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Best Online Community Colleges in California

Explore 25 of the best community colleges in California that offer programs as online and hybrid options. Learn what types of programs are available, what careers they may lead to, and what to consider when choosing a school.

Top 25 California Community Colleges with Online Programs

In order to determine which community colleges in California are the best with online programs, you should consider factors such as cost, flexibility, residency requirements and program length. The top 25 California community colleges with online programs are discussed below.

1. San Joaquin Delta College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Stockton $1,288 76%

At San Joaquin Delta College, students can complete most or all of the programs through online coursework, but have the option to still take courses on campus as they wish. Students can earn certificates or degrees in a variety of fields, including communication, health, agriculture and computer science. San Joaquin Delta College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and has additional accreditation for programs in nursing and automotive technology.

2. De Anza College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Cupertino $1,561 42%

De Anza College is accredited by the ACCJC of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and offers three programs entirely online. Students can earn a certificate in network basics (computer information systems), entrepreneurship or business administration as well as an associate's degree in business administration without any campus visits. In addition, students can complete the majority of their coursework for many other programs online as the school continues to offer more courses through its course management system.

3. Cerro Coso Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Ridgecrest $1,290 73%

Cerro Coso Community College, or CCCC, is accredited by the ACCJC of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and offers almost 20 degree programs and 20 certification programs through entirely online coursework. Students can pursue areas such as art history, business, child development, mathematics, psychology and medical assisting. Students pursuing campus-based programs are also able to utilize the online courses when available for their programs.

4. Clovis Community College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Fresno $1,304 63%

Students at Clovis Community College can take many online courses, including classes in child development, economics and education. In addition, the school offers completely online programs in eight areas: criminal justice, computer information systems, business administration, general studies, liberal arts, behavioral science, legal assistant studies and early childhood education. The school is accredited by the ACCJC of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

5. Diablo Valley College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Pleasant Hill $1,312 34%

Diablo Valley College is accredited by the ACCJC of the Western Association of Schools and College and also has been awarded four programmatic accreditations. Many classes are offered online, enabling students to complete all or part of their programs via distance learning. Programs are available in a variety of fields including business, computer science, communication, education, mathematics, nutrition and library technology.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Gavilan College Gilroy $1,166 63%
7 San Bernardino Valley College San Bernardino $1,238 82%
8 Santa Rosa Junior College Santa Rosa $1,328 77%
9 American River College Sacramento $1,104 73%
10 Ohlone College Fremont $1,164 42%
11 Coastline Community College Fountain Valley $1,150 86%
12 Mt San Antonio College Walnut $1,350 71%
13 Mt San Jacinto Community College District San Jacinto $1,386 78%
14 Chabot College Hayward $1,142 64%
15 Citrus College Glendora $1,190 69%
16 Allan Hancock College Santa Maria $1,352 86%
17 Canada College Redwood City $1,360 60%
18 Folsom Lake College Folsom $1,104 47%
19 Golden West College Huntington Beach $1,178 62%
20 Cabrillo College Aptos $1,270 66%
21 Las Positas College Livermore $1,134 39%
22 Los Medanos College Pittsburg $1,312 61%
23 Taft College Taft $1,410 71%
24 Downey Adult School Downey $2,999 64%
25 San Diego Miramar College San Diego $1,144 59%

All table data is provided by the National Center for Education Statistics; tuition represents the 2018-2019 school year.

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

How to Choose a Community College for an Online Program in California

When choosing a community college for an online program in California, you should consider factors such as accreditation, cost, programs available and flexibility.

Residency Requirements

Although many programs can be completed through entirely online courses, some require students to complete practicums and other on-site components. Students in technical programs, like nursing and education, typically have to complete a specific number of supervised hours practicing their learning objectives. Other residency requirements can include on-campus learning sessions and orientations.

Programs Offered

The most important consideration in choosing your school is which programs it offers. Once you've decided on a career goal, review if you'll need a certificate or degree to enter the field. Not all community colleges offer both certificate and degree programs in each area of study. Review your school choices to ensure that the school you select offers the program you want as an online option.

Cost

The cost of online programs at community colleges in California can vary, although many schools have affordable rates for in-state students. Consider all applicable program fees when comparing the cost of your chosen schools, and keep in mind that there are several financial aid options available to online students of community colleges in California.

Accreditation

There are two types of accreditation that can affect your decision of choosing a school and program: institutional and programmatic.

Institutional Accreditation

Institutional accreditation covers an entire school, and can be awarded by a national accrediting organization or a regional accrediting organization. Regional accrediting bodies are often preferred because credits earned at a regionally accredited school can transfer to regionally or nationally accredited schools, whereas credits earned from a nationally accredited school can typically only be transferred to another nationally accredited school.

Programmatic

Programmatic accreditation applies specifically to programs, and not all programs require or have the specialized accreditation. Depending on their career objectives, students may need to graduate from an accredited program. This applies to many areas of study, including nursing and education. Nurses, for example, typically need to graduate from an accredited program before they can qualify to take their licensing exam.

Transfer Credits

You should also review the ease of transferring credits from the program you're pursuing to potential degree programs in the future. As noted under accreditation, credits earned from a regionally accredited institution are typically better for transferring out to other schools. Even if you aren't planning to begin another program in the immediate future, you may choose to continue your education later on. Having prior courses from this program transferred in can decrease the length and cost of your future program.

Flexibility

Most community college programs are flexible, allowing students to take as few or as many courses as they wish. Students can study full time or part time, depending on their time commitments and desired program length. However, some programs only allow students to study at one specific pace. Ask your school choices about the flexibility of your chosen program.

Faculty

When choosing a school, review two key components of the program faculty: experience and availability. Having an experienced faculty can provide you with added insight and understanding during your courses, and having an available faculty could mean receiving a response within hours rather than within days.

Cost and Aid for Online Community College Programs in California

Online community college programs in California typically involve indirect and direct costs, which vary by student residency, and are eligible for various types of financial aid.

Cost of Online Programs at California Community Colleges

The primary cost associated with most online programs is tuition. In addition, many schools also have other direct fees for all students such as registration fees, online learning fees and student services fees. In addition to direct program and school fees, students of online programs have various indirect costs. These costs include regular internet access as well as a personal computer that meets specific technical requirements. Students in some courses are also required to purchase supplemental materials and resources, such as access to online labs.

Types of Aid for Online Community College Students in California

Online community college students in California can utilize various types of student aid, many of which are discussed below.

Student Loans

Students can obtain government and private loans, although private loans should be used as a last resort. Government loans are income-based and offer loan forgiveness to students who work in qualifying positions after graduation for a specific amount of time. Students may also be able to have some or all of their loans repaid by their employers as part of a sign-on or duration incentive.

Work Study

Work study programs allow students to earn all or part of their program costs by working part time while in school. These programs may be available through students' employers or through their school, and often allow students to work in roles relating to their field of study.

Scholarships and Grants

There are many scholarships available to online students of community colleges in California, some of which are listed below.

  • Distracted Driving Scholarship - This $1,000 scholarship is offered by the J&Y Law Firm and is awarded to students who are committed to stopping distracted driving.
  • CDA Foundation Dental Student Scholarship - This $5,000 is awarded to students in pursuit of careers in dental health, studying at any degree level.
  • Cal Grant - Cal Grants vary in amount and are awarded to qualifying students who are pursuing a vocational, career, or degree program at a California college.
  • California Chafee Grant for Foster Youth - Students who were in foster care in their later teen years can qualify for up to $5,000 for college, career or technical education programs.

Online Adult Education in California

There are a variety of educational resources and programs for online adult learners in California as well. The California Department of Education offers adult education programs, including those that lead to the equivalent of a high school diploma and certificates in career and technical fields. Many community colleges in California offer courses and even entire programs online that prepare students for future studies that they may pursue.

Adult learners can also earn an associate's degree in a specific field, such as nursing, to be better equipped for roles that require a more extensive education. Associate's degree graduates can transfer to another school after graduation to pursue a bachelor's degree; by first earning an associate's degree students save money, as community colleges typically have significantly lower costs of attendance.

Career Outlook in California: Is an Online Community College Program Worth It?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), high school graduates in the United States have a 55% employment rate, individuals with some college or an associate's degree have an employment rate of 63% and the employment rate of those with a bachelor's degree or higher is nearly 72% (as of August 2019).

The BLS reports that individuals with a high school diploma or equivalent represent the most common educational background for entry-level positions. The most common occupations for individuals without college experience include food preparation, retail salespersons, housekeeping and maintenance roles as well as groundskeeping and cashier positions.

The need for some college training, whether certificate or degree programs, is becoming increasingly helpful in finding entry-level positions. Occupational fields with the highest employment in California are office and administrative positions, sales occupations, food preparation, education and library, business management as well as healthcare positions. Some careers and industries that are high in demand in California and are available to community college graduates are shown below.

Healthcare

Positions in healthcare are expected to grow 14% between 2018 and 2028, and those with positions in this field had a median annual salary of $66,440 for 2018.

Job Title Typical Education Median Annual Salary (2018)
Dental Hygienist Associate's degree $74,820
EMTs and Paramedics Certificate $34,320
Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides High school diploma/equivalent $24,060
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) Certificate $46,240
Medical Assistants Certificate $33,610
Respiratory Therapists Associate's degree $60,280

Office and Administrative Support Roles

The annual median salary for people within this field was $35,760 in 2018, but jobs are expected to decline in number by 3% as technology continues to perform more administrative tasks.

Job Title Typical Education Median Annual Salary (2018)
Bill and Account Collectors High school diploma/equivalent $36,020
Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks Certificate/some college $40,240
Desktop Publishers Associate's degree $42,910

Education, Training and Library

Education, training and library positions are expected to increase 5% from 2018 to 2028, and workers had a median annual salary of $49,700 in 2018.

Job Title Typical Education Median Annual Salary (2018)
Preschool Teachers Associate's degree $29,780
Teacher Assistants Some college $26,970
Library Technicians Certificate $34,050
Library Assistants High school diploma/equivalent $26,500

All salary and outlook data are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics