfies the general education requirements of bachelor's programs at all public colleges and universities in Missouri. Several private schools in the state, including Central Methodist University and Missouri Baptist University, also participate in this transfer agreement.
TRC features an open admission policy, though applicants must still demonstrate their readiness to study at the college level by submitting high school transcripts, GED scores, or results from a college entrance exam. Certain programs, such as nursing or occupational therapy, may set additional admission requirements.
North Central Missouri CollegeLocation
With roots going back to 1850, North Central Missouri College offers 35 associate degrees and certificates and boasts an extensive set of options for distance learners. The college delivers fully online associate degrees in behavioral health support, criminal justice, early childhood education, general studies, and nursing. Students who want to graduate more quickly can also enroll in online certificate programs, honing professional skills in areas such as accounting, business technology, and financial management.
Both students taking classes at the college's campus in Trenton and online learners have access to tutoring, academic advising, writing assistance, and career counseling. The NCMC digital bookstore also makes it easy for students to find required course materials.
Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. During the admissions process, prospective students may also apply to a variety of financial aid programs, including five institutional scholarships that provide up to $600 per semester to international students, students who have excelled academically or athletically, and students from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds.
Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Missouri
Are community colleges worth it?
For many people, community colleges are worth it. They allow students to earn an associate degree with a relatively inexpensive tuition price tag, especially in comparison to four-year colleges and universities. In fact, if affordability appeals to you, then you can find the most low-cost online community colleges with this guide.
Community college also helps students pursue their goals, whether that involves going straight into the workforce after two years of college or setting up the educational foundation for a four-year degree. Many people transfer to four-year colleges and universities after graduating from community college, cutting down the cost of their higher education significantly.
Is community college free in Missouri?
If you look at the sticker price of tuition, most community colleges in Missouri are not free. However, Missouri offers a generous scholarship called the A+ Program. This initiative covers tuition and fees for community college and technical college students who excelled in high school, effectively making community college free in Missouri for scholarship recipients.
The A+ program follows merit-based criteria. Applicants should have at least a 2.5 GPA in high school and at least 95% attendance during their high school years. They must also complete at least 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring as the community service requirement.
How many community colleges are in Missouri?
The Missouri Community College Association counts 12 public community colleges among its members, with nearly 90,000 students enrolled in total in 2016. Those colleges are:
- Crowder College
- East Central College
- Jefferson College
- Metropolitan Community College
- Mineral Area College
- Moberly Area Community College
- North Central Community College
- Ozarks Technical Community College
- St. Charles Community College
- St. Louis Community College
- State Fair Community College
- Three Rivers College
In addition, the state also has a number of private community colleges, like Ranken Technical College in St. Louis.
How much does community college cost in Missouri?
Students who attend public community colleges in Missouri pay about $3,197 in annual tuition and fees, according to the MCCA. That's less than half of what students pay on average at public four-year colleges and universities in Missouri, which amounts to about $7,859, MCCA data shows. It's also less than tuition at technical colleges, where the annual tuition rate reaches $5,873.
About 62% of community college students receive financial aid of some sort, and 48% receive need-based Pell grants. In addition, about 13,000 students participate in the A+ program, which covers their fees entirely.
What is Crowder College known for?
Based in the southwestern Missouri town of Neosho, Crowder College is known for its alternative energy program. Known as the Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology (MARET) program, this academic initiative allows engineering and science students to take part in solar, wind, and other renewable energy technology classes.
In fact, the solar team at Crowder created the first solar-powered vehicle to complete a trip across the U.S. --from California to Florida -- in 1984. The trip lasted from July to September, and the car with 16 solar panels crossed 2,400 miles. This accomplishment made Crowder known as a pioneering school for renewable energy technology.