Biggest Community Colleges

These popular two-year colleges throughout the country offer an excellent education for a very affordable price.

Community colleges make up a large part of the higher education system in the U.S. With so many different two-year colleges in each state, it can be difficult to sort through their differences and find their strengths.

Though some states offer way more community colleges than others, certain schools are popular throughout the nation. From the biggest to the most diverse, here are the ten most popular community colleges. Because tuition is also an important factor, we’ve included each school’s cost of attendance as well.

10. Pasadena City College: Pasadena, CA

Enrollment: 26,237

Cost: $46 per unit for residents, $207 per unit for out-of-state students

Best Program: With over 130 different course offerings, the business and technology program is one of the best at Pasadena City College. Students become well versed in subjects like accounting, marketing, and even hospitality. In addition to their associate’s degree, students can also earn a certificate online in business information technology.

Fun Fact: PCC’s marching band has led the Rose Queen and her Court in every Rose Parade since 1930.

9. Santa Monica College: Santa Monica, CA

Enrollment: 31,929

Cost: $46 per unit for residents, $295 per unit for out-of-state students

Best Program: Although it is one of the newer programs on campus, the communications and media studies major is perhaps the best known. Students wishing to enter the world of film or craft award-winning pieces of journalism will find the education and experience they need at Santa Monica College. The program offers hands-on lessons in everything from radio announcing to speechwriting.

Fun Fact: Santa Monica College is known for its Emeritus College, which is designed for students age 55 and older.

8. City College of San Francisco: San Francisco, CA

Enrollment: 33,814

Cost: $46 per semester unit for residents, $233 for out-of-state students

Best Program: The School of International Education and ESL is one of City College of San Francisco’s standout programs. Although its primary focus is international students who want an intensive English program, the School also offers a noncredit ESL program that’s free for immigrant students. For almost 30 years, students have been able to spend semesters studying abroad as well.

Fun Fact: The campus is home to an original Diego Rivera mural that depicts the connection between Latin America and the United States.

7. College of Southern Nevada: North Las Vegas, NV

Enrollment: 43,561

Cost: $2,056 for residents, $8,244 for out-of-state students

Best Program: The general associate of arts program is the most popular major for College of Southern Nevada students. From fine arts to English, the general education program offers many options. Designed for students who aren’t quite sure what field they hope to enter, the program allows majors to take a lot of electives in many disciplines.

Fun Fact: The College has the most diverse student body and faculty in Nevada.

6. Austin Community College: Austin, TX

Enrollment: 45,100

Cost: $78 per credit hour for district residents, $240 per credit hour for other Texas residents, or $324 per credit hour for out-of-state students

Best Program: Nearly 30 percent of Austin Community College students major in health sciences. The program is recognized throughout Texas as one of the top health and nursing departments. Students can choose a specialization once in the program from options such as health information technology or kinesiology.

Fun Fact: ACC is dedicated to helping students via its Student Success Initiative, which provides support for those who are at risk of dropping out.

5. Houston Community College: Houston, TX

Enrollment: 63,015

Cost: $92 per hour for in-district students, $164 per hour for other Texas residents, or $306 per hour for out-of-state students

Best Program: The liberal arts program at Houston Community College serves over 80 percent of students. Students can choose whether they want to enroll in either the academic transfer or workforce career track, and design a curriculum that fulfills their interests and goals. Majoring in liberal arts also allows students to get a jump-start, earning dual credit for college while they’re still in high school.

Fun Fact: Rather than grouping majors into departments or schools, Houston Community College is organized into Career Clusters. Students take classes within the cluster best suited to their desired career.

4. Broward College: Fort Lauderdale, FL

Enrollment: 67,258

Cost: $102 per credit hour for residents, $357 per credit hour for out-of-state students

Best Program: With over 4,000 students enrolled, the business administration major ranks first at Broward College.

Fun Fact: The Broward College President’s Leadership Academy allows qualified students to take part in a year long intensive study program that focuses on workshops, faculty mentoring, and guest lecturers.

3. Northern Virginia Community College: Springfield, VA

Enrollment: 76,000

Cost: $135 for residents, $315 for out-of-state students

Best Program: The liberal arts program at Northern Virginia Community College is the broadest and biggest major offered. Students aren’t simply prepared for a four-year university — they’re introduced to a number of fields and career paths. Liberal arts majors can also choose to earn a certification in any concentration along with their associate’s degree.

Fun Fact: The College’s STARTALK program educates faculty members from international colleges on new technology and helps them integrate it in the classroom.

2. Lone Star College: Houston, TX

Enrollment: 90,000

Cost: $704 per semester for in-districts students, $1,544 for other Texas residents, or $1,724 for out-of-state students

Best Program: Most Lone Star College students choose to enter the college’s Associate of Arts program. As both the most popular and largest major on campus, the curriculum is varied and customizable. The program is designed for students who want to transfer within two years.

Fun Fact: The Lone Star College System has two University Centers, where students enrolled in any one of the six campuses can earn their bachelor’s or master’s degree.

1. Miami Dade College: Miami, FL

Enrollment: 174,000

Cost: $82.78 per credit hour for residents, $331.11 per credit hour for out-of-state students

Best Program: Education isn’t just the biggest department at Miami Dade College. It’s also the best. With over eight different areas of concentration, the education program prepares students for any education-related position they wish to enter. Majors can focus on a specific age, or even learn the skills necessary for educational administrative positions.

Fun Fact: The College manages the annual Miami International Film Festival.

Quick Facts

  • The first community college established in the U.S. was Joliet Junior College in Illinois.
  • Community colleges don’t always go by the same name. Some states refer to their schools as city, county, or junior colleges.
  • All American community colleges offer open enrollment. This means anyone with a high school diploma or GED can enroll.

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