Best Community Colleges in Michigan

Not every student wants to attend a four-year school. Even those who plan to eventually earn a bachelor's degree don't have to start at an expensive university or college. Community colleges are an affordable alternative that provide certificate programs and career training as well as degree programs that can be used as the foundation for further education at another institution.

There are 28 such colleges in Michigan and together, they enroll more than 410,000 students. Some serve as online colleges and offer programs specifically designed for distance learners. Others provide a more traditional, campus-based experience. However, even these often have some online courses.

The best community colleges in Michigan are those that offer diverse education options. They have flexible scheduling arrangements, graduate a larger percentage of their students on time and help those who want to continue their education transfer to a four-year school. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult returning to the classroom, keep reading to discover the top Michigan community colleges.



Washtenaw Community College

If you're looking for the best colleges in Michigan, head to Ann Arbor. The city is not only home to the University of Michigan, but it also has one of the state's top community colleges.

Washtenaw Community College has been serving area students for more than 40 years. The school features an open-door policy, small class sizes and a diverse student body. Overall, more than 18,000 students enroll in credit courses each year, and they hail from more than 100 countries as well as the U.S.

WCC offers more than 100 learning programs. To make education more accessible, the school has online courses as well as night and weekend classes. What's more, students can choose to study at one of four extension sites.


Lansing Community College

Located in the heart of the state's capital city, Lansing Community College is another of the best Michigan community colleges. It was established in 1957 and is a comprehensive institution. It offers classes ranging from general education to career development to personal enrichment.

LCC participates in the Michigan Career Pathways System that links high school studies to certificate and degree programs at the college. There are six Career Pathways that can be followed for those interested in working in fields such as the arts, health sciences and natural resources.

On campus, students have access to numerous organizations that relate to both personal interests and professional pursuits. There is also a school newspaper, a Student Leadership Academy and both men and women's athletic teams.


Muskegon Community College

Head to the west side of the state to find Muskegon Community College. The school has the distinction of not only being one of the best colleges in Michigan but also one of the oldest community colleges. The school can trace its roots all the way back to 1926.

While MCC has its main campus in Muskegon, students can also take classes in four different locations. Available programs include certificate and degrees, continuing education and workforce development. As one of the online colleges in the state, the school has been offering online courses since 1998.

MCC has several unique attributes which contribute to it being one of the top Michigan community colleges. It has a state-of-the-art planetarium, 15-acre outdoor learning laboratory and the state's only community college-owned golf course.


Delta College

Delta College tells its students to think big, but don't pay big. Affordable tuition is one of the reasons the school makes the cut among the best community colleges in Michigan. Not only is it a top choice in the state, but The Aspen Institute recognizes it as one of the best community colleges in the nation.

Opening its doors in 1961, Delta has long offered career training services. While it continues to administer certificate programs, the school also has more than 100 transfer degree options pre-approved by 20 university partners. Approximately two-thirds of students at Delta College plan to transfer to a four-year school.

With a campus in University City, Delta College is one of Michigan's larger community colleges. It enrolls more than 10,000 credit-seeking students.


Monroe County Community College

Monroe County Community College was founded in 1964 and is situated between Toledo and Detroit. While its main campus is in Monroe, a second learning site can be found in Temperance.

Like other top Michigan community colleges, MCCC offers affordable tuition and diverse learning opportunities. Students can complete a certificate program or technical degree program if they want to enter the workforce within two years. Otherwise, transfer degrees are available for those planning to pursue a bachelor's degree. Students can even earn four-year degrees on the MCCC campus thanks to partnerships with Siena Heights University and Eastern Michigan University.

The academic programs at Monroe County Community College are broken down into five divisions: applied science and engineering technology, business, health sciences, humanities/social sciences and science/mathematics. Some online courses are available.


West Shore Community College

Offering comprehensive academic programs in a scenic setting, West Shore Community College has been serving students in Mason County since 1967. The school's certificate programs, technical degrees and transfer degrees meet the needs of students planning to enter the workforce immediately as well as that of those expecting to pursue further education elsewhere.

WSCC offers a range of flexible learning options. It participates in Michigan Colleges Online to provide access to online courses. That's one of nine partnerships the college maintains with universities and other entities to provide additional learning opportunities to students.

West Shore Community College has its main campus in Scottville. There, seven state-of-the-art buildings house classrooms, a tech center, theater, art gallery and a recreation center. A second learning center can be found in Manistee.


Glen Oaks Community College

Whether you want a degree or plan to pursue a certificate program, you'll find plenty of options at Glen Oaks Community College. At its main campus in Centreville, students have access to modern facilities in a beautiful setting.

Accredited since 1975, GOCC lands among the top community colleges in Michigan for several reasons. It has graduation and transfer rates that exceed the national average. What's more, thanks to several partnership agreements, it can be simple for those receiving an associate degree to continue their education in a four-year program. Students can even finish their bachelor's degree on the GOCC campus, thanks to agreements with Spring Arbor University and Triune University.

Glen Oaks Community College also features small class sizes and has a generous scholarship program. It enrolls approximately 1,200 students.


North Central Michigan College

North Central Michigan College says it offers students an outstanding return on their investment. That's one reason why this school in Petoskey has been named one of the best Michigan community colleges.

Classes at North Central were first held in 1959. From humble beginnings, the school has grown into one of the best colleges in Michigan, offering dozens of degree and certificate programs. Through the Guided Pathways program, students define their goals at the start of their college career so they have a clear vision of how their education should proceed.

Not everyone attending classes on the NCMC campus is pursuing an associate degree program. Thanks to partnerships with Central Michigan University, Lake Superior State University and Spring Arbor University, students can earn bachelor's and graduate degrees as well.


Mid Michigan Community College

Operating since 1965, Mid Michigan Community College has campuses in both Harrison and Mt. Pleasant. The school offers nearly 50 education options including degrees and career readiness programs.

As one of the top Michigan community colleges, MMCC offers affordable tuition, small class sizes and highly qualified instructors. Nearly three-fourths of students receive financial assistance. The school also has flexible scheduling options for those who might not be able to complete a degree program on a traditional schedule or format. There are fully online degrees as well as numerous hybrid programs that blend online and on-campus learning.

More than 5,000 students attend Mid Michigan Community College, and students are assigned a Mid Mentor to guide them through the education process from application to graduation.


Kirtland Community College

From transfer degrees to professional trade preparation, Kirtland Community College offers education programs for diverse career paths. It is also one of the state's online colleges and has both degrees and certificates for distance learners. These programs may even allow students to complete lab work from home.

As is the case with most of the best community colleges in Michigan, Kirtland Community College has affordable in-district tuition. Indeed, its cost is among the lowest in the state. What's more, there are a number of scholarship programs available to lower student costs even further.

Kirtland was founded in 1966 and has the largest community college district in the state. The school's main campus is in Roscommon. Additional learning centers can be found in Grayling, Gaylord and West Branch.

Transferring Credits in Michigan

If you're planning to transfer credits from a community college to a university in Michigan, the Michigan Transfer Agreement helps simplify the process. The agreement allows students to transfer general education credits from one participating institution to another.

To be eligible for the MTA, students must complete at least 30 credits of coursework in six areas of study. This can be accomplished either by earning a transfer associate degree at a community college or some schools offer the credits as part of a stand-alone package. Dozens of schools, including many of the best colleges in Michigan, participate in the MTA.

Beyond the MTA, some community colleges have separate partnerships with universities to allow the transfer of credits for specific programs. However, four-year colleges and universities may accept credits for individual classes outside of these arrangements. The Michigan Transfer Network is an online service that lets students determine how individual courses at one school may be credited by another.

If you're planning to earn a transfer degree at a community college, you'll want to check out the best four-year colleges in Michigan to determine where to take your education next.


We ranked 28 community colleges in Michigan on a variety of factors related to educational offerings and student performance. 

 Each school was scored on a 10-point scale, using the following six data points:

  1. The percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  2. Cost of attendance, based on the average net price for students receiving scholarship and grant aid, and the total cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  3. Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  4. The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  5. The transfer-out rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  6. Flexibility, based on the following data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2016

a.       Whether the school offers credit for life experiences
b.      Whether the school offers programs of study that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
c.       Whether the school offers on-campus day care for students’ children
d.      Whether the school offers any kind of alternative tuition plan. These may include, but aren’t limited to, payment plans or guaranteed rates.

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