Top Community Colleges in California

community-college

With 112 member institutions, California community colleges can lay claim to being the largest higher education system in the United States. However, being part of the same system doesn't mean the schools themselves are necessarily similar. Instead, each school provides diverse educational opportunities and a unique campus setting.

Typically, students at two-year colleges can take classes on-campus, online or through hybrid programs. They may graduate with an associate degree, certificate or another credential. After graduation, students may go on to find employment or transfer to a four-year institution in pursuit of a bachelor's degree.

Students considering these schools have plenty of choices, including the following notable options, listed in alphabetical order. The full list of community colleges in the California, from the National Center for Education Statistics, can be found at the bottom of the page.

If you're interested in flexible colleges options consider these sponsored online schools:

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Allan Hancock College

The namesake of George Allan Hancock, this California community college can trace its roots back to 1920, when it was created as Santa Maria Junior College. The school's name was changed in the mid-1950s, and it has been expanding steadily ever since.

Today, approximately 11,500 students study in more than 100 fields at the college's four locations. The main campus remains in Santa Maria, where classes are held on a 105-acre campus. Other education centers can be found in other Central Coast areas: Lompoc, Solvang and Vandenberg Air Force Base. Allan Hancock College is known for its English as a second language program as well as its theater department.

As a testament to its academic quality, Allan Hancock is one of only 150 colleges in the running for a 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. This marks the second time the school has been eligible for the award.

Cañada College

Located in Redwood City, about 25 miles south of San Francisco, Cañada College has a reputation for academic excellence and innovative learning opportunities. The school was developed in 1968 and is one of the three colleges comprising the San Mateo Community College District.

About 7,200 students enroll each year, according to the school, and Cañada is one of the smallest community colleges in the Bay Area. Despite its size, the school still offers more than 40 educational programs in addition to students clubs and sports programs. The Center for International and University Studies was also established to offer additional assistance to those planning to go on to earn a bachelor's degree.

Cañada College has been in the news recently with its groundbreaking for a new solar power project. Once completed, the installation of ground-mounted solar panels on a vacant section of the campus should allow the school to cut its energy bill in half. In other news, two Cañada students were invited to debut their short film at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival in France.

East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program

Though not technically a college, the East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program fills a need for post-secondary vocational training. Unlike other schools that focus largely on degree programs, East San Gabriel Valley offers specialized, hands-on education in fields such as medical assisting, video production and business management.

Although most programs at the school result in a certificate, students can also earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in criminal justice. After graduation, those with an associate degree may choose to continue on to earn a bachelor's degree at a four-year institution. Meanwhile, certificate holders typically enter the workforce immediately (though they may also continue their studies). For those seeking employment, the program attempts to arrange internships whenever possible.

Based in West Covina, which is east of Los Angeles, the East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program holds classes at its Del Norte Campus, as well as at local high school, business and industry sites.

Santa Barbara City College

Santa Barbara City College's bragging rights go beyond saying it's the best community college in California. Instead, it can say it is among the best community colleges in the nation. In 2013, the school tied for top honors from the Aspen Institute, whose biennial College Excellence Program reviews more than 1,000 community colleges in the U.S. and honors the most outstanding schools.

As its name suggests, the college is based in the lovely coastal city of Santa Barbara. It was founded in 1909, and more than 28,000 students take classes at Santa Barbara City College each year. Those students can choose from more than 80 degrees and 50 certificate programs. Beyond its strong academics and career preparation services, SBCC offers something else that sets it apart from other institutions: an ocean-view campus.

Southwestern College

Among community colleges in California, Southwestern College is something of a comeback kid. A mere four years ago, it was embroiled in scandal and placed on academic probation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Southwestern was able to regain full accreditation, and in 2011 it hired a new president who has led the school into a period of prosperity.

The school, which is now more than 50 years old, is a front-runner in minority students earning associate degree. Southwestern provides instruction to more than 19,000 students at its Chula Vista campus and two higher education centers located in Otay Mesa and National City.

As the only public higher education institution in southern San Diego County, the school offers a diverse variety of programming. Students can select from 50 majors available with an associate of arts degree or choose from the more than 80 majors available with an associate of science degree. In addition, Southwestern College offers more than 100 certificate programs as well as non-credit classes for professional development.

California community colleges list

SCHOOL

ADDRESS

Allan Hancock College

800 South College Drive, Santa Maria, California 93454-6399

American River College

4700 College Oak Dr, Sacramento, California 95841-4286

Antelope Valley College

3041 West Ave K, Lancaster, California 93536-5426

ATEP at IVC

15445 Lansdowne Road, Tustin, California 92782-0223

Bakersfield College

1801 Panorama Dr, Bakersfield, California 93305-1299

Barstow Community College

2700 Barstow Road, Barstow, California 92311

Berkeley City College

2050 Center Sreet, Berkeley, California 94704

Butte College

3536 Butte Campus Drive, Oroville, California 95965-8399

Cabrillo College

6500 Soquel Dr, Aptos, California 95003

Cañada College

4200 Farm Hill Blvd., Redwood City, California 94061-1099

Cerritos College

11110 Alondra Blvd, Norwalk, California 90650-6298

Cerro Coso Community College

3000 College Heights Blvd, Ridgecrest, California 93555-9571

Chabot College

25555 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward, California 94545

Chaffey College

5885 Haven Ave, Rancho Cucamonga, California 91737-3002

Charles A Jones Career and Education Center

5451 Lemon Hill Ave, Sacramento, California 95824-1529

Citrus College

1000 W Foothill Blvd, Glendora, California 91741-1899

City College of San Francisco

50 Phelan Ave, San Francisco, California 94112-1898

Coastline Community College

11460 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley, California 92708-2597

College of Alameda

555 Ralph Appezzato Memorial Pky, Alameda, California 94501

College of Marin

835 College Ave, Kentfield, California 94904-2590

College of San Mateo

1700 W Hillsdale Blvd, San Mateo, California 94402-3784

College of the Canyons

26455 Rockwell Canyon Rd, Santa Clarita, California 91355-1899

College of the Desert

43-500 Monterey Ave, Palm Desert, California 92260

College of the Redwoods

7351 Tompkins Hill Rd, Eureka, California 95501-9300

College of the Sequoias

915 S Mooney Blvd, Visalia, California 93277-2214

College of the Siskiyous

800 College Ave, Weed, California 96094-2899

Columbia College

11600 Columbia College Dr, Sonora, California 95370

Contra Costa College

2600 Mission Bell Dr, San Pablo, California 94806-3195

Copper Mountain Community College

6162 Rotary Way, Joshua Tree, California 92252

Cosumnes River College

8401 Center Parkway, Sacramento, California 95823-5799

Crafton Hills College

11711 Sand Canyon Road, Yucaipa, California 92339-1799

Cuesta College

Highway 1, San Luis Obispo, California 93403-8106

Cuyamaca College

900 Rancho San Diego Pky, El Cajon, California 92019

Cypress College

9200 Valley View, Cypress, California 90630-5897

De Anza College

21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino, California 95014

Diablo Valley College

321 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, California 94523

Downey Adult School

12340 Woodruff Ave, Downey, California 90241

East Los Angeles College

1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, California 91754-6099

El Camino College-Compton Center

1111 East Artesia Blvd., Compton, California 90221-5393

El Camino Community College District

16007 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance, California 90506

Evergreen Valley College

3095 Yerba Buena Rd, San Jose, California 95135-1598

Feather River Community College District

570 Golden Eagle Ave, Quincy, California 95971-9124

Folsom Lake College

10 College Parkway, Folsom, California 95630

Foothill College

12345 El Monte Rd, Los Altos Hills, California 94022

Fresno City College

1101 E. University Ave, Fresno, California 93741

Fullerton College

321 E Chapman Avenue, Fullerton, California 92832-2095

Gavilan College

5055 Santa Teresa Blvd, Gilroy, California 95020

Glendale Community College

1500 N Verdugo Rd, Glendale, California 91208-2894

Golden West College

15744 Goldenwest St., Huntington Beach, California 92647-2710

Grossmont College

8800 Grossmont College Dr, El Cajon, California 92020-1799

Hartnell College

411 Central Avenue, Salinas, California 93901

Imperial Valley College

380 E. Aten Road, Imperial, California 92251-0158

Irvine Valley College

5500 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, California 92618-0301

Lake Tahoe Community College

One College Drive, South Lake Tahoe, California 96150

Laney College

900 Fallon Sreet, Oakland, California 94607

Las Positas College

3000 Campus Hill Drive, Livermore, California 94551-7650

Lassen Community College

Hwy 139, Susanville, California 96130

Long Beach City College

4901 E. Carson St., Long Beach, California 90808-1706

Los Angeles City College

855 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, California 90029

Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health

1237 N. Mission Rd., Los Angeles, California 90033-1084

Los Angeles Harbor College

1111 Figueroa Place, Wilmington, California 90744-2397

Los Angeles Mission College

13356 Eldridge Avenue, Sylmar, California 91342-3200

Los Angeles Pierce College

6201 Winnetka Ave, Woodland Hills, California 91371-0002

Los Angeles Southwest College

1600 W Imperial Hwy., Los Angeles, California 90047-4899

Los Angeles Trade Technical College

400 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90015-4181

Los Angeles Valley College

5800 Fulton Avenue, Valley Glen, California 91401-4096

Los Medanos College

2700 East Leland Road, Pittsburg, California 94565

Mendocino College

1000 Hensley Creek Road, Ukiah, California 95482

Merced College

3600 M St, Merced, California 95348-2898

Merritt College

12500 Campus Dr, Oakland, California 94619-3196

MiraCosta College

One Barnard Drive, Oceanside, California 92056-3899

Mission College

3000 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, California 95054-1897

Modesto Junior College

435 College Ave, Modesto, California 95350-5800

Monterey Peninsula College

980 Fremont St, Monterey, California 93940-4799

Moorpark College

7075 Campus Rd, Moorpark, California 93021-1695

Moreno Valley College

16130 Lasselle St, Moreno Valley, California 92551

Mt San Antonio College

1100 N Grand Ave, Walnut, California 91789-1399

Mt San Jacinto Community College District

1499 N. State St., San Jacinto, California 92583-2399

Napa Valley College

2277 Napa-Vallejo Hwy, Napa, California 94558-6236

Norco College

2001 Third St, Norco, California 92860

Ohlone College

43600 Mission Blvd, Fremont, California 94539-0390

Orange Coast College

2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa, California 92626

Oxnard College

4000 S Rose Ave, Oxnard, California 93033-6699

Palo Verde College

One College Drive, Blythe, California 92225

Palomar College

1140 W. Mission, San Marcos, California 92069-1487

Pasadena City College

1570 E Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, California 91106-2003

Porterville College

100 E College Ave, Porterville, California 93257

Reedley College

995 N Reed Ave, Reedley, California 93654

Rio Hondo College

3600 Workman Mill Rd, Whittier, California 90601-1616

Riverside City College

4800 Magnolia Avenue, Riverside, California 92506

Sacramento City College

3835 Freeport Blvd, Sacramento, California 95822-1386

Saddleback College

28000 Marguerite Pky, Mission Viejo, California 92692-3635

San Bernardino Valley College

701 South Mount Vernon Avenue, San Bernardino, California 92410-2798

San Diego City College

1313 Park Boulevard, San Diego, California 92101-4787

San Diego Mesa College

7250 Mesa College Dr, San Diego, California 92111-4998

San Diego Miramar College

10440 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, California 92126-2999

San Joaquin Delta College

5151 Pacific Ave, Stockton, California 95207

San Joaquin General Hospital School of Radiation Technology

500 W. Hospital Rd, French Camp, California 95231

San Jose City College

2100 Moorpark Ave, San Jose, California 95128-2798

Santa Ana College

1530 W. 17th Street, Santa Ana, California 92706-3398

Santa Barbara City College

721 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara, California 93109-2394

Santa Monica College

1900 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, California 90405-1628

Santa Rosa Junior College

1501 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, California 95401-4395

Santiago Canyon College

8045 E Chapman, Orange, California 92869-4512

Shasta College

11555 Old Oregon Trail, Redding, California 96003

Sierra College

5000 Rocklin Road, Rocklin, California 95677-3397

Skyline College

3300 College Dr, San Bruno, California 94066-1698

Solano Community College

4000 Suisun Valley Rd, Fairfield, California 94534-3197

Southwestern College

900 Otay Lakes Rd, Chula Vista, California 91910-7299

Taft College

29 Cougar Court, Taft, California 93268

Ventura College

4667 Telegraph Rd, Ventura, California 93003-3872

Victor Valley College

18422 Bear Valley Rd, Victorville, California 92395-5850

West Hills College-Coalinga

300 Cherry Lane, Coalinga, California 93210

West Hills College-Lemoore

555 College Avenue, Lemoore, California 93245

West Los Angeles College

9000 Overland Avenue, Culver City, California 90230-3519

West Valley College

14000 Fruitvale Ave, Saratoga, California 95070-5698

Woodland Community College

2300 E Gibson Rd, Woodland, California 95776

Yuba College

2088 N Beale Rd, Marysville, California 95901

Past author is Aimee Hosler.

Sources:

Allan Hancock College,
http://www.hancockcollege.edu/

2015 Eligible Community Colleges, College Excellence Program, The Aspen Institute,
http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/college-excellence/2015-eligible-community-colleges

California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office,
http://www.cccco.edu/

Cañada College,
http://www.canadacollege.edu/

East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program,
http://www.esgvrop.org/

"Hancock recognized for community college excellence," Camillia Lanham, Santa Maria Sun, March 26, 2014,
http://www.santamariasun.com/school-scene/11315/hancock-recognized-for-community-college-excellence/

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, National Center for Education Statistics,
http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

"Southwestern College: From precipice to prosperity," Allison Sampite-Montecalvo. San Diego Union-Tribune, March 31, 2014,
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Mar/31/southwestern-college-school-district-update/

Santa Barbara City College,
http://www.sbcc.edu/

Southwestern College,
http://www.swccd.edu/

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