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Online Community Colleges

School Comparisons, Planning Resources  4-Year Transfer Advice

Community colleges have long been an important alternative for aspiring students, from high school graduates looking to save money before transferring into a bachelor’s degree program to single parents that need flexible, career-focused training. The rise of online community college courses and degrees has only furthered the popularity of two-year programs, making it easier than ever to start the college journey. Keep reading to find answers to critical questions about cost, transferring credits and options after graduation. Also included is a section for new online community college instructors, featuring indispensable teaching tips and resources.

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Expand in-pagenavigation

  • College Rankings
  • Search  Compare Colleges
  • Community College Benefits
  • 4-Year Transfer Guide
  • Student Resources
  • Bonus Section: Tips for New Teachers

Best Online Community Colleges for 2017-2018

California

As online class and degree offerings continue to expand at rapid rates, community colleges are increasingly becoming major players in the game. While some only offer individual courses through distance learning, the top schools provide entire degree programs online. The following scorecard of online community colleges represents hours of research and data collection on tuition costs, alumni earnings, student-to-teacher ratios, program and financial aid offerings, and other essential factors. Discover which schools rose to the top of this year’s rankings of best online community colleges.

Methodology +

RankSchool NameScoreTuition FeesAlumni EarningsStudent/Teacher RatioGift Financial AidDescriptionGraduation RateAcceptance Rate# Online Programs# Total ProgramsPlacement ServicesCredit for Experience
1
Laramie County Community College
99.83

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$32,400

15:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

31%

Established nearly 50 years ago, Laramie County Community College has been provided its students with the tools they need for educational success at an affordable price. In additional to the comprehensive traditional education provided at the LCCC campus, students may choose to complete their coursework in an online format. In addition to the education provided through their programs curriculum, online students will also develop self-motivation and time-management skills that will lead to success in their future careers. Online courses are of the same quality as on-campus courses, and will be taught by experienced faculty members.

14%15%1765NoNo
2
Western Wyoming Community College
99.75

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$31,100

16:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

39%

By utilizing an online education at Western Wyoming Community College, students are able to earn their degree in a quick and convenient manner. Distance learning affords the student with the opportunity to take charge of their own learning; online learners often come out of their programs with a strong sense of self-motivation and initiative. Online students at Western Wyoming will also have access to numerous student services provided on-campus and online, including technical support and tutoring. Students will also be able to meet with academic advisors to ensure that they are on the right track to graduation.

53%29%3255YesYes
3
Kansas City Kansas Community College
99.30

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$30,700

13:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

22%

Because online students studying at Kansas City Kansas Community College have access to their coursework at all hours of the day, they will be able to study and submit their assignments whenever is most convenient for them. While online learning is not for everybody, the experienced faculty at KCKCC is prepared to assist all enrolled students in meeting their goals. Whether a student is enrolled in traditional classes, online classes, or hybrid classes, they will be able to make use of the KCKCC campus student resources. KCKCC offers a higher education experience at an affordable price, but financial aid is available to any qualifying student.

20%19%2427YesYes

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4
Dakota College at Bottineau
98.98

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$31,800

9:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

40%

Dakota College at Bottineau was established more than 100 years ago, but in the last few decades it has offered comprehensive online learning in addition to its traditional courses. Students attending Dakota College have the opportunity to select from more than 100 classes, and may also choose one of 25 degree programs that can be completed entirely online. In many ways an online student at Dakota College will receive the same experience as a traditional student; they will still be able to apply for financial aid and scholarships, they will still have access to the same student services, and they will be taught by the same experienced faculty.

28%14%2023NoYes
5
Tulsa Community College
98.94

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$31,200

17:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

39%

Whether a student is interested in a fully online degree program or simply taking a few online classes to open up their schedule, Tulsa Community College will provide all academic services that will ensure their success. Online students will be able to work from a location that they are comfortable with, cutting back on the costs of transportation. While online learning does not allow students to entirely build their schedule, it does allow them to develop time-management skills and approach their studies at when they see fit. If a student is interested in splitting their time between campus and home with a hybrid program, they may also wish to consider one of Tulsa CC’s numerous student organizations.

14%17%2190YesYes
6
Mesa Community College
98.84

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$36,000

20:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

25%

Mesa Community College provides its students with the opportunity to select from more than 500 online courses to work through their degree program. There are 20 degrees available at MCC that can be completed entirely online, each of which is designed with busy students in mind. Just like on-campus classes at MCC, online classes are fully accredited. Online classes also afford students with the same opportunities for transfer as traditional classes, allowing them to complete their education at their desired institution without worrying about having to backtrack their education. MCC provides its online students with several services and tools to aid in their success.

12%17%2453YesYes
7
East Mississippi Community College
98.70

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$25,700

12:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

78%

By utilizing East Mississippi Community College’s online learning options, students will be able to approach their education without worrying about time constraints. These programs are created with the busy student in mind, and work to provide the resources that will guarantee their success. Online classes offer the same credit, the same opportunities for transfer, and are taught be the same faculty as traditional courses, but also provide the added benefit of time-management. Online graduates will also be able to make use of any alumni benefits available. Financial aid may be awarded to any qualifying student, online or in-person.

27%62%6479YesYes
8
Frank Phillips College
98.61

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$29,500

17:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

30%

Non-traditional learners can use the online and distance learning programs at Frank Phillips College to their advantage by enrolling in courses that work with their busy schedules. Delivered entirely through a web-based format, online courses at FPC allow students to complete courses entirely at a distance. Students can contact their instructors and peers through online mediums such as discussion boards, email and online announcements when and where is most convenient for them. Distance learners also have access to online academic advising, counseling, and tutoring services to help them succeed in their courses.

25%16%1616YesYes
9
Hutchinson Community College
98.60

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$31,700

15:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

59%

Distance learners have access to over 250 courses and entire associate degrees that can be completed entirely online through Hutchinson Community College’s OnlineEd program. The online programs at HCC are designed to help students complete their education while fulfilling other time commitments such as career and family obligations. Since online courses may require technical troubleshooting, the school offers technical support services as well as a list of minimum technical requirements for academic success. Students will complete all course work through Canvas (LearningZone) where they will also participate in course discussions, submit assignments and receive grades.

29%13%1856YesYes
10
Odessa College
98.41

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$32,000

17:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

32%

At Odessa College, online learners can complete courses that are designed to help them complete their academic in an efficient and beneficial way. Through the Ed2Go program, courses are six-weeks in length and taught by experienced instructors. Both professional training and leisure learning options are available. Generous amounts of scholarships, state and federal aid is also available for students that need help funding their education. The school also waives tuition for the first three credit hours for eligible students with the “First Course is Free” discount.

20%16%2464YesNo
11
Western Oklahoma State College
98.28

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$31,100

15:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

63%

Because earning a degree is a time-consuming pursuit, Western Oklahoma State College offers online degree programs to make getting a college education an approachable goal. Online students will complete all of their work from an online hub, allowing them to access all of their coursework at any time of the day. Online students will build a social community with each other through discussion boards and group chats. Students will also be able to receive one-on-one time with their instructor through video conferences. Online students at Western Oklahoma State College will be able to make use of online tech support whenever they need it.

20%8%819NoYes
12
Barton County Community College
98.20

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$30,900

25:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

71%

Students can complete college courses entirely at a distance through one of the online programs at Barton Community College. The school offers three different distance programs: BARTonline, eduKan and K-State at Barton. BARTonline gives students the opportunity to complete courses in areas such as military studies, pre-nursing and business administration. Partnering with neighboring colleges, students can also complete associate degrees at various colleges online. Finally, K-State at Barton allows students to earn their bachelor’s or master’s degree from Kansas State University through an online format.

30%26%3380YesYes
13
Cochise College
98.11

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$31,200

16:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

22%

The online program at Cochise College is designed to provide accessible learning for all students while maintaining quality academics. Upon successful program completion, students may be eligible to enter a career in their respective field of study or transfer their credits to one of Arizona’s state universities. Online programs are completed through the online learning system, Moodle, which is accessed through the school’s portal, MyCochise. Students can access their courses online at all hours of the day which allows them to meet other time obligations.

18%11%1356NoYes
14
Sheridan College
97.94

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$32,300

16:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

54%

Students are able to pursue their degrees and complete individual courses entirely at a distance at Sheridan College. With over 200 courses offered online, students are able to study when and where is most convenient for them. All courses are taught by experienced faculty who are trained to support students in a virtual classroom and are responsive to student questions. To prepare for their online courses, students can purchase required course textbooks and other course material from the campus bookstore or other locations.

26%6%747NoYes
15
Northeast Community College
97.87

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$33,000

17:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

38%

Northeast Community College was launched in 1973. Most of the college’s student population comes from the northeast Nebraska area. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the public, two-year college offers adults opportunities to earn online associate degrees in fields like business, social sciences, education, criminal justice and general studies. Certificates and diplomas are other online credentials that adults can earn from Northeast Community College. A web-based student orientation video introduces students to the school’s online system. An online advisor is the main point of contact for class registration. Career services, academic counseling and a testing center are support services for virtual learners.

43%14%1665YesYes
16
Allen County Community College
97.86

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$29,300

20:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

68%

Allen Community College offers comprehensive and quality online learning options that are designed to cater to a diverse population of students. Online programs are a great way for students to pursue their education while fulfilling other time commitments such as work or family duties. After program completion, students are able to transfer their credits to qualifying schools in order to continue their undergraduate career. Online offerings at ACC are reported to be both challenging and beneficial to distance learners. Student resources for online students include access to the school’s library, writing lab, technical support and free downloadable content that may help them stay on track for academic success.

23%56%7553NoNo
17
Shoreline Community College
97.78

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$40,500

17:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

19%

Adults living in the Shoreline, Washington area and abroad have more than 25 online degree and certificate programs to choose from. Associate in Applied Arts and Associate in Sciences degrees are awarded in accounting, business, criminal justice, business technology, health information technology and early childhood educator. The college’s Associate of Arts university transfer degrees are in 10 concentrations. Shoreline Community College has agreements with four-year schools that allow these 10 degrees to be transferred into bachelor’s degree programs at approved schools. Students taking online courses can expect to learn via videos, discussion forums and Massive Open Online Courses.

26%12%2028YesYes
18
Panola College
97.73

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$29,400

18:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

24%

Online learning options at Panola college include degree and certificate programs in areas such as business, nursing, teaching, computer information, and medical technology. Before their online classes being, students are encouraged to become familiar with the online classroom as well as be informed about deadlines and required course materials. eLearners have access to academic support services such as technological support services, testing centers, and all library resources. This allows students to receive the same quality of education and support as their on-campus peers.

20%13%1912YesNo
19
Rio Salado College
97.54

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$36,600

20:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

4%

Rio Salado College is member of the Maricopa Community Colleges. Instructors at the college teach more than 600 online courses. Career fields that these courses spotlight include accounting, teacher education, public administration, web design and organizational management. Class schedules operate on a semester basis. RioLearn, the college’s online portal, is compatible with Mac and PC computers. Housed inside RioLearn are a class syllabus, class assignments and student services. Students submit completed assignments through RioPace. To allow students to get acclimated to the Rio learning management systems, Rio Salado College lets new and prospective students test out the platforms.

17%30%4434YesNo
20
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
97.43

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$39,400

21:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

22%

Chandler-Gilbert Community College opened its doors in 1985. Nearly 19,000 students take classroom and online courses from the college each year. eLearning classes are fully online, hybrid and blended. Canvas is the management system that delivers lectures and written class materials. Many of the school’s courses are fully online. Completion of an associate degree requires some on campus learning. Depending on the major or course, new students may be required to go through student orientation before they start taking an online class. Smart Measure and Equiz are used to test how prepared students are for online classes.

19%9%1326YesYes
21
North Dakota State College of Science
97.42

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$41,400

12:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

31%

Online learning through North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) includes degree programs in architectural drafting and estimating, business technology management, health information, journey worker, marketing management, medical coding, mobile application development, pharmacy technician, technical studies and web design. NDSCS was founded in 1903 and is one of the oldest two-year residential colleges. Approximately 99 percent of the 2015 graduates were employed following graduation. NDSCS is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and through the Higher Learning Commission through the Academic Quality Improvement Program pathway.

47%7%1234YesYes
22
Williston State College
97.41

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$33,300

18:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

74%

Students who wish to pursue online programs, Williston State College (WSC) is a two-year public community college in North Dakota that offers 12 different online degree or certificates. Learning options include interactive video network (IVN), which gives students video access to instructors and fully online courses. IVN undergraduate degree programs include business administration, elementary education, and early childhood education. Online learning programs include accounting, business management, speech language pathology and general arts and sciences. WSC utilizes Moodle, Blackboard Collaborate and Tegrity as their learning management systems. The college operates under the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education.

37%10%1418NoYes
23
Mount Wachusett Community College
97.32

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$29,500

13:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

20%

Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) is a two-year college located in Gardner, MA, that recently celebrated 50 years of being an educational institution. MWCC offers over 70 programs, degrees and certificates with a wide variety of classes offered in a fully online format. MWCC utilizes Blackboard as the learning management system that delivers course content, students should expect to spend up to 12 hours each week studying for online courses. Courses are a semester in length and can be completed in two years, with the option of completing additional credits toward a bachelor degree at an eligible four-year degree institution.

15%8%1028YesYes
24
Central Texas College
97.21

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$33,700

18:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

13%

Distance education through Central Texas College includes online courses, blended courses and multimedia courses. Online courses require students to complete coursework through the Blackboard learning management system. Blended courses combine both virtual learning and face-to-face interaction. No more than 85 percent of the instruction occurs virtually in blended courses. Multimedia courses are offered at specific campus locations and are designed to help students who do not have access to reliable internet. The distance education programs include six sigma, web development, interior design, writing grant proposals and weatherization energy auditing. Central Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

14%27%4351YesYes
25
Lake Region State College
97.00

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$34,800

14:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

63%

Lake Region State College (LRSC) is a two-year community college located in Devils Lake, ND, and the online campus is part of the North Dakota University System Online (NDSUO) and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Online degree programs include an associate in arts, accounting/business administration, early childhood education, fitness trainer technician, law enforcement and speech language pathology assistant. Courses are flexible and can be completed any time and anywhere, depending on the student’s schedule. Students who wish to earn their bachelor’s degree can earn the first two years at LRSC and continue on by transferring credits to Mayville State University.

40%5%617YesYes
26
Grayson College
96.91

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$32,200

18:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

20%

The online campus with Grayson College gives students the option of obtaining a two-year degree from anywhere, and on their own time frame. Grayson College currently offers the following programs completely online: criminal justice, child development, education and general studies associate of science degree (available for transfer). The online campus at Grayson utilizes Canvas as their learning management system. Students who either graduate after two years or who transfer to a senior institution enjoy a 97 percent placement rate upon leaving Grayson College. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

19%5%1135YesYes
27
Metropolitan Community College
96.89

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$28,300

14:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

20%

Metropolitan Community College (MCC) is a two-year college located in Nebraska that offers a variety of online degree programs, including business management, computer science, criminal justice, early childhood education, healthcare administration, information technology, liberal arts and office technology. Students have the opportunity to set their own schedule and complete the coursework whenever it’s convenient. Course offerings begin in September, December, March and June. The online classes are delivered through a partnership with Ed2Go, ProTrain and VisionPoint. MCC is an approved member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA).

12%15%2258YesYes
28
Navarro College
96.86

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$31,100

17:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

26%

Online associate’s degree programs are available to students through Navarro College in Corsicana, TX. Students can choose from eight different undergraduate programs, including business administration, business, criminal justice, English, general studies, psychology, sociology and speech. In addition, a number of classes are offered in a hybrid format, which combines traditional classroom learning with online teaching. Navarro offers the SmarterMeasure tool, which students can use to determine their overall readiness for online degree programs. Students of Navarro also have access to the Virtual College of Texas (VCT), a collaborative for all two-year Texas community colleges that helps students gain access to courses not provided by Navarro.

16%7%1038YesNo
29
Trinity Valley Community College
96.83

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$28,500

20:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

30%

Trinity Valley Community College is a two-year educational institution located in Athens, TX, with satellite locations in Kaufman, Palestine and Terrell. For students who wish to pursue a degree program at their own pace and from any location, Trinity Valley offers a number of courses both online and as a hybrid that combines both traditional face-to-face learning and virtual teaching. Class sessions start monthly and are offered in six-week formats. Degree programs include accounting and finance, business, college readiness, computer applications, design and composition, health care, language arts, law, personal development, education, technology and writing and publishing.

23%8%1427YesNo
30
Truckee Meadows Community College
96.80

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$32,500

19:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

22%

Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, NV, has a partnership with Ed2Go to provide a number of online degree programs, including arts and design, business, computer applications, computer programming, construction, health and fitness, hospitality, information technology, language, legal, teacher professional development and writing. More than 25,000 students attend credit and non-credit courses with TMCC at five different educational sites and 20 community locations. And 95 percent of all graduates remain in Nevada upon completion of their degree programs and enjoy a high job placement rate.

21%15%1667YesYes
31
Tyler Junior College
96.64

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$30,400

21:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

17%

Students enrolled at Tyler Junior College (TJC) can choose from many award-winning online degree programs that are fully accredited. The college offers 11 different programs that are fully online, including business, business management, criminal justice, economics, education, English, general studies, psychology, public administration, sociology and social work. In addition, there are also six programs that are considered a hybrid format, which requires some in-person instruction. These programs include business management – bookkeeping, child development, environmental science, health information technology, medical office management and paralegal. TJC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

15%17%1971YesNo
32
Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell Campus
96.58

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$30,200

14:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

5%

For students who wish to pursue an education with Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU), they can choose from over 30 different programs available for both undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees. The online courses are available 24 hours per day, seven days a week which means students can access coursework on their own time, however, some courses do require you to be online at a specific time. ENMU utilizes both Blackboard and Mediasite as their learning management systems. ENMU is New Mexico’s largest comprehensive university with a four-year campus in Portales, and two-year campuses in Roswell and Ruidoso.

20%7%1150YesYes
33
Northwest Iowa Community College
96.50

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$38,400

13:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

32%

Northwest Iowa Community College (NCC) is a member of the Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC), which gives students an advanced degree of options for online courses. Students are able to choose from over 750 courses and programs because of this membership. Online degree programs include pre-professional associate of arts degrees in accounting, business, criminal justice, education, human resources and paralegal. Or students can pursue associate of applied science degrees in health information technology, agriculture, accounting and powerline technology. Many of the courses can also be completed in person if students want a blended, hybrid learning experience.

51%5%820YesYes
34
Bunker Hill Community College
96.47

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$33,000

17:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

1%

Bunker Hill Community College is a two-year educational institution located in Boston, MA, that offers five programs in a fully online format. The programs include an associate of arts degree in business, communication, English, general studies and psychology. In addition, there are also eight certificate programs available. Web courses can be completed anywhere students have access to the Internet, and hybrid courses include some traditional in-person learning structure and activities. The college uses Moodle as their learning management system. Bunker Hill Community College was founded in 1973 and is the largest two-year college in Massachusetts with more than 14,000 enrolled students each semester.

11%8%856YesYes
35
Diablo Valley College
96.45

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$38,300

27:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

N/A

Diablo Valley College (DVC) was formed in 1949 in Pleasant Hill, CA, as one of three publicly supported two-year community colleges. Students can choose from more than 40 AA and AS degree programs, many of which can be taken completely online. The college has articulation agreements with the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU), which allows students to easily transfer their credits and continue their education at a four-year college. DVC enjoys a transfer rate to four-year colleges and universities that is 67 percent higher than the national average. Diablo Valley College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).

39%25%3762YesNo
36
Amarillo College
96.44

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$31,300

22:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

17%

The distance education programs through Amarillo College provide students with the option of taking fully online courses, hybrid courses (50 percent in-person and 50 percent online), enhanced online courses, telecourses (coursework taught through DVDs) and ITV, which delivers course content through real time video at an interactive video facility. The programs available through Amarillo include business administration, criminal justice, general studies, mortuary science, psychology and radiation therapy. Amarillo College was founded in 1929 and serves more than 35,000 students each semester. There are six campus locations and an outreach center, all located in the west Texas area of Amarillo.

15%17%1956YesNo
37
Yavapai College
96.43

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$28,200

18:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

15%

Yavapai College is a two-year community college located in Prescott, AZ that serves more than 16,000 students annually. When attending courses full-time, students have a 68 percent completion rate for all programs offered at Yavapai. There are six campus locations in Chino Valley, CTEC, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Sedona and Verde Valley. The college offers nine different undergraduate programs that are fully online. The programs include business, general studies, accounting, law enforcement, administrative, management, paralegal studies and video game development. In addition, there are 16 different certificate programs that students could pursue as well.

17%10%1628NoYes
38
Cowley County Community College
96.42

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$30,900

23:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

44%

Cowley College has a comprehensive online offering that includes over 600 accredited courses with 70 majors and degree options, which means students can choose from over 30 degrees and certificate programs that are completed fully online. Class coursework can be completed anywhere there is Internet access and the college utilizes BlackBoard Learn+ as their learning management system. Most courses can be transferred toward a bachelor’s degree for students wishing to continue on with their education. Classes are a traditional semester in length and programs are designed to be completed within two years. Cowley College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

29%9%1319YesYes
39
Western Nebraska Community College
96.35

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$26,500

15:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

60%

Western Nebraska Community College (WNCC) is a two-year educational institution founded in 1926, with three campuses located in Alliance, Scottsbluff and Sidney, NE. Around 1,000 students attend courses at WNCC each year, and graduates enjoy a 93 percent job placement rate upon graduation. Degree-seeking students wishing to pursue an online education can take a 1-credit, eight-week course that introduces them to the online learning environment. Topics include time management, online communication, submitting assignments and tests and the resources available to students. WNCC utilizes Blackboard as their learning management system.

23%5%954YesYes
40
Holmes Community College
96.31

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$28,300

18:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

37%

Distance Education through Holmes Community College is a collaborative effort with the Mississippi Virtual Community College (MSVCC). MSVCC is a cooperative of 14 community colleges and is designed to provide students with a wide variety of courses available online. Colleges that are members of MSVCC allow students to access courses from any of the members and credits count the same as if the student was taking the course through Holmes. Classes are taken through the Internet and the members utilize Canvas as their learning management portal. In addition, students can access course content through two-way interactive video, video-taped courses and correspondence courses.

25%41%4660YesNo
41
Ozarka College
96.14

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$25,200

16:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

25%

Students who wish to pursue an online education through Ozarka College can first take a self-assessment survey to assess their readiness for online learning. In addition, the college offers hybrid courses which combine both in-person, face-to-face learning and traditional online content. Degree programs include automotive service technology, business, culinary arts, health information technology, nursing, criminal justice, education, human resources, etc. In addition, there are several technical certificates and certificate programs offered to students. Ozarka College was founded in 1975 as a technical college that prepare students for transfer to four-year colleges and universities.

22%14%1510NoYes
42
State Fair Community College
96.13

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$29,200

17:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

14%

Online learning through State Fair Community College offers students a variety of degree options including general associate of arts degree, applied science in medical assistant, professional certificate in medical assistant and applied science in business management. The college offers online courses delivered 100 percent online, hybrid courses that combine both online and face-to-face learning and web-enhanced courses. State Fair Community College was founded in 1968 in Sedalia, MO, as a way to serve students who wish to enter the workforce quickly or obtain a transfer degree to a four-year college. State Fair Community College is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

21%21%2829YesYes
43
Columbus State Community College
96.12

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$31,300

19:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

20%

Columbus State Community College, founded in 1963, is a two-year educational institution located in Columbus, OH that enrolls more than 24,000 students annually. Students can pursue an online education in a number of disciplines including accounting, architecture, business, criminal justice, digital design, photography, environmental science, finance, health information technology, hospitality management, marketing, exercise science and more. Courses are offered in both traditional online formats and blended courses, which combine both online and face-to-face instruction. The college also offers the SmarterMeasure Learning Readiness Indicator Assessment to gauge whether online learning is a good fit.

8%22%2861YesYes
44
New Mexico Junior College
96.08

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$28,100

18:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

34%

Distance learning offered through New Mexico Junior College gives students the flexibility of completing their degree program without stepping foot on campus. The degree programs offered are general associate of arts and associate of science degrees that can be transferred to eligible four-year colleges and universities for students wishing to further their education. The online learning options at New Mexico Junior College include web online, which are 100 percent virtual courses through Canvas, the learning management system, web hybrid, which are a combination of online and face-to-face instruction, and web enhanced which are face-to-face courses with online components added.

18%5%919YesYes
45
Rose State College
95.93

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$31,400

19:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

30%

Rose State College is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a commission of the North Central Association for Colleges and Schools. Rose State College offers seven degree programs that can be obtained completely online. They include the college of business, corporate education, English, liberal studies, social sciences, cyber security and library technical assistant. Rose State College utilizes Brightspace (by D2L Brightspace) as their integrated learning platform. Rose State College was founded in 1970 and is located in Midwest City, OK. The college enrolls more than 13,000 students annually.

12%8%850YesNo
46
Middlesex Community College
95.89

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$33,400

19:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

16%

For over 15 years, the online learning programs at Middlesex Community College has provided students with an option to complete their degree on their own time frame and from anywhere. Middlesex offers hundreds of courses online, in addition to 12 online associate degree programs and six online certificate programs. Students will enjoy smaller class sizes at Middlesex and transfer agreements with many four-year colleges and universities for those students who wish to continue on with their education. The college offers an online course readiness survey for students who are unsure whether that option is the right one.

13%5%738YesYes
47
Southwestern Oregon Community College
95.88

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$27,600

16:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

51%

Southwestern Oregon Community College (SWOCC) was formed in 1961 and enrolls more than 10,000 students annually in the Oregon South Coast area. Students who wish to pursue distance learning through SWOCC can choose from five different degree programs including associate of arts general transfer programs, associate of science general transfer programs, a business concentration and one-year certificate programs. Courses are offered as distance classes (fully online), hybrid classes (online and face-to-face interaction) and web enhanced classes that are primarily in-person, but also include some online components. Southwestern Oregon Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

20%14%1820YesYes
48
Quinsigamond Community College
95.84

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$32,300

18:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

13%

Online undergraduate associate degree programs are available through Quinsigamond Community College (QCC), located in Worcester, MA. QCC offers five associate degrees, four certificates and more than 100 courses completely online. Students can choose from business, general studies, liberal arts, criminal justice, computer sciences and health care options for degree programs. Students interested in the online programs at Quinsigamond Community College can take an online readiness survey to assess their compatibility for the distance learning programs. Quinsigamond was formed in 1963 and enrollment has grown to over 13,000 students, who enjoy a 92 percent job placement rate upon graduating.

16%5%639YesYes
49
Prince George’s Community College
95.75

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$40,900

15:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

6%

Prince George’s Community College, formed in 1958, is located near Washington, D.C. and enrolls more than 40,000 students annually. The eLearning Services at Prince George’s Community College offers 11 associate degrees and four certificates that can be completed entirely online. There are over 300 online and hybrid (online and in-person) courses for students to take, in addition to video enhanced online courses. Online courses are full semesters in length and follow a similar schedule as traditional in-person courses. Prince George’s Community College utilizes Blackboard as the course management system for students to access course content.

6%6%1039YesYes
50
Lone Star College
95.74

Published in-state tuition and fees for undergraduate students.

$$$$$

Annual median earnings 10 years after entering the college. Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

$32,900

18:1

First-time, full-time undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid directly from the postsecondary institution.

13%

Students who wish to pursue an online degree program can do so with Lone Star College, located in The Woodlands, TX. Programs include business management and administration, accounting, computer applications and computer programming. In addition, students can choose from seven different academic transfer degrees in the areas of business, computer science, criminal justice, speech communication and international studies. Lone Star College is an open-enrollment institution that accepts most students and has many programs that can be completed in two years or less. Students can also take the online readiness assessment to gauge interest in whether online learning is the right option.

11%10%1745YesYes

Compare Online Community Colleges Side-by-Side

As with traditional brick-and-mortar institutions, students want to know they have all the information needed to make an informed decision and find a school fitted to their needs. The following search tool helps students create a tailored list of online community colleges that takes into account important factors such as tuition, acceptance rates, student-faculty ratios, and the number of online programs available.

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Student Snapshot: Who Goes to Online Community Colleges?

According to a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics , 39 percent of all postsecondary students were enrolled at two-year institutions during the 2014 academic year. Many elect to complete coursework online via community colleges with distance learning options, from single parents and full-time professionals looking to fit school into their hectic lifestyles to low-income college hopefuls needing to save on tuition. Here’s a snapshot of students who tend to benefit most from attending an online community college:

The Back-to-School Grown-up

Having completed high school many years ago, the back-to-school adult is often very committed to furthering their education, yet they also have other commitments to consider. Whether working full time or raising a family, online community college programs are highly appealing due to their flexibility.

The First-Gen College Student

First generation college students are highly motivated learners, yet they are often unsure of the process since they are the first in their family to walk through it. Online community college classes allow them to dip their toe in the water and familiarize themselves with how higher education functions while also earning a two-year degree at a fraction of the cost.

The Future 4-Year Transfer

Students who complete online classes at a community college in their state benefit greatly from in-state tuition, making it possible to complete half of a bachelor’s degree at a fraction of the cost. Because approximately half of the courses which make up four-year degree can be gained at a community college, this option is especially attractive for the cost-conscious student.

The Student With a Disability

Online community colleges are consistently growing in popularity amongst students with disabilities as these programs allow them more flexibility to learn in a way that suits them best. Online learning also means students with disabilities spend far less time seeking out accommodations to make classrooms or coursework more accessible.

The Re-Entry Veteran

Having spent four or more years learning and using specific skillsets, community colleges are often appealing to veterans for their focus on vocational skills and knowledge. Online community colleges also help veterans adjusting to civilian life ease back into their communities.

The Low-Income Student

The cost of an academic year at a local community college significantly undercuts that of a private four-year institution and allows many low-income students the opportunity to complete courses they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford without incurring significant debt. Students who rise to the top of their classes at the associate level may also qualify for additional scholarships if they choose to transfer to a four-year institution.

The Credit-Hungry High Schooler

Many high school students – especially those at smaller schools with fewer elective options – complete postsecondary classes via online community colleges during their junior and senior years. This option allows them to earn transferable credits while also cutting down on the overall cost of their college education.

Benefits of Online Community Colleges and Potential Drawbacks

As with any major decision about future educational and career paths, prospective students should weigh the pros and cons of online community colleges against their unique needs and learning styles. Students who require flexibility to complete their educations benefit greatly from this educational option, while those who struggle with time management and self-discipline may struggle. Use the table below to learn about some of the benefits and potential drawbacks of online community colleges.

Benefits

Career-Focused Curriculum

Community colleges allow students to focus on future careers without requiring additional coursework in unrelated disciplines.

Development of Foundational Knowledge

Online community colleges are excellent for students who need to establish or build upon the core concepts of several academic subjects.

Flexible Class Schedule

Asynchronous classes allow learners to complete assignments on their own schedule, while many schools also allow students to start at different times throughout the year.

Ability to Transfer to Four-Year School

A significant portion of students begin their collegiate career at a community college thanks to significantly lower costs and ease of transfer.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

Unlike four-year degree programs, associate degrees and certificates allow students to continue learning without committing years of their life to education.

Space to Explore Academic and Career Goals

Because many associate programs are considered entry or foundational degrees, they’re a good option for students who are unsure of their exact goals.

More Affordable

As you’ll see below, the cost of postsecondary education is a massive consideration for students, and community colleges almost always come out favorably in this area.

Potential Drawbacks

Subdued Campus Culture

Because students are interacting behind computer screens, it can be difficult to feel truly connected to peers and develop a strong school spirit.

Limited Program Availability

Since community colleges typically receive less funding than four-year institutions, their online offerings are typically not yet as expansive as universities that grant bachelor’s degrees.

Extra Accountability

Because you’ll never set foot in a classroom, discipline plays a significant role in ensuring your online education is a success.

Untranslatable Topics

While many programs translate seamlessly to an online environment, other disciplines (especially those that are visual or hands-on) may suffer in this format.

Computer Literacy

Knowing the ins and outs of a school’s learning software platform, along with common programs used, is a huge component of whether or not a student feels their time at an online community college was valuable.

A Closer Look at the Affordability of Online Community Colleges

Academic program options and extracurricular activities are important factors when considering a college, but a 2015 study by Sallie Mae and Ipsos showed that the price tag of an education also ranks high on the list. This survey found cost to be the third biggest consideration when choosing a college, and online community colleges can score very favorably in this respect.

In addition to money saved on tuition, online community college students also benefit from the absence of other expenses incurred by campus-based learners. Private room and board is often much cheaper than options offered by colleges and universities, and students also save costs on commuting and car maintenance.

The table below highlights the significantly lower cost of an online community college as compared to in-state and out-of-state public schools and private institutions. The numbers represent one academic year, meaning a bachelor’s degree completed at a private institution could cost in excess of $130,000.

Average Published Tuition & Fees for Full-Time Undergraduates (2015-16)

  • Public Two-Year In-District
  • Public Four-Year In-State
  • Public Four-Year Out-of-State
  • Private Nonprofit Four-Year

Note: Figures are enrollment-weighted

Source: CollegeBoard

Student Roadmap Through Online Community College

Students follow many different paths upon completion of their online community college degree, and this section is designed to provide a roadmap for students considering their options. Whether planning to go straight into the workforce or use their degree as a launching pad for further education, these milestone steps help students ensure they’re on track for a meaningful experience after community college.

Transfer Path

Setting a plan
in motion

Students who plan on transferring to a four-year institution need to ensure the classes they take will be accepted by their next school. If a student plans to stay in their state to complete a bachelor’s degree, they should find out if their community college has transfer partnerships (also called articulation agreements) with state schools.

Preparing for
next steps

Once a student has a grasp on how their community college credits transfer, it’s time to continue researching four-year universities and begin narrowing down the list. They should use this time to decide if they want to continue with a similar degree program and what the most important factors are when picking a school.

Finishing
strong

As graduation nears, students need to make sure all of their ducks are in a row for a stress-free transfer. Get in touch with an admissions advisor at your future school and also work closely with the advisor at your current school to make sure all applications, transcripts, and other paperwork is received in a timely fashion.

Direct Career Path

Creating a list
of objectives

Since degrees earned at community colleges take half the time of a bachelor’s degree, these two years can often zoom by quickly. Students with a clear sense of their career path should create a list of objectives early in their college career to ensure they make the most of their time in school. These may include finding a mentor, regularly attending networking events, or setting aside time to develop a new skillset outside of class.

Getting on-the-
ground training

If possible, students should complete an internship to gain experience and make contact within their chosen industry. This is especially true for online students, as networking opportunities may be harder to find.

Staying ahead
of the pack

As graduation nears, students should contact the career services department and take advantage of services offered, including resume review, interview practice, and tips on proper business attire. Students should then research job opportunities, update their LinkedIn page, and contact any acquaintances or colleagues that may have job connections.

Continuing Education Path

Staying two
steps ahead

Adult learners who want to specialize further in their field or branch out and learn a new skill may consider undertaking an online certificate program at a community college. Before enrolling, students looking to move into a new field or position should research if the continuing education program is enough to qualify them for future job openings.

Getting to know
your professors

Many students who elect to complete a certificate are looking to move into more senior level roles upon graduation, and oftentimes professors can help since they know the industry well. Even if a professor doesn’t have a lead, their recommendations can be very valuable on a job application.

Leveraging
your resources

At the end of a certificate program, students have new skills and knowledge and a network of peers and professors closely connected to their chosen field. Finding ways to leverage all of these resources and continue to make the most of the experience will help ensure their educational investment was worth the time and effort. Students should update their resumes, LinkedIn pages, and any websites to reflect their education and stay in regular communication with their colleagues.

Student Transfer Mini Guide: Making the Leap to 4-Year Studies

Transferring to a four-year institution after completing an associate degree is a perennially popular option for students, and for good reasons. Aside from cost-saving benefits, students can also take advantage of the flexibility offered by online programs. Learners considering this path likely have many questions about the logistics of such a transfer, and this section provides answers.

Why Consider 2-Year to 4-Year Transfer?

The average cost to complete an associate degree as in-district student came to $6,880 in 2016, while two years at a public or private school would cost $18,820 and $64,820, respectively. Although community colleges have gotten a bad rep as being less academically challenging, the tide is beginning to turn as more students in the top percentiles of their graduating class elect to complete their first two years at these institutions. Because the first half of a bachelor’s degree is largely made up of foundational, general education classes, it makes excellent financial sense to complete these at a lower cost before transferring to a four-year university to gain specialized knowledge.

How It Works

Students transferring to a four-year institution must submit their community college transcript for review after final grades arrive. While some schools have articulation agreements with community colleges that allow for easy transfer of courses, students outside of these agreements must have their transcripts analyzed. Depending on course content and GPAs, admissions advisors decide how many courses transfer. Under best circumstances, students can begin their first semester as a junior. Some students may need to retake classes if they don’t transfer.

Must-Knows About Transferring

  • Make sure your associate degree is transfer-friendly.

    Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees are generally considered terminal degrees and are designed for students who want to directly enter the workforce, while Associate of Science (AS) and Associate of Arts (AA) degrees are typically transferable.

  • Some schools have more room for transfers than others.

    Especially true for small schools or those that don’t have large graduating classes, prospective transfer students should research rates of admission to understand their chance of being accepted.

  • Online programs are available at every level.

    Community college students who took advantage of online classes can often continue in a similar path of learning once they transfer. Because four-year institutions traditionally have larger budgets, they may even have access to a wider array of courses and degree programs.

  • GPA scores matter.

    Since college entrance exams are designed to capture a student’s knowledge when they are in high school, these scores matter less for transfer students. College admissions panels place more weight on grades for classes taken at a student’s previous school, making it paramount to keep GPAs as high as possible.

Transfer Glossary

  • 2+2 Transfer.

    Also known as the 2+2 model, this is the most popular transfer option, allowing students to complete two years at a community college and two years at a four-year university.

  • Articulation Agreement.

    The process used to determine if coursework at a community college is equivalent to the offerings at a four-year institution and whether or not previously earned credit will transfer. In some states, this agreement guarantees admission to partner universities.

  • Degree Audit.

    Analyzes the requirements of a chosen degree path alongside courses students have already completed in order to provide a progress report for the student.

  • Reverse Transferring.

    This option exists for students who did not finish their associate degree program at a community college and decided to continue their education at the university level. After the necessary courses are completed at a four-year institution, they are reverse transferred back to the community college – thereby allowing students to earn their associate degree.

Resources for Future and Current Online Community College Students

Looking for the best resources for online community college students? This list presents a well-rounded collection of websites and applications to enhance your college research and make sure your time in school goes smoothly once enrolled.

Future Students

10 Truths About Community College Every Student Should Know

Noodle provides this informative look at how to make the most of online community college courses.

Community College: A Viable Option

The National Association for College Admissions Counseling takes a look at why this type of institution is appealing to students from a spectrum of backgrounds and interests.

Community College FAQs

The College Board provides answers to some of the most common questions about attending community colleges, many of which apply to online students.

Current Students

BibMe

Get confused when using MLA, Chicago, or APA styles for citations? Bibme is a fully automatic bibliography creator to ensure students don’t get marked down for stylistic errors.

Essay Punch

This website helps students improve their essay writing skills and offers numerous helpful tutorials.

OpenStudy

This online social media platform connects likeminded college students to act as online study buddies.

Rate My Professors

Since online students don’t get the chance to talk to other students or meet potential professors in person, Rate My Professors helps them find out if they’ve got a good instructor.

Study Blue

This online resource allows college students to create online flash cards for studying without ever having to touch a printer.

The Online Books Page

Provided by the University of Pennsylvania, users can search more than 30,000 book titles that are provided for free online.

TEACHING MOMENT: ADVICE FOR NEW
ONLINE COMMUNITY COLLEGE INSTRUCTORS

New instructors for online community college courses may wonder about some of the common challenges they’ll face in this type of teaching environment and how to overcome them. The following section highlights those issues while also providing a list of resources to help them design interactive, engaging courses.

Common Challenges of Teaching a Community College Class Online (And How to Solve Them)

img

1
Not understanding the Course Management System (CMS)

Because community colleges are relatively new to online learning platforms, teachers at these schools may feel overwhelmed when navigating the variety of features available to them.

Solution: Programs like BlackBoard , Moodle and Desire2Learn all have comprehensive tutorials on how to make the most out of the CMS.

2
Finding ways to engage with your students

Because teachers likely never meet their class face-to-face, finding ways to engage them through a computer screen is one of the first challenges instructors often note.

Solution: Rather than thinking of technology as a hindrance, use the massive amount of resources at your disposal to create new ways of engagement through forum discussions, webcam chats, or Skype sessions.

3
Assigning virtual resources

Teachers accustomed to providing book lists and having a brick-and-mortar library to point their students to may feel flustered the first time they design an online class syllabus.

Solution: When books aren’t an option, harness the vast amount of resources available online – ranging from articles to full publications to instructional videos.

4
Managing your time

Much like students, teachers transitioning to online teaching must find ways to manage and balance their time – often while also teaching campus-based classes.

Solution: Google Calendar is an excellent, free option that is web-based and can be synced to other devices.

5
Translating room-based activities onto the web

Most teachers have an arsenal of teaching techniques and activities they use to engage students, such as small group discussions, presentations, and guest speakers. Finding ways to translate these activities to a web-based course can be a challenge, but there are resources available.

Solution: Cincinnati State provides a list of the 15 best activities for online community college teachers to engage their students in a distance learning environment.

Must-Reads for Online Community College Teachers

5 Ways to Engage Community College Students

Shared by CMS-provider Blackboard, this article provides helpful ideas for bringing online community college students together.

Engaging Practices, Engaging Students

The Center for Community College Student Engagement offers this exhaustive resource on high-impact practice for engaging community college students.

How Can We Meet the Unique Challenges of Community Colleges in the Online Environment?

This article by Online Learning Consortium addresses the question that’s on the mind of online community college instructors across the nation.

Online and Engaged

This article by University Business addresses how to best engage distance learners enrolled at community colleges.

Using Technology to Engage the Nontraditional Student

Educause looks at the best ways to engage students who haven’t been in school for a while.

Disclaimer

You’re about to search for degree programs related to a career that you are researching. It’s important to
recognize that a degree may be required for a career or increase your chances of employment but it is not a
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Volume 101
Issue 4

March 2015

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Teaching History Online to Today’s Community College Students

Suzanne K. McCormack

Suzanne K. McCormack is an associate professor of history at the Community College of Rhode Island.

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Suzanne K. McCormack

Journal of American History, Volume 101, Issue 4, 1 March 2015, Pages 1215–1221, https://doi.org/10.1093/jahist/jav100

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01 March 2015


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    Suzanne K. McCormack; Teaching History Online to Today’s Community College Students, Journal of American History, Volume 101, Issue 4, 1 March 2015, Pages 1215–1221, https://doi.org/10.1093/jahist/jav100

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When I began working toward a Ph.D. in twentieth-century U.S. history in 1996, I saw my future self as do, I imagine, many graduate students training as college faculty: lecturing, chalk in hand, to a group of note-taking students. Or, perhaps, seated among a group of enthusiastic young adults who have come to college prepared for the rigors of higher education and arrive at class daily with their assignments complete. The reality of my personal experience has been quite different, influenced largely by the increased use of technology in the college classroom and the growth of online learning. Teaching U.S. history to community college students in the twenty-first century, I have discovered, necessitates a flexible approach to students’ learning styles and a willingness to embrace technology in both the on-campus and online classrooms.

My journey into the use of technology in the classroom began simply with a computer and a projector. No longer did I “just talk” at the blackboard; I moved beyond telling the students what I wanted them to learn to also showing them. For each lesson, I displayed artwork, photographs, or maps to illustrate the key points. Though I have no quantitative evidence that my students’ work improved, I sensed immediately upon adopting this practice that the classroom atmosphere was changed for the better. A political cartoon from the War of 1812, for example, could be the foundation for a class discussion on British military relations with Native Americans. No matter if no one in the class had noticed the image in the textbook: I had placed it in front of them during class, and its presence alone fostered discussion. I embraced the use of technology in the classroom as a powerful tool for learning: a way to address different learning styles (such as visual, verbal, or auditory) to reach students who might have tuned out more traditional modes of lecturing.

Still, I never anticipated that one day I would be teaching entire courses online. Nor did I imagine a day when my students would have the capacity to access an infinite amount of data in the palms of their hands. Yet in fall 2008, my second year as a tenure-track assistant professor at the Community College of Rhode Island, the department chair asked if anyone was willing to take on the task of offering an online history course. Much to the horror of my colleagues, I immediately volunteered. The weeks that followed involved many impromptu conversations with well-meaning co-workers who could not understand why I would ever have agreed to such an unenviable task. At the time, our department offered only telecourses. Few full-time faculty taught telecourses, and none of us cared to learn much about them as long as we did not have to teach them. The idea of our lectures being videotaped and then shown on local public television to an audience of students was awkward, at best.

Even more disconcerting to my colleagues was the prospect of teaching unprepared community college students online. The same community college students whose diverse academic experiences make our brick-and-mortar classrooms challenging and rewarding might, they feared, be more difficult to teach in an online environment. At a community college with a policy of open enrollment, I regularly encounter students starting college with little to no experience researching or writing a history paper. Many of these men and women do not yet have the necessary skills to make academic gains quickly. Physically placing ourselves in front of a group of students two or three times per week affords us the opportunity to read facial expressions and body language—two important components of teaching that help us identify who might need extra support. How, my colleagues wondered, would I know that students were “getting it” when I never saw or spoke to them face to face?

Without question, the experience of teaching community college students online has been overwhelmingly positive, and recently I added hybrid courses to my teaching load. Distance learning opened my eyes to aspects of college teaching that I had not previously considered, and I have successfully transferred many of these methods from online classes to improve the quality of my on-campus classroom. The virtual classroom’s requirement—that we direct student learning without being a physical presence—forces us to assess our teaching tools and practices constantly to ensure that we are providing clear instructions and content, and to assess students regularly to gauge the success of our methods. The challenges that stem from teaching these students online are not necessarily greater than teaching them on campus but certainly different. The gap between where they are when they begin community college and where they need to be to earn an associate’s degree or to transfer to a four-year college or university is often quite wide. Nonetheless, this divide can be lessened by online courses in which students are taught practical skills that may benefit them in all future academic endeavors: active reading and critical thinking.

Contrary to my colleagues’ fears, many of the students who enroll in online courses through community colleges are extremely motivated and well prepared. Having several students in my online survey courses concurrently enrolled full-time at four-year institutions is not uncommon. In my opinion, these are the students best suited to online learning. They have had some experiences in a college classroom, have a clear goal in mind (that is, fulfilling specific requirements), have a reasonable understanding of the time they need to devote to their school work, and are capable of working independently.

More commonly enrolled in online courses, however, are students who share social, economic, and academic characteristics with my on-campus students, including recent high school graduates, those looking to change professions, and active-duty military members and veterans. Taking courses at a community college is a tentative first step toward a college degree. In addition to grasping the course content and understanding a historical narrative, these students need to learn academic skills that will help them in their long-term work toward a degree. They have come to community college from manual labor jobs, service industries, and retail positions, having concluded that their economic future will remain murky and unstable if they do not further their education. Many of the learning goals we pursue with our traditional classroom students can be replicated in the online environment. Rather than throwing out the on-campus syllabus, I think of it as a road map for designing the online course. Coupled with the understanding that students enrolled in distance learning expect and are willing to work independently, the online survey course can, in fact, be more hands-on than the traditional classroom version. It can help students develop more sophisticated reading skills as they move from gathering and prioritizing information from the textbook to analyzing primary sources related to that material to supplementing their reading by finding primary sources to add to the online discussion. As they practice explaining, using, and finding sources, community college students learn the rudiments of historical research and argumentation.

For students in my online courses, weekly reading assignments are the foundation to build upon as we work through the week’s assignments. In conjunction with outlines and review questions, the textbook and supplemental materials provide students a necessary historical narrative and help them improve their active reading skills. Community college students come from such diverse academic backgrounds that textbook reading is a simple way to ensure that everyone shares a common starting point. In survey-level history courses, I begin each week by assigning one or two chapters from the textbook, depending upon the quantity of supplemental readings I plan to assign for the week’s topic(s). I coach students to read actively: to make notes in the text or their notebooks in ways that will help them quickly locate important information from the chapters when they are completing assignments and preparing for exams. The Web sites of many college learning centers offer suggestions about how students can best use the time they spend reading college textbooks. With my community college students—some returning to school after an extended period of time—the simple direction to “read chapter 1” is unlikely to result in a gathering of all the information that I want them to gain from the text. My directions must be much more specific: for example, to use the list of key terms commonly supplied at the end of each chapter as the starting point for each week’s note-taking. Students copy the list into their notebooks, leaving space for definitions and examples, and then use the list to guide them through the important themes of the reading. Describing the challenges of reading college textbooks, Mark Springer writes, “we haven’t learned that there are different ways of reading different texts. Most of us read textbooks the same way we might read a novel or a comic book.” While in a traditional classroom setting I may write key terms on the board to guide the students through the main points of a lecture, in an online history class I find that students benefit from being assigned the task of defining terms. Especially for those students who have been away from school for a significant period, this exercise is a bridge back to the practice of note-taking. 1

Since my online students are not present at a weekly lecture—a time when they might write in their notebooks about material that I have stressed in my presentation and therefore begin the process of committing information to memory—I encourage them to use the textbook chapter as a very general lecture. (I am not a fan of recording my lecture for students to watch. I have told myself numerous times that if and when students ask me to record lectures for online courses, I will give the practice a fair try.) The assigned chapter, I tell them, is an introduction to what they will be learning about. We will examine some areas in far more depth than others, but they must have a basic understanding of the key terms to develop the deeper understanding that we seek through writing assignments and discussions. I emphasize that they should not expect to have a firm grasp of all the material in the textbook chapter from one session of reading. Engaging the textbook should not only provide content but should also help them formulate broader questions for which they will (I hope) seek answers in our class discussions.

I assign an open-book quiz as the first written task of the week for my online and on-campus classes. In my first semesters of teaching at a community college, students came to class unprepared, in part because I was not requiring them to do anything with the reading. Without graded work directly associated with the reading, they were unlikely to do it. As part of their experience in the community college history classroom, students need to learn that they can achieve tangible gains by completing assigned readings. I regularly assign online students a quiz of approximately twenty-five to thirty objective questions to be completed in conjunction with their textbook reading. (On-campus students must complete a quiz of similar length before our first class meeting each week.) Generally, depending on the course calendar and schedule, my students take between ten and fourteen quizzes on the textbook reading per semester. Students approach these weekly quizzes very seriously. Instead of having the usual two or three exam grades for the semester, they are in control of an additional test grade that results from their cumulative quiz scores. For these students who have enrolled at community college from many different educational experiences, such low-stakes use of the textbook provides a common starting point from which we can move forward collectively. Consistent, low-stakes assessment has helped students see a direct correlation between completing assigned course readings (on time) and improving their individual grades. I emphasize to the students that similar to nightly math homework, the quizzes are an opportunity for them to assess what they have learned (from the reading) while preparing for subsequent assignments either online or in a traditional classroom setting.

This practice has an added benefit: better preparing students for class discussions, thus enabling us to pursue critical inquiry using primary sources. Students with even a rudimentary knowledge of the historical narrative (people, places, ideas, and events) can broaden their understanding with critical thinking exercises such as discussion boards or forums. Having completed the textbook reading and assessment for the week ahead, students in my online (and on-campus) courses move on to examining primary sources related to one or two specific topics for that week’s discussion. By the end of a semester-long survey U.S. course, I want my students to conceptualize a historical “source” as more than just words on paper. A cartoon, photograph, song lyrics, or a piece of artwork can offer students windows onto politics, social life, and culture. My goal, whenever possible, is to introduce a different kind of source into our discussion each week. Technology enables me to tap into the different learning styles of my students by employing the seemingly infinite amount of primary-source material at my disposal. While some students are comfortable interpreting traditional written sources, others have more success (and show more interest) in examining visual sources or listening to a sound recording from the era under examination.

In 2002 Donald Buckley, a biologist and innovator in the use of instructional technology, offered the following hypothesis: “It may be that our brains are not wired in ways that allow people to routinely seek alternative explanations or evidence or to interpret the value of evidence insightfully.” “Critical inquiry,” he continued, “is an acquired skill, and students need lots of practice.” To this end I engage the Internet to employ as many different kinds of sources as possible in each week’s discussion forum, and I encourage students to add sources they have found. As a result, my online students’ discussions are not only fun to read but they also probe more deeply into the sources than do my students in face-to-face classes. The semi-anonymity of the online discussion forum gives students a sense of security; therefore, they are able to more readily disagree with each other and offer ideas that in the physical space of a classroom might embarrass or discomfort them. Face to face in a classroom, students are rarely comfortable questioning another perspective or response to a teacher’s questions. The lack of disagreement in class discussions, especially early in the semester when the students are not yet familiar with their cohort, stifles their critical thinking and the process of inquiry that is so important to academic interactions. Online discussion-board assignments engage students in the process of making a written argument—a skill they will continue to hone in other college-level classes—and allow them the physical and intellectual space to formulate a thoughtful response. 2

Online discussions in my history classes generally follow a specific format: students are assigned two or more primary sources to evaluate after they have completed the week’s textbook reading. In my online section of United States History I, for example, students often have as their first discussion topic the settlement of British colonies in North America. For this assignment students will have read two chapters in the textbook and two or three primary-source documents that I have selected and linked to the course. I present the students with a list of three to five questions from which I tell them to write a discussion post of 150–200 words. I expect answers with details and specific examples, including quotes from the primary-source reading. When I first began teaching online, I made the mistake of posting a single question to the board and expecting everyone to answer it in detail and respond to one another. This exercise proved not only redundant but also quite boring, and I realized very quickly that the students need options that enable them to explore more than one topic in the discussion over the course of a week’s assignments. A discussion about British settlement in North America, for example, will include posts on a variety of topics ranging from agriculture in the Chesapeake, to disease and mortality in the southern colonies, to Puritan beliefs in early Boston. Often students in my online history class cover more topics in the discussion forum—and in much greater detail—than my on-campus students have time to cover in the traditional classroom.

Each Monday morning of the semester I post new assignments. The students are required to post their first entry to the discussion board by 8 p.m. on Friday evening and have the remainder of the weekend (through Sunday night) to respond to at least two of their classmates’ posts with additional details and perspective. Students are not allowed to evaluate each other’s posts (“Great point John!” is not an acceptable contribution) but are encouraged to post questions to each other that will further discussion. One of my favorite discussion-board assignments requires students to choose and share an image with classmates from one or two preselected Web sites. Each student posts to the board one image that he or she believes best depicts an aspect of significance from that week’s topic for discussion. They explain their choice in a post of 150–200 words and are not allowed to repeat images that classmates have previously shared. By the end of the week we have discussed twenty or more images. 3 This assignment can be easily replicated in on-campus history classes, where students can post images to a learning management system for sharing before and during class discussion.

In some weeks I assign students the task of researching a primary source from the Internet for inclusion as evidence in their discussion posts. More often than not their choices are visual—wartime propaganda posters, for example, are popular during discussions of World War I and World War II, as is the changing role of women in the United States. Over the semester the students become quite adept at locating interesting sources, citing them (with some guidance), and discussing them with classmates in our online forum. Research does not have to occur in a library to aid students in the development of critical academic skills. In fact, students do research every day whether they know it or not—Internet searches, for example, can be a simple way to introduce the value of research to students for all of their classes, not only the U.S. history survey. In my online course (as well as on-campus) I emphasize to the students the need to evaluate the source of their findings. They must learn to look critically at the Web sites they use to determine if they are credible, academic sources. My on-campus students have the benefit of direct discussion with reference librarians who show them concrete examples of unreliable sources (nonvetted, commercial sites and blogs written by nonexperts, for example). These students spend two class sessions with our college librarians conducting Web-based research and engaging in discussion about the academic quality of Web sites. In the online course I also employ the expertise of my colleagues in the library to help students evaluate Internet sources. With the help of a “library guide”—a document created by a reference librarian to provide both guidance and direction in the search for relevant academic Web sites—students are aided in choosing and evaluating sources. The questions are often quite simple: What kind of site am I looking at (.com, .edu, .org)? What might the domain name indicate to me, the researcher, about the origin and/or authors of the site? Does the site include citations that might be helpful as I continue my research? What does advertising on the site tell me about its potential reliability as an academic source? For many community college students, this experience is often the first time they have been asked to think critically about online sources and to consider the positive and negative attributes of conducting research on the Web. Since research is a foundation of our discipline, the online history course offers an excellent forum for introducing these critical thinking skills while simultaneously engaging students in historical content.

In my first semester of teaching online in 2009, I held the misguided belief that once I developed an online course, the need for modification would be minimal—as if I could click “save” and then simply reboot the class in subsequent semesters. This assumption and many others proved shortsighted. Each semester when I teach online I am rethinking my methods, tweaking assignments to keep up with the rapidly changing Internet, and occasionally even adopting a new textbook. Just as on campus, the online classroom varies from semester to semester with the group of students enrolled in the course. Teaching online, therefore, requires the same degree of flexibility as when we are working face to face with students on campus, but it offers the benefit of opening the doors of higher education to a larger student population. As historians we can enhance many of our online students’ essential academic skills—including active reading and critical thinking—by engaging them in independent work and group discussions in online formats. At the community college level, technology provides an avenue through which to improve our students’ reading and research skills while simultaneously teaching them the content about which we are all so passionate.

1
For examples of academic centers and publications that offer suggestions for learning, see The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, www.princeton.edu/mcgraw ; “A Guide for University Learning,” Learning Outcomes at the University of Guelph, http://www.learningcommons.uoguelph.ca/guides/university_learning/ ; and Mark Springer, “Active Reading and Annotating Texts,” Sacramento State Writing across the Curriculum, www.csus.edu/wac/WAC/Students/active_reading.html
2
Donald P. Buckley, “In Pursuit of the Learning Paradigm: Coupling Faculty Transformation and Institutional Change,” Educause Review, 37 (Jan.–Feb. 2002), 29–38, esp. 32.
3
For Web sites that include digital collections of art and artifacts see, for example, The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record, http://hitchcock.itc.virginia.edu/Slavery/index.php ; and Jerome S. Handler and Michael L. Tuite Jr., “Art and Identity in the British North American Colonies, 1700–1776,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/arid/hd_arid.htm .
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Organization of American Historians. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected] .

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