Best Community Colleges in Georgia
Community college programs in Georgia can help you advance in your career, get trained for a job in a new industry or work toward your bachelor's degree at a discount.
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.
Whether you're looking to train for a career, work on a two-year degree or knock out some prerequisites before you transfer to a bachelor's program at one of the top four-year schools in Georgia, we've ranked the institutions that can help you do it. Read on below to find out which schools are the best Georgia community colleges, according to our analysis of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data.
Georgia State University-Perimeter College (Atlanta)
As a member of the Georgia State University System, Perimeter College is the only institution in our top ten that isn't a member of the Technical College System of Georgia. It's also the largest two-year school in the state, educating more than 18,000 students each semester.
Its direct association with the GSU system means that Perimeter College can provide students with an uncomplicated path from community college to a university program. The rate of students successfully finishing their bachelor's degrees after transferring into university programs was higher here than at any other school among the best community colleges in Georgia.
Available degree programs here include Associate of Arts (A.A.) plans in engineering and film and media studies. Students in the health sciences have a range of pathways to choose from, including health information administration and respiratory therapy.
Savannah Technical College (Savannah)
Around 3,800 students attended classes at Savannah Technical College in 2018, giving it the comfortable feel of a mid-sized school. Just one other school in our top ten reported a lower in-state tuition cost than STC in 2018, making it a solid choice for students looking to save some money on their education.
Numerous career and technical education programs are on offer here. Subjects such as welding and electrical construction and maintenance are taught alongside medical specialties like phlebotomy and dental hygiene.
STC operates four civilian campus locations and the Fort Stewart Army Education Center. Two of those civilian locations, the Savannah Campus and the Crossroads campus, are located in its namesake seaside city of Savannah. The others can be found in nearby Hinesville and Rincon.
Georgia Piedmont Technical College (Clarkston)
Georgia Piedmont Technical College is another one of our top community colleges in Georgia that aims to help student transfers go as smoothly as possible. The Clarkston school has nearly 30 transfer agreements in place with universities in Georgia and elsewhere, including Robert Gordon University in Scotland.
Around 40 different technical degree and certificate programs can be earned through the five academic departments at GPTC. Subjects of study for diploma or certificate seekers include commercial refrigeration, recording arts technology, computer engineering technology and an 8-week commercial truck driving program.
The city of Clarkston has a population of less than 13,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census, but it's on the edge of the Atlanta metropolitan area. Students can stay in town to study in peace or head into the city for recreation, shopping and nightlife.
Chattahoochee Technical College (Marietta)
No fewer than eight campus locations of Chattahoochee Technical College are working to serve students in its six-county service area. The main campus and Mountain View satellite in Marietta are joined by outposts in Canton, Jasper, Woodstock, Austell, Dallas and Acworth.
Flexibility is an important part of the mission here. Many courses are taught partially or fully online and a range of evening and weekend classes are available to accommodate the schedules of students with work or family responsibilities during normal school hours. CTC also offers several fully online degrees, in subjects like business management and criminal justice technology.
Campus-based degree programs here ruin the gamut, from high-tech fields like networking and Web application development to trades work like carpentry and precision manufacturing. Health sciences programs are prominent as well, with nearly 20 disciplines to choose from.
Southern Crescent Technical College (Griffin)
The mission of Southern Crescent Technical College is to deliver relevant technical education to students of all kinds, whether fresh out of high school or returning to college after spending years in the workforce. Adult students at SCTC can take advantage of the Tender Tech Child Development Center, which offers on-campus day care for children from six weeks to 12 years old.
More than 30 allied health programs are offered at this Griffin institution, including an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in health care management and both a degree and diploma plan in surgical technology. The full range of programs available here numbers in the 200s and also includes training in business technology, computer information systems and film and television production.
Atlanta Technical College (Atlanta)
Total enrollment at Atlanta Technical College was around 5,000 students in 2019, with part-time learners making up close to two-thirds of the student body. Financial aid awards are very common among the student body here — 94 percent of students were awarded some type of student aid package in 2018.
More than 150 degree, diploma and certificate programs are available for students at ATC. Aspiring crime scene investigators can earn a technical certificate in forensics, and automotive technology students can study individual sets of vehicle systems in two-semester technical certificate programs or get a comprehensive diploma.
ATC also provides degrees and certificates that can be earned entirely through online courses or other flexible means. Programs in business management, cosmetology, air conditioning technology and more are available entirely through evening courses.
Gwinnett Technical College (Lawrenceville)
More than 140 programs of study are offered at Gwinnett Technical College, where the numbers show that students tend to get results. The graduation rate here was one of the best in the state, and just two other schools on our list reported a higher percentage of first-year students returning to complete their degree or diploma plans as sophomores.
The data also show that students fresh out of high school tend to make use of affordable GTC courses on their way to a career or bachelor's degree. More than 31 percent of the 2018 student body here was 20 years old or younger.
Albany Technical College (Albany)
Albany Technical College has a history that stretches back to 1961, when 175 students enrolled in Monroe Area Vocational-Technical School. The current main campus was established around 10 years later and it became a comprehensive two-year institution before the year 2000.
This southwestern Georgia school had the highest rate of distance education enrollment among two-year schools in the state, with more than two-thirds of students taking at least some of their credits in the virtual classroom. More than 30 degree, diploma and certificate plans are available entirely online.
Education in logistics and industrial operations is available here, through such programs as a degree in operations management and a degree or diploma in business logistics. The operations management degree can be earned either online or on campus.
Central Georgia Technical College (Warner Robins)
A low ratio of students to faculty members at a two-year school indicates that professors are likely to be available for extra help outside of class hours, which can be a big help to students returning to college after spending some time away from school. The student-faculty ratio at Central Georgia Technical College was 14:1 in 2018, topping our list in that category.
Healthcare training programs at CGTC include a degree or certificate in biotechnology, an orthopedic technology degree that's accredited by the National Board for Certification of Orthopedic Technologists (NBCOT) and a diploma program in polysomnography for students looking to contribute to the study of sleep disorders. A general studies associate degree plan is available for students who intend to transfer to a university after graduation.
Columbus Technical College (Columbus)
Columbus Technical College opened its doors to its first class of just 39 students in 1961, and it's grown in enrollment and stature in the nearly six decades since. Today, it educates around 3,300 learners each semester and has a job placement rate of close to 95 percent.
CTC offers a special opportunity for students in technical disciplines like air conditioning technology, welding and automotive collision repair. Students, faculty and the general public can schedule appointments with the institution's Live Work Services division for help with one-off jobs that enrolled students can handle.
Along with these trade and technical programs, CTC offers training in accounting, paralegal studies, child development and funeral service education, among other fields. Online degrees are available in business studies, technical studies, management and supervisory development and more.
CTE in Georgia
Career technical education, or CTE, is broadly defined as an approach to education that's designed to prioritize the teaching of a combination of academic and technical concepts to prepare students for success in the workforce. CTE programs in Georgia are offered in high schools as well as community and technical colleges, and they've seen some remarkable success throughout the state.
Here's a quick rundown of CTE statistics in Georgia:
- High school students studying CTE subjects graduated at a rate of 96 percent in 2017 — 15 percentage points higher than the overall statewide average rate.
- Among CTE-focused students who earned a certificate or diploma at the college level, 99 percent found a job, won an apprenticeship or joined the military within six months.
- In 2019, Georgia received more than $45 million in CTE funding through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V)
Collegiate CTE in Georgia is mainly administrated by the Technical College System of Georgia, which includes nine of our top ten schools. Check with individual institutions near you for specific details on the types of CTE program they offer.
If you're thinking about giving CTE a shot, here are some resources that might help:
- The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) hosts a career, technical and agricultural education info page
- Georgia's state page on the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE)
- Information about career clusters and education pathways at the DOE's state standards site
Transferring College Credits in Georgia
There are a couple of ways to transfer your community college credits into bachelor's degree programs at Georgia universities. The standard method — applying for an audited credit-by-credit transfer from your destination school — can certainly work, but seeking out articulation agreements between schools at each level is a more stable and generally smoother path to a successful transfer.
Transfer agreements are typically struck between individual Georgia institutions, but there are some system-wide agreements in place as well. University System of Georgia (USG) agreements tend to list in-state universities as their destination schools, while agreements available from Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) schools have a wider range of options for students looking to go out of state for their bachelor's degree.
Both systems also adhere to a slate of single-course transfer agreements that can make it easier to transfer your general education credits to another institution accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Remember to consult with an advisor to discuss your options, and check out our guide on how to transfer colleges for some more detailed info.
Resources for Community College Students in Georgia
- The Technical College System of Georgia website is a great place to find information about trade schools and community colleges in the state.
- The Georgia Student Finance Commission provides insight into scholarships, grants, loans and other available financial aid programs in Georgia.
- The Federal Student Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education can answer your questions about available federal aid programs for community college students.
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.
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- School pages, accessed October 29-30, 2019: About, Perimeter College, https://perimeter.gsu.edu/about-perimeter-college/; Pathways, Perimeter College, https://perimeter.gsu.edu/pathways/?wpv_view_count=6483896-TCPID6483898&wpv_post_search=&wpv_paged=2; All Programs, Savannah Technical College, https://www.savannahtech.edu/academics/all-programs/; Programs of Study, Georgia Piedmont Technical College, https://www.gptc.edu/future-students/programs-of-study/; Commercial Truck Driving Program, Georgia Piedmont Technical College, https://www.gptc.edu/programs/commercial-truck-driving-program-class-a/; Transfer Agreements, Georgia Piedmont Technical College, https://www.gptc.edu/technical-education/transfer-agreements/; About, Chattahoochee Technical College, https://www.chattahoocheetech.edu/about-us/; Academic for Credit Programs at CTC, Chattahoochee Technical College, https://www.chattahoocheetech.edu/academicprogramscredit/; Online Programs at Chattahoochee Tech, Chattahoochee Technical College, https://www.chattahoocheetech.edu/online-programs/; About, Southern Crescent Technical College, https://www.sctech.edu/aboutsctc/mission/; Tender Tech Child Development Center, Southern Crescent Technical College, https://www.sctech.edu/aboutsctc/tender-tech-child-development-center/; Programs, Southern Crescent Technical College, https://www.sctech.edu/programs/; About the Main Campus, Atlanta Technical College, https://atlantatech.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Snapshot-2019.pdf; Programs, Atlanta Technical College, https://atlantatech.edu/academics/programs/; Evening & Weekend Programs, Atlanta Technical College, https://atlantatech.edu/academics/evening-weekend-programs/; Gwinnett Technical College, https://www.gwinnetttech.edu/; Programs of Study, Gwinnett Technical College, https://www.gwinnetttech.edu/programs/; Areas of Study, Albany Technical College, https://www.albanytech.edu/academics/areas-of-study; Operations Management, Albany Technical College, https://www.albanytech.edu/academics/areas-of-study/logistics-operations/811-operations-management; Online Programs, Albany Technical College, https://www.albanytech.edu/academics/distance-learning/online-courses; General Studies, Central Georgia Technical College, https://www.centralgatech.edu/programs-of-study/general-studies; Biotechnology, Central Georgia Technical College, https://www.centralgatech.edu/programs-of-study/health-sciences/biotechnology; Orthopedic Technology, Central Georgia Technical College, https://www.centralgatech.edu/programs-of-study/health-sciences/orthopedic-technology; Polysomnography, Central Georgia Technical College, https://www.centralgatech.edu/programs-of-study/health-sciences/polysomnography; History, Columbus Technical College, https://www.columbustech.edu/why-ctc/history.cms; Programs of Study, Columbus Technical College, https://www.columbustech.edu/academics/programs-of-study.cms; Division of Business, Columbus Technical College, http://columbustech.smartcatalogiq.com/en/2019-2020/2019-20-Catalog-and-Student-Handbook/Division-of-Business; By the Program, Distance (Online) Learning, Columbus Technical College, https://www.columbustech.edu/academics/by-program.cms;
- Georgia, College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed October 29-30, 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=GA&ct=1&ic=2
- Clarkston city, Georgia, QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed October 29, 2019, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/clarkstoncitygeorgia/PST045218
- Georgia, Advance CTE, accessed October 29, 2019, https://careertech.org/Georgia
- Association for Career and Technical Education, accessed October 29, 2019: Why CTE?, https://www.acteonline.org/why-cte/; State Profiles, https://www.acteonline.org/why-cte/state-profiles/;
- Find a College, Technical College System of Georgia, accessed October 29, 2019, https://tcsg.edu/find-a-college/