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Community college graduates in Pennsylvania prepare for lucrative local and regional jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, the state's largest employment sectors included office and administrative support, transportation and material moving, and sales. In August 2021, the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington region ranked among the top 12 areas for job growth in the Mid-Atlantic and nationwide.
Community colleges in Pennsylvania feature programs tailored to the unique needs of the state's workforce. Attending community college can qualify graduates for high-growth occupations, including positions as public safety telecommunicator, delivery driver, and insurance sales agent.
Explore the best community colleges in Pennsylvania below.
Why Study in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania's focus on optimizing educational opportunities continues to pay off. Since 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has raised nearly $1.5 billion in public funding for preK-through-college programs and invested $70 million in strengthening Pennsylvania's workforce through the PAsmart initiative.
Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education enrolls nearly 94,000 students annually. Additionally, the state houses the nation's oldest HBCU and boasts multiple top schools.
Pennsylvania is home to the nation's sixth-largest economy, with a gross state product (GSP) of nearly $8 billion. The state relies on key industries like healthcare, banking, mining, and telecommunications to generate its GSP, with the highest job growth in dense urban areas and among occupations involving office and administrative services.
Pennsylvania houses 50 of the nation's 1,000 largest companies by corporate sales records. Graduates of Pennsylvania's technical and community colleges are highly sought-after by local employers, especially for administrative, transportation, sales, and trade jobs.
Cost of Living
The average cost of living in Pennsylvania is slightly below the national average. It also has a much lower cost of living compared to nearby states like New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
A relatively low cost of living can help community college students in Pennsylvania enjoy a higher quality of life. Pennsylvanians tend to pay less than the national average for healthcare, utilities, and entertainment. Savings on housing are also significant for both buyers and renters statewide. The average Pennsylvania home costs $60,000 less than the national average.
Cultural and Community Offerings
With a long history dating back to the colonial era, Pennsylvania is a melting pot of cultures and traditions. The state houses large Amish and Mennonite populations, primarily concentrated in Lancaster County. The Pennsylvania Dutch are renowned for their folk art and distinctive cuisine.
Pennsylvania also features two nationally recognized symphony orchestras and many fine art museums, including two of the oldest and most comprehensive collections in the United States. Philadelphia is home to a bustling cultural center and theater and performing arts district.
With a mean temperature of 48 degrees, Pennsylvania's typical temperatures fluctuate between roughly 70 degrees in July and 28 degrees in January. The climate is most pleasant in the spring and summer months, when resident college students can enjoy outings on or around campus in Pennsylvania's lush hills and farmlands.
Historically, Pennsylvania's humid subtropical climate has benefited livestock, dairy, fruit, and corn farming.
Top Degree Programs in Pennsylvania
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Pennsylvania Employment Outlook
Pennsylvania offers high-growth occupations in employment sectors including administrative support, transportation and material moving, and sales. The state's community colleges serve the technical trades of the local workforce. Many workers gravitate toward urban city centers like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
The local workforce of more than 5.5 million enjoy a cost of living below the national average.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvanians earned an annual mean wage of $53,950 in May 2020 — slightly below the national mean wage of $56,310. However, the state unemployment rate of 5.7% was higher than the national rate of 4.2% as of November 2021.
4 Pennsylvania Jobs in Demand for 2022
Public safety communicators, including emergency dispatchers and 911 operators, provide a unique type of office and administrative support. These professionals answer emergency and nonemergency requests, determine the best course of action, and relay the information to first-responders for dispatch to the location. Jobs require at least a high school diploma and on-the-job training.
- Annual Median Salary (May 2020): $45,030
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 4%
Receptionists answer phones; maintain appointments and calendars; and greet customers, clients, or patients. Receptionists in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. are especially important to the healthcare industry, where their duties are often expanded to include light medical record maintenance, patient check-ins, and scheduling.
- Median Hourly Salary (May 2020): $29,930
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 5%
Delivery and light truck drivers enjoy one of the highest-growth occupations in the transportation and material-moving sector in Pennsylvania. These professionals collect, transport, and deliver packages locally or regionally. Most workers in this category deliver items from warehouses or holding centers to small businesses or residential consumers.
- Annual Median Salary (May 2020): $33,930
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 6%
Insurance sales agents help clients explore various types of insurance and sell policies aligned with their customers' interests. They may specialize in selling one or more types of insurance, including property and casualty, life, and/or health and long-term policies. While most jobs require only a high school diploma, an associate or bachelor's degree can improve job prospects.
- Annual Median Salary (May 2020): $50,610
- Job Outlook (2018-2028): 8%
Popular Career Paths in Pennsylvania
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Pennsylvania
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Best Community Colleges in Pennsylvania
Butler County Community College
From the main campus in Butler and five additional locations, Butler County Community College offers college-transfer programs and career certificates. BC3's popular transfer programs confer an associate degree and qualify students for transfer to a four-year college or university. Through partnerships with four-year colleges, BC3 also offers degree-completion programs.
BC3 offers two-year associate degrees in business, humanities and social sciences, nursing and healthcare, and STEM. The college also offers AA and AS transfer degrees in areas such as education, business administration, computer science, social work, and engineering. Students may also train for immediate employment with two-year AAS degrees in computer information systems, emergency services, and industrial technology. Career programs include one-year certificates in areas such as machine tool technology, hospitality management, and medical coding.
BC3 offers on-campus, online, hybrid, and iTV (video conferencing) classes.
Bucks County Community College
With three locations near Philadelphia in Newtown, Bristol, and Perkasie, Bucks County Community College offers more than 90 programs, including two-year associate-transfer degrees, occupational training, and career certificates. The school also provides continuing education and workplace training.
Bucks offers 40 transfer-associate degree programs in the arts, business, STEM fields, social sciences, and health sciences. These include cybersecurity, journalism, secondary education, and business administration. The school also offers occupational majors designed to prepare graduates to enter the workforce in fields like accounting, emergency management, nursing, and event planning. Certificate programs lasting two years or less train students for jobs in bookkeeping, early childhood education, culinary arts, and more.
Students may complete more than 20 programs at Bucks entirely online. Many others involve some online and hybrid classes. Residents of Bucks County qualify for the lowest tuition rates.
Montgomery County Community College
Based on a 186-acre campus outside Philadelphia in Blue Bell, Montgomery County Community College operates a second campus in Pottstown, a culinary arts institute, a police academy, and a virtual campus for online learning. The college offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as continuing education for community members.
Montco's associate degrees prepare graduates to transfer to a four-year school or enter the workforce. The school offers two-year degrees in business, creative arts, culinary arts and hospitality, education, engineering and technology, health, liberal studies, science and math, and public and social services. Less common program offerings include degrees in baking and pastry, electrical engineering, game and simulation design, and gerontology.
Students can take on-site, online, and hybrid classes and complete some programs completely online. The school offers free in-person tutoring and 24/7 online tutoring.
Northampton County Area Community College
Located in eastern Pennsylvania, Northampton Community College enrolls more than 35,000 students each year in credit and noncredit programs. The college operates three locations: a 240-acre main campus in Bethlehem, a branch campus in the heart of the Pocono Mountains, and a center in the former headquarters of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
NCC offers associate degrees, specialized certificates, and diplomas in more than 100 areas of study. Learners may complete many courses online. Associate degrees in areas such as education, liberal arts, and scientific fields including chemistry qualify for transfer to a four-year college. NCC also offers several bachelor's degrees in partnership with Bloomsburg University and East Stroudsburg University. Career training programs at NCC prepare graduates for jobs in trades such as hospitality, healthcare, construction, automotive services, and public safety.
NCC offers on-campus housing and study abroad programs, and full-time students can benefit from a flat tuition rate.
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College serves residents of Pennsylvania's Southern Alleghenies. Penn Highlands offers diplomas, certificates, and associate degrees in business, computer systems, education, healthcare, liberal arts, social sciences, and professional studies.
The college's two-year program offerings include AA, AS, and AAS degrees. In many cases, students may earn a professional diploma or certificate as they complete an associate degree in their chosen area of study. Many of the school's programs emphasize technology training. Programs in the health professions include AAS degrees in histotechnology, radiologic technology, and medical assisting technology. Penn Highlands' cybersecurity program features faculty working in cybersecurity positions within local technology companies.
Penn Highlands offers seven online programs, including an AA transfer program in liberal arts and sciences. Residents of Cambria County qualify for the lowest tuition rate.
Lehigh Carbon Community College
Lehigh Carbon Community College serves more than 10,000 students through more than 90 programs. The college operates a 153-acre main campus just north of Allentown in Schnecksville along with five other locations, including an airport site and an art school.
LCCC offers AA, AS, and AAS degrees in addition to certificates and diplomas in the arts, business, computer science, education and public services, healthcare, manufacturing, and science and engineering. Program offerings include AA degrees in fashion design and music/sound production, AS degrees in computer forensics and environmental science, and AAS degrees in hotel/resort management and geospatial technology. LCCC offers 10 fully online associate degrees and seven online certificates and diplomas. Students wishing to transfer may take advantage of articulation agreements with more than 50 colleges and universities.
LCCC student benefits include several honors programs; a food pantry; full-time, flat-rate tuition; and no-cost childcare.
Mercyhurst University-North East Campus
Nestled on the shores of Lake Erie, the 84-acre North East Campus of Mercyhurst University offers 24 programs including two-year associate degrees, one-year certificates, and a four-year bachelor's degree in healthcare management. This private, Catholic college offers campus housing and student activities, including sports teams and clubs, to more than 500 students.
Mercyhurst students may select from 17 associate programs in areas such as nursing, business administration, and criminal justice. The school runs several specialized programs, including a program for single mothers that includes free housing and other support; an honors program; and a noncredit, postsecondary transition program for students with disabilities.
The admissions process includes a free, online application and does not require test scores for most programs. The college offers support to new students through an initiative that pairs first-year commuter students with second-year student mentors.
Community College of Beaver County
Located in southwestern Pennsylvania, the Community College of Beaver County offers academic programs in the arts and sciences, business, and healthcare, among other fields. Specialized training centers include an aviation academy and a police academy. CCBC also offers more than 100 self-paced, online career certificate programs.
CCBC's AAS degrees prepare graduates for direct entry into careers in the building trades, cybersecurity, and entrepreneurship. Additional career training opportunities include a diploma in practical nursing and certificates in nanotechnology and web design. The college offers associate-transfer degrees in the arts and sciences, business, criminal justice, engineering, and education. CCBC's aviation academy offers training programs to learners, preparing them for careers as pilots and air traffic controllers.
CCBC features an open admissions policy and is a tobacco-free campus.
Luzerne County Community College
Situated in northeastern Pennsylvania, Luzerne County Community College operates a 167-acre main campus and 11 satellite campuses. The college offers academic programs in a variety of areas, including applied technology, exercise science, business, and health sciences. LCCC offers 11 fully online associate degrees and many online and hybrid classes through distance education.
Applied technology programs at LCCC train students for jobs in nanotechnology manufacturing, mechatronics, and sustainable energy technology. Business students may complete a one-semester diploma, two-semester certificate, or two-year associate degree. Students may pursue a variety of two-year transfer degrees in general studies or subjects such as psychology or biology.
LCCC's dental hygiene program provides free dental care to students. Full-time students may take advantage of flat-rate tuition for 12 or more credits, and all students may make monthly tuition payments.
Delaware County Community College
Delaware County Community College serves more than 28,000 students each year at five major locations in Delaware and Chester counties. The college offers 33 associate degrees, 17 transfer degrees, and 33 certificates as well as noncredit community education and professional development courses. The school's Marple campus hosts a police academy.
DCCC offers AA, AS, AFA, and AAS degrees as well as career training certificates. The college offers nine associate degrees that can be completed mostly or completely online and a bachelor's degree completion program in partnership with four area colleges. Program offerings include creative writing, game development, and neurodiagnostic technology. Students may also prepare for careers in skilled trades such as welding, plumbing, and carpentry.
Residents of the college's sponsoring school districts qualify for the lowest tuition rates. The school's foundation awards about $300,000 in scholarships each year.
Community College of Allegheny County
Located in Pittsburgh, the Community College of Allegheny County offers more than 150 programs at four campuses and other locations. More than 25,000 students enroll in CCAC degree, transfer, certificate, and training programs each year, while many others take noncredit continuing education and workforce development courses.
CCAC offers programs spanning six areas of study: arts and humanities, business, education and human services, health, STEM, and skilled trades. Students may select from fields as varied as music, aviation, American Sign Language, and architecture or train for skilled jobs in automotive technology or facilities maintenance. CCAC boasts a large number of graduates in nursing and other health professions.
The college offers an honors program that includes participation in service-learning. CCAC students may transfer to four-year colleges seamlessly through the school's articulation agreements with 14 state schools and 34 other colleges and universities.
Located outside Philadelphia in Jenkintown, Manor College offers a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Founded in 1947, this private, Catholic school with Ukrainian roots provides both online courses and a traditional, residential college experience. High school students may attend Manor through dual enrollment.
Manor's workforce certificates offer training for specific fields, like child protection. Associate degrees requiring 60 credits qualify students to transfer to a bachelor's program or enter the workforce. Degree options include business, healthcare administration, liberal arts, and criminal justice. Manor also offers 15 bachelor's degrees in fields such as health services, business, child development, entrepreneurship, prelaw, and public policy.
Manor offers specialized programs for students interested in law. The school's partnership with Widener Law School guarantees law school admission to all Manor graduates and features an accelerated 3+3 law degree that includes a merit scholarship.
University of Pittsburgh-Titusville
A two-year regional campus located in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, the University of Pittsburgh-Titusville offers 14 associate degrees and enables students to begin a Pitt bachelor's degree. The school also provides for-credit internships in six areas, including business management, human services, and computer technology.
Available healthcare degrees include a two-year physical therapist assistant program and an AS in nursing that prepares graduates to become registered nurses. Through an articulation agreement with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy, students may begin their training to become a pharmacy practitioner. The school features similar transfer programs in engineering and petroleum technology. Pitt-Titusville offers associate degrees with majors in accounting, biology, and psychology, among other areas.
Applicants to this campus must submit standardized test scores.
A liberal arts college founded in 1915, Harcum College sits outside Philadelphia in Bryn Mawr. This private school offers 20 majors to 1,600 students and features small class sizes, online courses, and real-world experiences such as internships and fieldwork.
Harcum degrees prepare students to transfer to a four-year school or enter careers within dental offices, animal centers, veterinary clinics, and daycare centers. Harcum offers accelerated degrees in human services, early childhood education, business, and law and justice. The college's 66-credit nursing program prepares graduates to become registered nurses. Students interested in design may pursue majors in fashion design, fashion merchandising, and graphic design.
Harcum utilizes a rolling admissions process and offers an online application. The college's music school offers instrumental lessons for credit.
Reading Area Community College
Reading Area Community College offers associate degrees and career training certificates and diplomas as well as community education and workforce training. Located about an hour northwest of Philadelphia in Reading, the college offers on-campus and online classes.
The college offers 13 AA degrees -- with majors including addiction studies, creative writing, and secondary education -- and 3 AS degrees in health science, science, and engineering. Reading's liberal arts associate degree requires 47 credits of general education, six credits of foreign language, and a one-credit capstone experience. The college's 20 AAS degrees and 14 certificates prepare graduates for immediate employment in healthcare, education, and business fields. RACC also offers a 60-credit associate of general studies.
School amenities and specialized programs include a nursing mothers room, fitness center, and support for students with financial need. Full-time Berks County residents benefit from the lowest tuition rates.
Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Pennsylvania
Are community colleges worth it?
Community colleges offer affordable, accelerated degrees and training programs tailored to local workers. Students can save money by staying close to home while earning a degree or learning a trade.
Community colleges in Pennsylvania help fuel local employment in popular fields like office and administrative support, transportation and material moving, and sales. Community college graduates can acquire important employment skills, graduate faster, and accrue less debt than four-year college graduates.
Does Pennsylvania have good community colleges?
Pennsylvania's Department of Education provides diverse academic and vocational programs through community colleges across the state. Community college programs aim to benefit students and the local workforce through developmental education, public safety training, and workforce development.
Community colleges in Pennsylvania offer diverse majors in occupational and technical trades, as well as four-year transfer programs. They also provide rising high school seniors with dual-enrollment opportunities.
How much does it cost to go to community college in Pennsylvania?
On average, community college costs $5,330 for students residing in Pennsylvania. The average out-of-state tuition for Pennsylvania community colleges is $14,090.
While Pennsylvania community colleges are more expensive compared to options in other states, attending community college still tends to be much more affordable than attending a four-year university. For example, students residing in Pennsylvania can expect to pay an average of around $15,000 in annual tuition and fees at a public four-year school.
What is the cheapest community college in Pennsylvania?
Many of the best community colleges in Pennsylvania are also the most affordable. For example, Butler County Community College boasts low tuition rates among comparable schools. Westmoreland County Community College, Lehigh Carbon Community College, and Community College of Philadelphia also offer low tuition rates for the 2022 academic year.
Is Pennsylvania a good place to live and study?
Living and studying in Pennsylvania can positively affect your quality of life. Pennsylvania offers a lower cost of living than the national average — especially concerning housing. It is also considerably less expensive than nearby states like New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
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