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Best Community Colleges in Mississippi

Community and junior college education is woven into the fabric of Mississippi history. Two-year institutions have existed in the Magnolia State since 1925, long before similar options were widely available throughout the rest of the country. In fact, community and junior colleges were so popular in 1920s Mississippi that the state had to pass laws limiting the number of institutions inside its borders.

Today, the best community colleges in Mississippi are an important step on the road for many aspiring students of Mississippi universities, as well as a tried-and-true way to keep your career skills sharp and up to date. Check out our list of the top ten Mississippi community colleges and find out how each one can help you reach your academic and professional goals.

THE TOP 10 COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN MISSISSIPPI

1

East Mississippi Community College (Scooba)

Founded in 1927, East Mississippi Community College provides one of the more intimate two-year learning environments in the state. Despite a total enrollment of close to 4,300 students, administrators at this east central Mississippi school have managed to keep the student-faculty ratio at a comfortable 17:1.

The community college district served by EMCC is six counties wide, and the institution has established a total of seven campuses to help bring affordable education to residents at all corners of the region. Along with the original location in Scooba, EMCC operates campuses or learning centers in Mayhew, Columbus, Macon, Meridian and West Point.

Students here can choose from a catalog of nearly 50 career and technical programs alongside more than 60 academic majors in humanities, fine arts, science, math, business and the social sciences.

2

Mississippi Delta Community College (Moorhead)

Mississippi Delta Community College was accredited for the first time in 1928, and it's been building its portfolio of degree and certificate programs ever since. Approximately 2,400 students attended courses here in 2017, of whom close to 78 percent were enrolled in full-time study plans.

Career and technical programs offered at MDCC come in three distinct forms: Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees, which tend to take between 60 and 67 credit hours to complete; career certificates, which typically require 30-32 credits; and technical certificates, which can consist of anywhere from 45 to 64 credits.

Like all of the best Mississippi community colleges, MDCC participates in the statewide articulation agreement with four-year universities in Mississippi. Signed in 2005, the agreement opens the door to more than 160 areas of study and simplifies the transfer process.

3

Holmes Community College (Goodman)

Holmes Community College was known originally as Holmes County Agricultural High School and became a degree-granting college in the 1928-29 school year. The institution maintains its headquarters at the original location in Goodman but operates two additional campuses and two satellite learning centers in its nine-county service area.

Availability of degree programs across the HCC campuses is not uniform, so make sure that the degree you're after appears in the catalog of your chosen location. Health care programs, for example, may be more prevalent at the Grenada or Ridgeland locations than at the residential campus in Goodman.

Tuition here is also fairly affordable, particularly for full-time students. The annual cost of tuition and fees for a student taking two semesters of 15-21 credits each is just over $3,100 -- a discount of around $450 from the national average.

4

East Central Community College (Decatur)

A student body of more than 2,500 learners attends courses at East Central Community College, with roughly three out of four students pursuing their degrees full time. Technical programs like automotive technology, information systems technology and HVAC make up the bulk of the catalog here, but programs in art, music, education, health care and more are also available.

Students shopping around for online colleges in Mississippi can find plenty of distance education opportunity at ECCC, as well as an on-site office to help students become comfortable with the virtual classroom. Online courses are provided by the Mississippi Virtual Community College (MSVCC), a cooperative of the state's community college districts.

If you like the pace of life in a small rural town, you'll likely feel at home at ECCC. The city of Decatur is home to fewer than 2,000 residents.

5

Northwest Mississippi Community College (Senatobia)

Northwest Mississippi Community College structures its degree catalog in three tiers, each of which designed to interest a certain type of student. Standard college majors like elementary education, business administration and psychology are known as Academic Pathways at NMCC, and students can expect that all completed courses in the Associate of Arts (A.A.) curriculum should transfer to in-state public universities.

Technical programs at NMCC are delivered as two-year study plans that lead to an A.A.S. degree and focus on specialized, career-centered knowledge and skills. Those looking for a fast track to skills training can pursue career certificates, which can take as little as nine months of study to complete.

Approximately 4,800 students attend courses on NMCC's main campus and four satellite learning sites. Student residence halls are available for those enrolled at the Senatobia campus.

6

Pearl River Community College (Poplarville)

Historic firsts are something of a habit at Pearl River Community College. The institution began its life as Mississippi's first county agricultural high school in 1909, for example, and then took on the mantle of the state's first public two-year college when it began offering sophomore-level college courses in 1924.

Around 4,800 students are enrolled in the degree and certificate programs offered through PRCC's eight academic divisions. More than 30 subjects of study are available for students looking to finish their degrees at the associate level, but that number just about doubles for those who transfer their credits and go on to pursue bachelor's-level study.

Additional amenities exist for both academic and career-oriented students. PRCC hosts a chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the community college honor society, and provides an online career coach for those looking for the right trajectory.

7

Jones County Junior College (Ellisville)

Jones County Junior College is committed to promoting engaged learning, community service and integrity in its students. The Ellisville institution also has an open admission policy, which means that standardized test scores and prior academic performance won't be considered in the application process.

The academic catalog at JCJC contains nearly 90 degree and certificate programs, including a few less common technical and career subjects like horticulture and forestry technology. Students seeking academic degrees also have some rare options to choose from, including marine biology, polymer science and athletic training.

The city of Ellisville is a medium-small town just over 20 miles north of Hattiesburg, and students who like a low-stress environment in which to study are likely to feel at home there. The town is home to around 4,500 people -- roughly the same number as were enrolled at JCJC in 2017.

8

Copiah-Lincoln Community College (Wesson)

Named for the two counties whose efforts combined to bring it into the world, Copiah-Lincoln Community College began as an agricultural high school and became a full-fledged two-year institution in 1928. Co-Lin, as it's called, added a second campus in Natchez in the 1970s and an affiliated learning center in Simpson County in 1998.

Annual enrollment at Co-Lin regularly tops 3,000, which is a great size for a community college student body. You'll have enough classmates to get a taste of the traditional college experience, but not so many that you'll be short on elbow room at the 525-acre campus.

Students looking for online colleges in Mississippi have a wide range of distance education degree options at Co-Lin. The institution offers more than 30 associate degree plans that can be completed entirely through online courses.

9

Itawamba Community College (Fulton)

Itawamba Community College is one of the top online community colleges in Mississippi, particularly for students who may not be familiar with digital distance education. Not only is ICC the state's largest provider of online educational content, but its online learning orientation and free access to online tutoring work together to help students handle any challenges they face.

If you'd prefer a traditional classroom, however, ICC has you covered there as well. The institution maintains three separate campuses in northeastern Mississippi -- the flagship location in Fulton as well as two in the Tupelo metro area -- and classes are available during the day, at night or on weekends.

More than 110 total degree and certificate programs can be pursued at ICC. The general studies program here has a long list of available concentrations for aspiring transfer students.

10

Hinds Community College (Raymond)

Students who want the hustle and bustle of a large college should give Hinds Community College a second look. Approximately 32,000 credit and non-credit students from every county in Mississippi attend classes online or on campus at Hinds, with more than 12,000 of them enrolled in associate degree or certificate programs.

Everyone in the five-county area served by Hinds lives within 30 miles of one of its many locations, of which the majority feature a robust selection of degree and certificate programs. The main campus in Raymond goes the extra mile with residence halls, service clubs and student athletic events.

Thanks to agreements with Mississippi universities, Hinds can also offer junior and senior level courses in select degree programs. One such agreement also makes it possible for older students to earn a bachelor's degree on an accelerated schedule.

Initiatives for Transfer Students

Students planning to transfer to Mississippi universities enjoy the advantage of the statewide articulation agreement, but it's still helpful to know everything you can about the process. The Mississippi Articulation and Transfer Tool (MATT) is an online resource designed to facilitate students' university transitions from Mississippi's junior and community colleges and features a wide array of information for transfer students.

Here's a quick rundown of a few the assets available on the MATT website:

  • A searchable database allow you to sort through transfer and articulation agreements based on your destination school or your intended major
  • A rundown of transfer types to help students better understand what's typically required during their collegiate transition and laying out steps to make it happen
  • A glossary of college transfer terminology
  • In-depth information on financial aid programs at the state and federal level

It's also a good idea to discuss your transfer plans with your community college advisor or a registrar at your destination university. They can often provide personalized instructions and help you stay on the right track.

For additional insight into education in the state, check out the top 4-year schools in Mississippi.

Methodology

We ranked community colleges in Mississippi on multiple factors related to educational opportunity, student performance and student services.

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.

Article Sources
  • College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed August 22-23, 2018, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=SC&ct=1&ic=2
  • The Community and Junior College System in Mississippi: A Brief History of its Origin and Development, Mississippi History Now, Mississippi Historical Society, accessed August 23, 2018, http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/333/the-community-and-junior-college-system-in-mississippi
  • Mississippi Community College Board, accessed August 23-24, 2018, http://www.sbcjc.cc.ms.us/
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  • American Association of Community Colleges, accessed August 23-24, 2018: Mississippi Delta Community College, https://www.aacc.nche.edu/college/mississippi-delta-community-college/; East Central Community College, https://www.aacc.nche.edu/college/east-central-community-college/;
  • Mississippi's Statewide Articulation Agreement between MS Community Colleges and Public Universities, Mississippi Public Universities, accessed August 23, 2018, http://www.mississippi.edu/cjc/articulation_agreement.asp
  • City-Data.com, accessed August 23-24, 2018: Decatur, Mississippi, http://www.city-data.com/city/Decatur-Mississippi.html; Ellisville, Mississippi, http://www.city-data.com/city/Ellisville-Mississippi.html;
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  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/