Community Colleges in USA

Updated on 05 May, 2023

Shivangi Mishra

Shivangi Mishra

Content Writer

Have you ever considered community colleges in the USA as a path to a foreign degree? These institutions are an affordable and accessible option for both domestic and international students looking to pursue higher education. These institutions offer a variety of two-year academic programs and transfer opportunities to four-year universities. As per US government data, over 1100 community colleges in the US provide educational opportunities and access to nearly 13 million students each year.

In this article, we will explore the benefits of attending community colleges in the USA for international students, provide a list of the top 15 community colleges in the country, and discuss the admission process, eligibility, and fees for community colleges.

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Community College vs Traditional College

While both are higher education institutes, one of the primary distinctions between community colleges and traditional colleges and universities is the type of degree offered and their duration. While a community college offers an associate degree for completing a 2-year full-time programme requiring 60 credits, a degree college or university offers a bachelor degree for completing 4-year full-time programme requiring 120 credits.

What international students should know about community colleges?

Community colleges used to be referred to as Junior colleges in the USA. It is a public educational institution that offers two-year degrees to both domestic and foreign students. It is an entry-level institution that supports students in pursuing higher education in the US at reasonable tuition costs.

As per the Institute of International Education, more than 49,000 international students attended US community colleges during the 2021-2022 school year which represents slightly over 5% of all international students enrolled at colleges in the US. 

Community colleges in the USA offer a wide range of academic programs that can lead to an associate degree or certificate. These programs range from traditional academic subjects like business, engineering, and humanities to vocational programs in fields such as healthcare, technology, and trades. 

Community colleges are also known for their smaller class sizes and personalized attention, which can be especially beneficial for international students who are adjusting to a new academic environment and culture.

The best part of this education model is that students can seek lateral entry in full-time degree programs in universities as the credits of an associate degree are transferable. 

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List of Top 15 community colleges in USA for International Students in 2023:

CollegeLocationAverage Program Fees*
1. Foothill CollegeLos Altos Hills, California$8,752
2. Northwood Technical CollegeAshland, New Richmond, Rice Lake and Superior,Wisconsin$9,803
3. Fox Valley Technical CollegeAppleton, Wisconsin$10,804
4. Moraine Park Technical CollegeFond du Lac, Wisconsin$9,072
5. Santa Barbara City CollegeSanta Barbara, California$9,147
6. Las Positas CollegeLivermore, California$6,456
7. Southeast Technical CollegeWinona, Minnesota$14,133
8. Atlantic Technical CollegeCoconut Creek, Florida$11,239
9. Craven Community CollegeNew Bern, North Carolina$6,967
10. The Ohio State University – Agricultural Technical InstituteWooster, Ohio$17,792
11. Collins Career Technical CollegeChesapeake, Ohio$5,385
12. Bellingham Technical CollegeBellingham, Washington$11,471
13. Lakeshore Technical CollegeCleveland, Wisconsin$8,495
14. Lake Area Technical CollegeWatertown, South Dakota$12,075
15. Guttman Community CollegeNew York$12,946

 *As per college websites

Admission process for community colleges in USA:

In order to apply to the best community colleges in USA whether you plan to pursue a short-term or full degree program, follow these five steps:

  1.   Research Your Options:

Choose the course you want to take at a certain community college.

  1.   Finance Your Studies:

Before the deadlines, finish your application process and pay the application fees.

  1.   Complete Your Application:

Send the completed application to the admissions committee of the particular community college.

  1.   Apply For Your Student Visa:

Apply for a student visa in the USA once your application has been accepted to finish the application process. Similar to traditional institutes, you will require an F1 student visa to study at community colleges.

  1.   Prepare For Your Departure:

Pre-departure information including gathering documents for arrival and immigration compliance.

Note: Community colleges usually review and admit applicants year-round.

Eligibility for community colleges in USA:

  • A certificate from the high school where interested international students graduated is normally required, if it is in another language, it must be translated into English.
  • Minimum GPA of 2.0 required.
  • English proficiency by meeting minimum standards for exams such as the TOEFL, IELTS, STEP Eiken or iTEP.
  • SAT or ACT scores (if required)

Application fees for community colleges in USA:

The application fee for both domestic and international students is the same ranging from $25 to $300 varying according to the college you are applying to.

Fees for community colleges in USA:

Compared to four-year schools and universities, community institutions are typically much more affordable.

The average in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduate students at public four-year institutions in 2022–2023 were $10,940, while out-of-state tuition and fees were $28,240, according to the College Board’s study on 2022 Trends in College Pricing. Comparatively, full-time students at public two-year institutions paid an average of $3,860 in in-district tuition and fees in the same year.


Community colleges in the USA provide an affordable and accessible option for international students looking to pursue higher education. With a wide range of academic programs and transfer opportunities to four-year universities, community colleges offer a quality education at a fraction of the cost of four-year institutions. By considering the information provided in this article, international students can make informed decisions about their education and future career prospects in the USA.


Which are the cheapest community colleges in USA for international students?

Some of the community colleges with the lowest tuition fee are –
1. Luna Community College in New Mexico
2. Coahoma Community College in Mississippi
3. Lake Region State College in North Dakota
4. Pima Community College in Arizona
5. Seward County Community College in Kansas

Which standardized academic tests are accepted by the community colleges in the US?

Both the SAT and ACT are accepted by American community colleges. You must take one of these entrance examinations as an international student and obtain the minimum passing score.




Which English language tests are accepted by the US community colleges?

Most American colleges and universities will need you to take an English language competency test before admission if English is not your first language. The most common tests for English language ability are the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and the Pearson Test of English (PTE), among others.








Shivangi Mishra

Content Writer

She is an experienced writer and journalist who has extensively covered the education sector in India and Abroad. Now helping Indian aspirants realise their foreign education dream by providing them with relevant content and information through upGrad Abroad. Amateur traveller, loves to read Architectural Digest!

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