Best Community Colleges in Ohio

The best colleges in Ohio include a mix of institutions located throughout the state. While top schools include big names like The Ohio State University, don't discount the many benefits of community colleges. Many two-year schools excel at providing quality academics at an affordable price. So much so that the Ohio Association of Community Colleges notes 45 percent of undergraduates starts their education at a two-year school.

More than 300,000 students are enrolled in Ohio's 23 community colleges. They include recent high school graduates, adult learners and professionals in need of continuing education. Many students will transfer credits to a four-year school and go on to earn a bachelor's degree. Others will pursue technical degree programs and certificates programs that are designed to lead directly to the workforce. Many of the best community colleges in Ohio double as online colleges, allowing students to study via online courses.

Ready to learn more? Keep scrolling to find the top community colleges in Ohio and discover how they can help you meet your career goals.



Cuyahoga Community College District (Cleveland)

Extensive educational opportunities are part of what makes Cuyahoga Community College District one of the best community colleges in Ohio. The school offers more than 1,000 courses covering approximately 140 areas of interest. Tri-C, as the school is known, says it has one of the lowest tuition rates in the region as well.

For students needing a flexible schedule, there are nearly a half dozen fully online degree programs and certificates as well as others that can be completed almost entirely via online courses. Students who would rather study on campus will find classes offered at more than a dozen locations.

Cuyahoga Community College maintains a robust calendar of events and activities for its students, regardless of their degree program. There are job fairs, workshops, fine arts performances and more.


Tri-County Adult Career Center (Nelsonville)

The Tri-County Adult Career Center is another of the best Ohio community colleges. The center hosts a number of programs for high school students as well as career programs for adults.

The career training programs at Tri-County can be completed in as little as three weeks although most run from 12-15 months. The school doesn't have transfer degrees, and its programs are designed to take students directly into the workforce after graduation. In addition to career programs, Tri-County Career Center offers an Aspire program to help adults learn basic skills and earn a GED.

Classes have been held at Tri-County for more than 50 years. The first students enrolled in 1968, and the school has adjusted its course offerings over the years to reflect student and workforce needs.


Lorain County Community College (Elyria)

In addition to being one of the best colleges in Ohio, Lorain County Community College has been recognized on the national level. LCCC received the 2018 Award of Excellence in Student Success from the American Association of Community Colleges, making it one of only five schools honored by the association during its annual Awards of Excellence Gala.

Lorain County Community College offers three types of education programs: associate degrees, short-term certificates and workforce training. However, students can also earn a bachelor's or master's degree on the LCCC campus thanks to partnerships with a number of four-year schools.

The school notes its graduates have some of the highest earnings among all those graduating from Ohio community colleges. It also has one of the lowest tuition rates in the state.


Sinclair Community College (Dayton)

With four locations, Sinclair Community College offers educational programs suitable to a wide variety of career goals. Overall, there are more than 220 degree and certificate programs offered.

Students looking for online colleges in Ohio will find more than a dozen fully online associate degree programs as well as more than 20 online certificates. Even in other programs, students may be able to supplement their on-campus classes with online courses. More than 100 transfer agreements make it easy to apply credits toward a bachelor's degree at a four-year school. One such pathway can be found with the school's UD Sinclair Academy, which is a partnership between Sinclair and the University of Dayton, a private research university, that allows students to map out their path to earning a four-year degree with clearer financial picture in mind. 

Sinclair College says it has one of the lowest tuition rates in the state, another reason it ranks among the best Ohio community colleges. More than 32,000 students enroll in Sinclair each year.


Cincinnati State Technical and Community College (Cincinnati)

Known simply as Cincinnati State to many, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College features small class sizes, affordable tuition and specialized workforce training. It all adds up to the school being one of the best community colleges in Ohio.

Cincinnati State maintains four campus locations: two in Cincinnati, one in Harrison and one in Middleton. Students can also enroll in CState Online. This program offers hundreds of online courses which will allow you to study, or even complete, a degree program from home.

The college is unique in that it was the first two-year school in the United States to establish a mandatory cooperative education program. Thanks to relationships with more than 500 area employers, students can gain real-world experience -- along with a paycheck -- through the co-op program.


Lakeland Community College (Kirtland)

Being one of the top Ohio community colleges isn't the only thing distinguishing Lakeland Community College from its peers. It was also the first college in the state to be created through a vote of the people. Residents voted for the school's creation in 1967.

Today, more than 13,500 students are enrolled in credit and non-credit courses. There are more than 135 degree and certificate programs available. Some are transfer degrees that can lead to additional education at a four-year school. Others are technical degrees and certificates intended to prepare students to enter the workforce immediately.

As one of the state's online colleges, Lakeland has a number of fully online degree and certificate programs. There are also blended programs which combine online courses with on-campus requirements.


Marion Technical College (Marion)

Marion Technical College offers more than 60 associate degrees and certificates in six main areas: arts and sciences, engineering business, IT, public service and healthcare. A handful of online programs are included in that number, and evening classes are also an option for those who need a non-traditional schedule.

College advisers are available to guide those who want to earn transfer degrees while the Office of Career Services provides employment resources to all students. Co-ops and internships are also available to supplement learning and provide real-world experience.

Chartered in 1970, MTC serves approximately 2,500 students each year. While students come from all walks of life, the college says more than half of its student body is enrolled on a part-time basis and 60 percent are working while in school.


Clark State Community College (Springfield)

Affordable tuition, personalized attention and convenient learning options are all part of what make Clark State Community College one of the best Ohio community colleges. It's a popular choice for those seeking a transfer degree or looking to study fields such as nursing or business.

Regardless of whether you are a traditional student or an adult learner, the school likely has a program for you. There are approximately 125 degree and certificates from which to choose. Clark State has online courses, internships and co-ops to enhance the learning experience as well. An Honors Program provides an academically challenging curriculum while the Aspire Program provides adult learners with basic skills.

Clark State enrolls more than 6,000 students each semester. It was founded in 1962 and maintains three campus locations.


Columbus State Community College (Columbus)

As another of the top Ohio community colleges, Columbus State Community College serves students from all walks of life. As the only open admissions college in central Ohio, all are welcome to enroll and brush up on basic skills, earn a degree or complete a workforce training program.

Columbus State is an affordable educational choice, and most of its graduates leave the school with zero student loan. The college is also known for offering small classes and having one of the most ethnically diverse student bodies in the region.

More than 27,000 students enroll in Columbus State each year. The school has two campuses and five regional learning centers. These locations support a variety of student clubs, sports programs and other activities.


North Central State College (Mansfield)

Head to Mansfield to find another of the best community colleges in Ohio. North Central State College has more than 60 associate degree and certificate programs available. It has an affordable tuition rate and strives to maintain a friendly atmosphere for its 4,700 students.

Graduates of NC State have notable licensure and employment rates. The college says its health and public service students pass their professional licensure exams on the first try at a rate that exceeds the national average. What's more, the school has a 95 percent employment rate.

NC State shares its main campus with a branch of The Ohio State University. Social groups, sports programs and student organizations can be found on the campus. There are also three other learning centers where students can take classes.

Transferring Credits in Ohio

Once you earn your associate degree, you may want to continue your education at one of the best four-year schools in Ohio. In that case, you'll need to transfer your credits. Fortunately, the Ohio Transfer to Degree Guarantee helps ensure college credits can easily move between public institutions in three ways:

  • General education transfers: General education courses of 36-40 semester hours can typically be transferred between public colleges and universities for equivalent course credits.
  • Guaranteed transfer-to-degree pathways: Students enrolled in eligible pathway programs at top Ohio community colleges can transfer core credits toward an undergraduate major at a four-year school.
  • Credit When It's Due: Known as CWID, this program helps transfer credits for an associate degree.

In addition to these programs, many of the best colleges in Ohio have articulation or transfer agreements with other institutions to make it easy for students to move between schools. Check with your college's advising office for more information on the transfer process.


We ranked community colleges in Ohio 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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  • 50+ Years Providing Excellence in Education, Tri-County Career Center, Accessed September 2018, https://www.tricountyhightech.com/Tri-CountyHistory.aspx
  • About LCCC, Lorain County Community College, Accessed September 2018, https://www.lorainccc.edu/about/
  • Five Innovative Community Colleges Named Awards of Excellence Winners, April 30, 2018, American Association of Community Colleges, Accessed September 2018, https://www.aacc.nche.edu/2018/04/30/five-innovative-community-colleges-named-awards-of-excellence-winners/
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  • About Lakeland, Lakeland Community College, Accessed September 2018, http://www.lakelandcc.edu/web/about/lakeland
  • Fast Facts, Marion Technical College, Accessed September 2018, https://www.mtc.edu/about/fast-facts/
  • Fast Facts About the College, Clark State Community College, Accessed September 2018, https://www.clarkstate.edu/fast-facts/
  • Fast Facts, Columbus State Community College, Accessed September 2018, https://www.cscc.edu/about/fast-facts.shtml
  • About NC State, North Central State College, Accessed September 2018, https://www.ncstatecollege.edu/cms/about-nc-state
  • Transfer College Credit, Ohio Transfer to Degree Guarantee, Accessed September 2018, https://transfercredit.ohio.gov/pg_20?5694692520780
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  • President Speaks: How to ease transfers between two- and four-year colleges, EducationDive, August 29, 2019, accessed September 2019, https://www.educationdive.com/news/president-speaks-how-to-ease-transfers-between-two-and-four-year-colleges/561952/