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Best Community Colleges in Nebraska

Attending one of the best community colleges in Nebraska can help you get started on your journey to a bachelor's degree from one of the excellent universities in Nebraska. Or, it can help you gain the skills you need to thrive in today's high-tech workforce.

Whether you want to attend classes on a brick-and-mortar campus or prefer the flexibility of online courses, the top Nebraska community colleges should be able to give you the boost you need to get you where you want to go.

We ran the numbers on data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to rank both Nebraska Community College System schools and independent institutions. Read on below to learn where you can find the best Nebraska community colleges for your educational goals.

THE TOP COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN NEBRASKA

1

Mid-Plains Community College (North Platte)

Mid-Plains Community College was created when three separately founded institutions were merged into one in 1975. One of those schools, McCook Junior College, was the oldest two-year school in Nebraska and contributed several historic buildings that are still in use today.

Community colleges in the Cornhusker State tend to have relatively inexpensive tuition costs, but MPCC is affordable even by Nebraska standards. Students here paid less than $2,600 in tuition and basic fees for a 24-credit year in 2018-19, which isn't just better than the national two-year institution average by more than $1,000 -- it also beats the state average by $500.

Students here can choose among nearly 30 technical and occupational programs in subjects like emergency medical services (EMS) and classic car restoration. Those looking to transfer to a bachelor's program after graduation have around two dozen major subject areas available.

2

Western Nebraska Community College (Scottsbluff)

With a 2017 student population of just over 1,900, Western Nebraska Community College is one of the more close-knit institutions among our top Nebraska community colleges. Class sizes here are small enough that you won't feel like an anonymous face in the crowd, and the student-faculty ratio is an encouraging 14:1.

WNCC operates three full-service campuses in the panhandle of the state: its flagship location in Scottsbluff, another residential campus in Sidney and a non-residential location in Alliance. It's also one of the longest-lived community colleges in Nebraska, tracing its history back to the founding of Scottsbluff Junior College in 1926.

The degree catalog here consists of more than 50 subjects of study. A range of pre-professional and pre-academic majors, including biomedical research, dentistry, food science, physical therapy and veterinary medicine, can help you prepare for rewarding, high-skill careers.

3

Metropolitan Community College (Omaha)

If you like the feel of a busy, bustling campus, then Metropolitan Community College might be worth a second look. The Omaha institution reported a total enrollment of more than 45,000 students over the span of the 2016-17 academic year, of which around 25,000 were enrolled in for-credit degree and certificate programs.

Despite all those students, though, MCC's portfolio of ten campuses and learning centers helps keep its classes to a manageable size. Its distance education catalog of more than 40 degree and certificate programs earns it a mention among the best online community colleges in Nebraska.

It likely comes as no surprise to Nebraska residents that MCC has the largest student body among our top Nebraska community colleges. Omaha is far and away the largest city in the state, boasting a 2017 population of more than 466,000 residents.

4

Southeast Community College (Lincoln)

Southeast Community College offers more than 40 Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree plans for students looking to complete a robust training program before they head out into the workforce. Numerous diploma and certificate options are also available, in disciplines like small engine technology, geographic information systems (GIS), welding and more.

Three full-service SCC campuses and seven learning centers exist to serve students its namesake section of the state. An array of campus facilities can be found in Lincoln, Beatrice and Milford, while learners in Falls City, Nebraska City, Hebron and three other cities can attend more specialized centers.

Not every degree offered at SCC is available at every campus, so make sure to consult with an adviser before deciding where to attend. Around 15 programs are provided entirely or mostly through online courses.

5

Central Community College (Grand Island)

Students in Central Community College's 25-county service area can earn their brick-and-mortar degrees at three campus locations and four learning centers. The central administration facilities are located at the Grand Island campus, with the other two full-service locations serving the cities of Columbus and Hastings.

If you're looking into online community colleges in Nebraska, don't miss the wealth of distance education options available at CCC. Online students here have close to 30 diploma, certificate and degree programs to choose from, including Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S) programs designed for university transfer.

The 2016-17 student body headcount reported more than 21,000 total students enrolled in on-campus or online courses. Roughly one quarter of the students enrolled were pursuing their degrees or other awards full time, and approximately 37 percent of all credits were delivered online.

6

Northeast Community College (Norfolk)

Total enrollment at Northeast Community College was more than 13,000 students in 2016-17, with just a little less than half of that number seeking college credit. More than 40 percent of credit-seeking students were taking a full-time schedule of courses, and the average age of the student body is approximately 26 years old.

The degree catalog here is loaded with degrees, certificates, diplomas and professional training programs, including some that may be difficult to find at other schools in the state. For example, students at NCC can follow one of nearly 20 different specialized study tracks in information technology or pursue either a degree or a diploma in the fast-growing job field of wind energy.

If you're hoping for some help with the cost of college, NCC might be a solid choice for you: Students at the Norfolk-based institution were awarded more than $15 million in financial aid in 2016-17.

7

Nebraska Indian Community College (Macy)

Founded in 1973, Nebraska Indian Community College has the smallest student body of any institution among our top Nebraska community colleges. The NCES reports that the student body here numbered fewer than 200 learners in 2017.

NICC operates three campuses to serve members of Nebraska's tribal nations along the Missouri River in the northeastern corner of the state. The Macy campus provides classes and degree programs to the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, while the upriver campus in Santee serves the Santee Sioux Nation. A third campus is located in South Sioux City.

Most of the programs available here take the form of associate degrees, with A.A. plans making up the largest portion of the catalog. Subjects of study include carpentry, business administration, Native American studies and a pre-teacher education track.

8

Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (Curtis)

Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture offers a specialized portfolio of agricultural degrees to students in the rural reaches of southwestern Nebraska. As an appendage of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, it's the one school on our list of the best Nebraska community colleges to have direct affiliation with a four-year institution.

Programs here come from four main areas of study -- agronomy and agricultural mechanics; animal science and agricultural education; agribusiness management systems; and veterinary technology systems. Each of these major subjects contains a range of sub-disciplines from which students can choose career-focused A.A.S. plans, academic A.S. programs and quick-draw certificate plans.

Despite the hands-on nature of most types of agricultural work, several of the programs offered at NTCA are compatible with certain online courses. Check with your advisor if your schedule could use a little extra flexibility.

Resources for Transfer Students in Nebraska

Transferring from community college to one of the top four-year schools in Nebraska is a great way to move forward after you've finished your associate degree, and there are multiple ways to help ensure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible. Here's a quick rundown of the types of transfer initiatives available:

  • Some two- and four-year schools in the state feature institution-wide articulation agreements that permit students to enter their destination university having completed all general education requirements. The University of Nebraska at Omaha, for example, has such agreements in place for Associate of Arts (A.A.) graduates at three top Nebraska community colleges.
  • Program-specific transfer agreements, also known as Associate-to-Bachelor (A-to-B) agreements, apply to students in certain Associate of Science (A.S.) programs as well as those seeing A.A. degrees. Students pursuing an A-to-B agreement must follow a specific schedule of courses to ensure that their credits will transfer.
  • Students who meet neither of the above sets of criteria can visit Transfer Nebraska, an information portal that provides a course-by-course transfer equivalency search tool for any students hoping to transfer to Nebraska colleges and universities.

Methodology

We ranked community colleges in Nebraska 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 October 27-28, 2018, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=NE&ct=1+2&ic=2
  • System, Nebraska Community College Association, accessed October 27-28, 2018, http://nebraskacommunitycolleges.org/system/
  • School pages, accessed October 27-28, 2018: MPCC History, Mid-Plains Community College, http://www.mpcc.edu/about-mpcc/general-information/mpcc-history; Tuition Cost, Mid-Plains Community College, http://www.mpcc.edu/financial-services/tuition-cost; Programs, Mid-Plains Community College, http://www.mpcc.edu/programs; Academics, Western Nebraska Community College, https://www.wncc.edu/academics; Fast Facts, Western Nebraska Community College, https://www.wncc.edu/about-wncc/fast-facts; Campuses, Western Nebraska Community College, https://www.wncc.edu/about-wncc/campuses; College's Timeline, Western Nebraska Community College, https://www.wncc.edu/about-wncc/history-mission/college%E2%80%99s-timeline; Programs of Study, Western Nebraska Community College, https://www.wncc.edu/programs-study; MCC at a Glance, Metropolitan Community College, https://www.mccneb.edu/About-MCC-Nebraska/About-MCC/MCC-at-a-Glance.aspx; History of MCC, Metropolitan Community College, https://www.mccneb.edu/About-MCC-Nebraska/About-MCC/History-of-MCC.aspx; Locations, Metropolitan Community College, https://www.mccneb.edu/About-MCC-Nebraska/About-MCC/Locations-Hours.aspx; Online Degrees and Certificates, Metropolitan Community College, http://mccneb.smartcatalogiq.com/en/2017-2018/Course-Catalog/Online-Degrees-and-Certificates; About SCC, Southeast Community College, https://www.southeast.edu/about/; Programs of Study, Southeast Community College, https://www.southeast.edu/academics/; Online Learning, Southeast Community College, https://www.southeast.edu/onlinelearning/; Learning Centers, Southeast Community College, https://www.southeast.edu/learningcenters/; About CCC, Central Community College, https://www.cccneb.edu/about-ccc/; Programs, Central Community College, https://www.cccneb.edu/educational-opportunities/programs/; Fast Facts, Central Community College, https://www.cccneb.edu/about-ccc/fast-facts/; Central Online, Central Community College, https://www.cccneb.edu/educational-opportunities/central-online/#onlineprograms; About Us, Northeast Community College, https://northeast.edu/About-Us/; Degrees and Programs, Northeast Community College, https://northeast.edu/Degrees-and-Programs/; Nebraska Indian Community College, http://www.thenicc.edu/index.php/en/; History of the College, Nebraska Indian Community College, http://www.thenicc.edu/index.php/en/nebraska-indian-community-college/our-history; NICC Programs, Nebraska Indian Community College, http://www.thenicc.edu/index.php/en/academics/nicc-programs; Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, https://ncta.unl.edu/; Academic Programs, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, https://ncta.unl.edu/academic-programs; Online Courses, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, https://ncta.unl.edu/online-courses;
  • Transfer Agreements and guides, University of Nebraska Omaha, https://www.unomaha.edu/registrar/students/before-you-enroll/transfer-credit/a-b-agreements.php; Articulation, Metropolitan Community College, https://mccneb.edu/Current-Students/Enrollment/Online-Courses/Articulation.aspx;
  • Omaha city, Nebraska, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed October 27, 2018, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/omahacitynebraska/PST045217
  • The College Board, accessed October 27-28, 2018: Tuition and Fees by Sector and State over Time, https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-over-time; Tuition and Fees and Room and Board over Time, https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-room-and-board-over-time
  • Nebraska Community College Statewide Courses, accessed October 27, 2018, http://neb-cc.statewidecourses.org/home.html
  • Transfer Nebraska, accessed October 27, 2018: About, https://transfer.nebraska.edu/About.aspx; Institution Search, https://transfer.nebraska.edu/Institution.aspx
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/