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, there are 15 community colleges in the state, and they educate more than 97,000 students annually. Combined, they offer more than 250 programs of study including transfer degrees, technical degrees, certificate programs and workforce training. Many offer flexible learning options that include night, weekend and online courses.
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.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Perkinston)
Affordable tuition, convenient locations and a comprehensive degree catalog are a few of the reasons why Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is one of the state's top two-year schools. In fact, Gulf Coast says it is the only community college in Mississippi to be among the nation's top 100 associate degree producers.
Students at MGCCC can choose either an academic pathway or a career and technical pathway. Approximately three-fourths of students enroll in academic pathways that include transfer degrees in eight broad areas of study. Meanwhile, career and technical programs include degrees and certificates that are intended to take students directly from MGCCC to the workforce.
East Central Community College (Decatur)
A student body of approximately 2,500 learners attends courses at East Central Community College, with roughly two out of three 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.
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.
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 more than 4,000 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.
Northeast Mississippi Community College (Booneville)
Northeast Mississippi Community College has been welcoming students from all walks of life since 1948. The schools says students will learn in a warm environment that comes with supportive faculty and an affordable tuition rate.
There are seven academic divisions at NEMCC, and they offer dozens of degrees and certificates. Popular options include a medical assisting technology certificate and an associate degree in industrial maintenance technology. The college also has transfer degrees in majors such as English and liberal arts, and credits from these programs may be transferred and applied toward a bachelor's degree.
Online courses are available for core academics and more than 20 programs. Those who prefer to learn in-person can attend classes on NEMCC's main campus in Booneville or at off-site learning centers in Corinth and New Albany.
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. Fields of study range from block, brick and stone masonry to practical nursing.
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.
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. More than 12,000 of them are enrolled in associate degree or certificate programs that cover academic, career and technical and nursing and allied health fields of study.
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 transfer 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.
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 attend classes here, with 73 percent 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. Fields of study include accounting technology, field crops technology and culinary arts technology.
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.
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 from the national average.
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.
More than 7,500 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.
CTE in Mississippi
Career technical education, also known as CTE or career and technical education, is a core part of the programs offered by the best Mississippi community colleges. CTE can result in a certificate, diploma or associate degree. However, all share a common thread. They provide practical skills or knowledge for use in a specific career or industry.
Some schools in Mississippi use pathways to help students discover the right program based on their interests. For instance, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College has both academic and career and technical pathways. These pathways include broad areas of study such as health sciences, humanities and hospitality and human services. Within each pathway are a collection of degrees, certificates and training programs related to that field. Using pathways can help students quickly narrow their program choices.
CTE in Mississippi is also supported through the following organizations and initiatives:
- Complete2Compete is an initiative of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Community College Board. It helps adults with some college credit earn an associate or bachelor's degree.
- Pathways2Possibilities offers expo events so 8th grade students can explore up to 19 different career pathways.
- The Mississippi Legislature requires that public universities and colleges offer a dual enrollment system so that high school students can earn college credit early.
Visit the websites of the top community colleges in Mississippi for information on their CTE programs. Plus, you can find further information about CTE in Mississippi through these organizations:
- Mississippi Department of Education - Learn more about state CTE initiatives through the Office of Career and Technical Education and Workforce Education in the Mississippi Department of Education.
- Pathways2Possibilities - On the Pathways2Possibilities website, you can view all 19 pathways used the by the organizations and see examples of employers hiring in each one.
Transferring Credits in Mississippi
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 four-year schools in Mississippi. You can also read our guide on how to transfer schools for more details on how to transfer credits between institutions.
Resources for Community College Students in Mississippi
- Mississippi Community College Board - For a list and a map of all state community colleges, visit the Mississippi Community College Board.
- RiseUp! Mississippi - This website, run by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, offers information on career planning, financial aid and more.
- Complete2Compete - This initiative is working to make it easy for Mississippi residents to get the degree they need for a new job.
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.
- 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/
- School pages, accessed August 22, 2018: About EMCC, East Mississippi Community College, http://www.eastms.edu/about/index.html; Scooba Campus, East Mississippi Community College, http://www.eastms.edu/locations/index.html; Academic Divisions, East Mississippi Community College, http://www.eastms.edu/programs/academic-divisions/index.html; University Transfer, East Mississippi Community College, http://www.eastms.edu/programs/university-transfer/index.html; Now Hiring, East Mississippi Community College, http://www.eastms.edu/news/2018/now-hiring.html; History of MDCC, Mississippi Delta Community College, http://www.msdelta.edu/history; Academic Programs, Mississippi Delta Community College, http://www.msdelta.edu/2013-06-13-15-07-34; Course Check Sheets, Mississippi Delta Community College, http://www.msdelta.edu/course-checksheets#career-technical; E-Learning, Mississippi Delta Community College, http://www.msdelta.edu/quick-links-25/e-learning; History of the College, Holmes Community College, http://www.holmescc.edu/about/history.aspx; About Us, Holmes Community College, http://www.holmescc.edu/about/index.aspx; Bulletin (Catalog), Holmes Community College, http://www.holmescc.edu/about/bulletin.aspx; Technical Education Programs, 2018-2019 Bulletin, Holmes Community College, http://www.holmescc.edu/pdf/Bulletin/2018-2019%20Bulletin.pdf#page=179; Tuition & Fees, Holmes Community College, http://www.holmescc.edu/business_office/tuitionfees.aspx; eLearning Education, East Central Community College, https://www.eccc.edu/elearning-education; Academics, East Central Community College, https://www.eccc.edu/academics; Healthcare Education, East Central Community College, https://www.eccc.edu/healthcare-education; Campus Locations & Maps, Northwest Mississippi Community College, http://www.northwestms.edu/index.php/?page_id=1128; Programs, Northwest Mississippi Community College, http://www.northwestms.edu/index.php/?page_id=1951; First Look at Spring 2018, Northwest Mississippi Community College, http://www.northwestms.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/FIRST-LOOK-SP18-NWCC-edited.pdf; The PRCC Story, Pearl River Community College, http://www.prcc.edu/about-us/history; Plans of Study, Pearl River Community College, http://www.prcc.edu/academics/plans; Phi Theta Kappa, Pearl River Community College, http://www.prcc.edu/academics/phi-theta-kappa; Career Coach, Pearl River Community College, https://prcc.emsicc.com/?radius=®ion=25%20Mile%20Radius%20from%20Poplarville; About, Jones County Junior College, http://www.jcjc.edu/about/; Programs of Study, Jones County Junior College, http://www.jcjc.edu/programs.php; Alphabetical Listing of Programs, Jones County Junior College, http://www.jcjc.edu/programs/programs_alphabetical_listing.php; History, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, https://www.colin.edu/about/who-we-are/history/; Majors/Programs, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, https://www.colin.edu/majors-programs/; Fully Online Programs, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, https://www.colin.edu/majors-programs/elearning-online/fully-online-programs/; About ICC, Itawamba Community College, http://www.iccms.edu/Information; eLearning, Itawamba Community College, http://www.iccms.edu/eLearning; Programs, Itawamba Community College, http://www.iccms.edu/Programs; About, Hinds Community College, https://www.hindscc.edu/abouthinds/index; Campus Locations, Hinds Community College, https://www.hindscc.edu/locations-facilities/index; 2 Plus 2 Agreements, Hinds Community College, https://www.hindscc.edu/programs-of-study/College-University-Agreements/index;
- 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;
- Mississippi Articulation and Transfer Tool, accessed August 22, 2018: MATT, http://matttransfertool.com/about/default.aspx; About MS Articulation and Transfer Tool, http://matttransfertool.com/about/about.aspx
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Mississippi Community College Board, Accessed December 2019, https://www.mccb.edu/
- Why Gulf Coast?, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Accessed December 2019, https://mgccc.edu/about/why-gulf-coast/
- About Northeast, Northeast Mississippi Community College, Accessed December 2019, http://www.nemcc.edu/about/
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed December 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- Dual Enrollment System, Mississippi Public Universities, Accessed December 2019, http://www.mississippi.edu/cjc/dual_enrollment.asp