Snead State Community College (Boaz)
Founded in 1898, Snead State Community College stands as the oldest associate degree-granting institution in the state. Despite more than 125 years of history educating Alabama students, a focus on responding to the changing times has helped it keep up with the academic necessities of the 21st century.
Snead State is one of the best online colleges in Alabama, for example. The Boaz institution reported that more than 75 percent of students took at least some online classes, and online Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees are available in fields like in applied business, child development and office administration.
On-campus degrees include nursing and computer science technology. More than 70 subjects are offered for students who plan to transfer to a university after graduating.
John C. Calhoun State Community College (Tanner)
John C. Calhoun State Community College, commonly known as Calhoun Community College, was first established in 1947 and grew to become one of Alabama's largest two-year schools. Total enrollment in Fall 2018 topped out at more than 9,700 students.
Calhoun may be one of the best Alabama community colleges for students seeking online instruction. Nearly 45 percent of students took at least some online courses in 2018, and around a dozen Associate of Science (A.S.) concentrations are available fully online.
A.S. degrees that can be earned in the virtual classroom include computer science, psychology and social work. Several vocational programs can be completed online as well, particularly in health care fields like dialysis technology, veterinary assisting and medical billing and coding.
George C. Wallace State Community College (Hanceville)
George C. Wallace was a longtime Alabama politician who helped bring about the public community college presence in the state. The Hanceville school known locally as Wallace State Community College is just one of the namesake institutions that honor his contribution to Alabama higher education.
Career-focused subjects of study available at WSCC include agriculture production and horticulture, health information technology, occupational therapy assisting and more. Traditional college majors such as theater, art, mathematics and science are available as well.
Degrees at WSCC are earned through a Pathways system, which allows students to choose a general subject category as well as a specific major. This approach can help students ensure that their general education courses are well-suited to their goals.
Jefferson State Community College (Birmingham)
Students hoping to transfer to a university after finishing their community college program tend to flock to Jefferson State Community College, at least according to the numbers. No other school on our list reported a higher rate of successful university transfer than this Birmingham institution.
Jefferson State offers several amenities that students might be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. For example, culinary arts students here can learn while they work at a "classroom café" called Bistro proVare.
A wide range of career and vocational programs are available here, including a few less-common programs like funeral service education. Students looking to get into the workforce as fast as possible can choose from a list of several fast-track programs in fields like clinical medial assisting, welding, and full-stack Web development.
Shelton State Community College (Tuscaloosa)
Shelton State Community College educates around 4,300 students each year on its two Tuscaloosa campuses and online. Nearly 30 percent of students here take at least some of their courses in the virtual classroom.
Academic programs available here include several options in the humanities, behavioral sciences, natural sciences, fine arts and more. The catalog of vocational and technical programs here features degree and certificate plans in industrial electronics technology, salon and spa management, computerized numerical control (CNC) systems, and child development.
Creative students may have a few extra reasons to choose Shelton State over other two-year schools in the state. In 1997, the Alabama Legislature designated the institution as Alabama Junior College of the Fine Arts, and the Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame is located on the Martin campus.
Southern Union State Community College (Wadley)
If affordability is one of your main concerns, Southern Union State Community College has a few encouraging statistics for you. Just one other two-year school in the entire state reported a lower average tuition and fees cost than this eastern Alabama school, and tuition payment plans are available to help students better fit the cost of their education into their budgets.
This relatively young institution was formed from the merger of a pair of regional two-year schools in 1993. The institution operates three total campuses -- the flagship location in Wadley and satellite campuses in Valley and Opelika.
Five separate degree and certificate plans in computer science are available here, including a short certificate in app development. Areas of technical study include machine shop technology, cosmetology and engineering and design.
Chattahoochee Valley Community College (Phenix City)
Chattahoochee Valley Community College is one of the best community colleges in Alabama for students seeking financial aid, reporting that roughly 92 percent of enrolled learners received some form of aid package in 2018. The student-faculty ratio here is a comfortable 17:1.
This Phenix City school offers two separate study tracks for students seeking an A.A.S. in visual communications. The simulation and modeling track concentrates on the skills necessary for designing 3-D and virtual reality content, and the multimedia graphic design option focuses on print media production and more traditional studio art skills.
Students who don't yet have a clear vision of their career goals can access CVCC's Career Coach, an online tool that provides guidance and information customized to the Chattahoochee Valley region.
Northeast Alabama Community College (Rainsville)
Northeast Alabama Community College put up some of the strongest student success numbers among all two-year schools in Alabama. This institution of nearly 2,900 students posted a higher rate of first-year student retention than all but two other schools in our top ten, and only one of the other top community colleges in Alabama reported a higher graduation rate.
A.S. programs here include plans in architecture, communication studies, agronomy and soils and education. Vocational degrees and certificates can be earned in subjects like emergency medical services and air conditioning and refrigeration.
More than 25 extra-curricular clubs and activities are available for students at NACC. The list of options includes an art club, a fishing club, a campus ministry and multiple honor societies and musical ensembles.
Central Alabama Community College (Alexander City)
The roots of Central Alabama Community College go back to the 1960s, but the institution itself is around 30 years old. It was formed in 1989, when two nearby schools merged their efforts to better serve students in their region.
One of the larger proportions of online students in the state can be found here — more than 42 percent of the student body takes advantage of the flexibility of the virtual classroom. This institution's Alexander City campus offers one of the most close-knit learning environments among our top ten schools, reporting a student body of fewer than 1,700 learners in 2018.
CACC offers Associate in Occupational Technology (A.O.T) degrees in welding, cosmetology and machine shop technology. A certificate in child development is available for aspiring day care workers.
Bishop State Community College (Mobile)
The brightest spots on the stat sheet for Bishop State Community College came in the financial aid and university transfer categories. Around 92 percent of students here were awarded some type of financial aid in 2018, and just two other schools on our list reported a higher percentage of successful university transfers.
Vocational and technical programs available at Bishop State include degrees in computer information systems, automotive technology, commercial truck driving and more. Students looking for a more academic path can study business and economics, early childhood education, mathematics and psychology, among other subjects.
An initiative called 15 to Finish works to help increase the on-time graduation rate at Bishop State. It aims to give students the support they need to take 15 credits per semester.