Hopkinsville Community College (Hopkinsville)
The catalog of degree and certificate programs at Hopkinsville Community College leans heavily toward career training, although students preparing for university transfer can earn Associate in Science (A.S.) degrees in fields like biology and engineering. Pre-med, pre-vet and pre-physical therapy programs are available as well.
Two HCC campus locations and multiple learning sites exist to serve students in south central Kentucky, and a range of online degrees and courses are available through Kentucky Virtual Campus. On-demand distance education programs here include medical information technology and logistics and operations management.
HCC may also be one of the best Kentucky community colleges for working pros and other non-traditional students. Nearly two-thirds of the student body at this Hopkinsville institution is aged 25 or over.
Jefferson Community and Technical College (Louisville)
Jefferson Community and Technical College could be one of the best community colleges in Kentucky for students hoping to transfer into a university degree program after finishing their associate degree. Students who left Jefferson and enrolled in bachelor's programs had the highest rate of successful university graduation in the state.
There are a few significant upsides for adult learners who enroll at this Louisville institution. Certain programs may offer course credit for relevant life or work experience, and our data show that child care services are available to students.
The catalog at Jefferson features a diverse mix of education and training options, including programs in radiography, insurance and risk management, and African-American studies. Aspiring auto mechanics can choose from manufacturer-approved programs like Honda GLADA, Toyota T-TEN and Mercedes-Benz Accelerate.
Bluegrass Community and Technical College (Lexington)
The largest number of campuses among our top Kentucky community colleges belongs to Bluegrass Community and Technical College, which operates eight total learning centers. Transfer degrees and a selection of technical programs are available at three sites in Lexington, as well as satellite locations in Danville, Georgetown, Lawrenceburg and Winchester.
The eighth location doesn't look much like a traditional college campus, but a certain type of student is likely to appreciate the difference. BCTC operates the North American Racing Academy (NARA) — the only accredited community college horse racing school in the U.S. — out of the Thoroughbred Training Center in northeast Lexington.
BCTC may also be one of the best Kentucky community colleges for creative students. Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.) programs are available in theatre and filmmaking and cinematic arts.
Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (Elizabethtown)
If you're hoping to land some financial aid help for your community college education, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College should be near the top of your list. This central Kentucky school reported that around 95 percent of enrolled students in 2018 received some type of financial aid award.
Health care study plans at ECTC include training in high-demand fields like nursing, respiratory care and medical information technology, as well as a program in the high-paying specialty field of diagnostic medical sonography. An associate degree in paramedic technology is offered in cooperation with Owensboro Community and Technical College.
Flexibility is a priority here, with evening and weekend courses available for working students with busy weekday schedules. Close to 44 percent of students take at least some of their courses online.
Big Sandy Community and Technical College (Prestonsburg)
Big Sandy Community and Technical College maintains four campuses in eastern Kentucky — the main site in Prestonsburg and three satellite locations in Pikeville, Paintsville and Hager Hill. Total enrollment here is around 4,400 students.
BSCTC is one of the top online community colleges in Kentucky by enrollment, reporting that nearly two thirds of students have at least one online class on their schedules. Nearly 90 percent of all students are awarded some form of financial aid, and first-time college students receive aid packages in 98 percent of cases.
BSCTC offers more than 30 degree and certificate programs in career-focused subjects as well as common academic majors. The most popular areas of study in 2018 included liberal arts, computer and information technology, business administration systems, nursing and electrical technology.
Ashland Community and Technical College (Ashland)
Ashland Community and Technical College has one of the smaller student bodies among the top Kentucky community colleges, reporting enrollment of fewer than 2,600 students in 2018. Approximately half of ACTC students take full-time schedules, and first-time college students make up around 19 percent of those enrolled.
As is often the case at colleges that serve smaller numbers of students, ACTC offers a closer-knit learning environment than some of the other schools on our list. The student-faculty ratio is 17:1, for example, and the student body is spread over three area campuses.
ACTC also offers a few rare degree programs, such as a certificate in Appalachian studies and an A.A.S. in automated and semi-automated chemical manufacturing. Associate of Arts (A.A.) subjects for university transfer include education, psychology and social work.
Henderson Community College (Henderson)
Originally founded as the University of Kentucky Northwest Center in 1960, Henderson Community College has grown into a hot destination for students in the northwestern section of the state. Training programs for career advancement and university transfer plans are available at the main campus in Henderson and its second location in Morganfield.
Like most of the top Kentucky community colleges, HCC reports relatively affordable tuition rates for resident students. Total tuition and fees for two 12-credit semesters came in under $4,250 in 2018, which is less than the statewide average.
Several programs in marine technology, such as marine engineering and marine logistics, are available here, and education students can enroll in 2+2 transfer agreement plans that give them an easy pathway to a bachelor's degree at Murray State University.
Gateway Community and Technical College (Covington)
Student success was a standout category for Gateway Community and Technical College, which posted our list's second-highest retention rate for first-year students and a graduation rate that only two other schools in the state could match. It also featured a ratio of 15 students per faculty member — one of the best in the state — so instructors should have plenty of time to help students outside of class hours if they need it.
Training programs in the trades at this Covington school include plumbing technology, welding technology and computerized manufacturing and machining. Students hoping to train for a high-demand field with future growth potential can earn an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree or several certificates in energy technologies.
West Kentucky Community and Technical College (Paducah)
West Kentucky Community and Technical College is one of the larger institutions among the best Kentucky community colleges, reporting 2018 enrollment of around 6,200 students. Despite that relatively large student body, WKCTC admins manage to keep the student-faculty ratio to a comfortable 18:1. Approximately 63 percent of the student body is female.
The main WKCTC campus in Paducah is the only full-service location maintained by the institution, but a trio of off-campus learning sites exists to serve students with specific educational goals. Creative types can earn an A.F.A. in visual arts at the Paducah School of Art and Design, while those interested in automotive technology, air conditioning technology or welding technology can earn their credentials at the Skilled Craft Training Center down the road in Hickory.
Madisonville Community College (Madisonville)
Schedule flexibility is one of the bright spots at Madisonville Community College, which reported distance education enrollment of nearly 47 percent and offers coursework in the evening and on weekends for students with work or family responsibilities. That flexibility seems to be paying off for students — the graduation rate at this western Kentucky school is the highest in the state.
Programs in advanced integrated manufacturing and advanced integrated technology can teach students how to operate, install, manage, inspect, troubleshoot and repair the cutting-edge electrical and mechanical systems used in modern factories. Students who want to put their mechanical skills to use in the health care industry can study biomedical technology systems. A program in surgical assisting can be completed entirely online.