Best Community Colleges in Connecticut
Connecticut residents may not have to go far to start a degree program or finish their education. Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) include 12 community colleges that feature low tuition rates, comprehensive degree programs and vibrant campuses.
While none that will change, the system is currently in the midst of a transformation. Under the CSCU Students First initiative, these colleges will merge into a single accredited institution in the coming years.
Although vocational training is offered at two-year schools, they provide more than technical degrees and certificate programs. The best community colleges in Connecticut are also a top choice for those planning to earn a bachelor's degree. Instead of paying higher tuition rates for four years at a university, money savvy students can earn a transfer degree at the top Connecticut community colleges. This allows them to complete their general education requirements at a lower cost.
Community colleges are also an attractive option for those seeking a flexible learning environment. These schools may operate as online colleges or offer night and weekend classes. Keep reading to learn more about why you should consider the top community colleges in Connecticut for your education.
Asnuntuck Community College (Enfield)
Ready to start learning right now? Then Asnuntuck Community College may be for you. The school offers both late start classes and accelerated courses to help students begin and finish their education quickly.
Asnuntuck is known for affordable tuition and extends its in-state rates to those living nearby in Massachusetts. The school also says it has the best graduation rate of any community college in Connecticut or Massachusetts and can also boast of a job placement rate of up to 90% for some fields.
An Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center houses one of the notable programs at Asnuntuck Community College. The school partners with local manufacturers to teach skills to those interested in both two and four-year degrees. Plus, there are numerous other degrees available in both technical and academic fields.
Northwestern Connecticut Community College (Winsted)
There are plenty of reasons why Northwestern Connecticut Community College makes the list of best Connecticut community colleges. It offers diverse degrees and certificate programs, accessible registration and a number of financial aid options. Nursing, criminal justice and general studies are among the popular majors at the school.
Education choices at NCCC include traditional, hybrid and online courses. Hybrid classes combine online learning with some on-campus requirements. There are also continuing education classes and non-credit courses that can be completed entirely online. Transfer Ticket associate degrees make it easy to continue one's education at a state university after graduating from NCCC.
On the college's Winsted campus, students will find a variety of support services. These include tutoring, advising and career planning. What's more, campus life includes a vibrant mix of student organizations and events to enrich the learning experience.
Tunxis Community College (Farmington)
You'll find another of the best Connecticut community colleges in Farmington. Tunxis Community College offers dozens of degrees, certificates and online courses to meet the needs of students from diverse backgrounds. Continuing education classes are also available for both professional development and personal enrichment. Its Year to Career Programs allow students to earn a career credential in 12 months or less.
Both traditional and adult learners are welcome at TCC. The college has an on-campus Early Childhood Center which offers an affordable preschool for students to enroll their children. There are also numerous campus clubs and organizations that bring together students with shared interests or career paths.
Tunxis Community College is an affordable education choice. It's small enough to provide individualized attention yet large enough to offer a broad range of amenities and support services.
Norwalk Community College (Norwalk)
With only about 6,500 credit students, Nowalk Community College says it's small enough to provide personalized attention that ensures no one gets lost in the crowd. For an affordable price, it notes students get access to quality, hands-on training in state-of-the-art facilities.
NCC maintains 11 academic departments. These include an Academic Enrichment and First Year Experience Department which offers classes and services that help students successfully transition to college. The college's more than 70 degrees and certificates cover fields such as computer science, business and the arts. Online courses are available for some programs.
Founded in 1961, NCC was the first public two-year college established in Connecticut. It has its campus in Norwalk, where more than 40 student clubs and organizations are offered to those enrolled.
Three Rivers Community College (Norwich)
State-of-the-art facilities and a low per-credit tuition rate help make Three Rivers Community College one of the top community colleges in Connecticut. The school attracts a diverse student body to its Norwich campus.
Three Rivers Community College can also boast of a low student-faculty ratio and generous financial aid. Two-thirds of first-time, full-time students receive financial support. Plus, its in-state tuition rate is available to students in four states: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York.
There are dozens of degree programs available at TRCC. What's more, flexible scheduling is offered to make it convenient for working adults to complete their education. Students can enroll in online courses and there is even a fully online associate degree in general studies offered at Three Rivers Community College.
Manchester Community College (Manchester)
Student success is a priority at Manchester Community College. The school enrolls more than 15,000 students each year in its campus and online degree programs and non-credit courses. MCC has been a staple of the Manchester community for more than 50 years and offers both academic degrees and career training.
As one of the best Connecticut community colleges, MCC offer more than 80 education programs. These include associate degrees in areas such as accounting, computer science and business as well as career training for allied health, computing and other professions. Some certificate programs at Manchester Community College can be completed in as little as a year.
MCC was founded in 1963 and has grown into one of the largest community colleges in the state. It operates under the values of shared understanding, shared responsibility and shared leadership.
Housatonic Community College (Bridgeport)
Housatonic Community College is more than one of the best community colleges in Connecticut. It has also been named one of the 150 top community colleges in the nation by The Aspen Institute. What's more, it's been designated an Achieving the Dream Leader College for its efforts to improve student success outcomes.
The college was founded in 1966 as a branch of the Norwalk Community College. While starting in a leased building, Housatonic moved to a permanent campus in 1997 in Bridgeport. It has since grown into a comprehensive institution offering associate degrees, certificates and continuing education classes.
More than 75 programs are offered in all, including degrees and certificates in popular fields such as business administration and early childhood education. The school has entered into more than 20 transfer agreements to make it easy for graduates of Housatonic Community College to continue their education at a four-year school.
Middlesex Community College (Middletown)
More than 4,000 credit students take classes at Middlesex Community College each year. As another of the top community colleges in Connecticut, MxCC strives to create an environment that welcomes both traditional and adult learners.
With more than 65 certificate and degree programs at Middlesex Community College, there are options for transfer degrees, technical degrees and career training. Popular options include an associate degree in veterinary technology and an accounting technician certificate. Those who can't make it to the Middletown campus can choose from hundreds of credit and non-credit online courses. There are also dozens of fully online career training programs available, making MxCC one of the state's more prominent online colleges.
Regardless of their program, students at MxCC have access to tutoring, academic advising and other student support services. Half of those enrolled receive financial aid as well.
Capital Community College (Hartford)
As its name suggests, this entry on the list of best Connecticut community colleges is located in the state's capital of Hartford. Capital Community College provides diverse learning opportunities that span the liberal arts, fine arts and vocational training.
More than 45 countries are represented among its student body. There are more than 60 degree and certificate programs available in fields such as business, nursing, humanities and health careers. CCC provides its students access to tutoring, career planning and counseling services among other things.
Capital Community College can trace its heritage back to 1946 when the Hartford State Technical College was founded. That school merged with Greater Hartford Community College in 1992 to create what is now known as CCC.
Gateway Community College (New Haven)
Gateway Community College is one of the largest and best community colleges in Connecticut. More than 14,000 students study at the school's New Haven campus or take its online courses.
There are dozens of degree programs and certificate programs offered at GCC. These include transfer degrees as well as career-readiness training. Students can choose from popular programs in education, the humanities or allied health. Or they can study in a more specialized field, such as railroad engineering technology. Gateway's Resource, Education and Training Center, known as The GREAT Center, offers fast-paced training options for high-growth occupations.
GCC has more than 50 years of education experience behind it. The college came into its current form in 1992 with the merger of South Central Community College and Greater New Haven State Technical College.
CTE in Connecticut
The best Connecticut community colleges serve two purposes. They offer an affordable way to complete two years of education towards a bachelor's degree, and they prepare students to enter the workforce through career technical education.
Nationally, career technical education, also known as career and technical education or CTE, is divided into 16 career clusters. Each cluster represents a different area of interest such as hospitality and tourism, information technology and marketing. Within each cluster, students can learn about the skills needed to be successful in the field and which occupations fit that particular area of interest.
Career clusters make it easier for students to narrow their educational choices and find the degree or certificate program that meets their personal interests and professional goals. Beyond career clusters, CTE in Connecticut is supported through the following initiatives.
- Funded by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Career Pathways Initiative targets residents of the greater Hartford area who have limited literacy and employment skills and puts them on a path to a new career.
- The state is currently working on implementing Connecticut's Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act which will help determine how best to use federal dollars provided for CTE.
- Several of the top community colleges in Connecticut have dual enrollment programs that allow high school students to take college classes, including CTE courses, early.
The best place to learn about specific CTE programs is to visit the websites of individual community colleges. The following links may also be helpful as you explore CTE in Connecticut.
- CTE Career Paths - This .pdf guide is published by the Connecticut Department of Labor and lists all 16 career clusters, occupation information, job advice and more.
- Academic Program Search - Once you know what career cluster interests you, the state's Office of Higher Education makes it easy to search for schools that offer related programs.
Transferring Credits in Connecticut
Transfer Tickets make it simple to start your education at one of the top Connecticut community colleges and finish it at a state university.
What is a Transfer Ticket? They are degree programs that ensure your credits will transfer from a two-year to a four-year school in the state. That means those who earn an eligible associate degree at a state community college are guaranteed full junior status when they begin classes at a Connecticut state university. Overall, there are Transfer Ticket degree programs offered in more than two dozen majors, although availability will vary by institution.
However, even if you're not enrolled in a Transfer Ticket program, you may be able to transfer credits between schools. Many of the best Connecticut community colleges have articulation agreements with four-year schools that ensure students' credits can be applied toward a bachelor's degree. Our guide on how to transfer schools talks more about how transfer agreements typically work.
Plus, all the best community colleges in Connecticut have transfer counselors available to guide students through the process. Decide which of the best four-year schools in Connecticut you'll be likely to attend and then talk to your college counselor to find out if and how your credits will transfer between institutions.
Resources for Community College Students in Connecticut
- Connecticut State Colleges & Universities - CSCU includes all public institutions of higher learning in the state. Visitors to its website can find details about each school as well as the Students First initiative that will unify Connecticut community colleges under a single accreditation.
- Connecticut Office of Higher Education - This government office provides information about financial aid and services for students.
- CT Hires - Managed by the Connecticut Department of Labor, CT Hires lets job seekers explore careers, find a job or locate nearby recruitment events.
Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following criteria:
- Level of institution is either "At least 2 but less than 4 years" or " Less than 2 years (below associate)"
- Data is reported for all 14 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section
We ranked the resulting community colleges member schools on multiple factors related to educational opportunity, student performance and student services. Each school was scored on a 10-point scale, using the following data points:
- The published in-district tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The published in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The in-district per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The in-state per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- Percentage of students receiving financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- Percent of students that transferred to a 4-year institution and completed within 8 years, College Scorecard, 2017
- The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
- Percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Flexibility, based on the following data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- Whether the school offers credit for life experiences
- Whether the school offers programs of study that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers on-campus day care for students’ children
- Whether the school offers any kind of alternative tuition plan. These may include, but aren’t limited to, payment plans or guaranteed rates.
- Students First, Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, Accessed December 2019, http://www.ct.edu/sf
- Connecticut Moves to Consolidate Community Colleges Amid Faculty Opposition, Ashley A. Smith, April 17, 2019, Inside Higher Ed, Accessed December 2019, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/04/17/connecticut-community-colleges-faculty-and-administration-odds-over-proposed
- About NCC, Norwalk Community College, Accessed December 2019, https://norwalk.edu/about/
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed December 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- Facts + Figures, Norwalk Community College, Accessed December 2019, https://norwalk.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/NCC-2017-Fact-Sheet.pdf
- Perkins V: Today's Skills, Tomorrow's Skills, Connecticut Department of Education, Accessed December 2019, https://portal.ct.gov/SDE/Career-and-Technical-Education/Perkins-V
- Developing an integrated, regional career pathways system for people with limited literacy and employment skills, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Accessed December 2019, https://www.hfpg.org/our-approach/economic-security/career-pathways-initiative/
- GCC One of 6 Connecticut Community Colleges Selected for National Dual Enrollment Initiative, May 17, 2016, Gateway Community College, Accessed December 2019, https://www.gatewayct.edu/Offices-Departments/Public-Affairs/News/News-Items/Dual-Enrollment
- About MCC, Manchester Community College, Accessed September 2018, https://www.manchestercc.edu/about/
- About MXCC, Middlesex Community College, Accessed September 2018, http://mxcc.edu/community/
- A Capital History, Capital Community College, Accessed September 2018, https://www.capitalcc.edu/mission/history/
- About HCC, Housatonic Community College, Accessed September 2018, http://www.housatonic.edu/about-us
- About Asnuntuck, Asnuntuck Community College, Accessed September 2018, https://asnuntuck.edu/about/
- About, Gateway Community College, Accessed September 2018, http://www.gatewayct.edu/About
- About, Three Rivers Community College, Accessed September 2018, https://www.threerivers.edu/about/
- Degrees and Certificates, Northwestern Connecticut Community College, Accessed September 2018, https://www.nwcc.edu/academics-2/#1499440234604-1cf02654-2d91
- The History of QVCC, Quinebaug Valley Community College, Accessed September 2018, http://qvcc.edu/history/
- Degrees and Certificates, Tunxis Community College, Accessed September 2018, https://www.tunxis.edu/academics/
- Transferring, Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, Accessed September 2018, http://www.ct.edu/transfer/transferring
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/