Online Community Colleges

Discover what community colleges offer online programs. Learn how you can complete a certificate, diploma or associate's degree program online, and find out the transferability of online credits.

Community colleges are great places to look for online degree programs in almost any field. This article will explore the way in which these programs are offered and delivered, as well as possible next steps after completing one of these online programs.

What Are My Options For Online Community Colleges?

If you're looking for online community colleges, your best option is to find brick and mortar schools that offer online programs. Community colleges initially served as institutes of learning for individuals within the surrounding area. With the advent of online programs, you can enroll in a community college in New York while living in California. You may want to go this route if your local school doesn't offer the program you want or if the program is full.

Many community colleges now offer online programs, including certificates, diplomas and associate's degrees. If you don't plan to complete an entire program of study, you have the option of taking standalone classes online.

How Are Online Courses Delivered?

Depending on the school and its practices, online courses may be delivered by one method or a combination of methods. In all cases, you'll need a computer with Internet access as well as a suitable operating system and browser; specific requirements are stipulated by the school. Certain programs may also require you to have course-specific software.

If a course is purely online, it is generally delivered via a course management system, such as Blackboard. Classes may be synchronous, requiring that you meet online with the entire class and instructor at a specified time. In asynchronous courses, you log in any time you choose. Some courses use a combination of the two methods.

You may also find classes that are delivered by other methods, such as television, tapes, CDs and video teleconferencing. This type of course - just like an online course - typically does not require an on-campus presence.

Hybrid courses are made up of two components. Online instruction - delivered synchronously or asynchronously - is one part. The second part consists of face-to-face instruction. Often this section may be a lab, clinical, internship, workshop, conference or in-person seminar. Web-enhanced courses are another type of hybrid course. The classes meet on-campus, but all other communication, outside assignments and access to resources are completed online.

What Types of Programs Are Delivered Online?

Available online degrees include Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.) and Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.). There are some degrees that you can earn totally online. Others may have face-to-face requirements, so if you choose such a program, you may want to select a school close to your residence.

Some examples of associate's degree programs available completely online are information technology, business administration, interior design, paralegal, accounting, hospitality and criminal justice. Certificates and diplomas can be earned in short, online programs that teach you specific professional or technical skills, such as business software, Web production or management development.

Courses that contain a mandatory clinical or laboratory component are never available entirely online because of the hands-on nature of instruction, although lecture components can be delivered online. Some healthcare programs fall into this category.

Which Community Colleges Offer Online Certificate or Diploma Programs?

Certificate and diploma programs are often delivered online by community colleges. The following are a few of these online programs:

  • Rowan-Cabarrus Community College provides an online Office Administration Diploma program
  • Tompkins Cortland Community College delivers a Chemical Dependency Counseling Certificate program entirely online
  • Northern Virginia Community College has an online Early Childhood Development Certificate program

Which Community Colleges Offer Online Associate Degree Programs?

Most community colleges allow students to complete certain associate degree programs either entirely online or in a hybridized format. These include the following schools:

  • Bunker Hill Community College has an Associate of Art in Business program available online
  • Fayetteville Technical Community College has an online Associate in Arts degree program
  • Monroe Community College offers a blended Associate of Applied Science in Accounting degree program

Will Online Degrees Transfer?

Generally, A.A. and A.S. degrees will transfer to 4-year schools. Many community colleges have articulation agreements with one or more 4-year institutions in their state. Although there's no guarantee of the outcome, this partnership between the two schools may help ensure that the courses you take at the community college will transfer easily into a bachelor's degree program. The associate's degree generally counts as the first two years of a bachelor's program. Depending on your choice of major, you may have to meet additional requirements.

An A.A.S. degree is usually meant to prepare you for immediate entry-level employment in your chosen field. Most programs leading to an A.A.S. consist of courses relative to a specific field or area of study. There's very little emphasis on general education courses, which are required to achieve a bachelor's degree.

Online programs from community colleges can be a great way to pursue an education in a more flexible way. Community college programs can prepare you to enter the workforce in a field, or allow you to transfer your education to a bachelor's program at another school.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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