Best Community Colleges in New Hampshire

If there's a new career you want to train for, a college degree you want to earn or a subject you want to study for personal enrichment, the top New Hampshire community colleges can help.

Numerous certificate programs can prepare you for skilled careers or help you expand knowledge of your interests, and several associate degree programs can build up your credits for transfer to bachelor's programs at New Hampshire universities.

We analyzed a big batch of data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in order to find out which institutions were the best community colleges in New Hampshire. Take a look at our list of schools below and find out what programs and amenities your local institution has to offer.



White Mountains Community College (Berlin)

Originally founded as New Hampshire Vocational Institute in 1966, White Mountains Community College has added quite a bit to its capacity to serve students since admitting its first class of just over 100 students. The northern New Hampshire school has expanded its classroom and laboratory facilities by nearly 90,000 square feet and opened two satellite learning centers in Littleton and North Conway.

Despite its growing mission, WMCC has remained true to its small-school roots. Just under 700 students attended courses here in 2017 and the student-faculty ratio is an enviable 7:1 -- more than 50 percent better than the national university average.

Students here can choose from more than 50 degree and certificate programs in seven academic and career-based focus areas. The two focus areas with the most diverse array of study plans are industry & transportation and health science & services.


Manchester Community College (Manchester)

With a total student population of nearly 4,000 learners, Manchester Community College is the second-largest institution among our best New Hampshire community colleges. Approximately 57 percent of students here are under the age of 25, and more than 95 percent of those enrolled are New Hampshire residents.

If you're on the lookout for online colleges that offer flexibility in terms of course scheduling, MCC should already be on your radar. The 2017 student body was composed of more than 30 percent online students, and more than 120 online courses were available across the numerous available subjects of study.

MCC might also be a great choice for students who enjoy the hustle and bustle of a busy city. The institution is located in the most heavily populated urban area in New Hampshire, reporting a population of over 110,000 residents to the U.S. Census.


NHTI, Concord's Community College (Concord)

In 1965, a new school called New Hampshire Technical Institute began offering a handful of engineering technology programs to students in the Concord area. It evolved into NHTI, Concord's Community College just over 40 years later, and today it's a comprehensive community college with a student body that numbers over 4,500.

The degree catalog here features more than 90 degree and certificate programs, split fairly evenly between associate degree plans and career-focused certificates. The campus even features three residence halls, for students who are looking for the full college experience.

NHTI is also one of the more robust online community colleges in the state, with over a dozen degrees available through online courses. A child and family development center on campus provides day and afternoon kindergarten services and gives child care education students a chance for hands-on learning.


Nashua Community College (Nashua)

Just shy of 1,800 students attended degree and certificate programs at Nashua Community College in 2017, along with close to 650 high school students participating in the Running Start program. The majority of those enrolled -- around 68 percent -- attend NCC on a part-time basis.

Advanced manufacturing and other subjects in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) claim a significant amount of space in the NCC academic catalog. Tech-savvy students can pursue associate degrees in computer networking, cybersecurity, data analytics, mechanical design technology and more.

Of the more than 60 programs of study available to NCC students, liberal arts and business studies are the most popular associate degree plans. On the certificate side, massage therapy, early childhood education and computer numerical control (CNC) machine tool programming account for around 50 percent of enrollments.


Great Bay Community College (Portsmouth)

Great Bay Community College went through half a dozen name changes and a few restructurings between its founding in 1945 and its current incarnation. More than 50 associate degrees and certificates are available here, including some in rare and off-the-beaten-path fields like bioengineering and helicopter technology.

Great Bay may also be one of the best New Hampshire community colleges for students looking to save some money on the first few semesters of their bachelor's degree. Tuition and fees for a 24-credit year at the Portsmouth institution came to less than $6,000 in 2017, a figure more than $1,000 more affordable than the statewide average for two-year schools.

A vast majority of the students enrolled at Great Bay are New Hampshire residents. Just over 2,000 students attend courses here each semester, and the median age of the student body is 22.


River Valley Community College (Claremont)

Founded in 1968 and located two miles north of the city of Claremont, River Valley Community College is a small school in western New Hampshire with a lot to offer. Tuition here is affordable -- less than $6,000 per year for many full-time students -- and area residents can start their college education before they're even done with high school.

Programs like Running Start and Bridge2College allow high school and home-schooled students to take college courses at RVCC. Bridge2College offers on-campus college credit courses for half price, and Running Start courses confer course credit toward both a high school diploma and a college degree program.

Students here can choose among more than 30 programs of study, including several programs in education, tech and healthcare. Working licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/LVN) can enroll in an accelerated transition program to become an RN.


Lakes Region Community College (Laconia)

Fewer than 1,000 students attended Lakes Region Community College in 2017, but the academic opportunities here are anything but small. Around 65 degree and certificate programs are available for LRCC students, including transfer pathways to some of the top four-year schools in New Hampshire.

One such transfer program is particularly unique. Students at LRCC can apply for dual admission to Southern New Hampshire University, which entitles them to personalized advising with a transfer admission counselor from the university and guaranteed acceptance to a relevant bachelor's program if they finish their associate degree with a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

LRCC might also be one of the best community colleges in New Hampshire for students who prefer a close-knit educational environment. The student-faculty ratio at the Laconia institution is one of the best in the state -- just 8:1 in 2017.

Resources for Transfer Students in New Hampshire

If you're one of the thousands of students hoping to transfer your community college credits into bachelor's-level study at New Hampshire universities, there are initiatives in place to help you get there. All seven of the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) institutions participate in NH Transfer, a series of transfer programs and agreements between community colleges and the top four-year schools in New Hampshire.

The NH Transfer Connections Program (NHTCP) is one flexible statewide initiative that doesn't require that you finish your associate degree before making the jump. On top of that, the University of New Hampshire at Manchester features a far-reaching initiative -- the Public Pathways Program -- that lays out a transfer-optimized course schedule designed to eliminate some of the red tape that can come with shifting credits from one school to another.

Many institutions also offer subject-dependent transfer programs with their own specific sets of guidelines and requirements. Finding the right approach for you might take a bit of research, so make sure to consult with an advisrr before committing to a particular degree path.


We ranked community colleges in New Hampshire 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
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