Best Community Colleges In California

California is home to some of the finest community colleges in the country, offering quality affordable education right at home. For an affordable cost, California’s community colleges offer associates’ degrees, certificate programs, apprenticeships, continuing education, and basic skills education to students of all ages. Most courses are offered on a semester system so you can start anytime and enroll in multiple classes. Get more information on Best Community Colleges In California, best community colleges in california 2021, best community colleges in california for business, best community colleges in california with dorms & best community colleges in california for international students

Are you an international student looking for the best community colleges in California? What is the best community college in California that has a free education? You may have a lot of questions. This page will guide you to find the best community colleges in California for international students and best community colleges in California for engineering, and best community colleges in Los Angeles.

The list below is not based on college rankings which are flawed although they are respected. The colleges listed here are the best community colleges in California based solely on the concern of ranking competitiveness vs. college completion. Unless you plan to transfer to a more competitive university, these community colleges are perfect for career preparation , price value, and affordability. You will still have many choices of California universities to transfer to for your bachelor degree afterwards if you decide to do so.

What Is a Community College?

A community college, sometimes called a junior college or technical college, is a 2-year educational institution. Programs offered at a community college include certificates and A.A., A.A.S or A.S. degrees. Admission and tuition may be more accessible than at 4-year schools, but credits can often be transferred to universities.

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Community College Past and Present

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, community colleges date back to the early 1900’s and really took off after World War II. By the late 1990’s, more than half of all postsecondary students had their first college experiences through community college. Today, community colleges allow students to study at the collegiate level for two years at an even more comprehensive level than when these institutions first started.

Community College Degrees

A community college offers degree options in various fields of study. Students may obtain an Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.), or a certificate. Students who choose to start their education at a community college will often continue their studies at a 4-year college. For example, over 52,000 students who attended schools in the California Community College system transferred to 4-year institutions in 2010, as reported by the California Postsecondary Education Commission. Some areas of study offered through community colleges include:

  • Healthcare
  • Automotive and mechanics
  • Business management
  • Communications and design
  • Information technology

Community College Enrollment

Community college student populations can range from a couple hundred students to more than 100,000, depending on the size of the school and its location in the country. The type of students who enroll may also vary. Data from the California Postsecondary Education Commission shows that about 36% of students in the California Community College system were over 25 years old in 2009.

Best Community Colleges In California

The following is a list of some of the best community colleges in california for international students based on graduation and transfer rates. Please note that the cost of attendance varies for those that are in-state residents and out of state residents.

1. Orange Coast College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 54.2%
First Year Retention Rate: 91.2%
Cost of Attendance: $20,244 – $26,346
Number of Students: Approx. 25,000

Orange Coast College finds its sunny home in Orange County, California and offers a wide variety of two year degrees and certifications. More than 25,000 students enroll in this Costa Mesa based college every semester. Close to beautiful beaches and Disneyland, OCC is perfect for students hoping to enjoy life in the OC. Among colleges in the county, Orange Coast College is the highest ranked in transfers to University of California and California States schools as well as other schools across the country.

2. Santa Barbara City College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 53.8%
First Year Retention Rate: 83.4%
Cost of Attendance: $11,882-18,524  
Number of Students: Approx. 30,687

As a recent recipient of the Aspen Prize for College Excellence, Santa Barbara City College is an affordable solution for students looking to begin their higher education at a community college. As a school committed to its students, Santa Barbara City College supports its students through talented and hardworking academic support organizations. SBCC understands that many of its students see the school as a launching pad to other universities, so it provides workshops for students throughout the entire transfer process.

3. Diablo Valley College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 50.2%
First Year Retention Rate: 90.5%
Cost of Attendance: $14,839-20,579  
Number of Students: Approx. 24,781

Contra Costa County is home to Diablo Valley, a school known in the region for its ability to facilitate transfers to four-year universities.  Offering more than 40 different associates degrees, DVC serves more than 24,000 students each semester. A short distance to San Francisco, this institution is an ideal transfer setting for larger universities in the region. Fact: the land near Diablo Valley College was once home to the Costanoan Indians.

4. Pasadena City College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 50.2%
First Year Retention Rate: 92.1%
Cost of Attendance: $12,708-17,666  
Number of Students: Approx. 22,000

Pasadena City College is ranked #1 for first-year retention rates on our list of Top Community Colleges in CA.

A perennial contender on our list of top ten community colleges in the state of California, the Pasadena City College is one of the largest community colleges in the country and a high performer. Thanks to its proximity to Best Community Colleges in Los Angeles Area County, students of PCC are close to top schools like UCLA, USC, and the prestigious Art Center College of Design. Many even claim that the PCC is a shortcut to admission in the Art Center (though you didn’t hear it from us). Pasadena City College’s programs prepare students for degrees and careers in mathematics, music, ethnic studies, health care, product design, visual arts, television, radio, publishing and more.

5. Foothill College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 68.8%
First Year Retention Rate: 87.5%
Cost of Attendance: $12,300 – 19,302  
Number of Students: Approx. 18,0362

Foothill College has the second highest graduation and transfer rate of all top community colleges in CA.

The campus, located in Los Altos Hills, California is simply stunning. An award winning campus for its architecture, this school is a prominent part of the Silicon Valley community. Foothill College was the first community college in California to offer online courses. Keeping with that legacy, the school now offers more than 500 different online courses that for students in the area and around the world. FC also features a Japanese Cultural Center, an Observatory, an all-weather track and more facilities for its students. Strong academics give Foothill College a high transfer rate to universities around the state and country, making it the second highest ranked schools in the state.

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6. Napa Valley College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 48.0%
First Year Retention Rate: 88.7%
Cost of Attendance: $14,120 – 18,920  
Number of Students: Approx. 8,996

There are few places more picturesque in California than the Napa Valley region. Home to beautiful lodges, wineries, restaurants, wineries, spas, and wineries, Napa Valley is a go to place for many tourists. But Napa Valley College exists as a means to an ends for locals. A local alternative to four year universities and a training destination for residents seeking better wages, Napa Valley College has had its hand in helping people attain their dreams for more than 70 years. NVC takes great pride in what it does.

7. Ohlone College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 52.1%
First Year Retention Rate: 91.1%
Cost of Attendance: $10,898 – 15,878    
Number of Students: Approx. 18,000

Serving 18,000 students every year, Ohlone Community College District is a multi-campus college found in Fremont, California—San Francisco’s East Bay. Thanks to its proximity to top California schools like Stanford and UC Berkeley, many students attend Ohlone with plans of transferring. A richly diverse campus, Ohlone features a unique center for deaf studies, a program that helps students that are hard of hearing obtain an education. This school offers more than 177 degrees and certificates, as well as 21 associate degrees for transfers.

8. Irvine Valley College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 51.1%
First Year Retention Rate: 90.3%
Cost of Attendance: $14,415 – 20,577   
Number of Students: Approx. 14,384

Offering classes during the day, evening, for eight weeks or full semesters, Irvine Valley College services the people of Irvine, California with flexibility. Strategically located within fifty miles of nine Californian universities, the school was opened to take advantage of this geographical benefit. Irvine Valley College owns a consistent spot on our list, with strong academics and transfer rates. Beyond this, IVC also features an honors program that enables students to obtain top priority into schools like UCLA, UCI, and other programs in the area.

9. Cuesta College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 50.7%
First Year Retention Rate: 86.2%
Cost of Attendance: $12,052 – 19,135  
Number of Students: Approx. 9,571

Cuesta College finds its home near the central coast of California. Offering over 76 associate degree programs in the science and arts on top of 96 certificate programs, students here will find that the strong academics will prepare them for life in the real world as well as in a four-year university.  Cuesta College also features the Cuesta College Promise, a scholarship program enabling all San Luis Obispo County high school graduates to attend their first year of college fee-free. This isn’t the only way Cuesta looks to help the community. Summer camps at Cuesta allow middle school students to have a taste of what different careers feel like with hands on experience in business, health, information science, and welding.

10. Feather River Community College District

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 53.6%
First Year Retention Rate: 83.3%
Cost of Attendance: $9,012 – 14,362  
Number of Students: Approx. 1,635

As a small college with mountains of opportunities, Feather River Community College is nestled on the side of a forested mountain. The 256-acre is literally home to wildlife (deer), and makes education a beautiful prospect in this unique setting. Removed from the crowds and noise of city noise, FRC offers students an opportunity for study, relaxation, and self-discovery, while maintaining high levels of academic rigor. With strong relationships with universities in the state and a high transfer rate, FRC is a special education experience that students are unlikely to find anywhere else.

11. College of the Siskiyous

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 50.8%
First Year Retention Rate: 82.0%
Cost of Attendance: $15,306 – 21,936  
Number of Students: Approx. 2,473

Located at the base of Mount Shasta in northern California, College of the Siskiyous is one of the most beautiful campuses in the state.  Having served the residents of far northern California (practically Oregon) for nearly 60 years, the college is widely recognized for its excellent programs in the humanities and arts, sciences and technology, and athletics. COS takes advantage of its pristine scenery in its educational offerings, using the outdoors as a workshop for many different classes.  Small class sizes of 15-30 students ensure that students at COS won’t just be another face in the crowd.

12. Lake Tahoe Community College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 48.0%
First Year Retention Rate: 82.8%
Cost of Attendance: $14,199-19,620  
Number of Students: Approx. 3,000

Ahhhh, Lake Tahoe—one of California’s dream vacations in the mountains and beauty of rugged nature. This beautiful town is home to Lake Tahoe Community College, an institution that hosts approximately 3000 students every quarter. Not content to have strong academics, LTCC capitalizes on its unique setting. Like some of the other smaller schools on our list, outdoor activities are practically at on the doorstep at Lake Tahoe Community College with outdoor recreation activities available all year round. Students at LTCC are minutes away from three different ski resorts, and are close to 14 different resorts all located around the lake. In the summer, students can participate in hiking, fishing, mountain biking and a host of other outdoor activities.

13. West Hills College-Coalinga

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 40.5%
First Year Retention Rate: 83.6%
Cost of Attendance: $13,349 – 21,935 
Number of Students: Approx. 4,000

West Hills College-Coalinga prides itself as a safe and friendly academic setting in the west side of Central California’s San Joaquin Valley. Recently the MetLife Foundation and Jobs for the Future groups honored West Hills as a small community college that best exemplifies helping underserved youth and adults prepare for further education. As a smaller school than its larger cousins, WHCC is home to approximately 4,000 students and guarantees small class sizes. Particular care and attention is given to their English as a Second Language program, as they seek to serve students from all backgrounds. With more than 30 associate degrees offered in a wide variety of subjects, WHCC also takes advantage of a unique partnership with California State University – Fresno to allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree entirely on their campus.

14. Palo Verde College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 31.2%
First Year Retention Rate: 82.7%
Cost of Attendance: $14,266  
Number of Students: Approx. 3,898

Located in the agriculturally fertile Palo Verde Valley of southeastern California, Palo Verde College has served its community for almost 60 years. Palo Verde College boasts a dedicated earning environment with top quality educational programs and support services. Palo Verde College understands that its students are busy people. Students here can take advantage of course times in the morning, afternoon, evening, late evening, and even weekends. Offering a wide variety of associate degrees, and transfer programs to four year universities, PVC is a great starting place for students in the region.

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Among the many college statistics schools use to promote themselves, graduation and transfer rates stand out when it comes to extending education beyond a two-year school. This rate is a composite of the prior success of students, and transfer rates are a good indicator of your possible success.

1. Irvine Valley College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 55%

Student Population: 13,632 (2013)

In-state Tuition (2014-2015)

  • Off campus with family: $19,398
  • Off campus: $7,842

Out-of-state Tuition

  • Off Campus with family:$24,102
  • Off campus: $12,546

Irvine Valley College sits up top with a solid 55% graduation and transfer rate. With a student population of over 13,000 students, the high transfer rate translates into a lot of students making their goal of entering university. IVC is found within 50 miles of nine universities, making it an ideal location for students wanting to attend a four-year school. IVC’s success can be attributed to their honors program which enables students to achieve more in a challenging curriculum. Students in these programs are given priority consideration to UC schools like UCLA and UCI as well as several other universities.

2. Orange Coast College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 53%

Student Population: 21,886 (2013)

In-state Tuition (2014-2015)

  • Off campus with family: $23,728
  • Off campus: $8,068

Out-of-state Tuition

  • Off Campus with family:$29,128
  • Off campus: $13,468

At the top of our list is Orange Coast College with a 53% transfer rate, a large reason why more than 21,000 students call Orange Coast College, located in Orange County, California, home. Minutes away from Disneyland, the beach and other fun Los Angeles sites, OCC is in the heart of activity in the Greater Los Angeles area. Since its humble beginnings, OCC has had a reputation for excellence, offering more than 130 academic and career programs. Of note is OCC’s much acclaimed nautical programs which draws applicants from around the country.

3. Cypress College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 48%

Student Population: 15,881 (2013)

In-state Tuition (2014-2015)

  • Off campus with family: $17,624
  • Off campus: $6,356

Out-of-state Tuition

  • Off Campus with family:$22,712
  • Off campus: $11,444

“Cypress College is the American Dream.” This core belief forms the foundation of Cypress College, the idea of helping others attain that dream. To that end Cypress College takes the determination of its students and turns it around into success. Ranked with a 48% transfer and graduation rate, CC is a school where the students successfully find places in four-year institutions of higher learning.  A diverse school with students from all around the world, CC is an affordable solution to rising tuition costs.

4. Pasadena City College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 46%

Student Population: 25,268 (2013)

In-state Tuition (2014-2015)

  • Off campus with family: $17,710
  • Off campus: $7,892

Out-of-state Tuition

  • Off Campus with family:$22,726
  • Off campus: $12,908

You really can’t talk about Los Angeles’ community college without mentioning Pasadena City College. As one of the largest community colleges in the United States, it is consistently ranked one of the top ten community colleges in the state of California by a wide variety of sources. In fact, with a 46% graduation and transfer rate, PCC holds a prominent position on our list of top schools in the area as well as in the state.  PCC has long been considered a great back door route to some of the top schools in the area, including UCLA, USC, and the prestigious Art Center College of Design. PCC’s strength extends not only to its academics but to its dedicated and highly educated faculty, making PCC a great choice for those looking to get the most out of their educations.

5. Santa Monica College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 46%

Student Population: 29,999 (2013)

In-state Tuition (2014-2015)

  • Off campus with family: $18,650
  • Off campus: $7,094

Out-of-state Tuition

  • Off Campus with family:$25,310
  • Off campus: $13,754

Santa Monica College takes great pride in being able to transfer students to their desired four-year institution within the state, and their high transfer rate is testament to that fact. SMC’s dedication to transferring students in the developed guides to transferring to the major University of California, California State University, and private universities in the state. These guides are available online through their website and detail typical course requirements, GPA requirements, and courses SMC offers that meet those requirements.

6. Santiago Canyon College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 45%

Student Population: 10,939 (2013)

In-state Tuition (2014-2015)

  • Off campus with family: $14,397
  • Off campus: $7,487

Out-of-state Tuition

  • Off Campus with family:$22,823
  • Off campus: $11,663

Situated on the border of Orange, California, Santiago Canyon College was founded in 1985. SCC is well known for its outstanding forensics programs, and Model United Nations program. Bearing a 43.2% transfer success rate, the school builds on a basis of close-knit classes and flexible class schedules for students of all walks of life. SCC also features an honors program with access to the UC Transfer Admission, a system that gives priority to students that do well in California community colleges.

7. Golden West College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 44%

Student Population: 12,717  (2013)

In-state Tuition (2014-2015)

  • Off campus with family: $23,720 
  • Off campus: $8,630

Out-of-state Tuition

  • Off Campus with family:$28,016
  • Off campus: $12,926

Situated near the beaches of Huntington Beach, the local scenery often tempts students. Highly regarded as one of southern California’s most beautiful campuses, Golden West College is located near the beaches of Huntington Beach. As a medium sized school GWC serves an average of 10,000 students per year, offering small classroom sizes and a safe, secure location to begin post-secondary education. GWC’s transfer center plays a large part in the school’s 42.0% transfer and graduation rate. Because the center offers workshops and hosts transfer fairs featuring representatives from numerous schools, GWC students are able to get ahead on their applications. GWC also has Transfer Admission Guarantee Agreements with seven of the nine UC campuses in the state, allowing for students to transfer easier.

8. Citrus College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 42%

Student Population: 12,920 (2013)

In-state Tuition (2014-2015)

  • Off campus with family: $14,397
  • Off campus: $7,116

Out-of-state Tuition

  • Off Campus with family:$19,365
  • Off campus: $12,084

For more than 100 years Citrus College has served the community of Glendora, just north east of Los Angeles. The large 104 acre campus is currently undergoing major changes but still serves students from all around the world. Believing in empowering students to compete globally and contribute to the growth of today’s society, Citrus College also has the distinction of being one of the most affordable schools on our list.

9. Fullerton College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 40%

Student Population: 24,301 (2013)

In-state Tuition (2014-2015)

  • Off campus with family: $18,643
  • Off campus: $7,573

Out-of-state Tuition

  • Off Campus with family:$25,515
  • Off campus: $12,445

As a key part of Orange County’s community college network, Fullerton College supports the community in multiple ways. The school encourages its students to be successful learners and helps them prepare for careers in the workforce as well as extended studies in four-year institutions. Fullerton College features a transfer program that works in conjunction with the California State University system, granting graduates a working associate degree as well as an opportunity to begin as a junior year student. Of note is FC’s Transfer Achievement Program which supports students in their transferring goals.

10. Honorable Mention: Santa Barbara City College

Graduation and Transfer Rate: 54%

Student Population: 19,331 (2013)

In-state Tuition (2014-2015)

  • Off campus with family: $17,134
  • Off campus: $6,169

Out-of-state Tuition

  • Off Campus with family:$22,569
  • Off campus: $11,631

Santa Barbara City College should be topping our list with one of the highest rates in the state, but because of its distance from the Greater Los Angeles area, we had to leave it off. Though located in Santa Barbara and a few miles west of the Los Angeles area, its 59.5% graduation and transfer rate puts this college into our list with an honorable mention.  A winner of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, and ranked as the best community college in the country by the Aspen Institute, this school is known for its high level of academics and for being a top value school for an associate degree.  For these reasons and more, SBCC makes our list of top colleges.

best community colleges in california 2021

We reviewed approximately 498 community colleges in California listed by the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator and reputable online sources, such as U.S. News and World Report. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying two major criteria: strong graduation rates and affordability. Since most community colleges are deemed affordable, we focused on schools with the best graduation rates. Graduation rates, according to NCES College Navigator, reflect the percentage of full-time, first-time students who graduated within 150% of normal time to completion for their program. Also, we included only community colleges that were fully accredited.

#15 – Orange Coast College

Costa Mesa, California

Graduation Rate: 41%

Tuition/Fees: $1,188

Orange Coast College ranks as a top community college in California designed to help students reach their personal and academic goals through rigorous coursework taught by highly trained faculty members. Orange Coast has over 50 academic programs and a strong student services division. With several programs and courses online, students are able to complete degrees without interrupting their other endeavors and commitments such as work and family. Similar to many other California Community Colleges, Orange Coast provides full tuition, fees, and funding for students who qualify. In addition, the institution has a robust financial aid office ready to assist students with the best way to finance their education.

#14 – College of the Redwoods

Eureka, California

Graduation Rate: 24%

Tuition/Fees: $1,182

Located in scenic Eureka, California, College of the Redwoods offers students over 1,000 different classes leading to a degree or certificate. Admission to the institution requires a high school diploma or GED and does not require standardized testing. As an open-door institution, College of the Redwoods welcomes students of all ages and backgrounds. Students seeking financial aid and assistance have several options. In addition to federal and state aid, the college offers its College Access Program helping California residents earn a free two-year degree. Eligible students must be California residents and be a first-time college student to qualify for the grant.

#13 – Golden West College

Huntington Beach, California

Graduation Rate: 35%

Tuition/Fees: $1,180

Golden Coast College ranks #13 on our list of best community colleges in California, thanks to its excellent reputation in the region for helping students achieve their academic goals of transferring to a four-year institution or obtaining an applied workforce degree leading to gainful employment. Students can choose from majors in virtually any field or discipline such as business, automotive technology, nursing, and much more. Golden Coast is also a regional leader in distance education through its offerings of online classes and online student support services. Students can work towards their degree while maintaining their current obligations such as family and work.

#12 – Monterey Peninsula College

Monterey, California

Graduation Rate: 30%

Tuition/Fees: $1,176

Monterey Peninsula College consistently ranks among the top community colleges in California thanks to its affordable tuition rates and quality academic programs. The college prides itself in offering a wide range of online degrees to busy students who prefer online learning or those who are unable to take on-campus classes. Students can complete online degrees in criminal justice, anthropology, business, early childhood education, psychology, and more. These degrees can be used to seamlessly transfer to a four-year degree granting institution or enter the workforce. In addition to classes, the college has a strong online student services division where online students can receive academic tutoring, academic advising, and career counseling free of charge.

#11 – Pasadena City College

Pasadena, California

Graduation Rate: 35%

Tuition/Fees: $1,168

Since 1924, Pasadena City College has been a leading community college in California serving the needs of the San Gabriel Valley. The institution currently offers 124 associate degree programs and 88 certificate programs, making it one of the most robust colleges in the state. In addition, the college offers an abundance of financial aid resulting in over 60% of students having their tuition fully or partially covered. 54% of students attend part-time with many of them working towards their academic degree through online distance learning. The institution currently ranks #1 in California in degrees granted, transfer degrees, and degrees obtained by minorities.

#10 – Las Positas College

Livermore, California

Graduation Rate: 38%

Tuition/Fees: $1,164

Located 40 miles outside of San Francisco, Las Positas College breaks into the top ten on our list of best community colleges in California. The college offers a robust assortment of degrees including 24 occupational associate degrees, 17 associate transfer degrees, and 44 certificate programs. As more students are beginning to prefer online learning, the college has responded by providing online classes that allow students to earn an associate’s degree completely online. Many of Las Positas’ students take their courses completely online, enabling them to keep their other commitments such as work and family. The institution offers several financial aid programs including the Pell and SEOG grants in addition to the California College Promise Grant Waiver Program that pays for two years worth of tuition, fees, and books.

#9 – Ohlone College

Fremont, California

Graduation Rate: 44%

Tuition/Fees: $1,164

Ohlone ranks #9 on our list of best community colleges in California due to its strong graduate rate and affordable tuition. The institution prides itself on its diverse student body, with students from over 40 countries seeking to earn one of Ohlone’s 195 degrees or certificates. Students can earn an associate’s degree entirely online or choose to take a mixture of classes, including seated and hybrid. As an open door community college, admission requires students to possess a high school diploma or a GED and does not require students take standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT but will accept scores as placement into classes.

#8 – College of the Siskiyous

Weed, California

Graduation Rate: 24%

Tuition/Fees: $1,156

College of the Siskiyous ranks as one of the top community colleges in California with an assortment of associate degrees in virtually any career field or bachelor’s degree major. The majority of students at the institution receive financial aid with many of them paying little or nothing towards their tuition, books, and fees. Because of the low tuition costs, federal and state financial aid programs generally cover the majority of the costs to attend. Students are able to take distance learning classes using Canvas, the college’s online learning platform, to earn an associate’s degree designed to transfer to a four-year institution.

#7 – MiraCosta College

Oceanside, California

Graduation Rate: 30%

Tuition/Fees: $1,152

MiraCosta College ranks #7 on our top community colleges in California. The institution is a statewide leader in online education and offers over 600 online and hybrid classes that allow students to work towards a degree without interrupting their other commitments. In addition to the online classes, the institution provides several support mechanisms including an online tutoring center, writing center, library support center, and more. In addition, students are able to receive academic and career counseling online. Students can apply online to the college using the application portal. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or a GED. No standardized testing is required.

#6 – Irvine Valley College

Irvine, California

Graduation Rate: 46%

Tuition/Fees: $1,144

Consistently one of the best community colleges in California, Irvine Valley College first opened as a satellite campus before becoming a stand-alone institution in 1985. Currently, the institution offers 39 associate in arts degrees, 21 associate in science degrees, 17 associate in arts transfer, and 7 associate in science transfer degrees designed to parlay into a four-year degree at a college or university or prepare the graduate for a sustainable career. Irvine Valley offers several hundred online and hybrid courses for student unable to attend seated classes. Students earn the same degree as their on-campus peers and the transcript says nothing about online classes.

#5 – Fullerton College

Fullerton, California

Graduation Rate: 31%

Tuition/Fees: $1,142

Fullerton College ranks #5 on our list of best community colleges in California thanks to a robust offering of degrees, online student support, and generous financial aid packages. The institution currently has 122 associate degrees designed to transfer or move immediately into the workforce. In addition, the college has an entire Distance Education Department to provide support for students taking online or hybrid courses. Fullerton offers several financial aid grants such as the California College Promise Grant, Cal Grant, Student Success Completion Grant, Pell Grant, and much more. The college’s foundation also provided funding through several merit- and need-based scholarships.

#4 – Cypress College

Cypress, California

Graduation Rate: 30%

Tuition/Fees: $1,142

Cypress College consistently ranks as one of the top community colleges in California and ranks #4 on our list. Cypress offers 56 university transfer majors, 73 degree programs, and 176 certificates to ensure students find the right credential to meet their personal and academic needs. In addition, Cypress is one of the few California Community Colleges to offer bachelor degrees in select majors. Cypress is one of the leading institutions that feed transfer students to California four-year universities. To gain admission to Cypress College, students must complete an admission application and have a GED or high school diploma from an accredited high school.

#3 – Napa Valley College

Napa, California

Graduation Rate: 33%

Tuition/Fees: $1,142

Ranking #3 on our list of top community colleges in California, Napa Valley College currently offers over 100 online courses designed to transfer to a four-year university or college or to prepare students for a career. Napa Valley has full accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Napa Valley offers both state and federal financial aid for students who qualify. In addition, the institution provides students with merit- and need-based funds. Admission is based on students having a high school diploma or GED.

#2 – Copper Mountain Community College

Joshua Tree, California

Graduation Rate: 23%

Tuition/Fees: $1,112

Copper Mountain Community College ranks as one of the best community colleges in California based on its strong student support services and commitment to making college affordable. The majority of students at Copper Mountain receive financial aid with little or no money required out-of-pocket. In addition, the college is one of the California institutions that offer the California College Promise Grant, which gives students two years’ worth of tuition, books, and fees when they maintain full-time status and an acceptable GPA. Students can choose from a wide range of two-year transfer degrees or workforce degrees, depending on their academic goals.

#1 – Taft College

Taft, California

Graduation Rate: 37%

Tuition/Fees: $1,104

Ranking #1 in community colleges in California, Taft College provides students with options of 43 associate degrees and 30 certificate programs such as criminal justice, dental hygiene, engineering, computer science, and more. The institution boasts an excellent graduation and transfer rate, along with low tuition costs, making it a great value. Taft is adding distance courses and degrees to its catalog every year and continues to integrate the latest in distance learning technology while training faculty to help online learners achieve their goals. With generous financial aid and scholarships available, the majority of Taft College students pay little or nothing at all towards their tuition, fees, and books.

best community colleges in california for engineering

1. Scripps College Claremont, CA

Scripps College offers 2 Pre-Engineering degree programs. It’s a small, private not-for-profit, four-year university in a large suburb. In 2019, 2 Pre-Engineering students graduated with students earning 1 Bachelor’s degree, and 1 Certificate.

2. Moorpark College Moorpark, CA

Moorpark College offers 1 Pre-Engineering degree programs. It’s a large, public, two-year college in a midsize suburb. In 2019, 13 Pre-Engineering students graduated with students earning 13 Associate’s degrees.

3. Cerritos College Norwalk, CA

Cerritos College offers 1 Pre-Engineering degree programs. It’s a very large, public, two-year college in a large suburb. In 2019, 24 Pre-Engineering students graduated with students earning 24 Associate’s degrees.

4. Chaffey College Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Chaffey College offers 1 Pre-Engineering degree programs. It’s a very large, public, two-year college in a large suburb. In 2019, 4 Pre-Engineering students graduated with students earning 4 Associate’s degrees.

5. Cabrillo College Aptos, CA

Cabrillo College offers 1 Pre-Engineering degree programs. It’s a large, public, two-year college in a midsize suburb. In 2019, 37 Pre-Engineering students graduated with students earning 37 Associate’s degrees.

6. Los Angeles City College Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles City College offers 1 Pre-Engineering degree programs. It’s a large, public, two-year college in a large city. In 2019, 3 Pre-Engineering students graduated with students earning 3 Associate’s degrees.

California's Best Community Colleges

best community colleges in california for transfer

If you’re considering attending a community college in hopes of ultimately graduating from a four-year university, it’s important to choose a school that’s known for helping its students successfully transfer. Check out these five California schools, all on CNN Money’s list of top community colleges in the U.S. because of their high transfer and graduation rates.

These community colleges will help you get on the path towards transferring to a respected four-year university.

1. Foothill College

Foothill College’s transfer center is dedicated to counseling students through the process of transferring to a four-year university. The college is particularly known for its UCLA Transfer Alliance Program, which gives select students priority consideration for transfer into University of California, Los Angeles, considered the second-best public university in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. With an impressive transfer rate of 70 to 98 percent, this program has proven to be a very successful way to gain admission into UCLA.

2. Santa Monica College

Santa Monica College produces the most transfer students of any two-year college in California; in 2010, they produced an impressive 1,053. Transfers usually go to either California State University (CSU) schools or University of California (UC) schools, some of which are very prestigious, like University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Berkeley.

3. Santa Barbara City College

Santa Barbara City College’s Transfer Academy program guarantees students the ability to efficiently transfer to a school in the UC or CSU system. About a third of these transfer students choose to stay in beautiful Santa Barbara to attend University of California, Santa Barbara, ranked the 11th-best public school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

4. De Anza College

Ranked 10th on CNN Money’s list of community colleges with the best graduation and transfer rates, De Anza College produced the second-most transfer students of any two-year school in California in 2010. Students can transfer to CSU schools, UC schools or independent colleges with the help of De Anza’s transfer planning program and partnership program, which help students get into great universities like University of California, Berkeley.

5. Irvine Valley College

The transfer center at Irvine Valley College is uniquely dedicated to helping students transfer to schools outside of the UC and CSU systems (though it facilitates students wanting to transfer to these schools as well). The program works to funnel students into respected California universities like University of Southern California, Pepperdine University and Loyola Marymount University, and they assist students who want to attend out-of-state institutions such as Arizona State University and New York University. The center also holds special events like workshops and happy hours in order to spread information and awareness about transferring effectively.

best community colleges in california for transfer

If you’re considering attending a community college in hopes of ultimately graduating from a four-year university, it’s important to choose a school that’s known for helping its students successfully transfer. Check out these five California schools, all on CNN Money’s list of top community colleges in the U.S. because of their high transfer and graduation rates.

These community colleges will help you get on the path towards transferring to a respected four-year university.

1. Foothill College

Foothill College’s transfer center is dedicated to counseling students through the process of transferring to a four-year university. The college is particularly known for its UCLA Transfer Alliance Program, which gives select students priority consideration for transfer into University of California, Los Angeles, considered the second-best public university in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. With an impressive transfer rate of 70 to 98 percent, this program has proven to be a very successful way to gain admission into UCLA.

2. Santa Monica College

Santa Monica College produces the most transfer students of any two-year college in California; in 2010, they produced an impressive 1,053. Transfers usually go to either California State University (CSU) schools or University of California (UC) schools, some of which are very prestigious, like University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Berkeley.

3. Santa Barbara City College

Santa Barbara City College’s Transfer Academy program guarantees students the ability to efficiently transfer to a school in the UC or CSU system. About a third of these transfer students choose to stay in beautiful Santa Barbara to attend University of California, Santa Barbara, ranked the 11th-best public school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

Photo: Extremetour.org

4. De Anza College

Ranked 10th on CNN Money’s list of community colleges with the best graduation and transfer rates, De Anza College produced the second-most transfer students of any two-year school in California in 2010. Students can transfer to CSU schools, UC schools or independent colleges with the help of De Anza’s transfer planning program and partnership program, which help students get into great universities like University of California, Berkeley.

5. Irvine Valley College

The transfer center at Irvine Valley College is uniquely dedicated to helping students transfer to schools outside of the UC and CSU systems (though it facilitates students wanting to transfer to these schools as well). The program works to funnel students into respected California universities like University of Southern CaliforniaPepperdine University and Loyola Marymount University, and they assist students who want to attend out-of-state institutions such as Arizona State University and New York University. The center also holds special events like workshops and happy hours in order to spread information and awareness about transferring effectively.

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