Best Community Colleges In Georgia

community colleges in florida

Residents already know that Georgia is a state full of natural beauty and cosmopolitan urban life: With fine dining and nightlife in modern Atlanta, antebellum architecture in Macon and Athens and legendary hiking on the southernmost paths of the Appalachian Trail, Georgia has enough going on to entertain students of any age.

If looking to train for a career, work on a two-year degree or knock out some prerequisites for a bachelor's level education, we've ranked the campus-based community colleges and two-year online schools in Georgia that can help you do it. Community colleges in Georgia are handled a bit differently from those in other states, though, so we made a couple of changes to our usual ranking system to better suit the terrain.

Georgia has two separate community college systems, the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and the University System of Georgia (USG). Of the two, the TCSG contains schools that focus on graduating students with technical, business and industry training, while USG schools concentrate their efforts on preparing students to transfer to four-year university programs.

These different objectives made it difficult to rank schools from one system against schools from another, so we decided to list the top five community colleges in each system rather than trying to combine them into one list. For each system, we gathered data from regional and national sources and ran the numbers to determine who came out on top.

You can click the link below to read more about our ranking methodology, or scroll to the end of the article and check it out there. Here's what you've been waiting for, though -- the best 5 schools for each Georgia community college system, or the top 10 community colleges in Georgia.

> Read our full ranking methodology below

The Top Community Colleges in Georgia

Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG)

1. Albany Technical College (Albany)

Earning the top spot in nearly every category should be good to place a school at No. 1, and Albany Technical College did just that. Reasonable tuition costs and plentiful financial aid made its yearly net price the most affordable in the state by far, and it was the only school in our top five to offer the accessibility trinity of adult education: life experience credit, weekend/evening degree plans and on-campus day care. As if that weren't enough, Albany Tech was also No. 1 in distance education participation, with its 58 percent online enrollment rate earning it the distinction of being the only technical college in the state to have more than half of its students taking distance education courses at least part-time.

  • Jobs for graduates: Albany Technical College also graduated students at a higher rate than any other TCSG school, and 99.5 percent of their graduates in 2013 earned jobs after graduation, with an impressive 95.9 percent of those students landing jobs in their field.

2. North Georgia Technical College (Clarkesville)

This northeast Georgia school is the youngest of our top five — 60.7 percent of the student body at North Georgia Technical College was under 25 in 2013. It also offered one of the lowest cost totals for tuition, fees, books and supplies in 2013-14, coming in just behind our No. 1 school overall. NGTC had a percentage of distance education enrollment of 38 percent, that was just about average for TCSG schools.

  • Business and industry outreach: The Economic Development Division at NGTC also works with manufacturers and other businesses in the surrounding community to offer training and testing in the fields of information technology, health care, human resources and more.

3. Ogeechee Technical College (Statesboro)

The best job placement rate of all the technical colleges in Georgia came from Ogeechee Technical College. The graduation rate was also considerable — among the top 20 percent of TCSG schools — and its 46 percent of students enrolled in distance education was enough to give it the No. 3 spot among technical schools in Georgia. The student-faculty ratio at OTC was impressive as well, with just 16 students per faculty member in 2014 (which ties for fifth overall in our rankings, shared with NGTC above).

  • Tutoring 24/7: Students at OTC have access to a campus service called Smarthinking, which makes use of the online learning environment to offer chat-based tutoring sessions, online writing lab counseling and offline question submission for homework help.

4. Oconee Fall Line Technical College (Sandersville)

Oconee Fall Line Technical College has the smallest student body among our top five TCSG schools, though to look at the cost of attendance you might wonder why. The net price of a year at OFTC was the third-lowest among all technical colleges in Georgia and the second-most affordable in our top five, and its job placement rate of nearly 87 percent stood tall among all schools in the state. It also had a ratio of just 12 students per faculty member in 2014, which was good enough to place it at No. 2 among schools from both community college systems.

  • Special student support: Through the Special Populations Program, OFTC offers special student assistance for single parents, individuals with disabilities, displaced homemakers, economically disadvantaged individuals, students with limited proficiency in English and other groups who tend to face an elevated level of difficulty in completing their education.

5. Wiregrass Georgia Technical College (Valdosta)

Accessibility is key at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, where non-traditional or returning students may participate in prior learning assessment (PLA) to identify areas where they have gained college-equivalent knowledge through military service, corporate training, professional licensure activities and other non-academic sources. WGTC also ranked No. 5 for the lowest average net price in the TCSG, and the student-faculty ratio of 16:1 may have contributed in part to a graduation rate that was better than 70 percent of the other colleges in its system.

  • Military partnership: WGTC counts itself as one of the few online schools in Georgia that partners with the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) to provide required CCAF courses in the virtual classroom. What's more, Military Times placed WGTC at No. 10 among all technical colleges in the nation in its 2016 Best for Vets rankings.

University System of Georgia (USG)

1. Georgia Perimeter College (Decatur)

Transfers to four-year schools are one of the primary aims of USG community colleges, and Georgia Perimeter College took the top spot for transfer rate among the schools that made our top five. It also had by far the largest student body of any school in either system — more than doubling the size of the second-largest school — which means that its high transfer rate translates to a particularly large group of students who successfully move from two-year schools into bachelor's programs. GPC also had high standing among online schools in Georgia, placing at fourth overall for the percentage of students enrolled in distance education.

  • First-generation students: Fall 2014 statistics on file at GPC indicate that 7,892 of the 21,371 students enrolled that semester were members of the first generation of their families to go to college. A first-generation population of 37 percent speaks volumes about GPC's commitment to starting educational traditions.

2. Georgia Highlands College (Rome)

Taking second place in the top five for its transfer rate to four-year schools and capturing the No. 2 ranking in the USG for cost of tuition, fees and supplies was Georgia Highlands College, a medium-sized campus located in the southern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Just 18 percent of GHC students were enrolled in distance education in 2014, but the college offers classes on weekends and evenings and expanded its geographical reach with additional instructional sites in Cartersville, Marietta, Dallas and Douglasville to accommodate those who live at a distance from the main campus.

  • Globe-trotting study programs: Students at GHC have the option of taking trips outside the country to learn, sightsee and participate in cultural activities designed to expand their perspective. Study abroad options in 2016 include three trips of varying length to a University of Georgia campus in Costa Rica and a summer trip to the Kennesaw State University campus in Montepulciano, Italy.

3. Bainbridge State College (Bainbridge)

Not only did it come in second among community colleges in Georgia with distance education enrollment of 43 percent, but Bainbridge State College took the crown for most affordable USG school by a wide margin. The calculated net price of a year at BSC — that's the average cost of tuition, fees, books, supplies and living expenses minus average financial aid assistance — came in at around $1,200 less than the No. 2 school and more than $6,500 less than the most expensive school in the top five. The student body at BSC was also fairly well age-balanced, with the student population split into nearly perfect halves on either side of 25 years old.

  • Dual mission: Most community colleges in Georgia tend to cleave fairly closely to the mission of their respective systems, but BSC prides itself on being able to meet the needs of students on both sides of the aisle by offering a selection of technical degrees and certificates alongside its catalog of academic and transfer-oriented study plans.

4. Darton State College (Albany)

Darton State College in Albany took the top spot for distance education enrollment among USG schools and tied its sister school Albany Technical College for the No. 1 ranking among all online schools in Georgia with 58 percent of its student body enrolled at least partially in distance education courses. The cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies at the southwestern Georgia institution was reasonable enough to place Darton at fourth-most affordable overall, according to the factors that shaped this ranking, and it boasted the highest graduation rate among our top five state colleges in Georgia.

  • Adventure school: Darton State College administrators understand that an active body can contribute to a sharp and healthy mind, and the Outdoor Education & Recreation program works to help students stay active and engaged in their environment with camping trips, river kayaking, an outdoor climbing wall and challenge course and other adventurous activities.

5. Atlanta Metropolitan State College (Atlanta)

Rounding out the list is Atlanta Metropolitan State College, which took third place in multiple categories — its 40 percent distance education enrollment was good for the No. 3 ranking among online community colleges in Georgia and the rate at which students transfer out to other USG schools placed it third among the schools in our top 5. AMSC also offered the third-lowest cost of tuition and fees, but took a hit in the net price metric thanks in part to the higher cost of day-to-day expenses typically experienced by students living in major metropolitan areas.

  • Diverse student organizations: Extracurricular activities can be a big part of a well-rounded college experience, and Atlanta Metropolitan State College presents students with no less than 30 student clubs and organizations to help foster their academic, professional and creative interests.

Final thoughts on Georgia community college rankings

It's true that numbers don't lie, but when it comes to the college experience they also don't tell the whole story. It's likely that there are students having a great time at each one of the traditional and online schools you can enroll at in Georgia.

Going to a college where you feel like you fit is a great feeling, and there isn't a statistic in the world that can substitute for first-hand experience in that regard. Look into the schools on our list and beyond, visit a few campuses and find out if one of our best community colleges in Georgia is also the best one for you.


We ranked two sets of postsecondary institutions in Georgia separately. They are:Best community colleges in Georgia 2016

  1. 20 member schools of the Technical College System of Georgia
  2. 12 member schools of the University System of Georgia's State Colleges group

Within each group, all schools were scored on a 5-point scale, using the following data points and the weights specified:

Technical College System of Georgia:

  1. Percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2013: 15%
  2. Cost of attendance, based on the cost of tuition & books from the National Center for Education Statistics and the average net price for Title IV students from the Department of Education's College Scorecard, 2013: 30%
  3. Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2013: 5%
  4. Average retention rate for full- and part-time students, College Scorecard, 2014: 5%
  5. Graduation rate in 200% of typical time over a 2-year rolling average, College Scorecard, 2013: 10%
  6. Job placement in relevant fields for the class of 2013, Technical College System of Georgia, 2014: 25%
  7. Flexibility Score, based on three data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2013: 15%

State Colleges of the University System of Georgia:

  1. Percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2013: 15%
  2. Cost of attendance, based on the cost of tuition & books from the National Center for Education Statistics and the average net price for Title IV students from the Department of Education's College Scorecard, 2013: 30%
  3. Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2013: 5%
  4. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2013: 5%
  5. Transfers to University System of Georgia institutions, University System of Georgia, 2014: 30%
  6. Flexibility Score, based on three data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2013: 10%

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1. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2013-14, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed Sept. 28, 2015, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
2. Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements), College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, Accessed Oct. 12, 2015, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
3. Annual AY 2014 Graduates & Placement, End of Quarter/Semester and End of Year Reports, Technical College System of Georgia, Accessed Oct. 12, 2015, https://kms.tcsg.edu/DPR/ReportsResearch/SystemSum.aspx
4. Undergraduate Student Transfer Report Table: Fiscal Year 2013-2014, Research and Policy Analysis, University System of Georgia, Accessed Oct. 12, 2015, http://www.usg.edu/research/student_progression
5. Official Georgia Tourism & Travel Website, accessed Oct. 29, 2015, http://www.exploregeorgia.org/
6. About TCSG, Technical College System of Georgia, accessed Oct. 29, 2015, https://tcsg.edu/about_tcsg.php
7. University System of Georgia, accessed Oct. 29, 2015, http://www.usg.edu/
8. School pages, accessed Oct. 29, 2015: About Albany Tech, Albany Technical College, http://www.albanytech.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=923&Itemid=377; Other Locations, North Georgia Technical College, https://northgatech.edu/pages/visitors_alumni/campuses/other.aspx; Economic Development, North Georgia Technical College, https://northgatech.edu/pages/econdev/; Testing, North Georgia Technical College, https://northgatech.edu/pages/econdev/testing.aspx; Smarthinking, Ogeechee Technical College, http://www.ogeecheetech.edu/current-students/smarthinking; Special Populations Services, Oconee Fall Line Technical College, http://www.oftc.edu/student_svs.aspx?id=1161; Advanced Placement and Prior Learning Assessments, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, http://www.wiregrass.edu/academics/prior_learning.php; Wiregrass Named in Top 20 Career & Technical Colleges for Veterans in the Nation, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, http://www.wiregrass.edu/news/2015/best-for-vets-2016.php; Fact Sheet, Georgia Perimeter College, http://www.gpc.edu/News_and_Information/fact.php3#data; Fact Sheet, Georgia Highlands College, http://www.highlands.edu/site/fact-sheet; Study Abroad Current Opportunities, Georgia Highlands College, http://highlands.edu/site/study-abroad-current-opportunities; About Bainbridge State College, Bainbridge State College, http://www.bainbridge.edu/about-bsc/; Outdoor Education & Recreation, Darton State College, http://www.darton.edu/OE/; Student Clubs and Organizations, Atlanta Metropolitan State College, http://www.atlm.edu/students/student-clubs-and-organizations.aspx