Westmoreland County Community College (Youngwood)
Founded in 1970, Westmoreland County Community College has one of the most diverse selections of degree and certificate programs of any school that made our list. A total of more than 160 study plans are available on the seven campuses and learning centers located in Westmoreland, Fayette and Indiana Counties.
The sheer volume of distance education programs available at WCCC earns it a mention among the best online community colleges in Pennsylvania. No fewer than 25 degrees, diplomas and certificates can be earned entirely through online courses, with an additional 20+ that deliver 50 percent of their credits online. Options for distance learners include an associate degree in business management and a certificate in cyber security.
The campus environment at WCCC is rural, which can be perfect if you prefer a peaceful environment in which to study. It's also one of the smaller schools on our list, with yearly enrollment of around 5,000 students.
Bucks County Community College (Newtown)
Bucks County Community College is an eastern Pennsylvania school that operates three campuses in the region northeast of Philadelphia. The school has an affordable tuition rate and notes that two years of education at Bucks costs less than a single year at a private university.
In addition to the more than 120 degrees, certificates and career training programs available at its multiple brick-and-mortar locations, Bucks makes it possible to earn more than 20 degrees and certificates through online courses alone. Among these are certificates in historic preservation and social media & digital marketing, which require 24 or fewer online classroom credits and culminate in an in-person internship.
Students and alumni with three- to five-year-old children can take advantage of high-quality, educational child care at the Newtown Campus's Early Learning Center. Services include an outdoor playground, art facilities, indoor kinetic activities and other play-based, supervised learning experiences.
Delaware County Community College (Media)
With a yearly total enrollment of around 28,000 learners and for-credit enrollment of roughly 12,000, Delaware County Community College has one of the largest student bodies among the best community colleges in Pennsylvania. Along with its primary location in Marple Township, the Philadelphia-area institution maintains numerous satellite campuses and learning centers throughout Delaware and Chester Counties.
The academic catalog at DCCC is well balanced, featuring around 35 certificates, over 20 degrees for university transfer and close to 30 Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) plans for career-minded students. Two dozen programs are offered fully or partially online, including an associate degree in business administration and an associate degree in liberal arts. Transfer agreements are in place with more than 50 four-year schools.
Campus life at the main DCCC location is vibrant. Students can enjoy art exhibitions, performances, literary readings and more than 30 academic, social and special interest clubs to join. Aspiring college athletes have eight sports to choose from, as well.
Montgomery County Community College (Blue Bell)
Also known as MCCC, Montco and MC3, Montgomery County Community College stands tall among online colleges in Pennsylvania. Nearly 40 degree and certificate programs are offered entirely online, including two-year plans in information technology, computer networking-cyber security and other valuable tech-related disciplines.
Despite educating more than 10,000 students each year, Montco retains a fairly close-knit campus environment. The student-faculty ratio was 16:1 in 2018, and the average class size was just 16 students. Students hoping to transfer to one of the top four-year schools in Pennsylvania after finishing their associate degree will have more than 30 partner universities to choose from.
Campus-based students here enjoy a selection of more than 100 degree and certificate plans. If you've got a GPA over 3.2 and want some extra academic challenge, the Honors Program can help you stay engaged.
Community College of Philadelphia (Philadelphia)
According to its annual enrollment numbers, the Community College of Philadelphia's main campus is one of the busiest two-year schools in the state. Total enrollment for the 2018-19 academic year was more than 26,000, with most students enrolled in for-credit courses.
CCP also operates three satellite learning centers for students located closer to the western, northwestern and northeastern borders of its service area. Female and African-American students hold demographic majorities at CCP, according to 2019 statistics, making up 64 percent and 43 percent of students, respectively.
More than 70 degree and certificate programs are available here, and media-savvy students have an extra reason to be excited. The college has an associate degree in digital video production and is home to the broadcast studios of CCPTV. This is a public cable channel that helps produce content created by CCP students and professors and broadcasts it to households throughout the city of Philadelphia.
Harrisburg Area Community College (Harrisburg)
Harrisburg Area Community College has the distinction of being Pennsylvania's oldest and largest community college. Founded in 1964, it was the first community college established in the commonwealth.
Today, students can choose from more than 120 educational programs that may result in associate degrees, diplomas and certificates of proficiency. HACC notes a little more than a quarter of its students come to earn transfer credits while others are looking for a technical education or workforce training.
HACC offers its programs on five campus locations as well as online. Distance learners can choose from general education programs such as an associate degree in liberal arts or specialized training for a specific occupation like professional bookkeeping or web development and design. Some degrees may combine online with on-campus classes.
Butler County Community College (Butler)
Affordable tuition was one of the brightest spots for Butler County Community College, known as BC3 to students and faculty. Butler County residents pay $5,100 in tuition and fees for a 30-credit year in 2019-202, making it about half the average price of a public four-year institution.
Close to 80 degree and certificate programs are available for BC3 students, including 18 programs designed specifically to help you shift into a university bachelor's program. In fact, BC3 may be one of the top Pennsylvania community colleges for aspiring transfer students — roughly 70 percent of students here are enrolled in programs that can be transferred to four-year schools.
Students who need extra flexibility in their schedules can choose from more than 100 online and distance courses. Certain certificates in business and tech, such as an accounting skills certificate, can be earned entirely online.
Northampton County Area Community College (Bethlehem)
Founded in 1967, Northampton Community College serves more than 35,000 credit and non-credit students each year. Degree programs are available in more than 100 fields of study, such as business, technology, social and leisure services, health care, science and the arts. Some programs, such as an associate degree in business administration, can be earned entirely online.
Education at NCC is relatively inexpensive, especially for residents of Northampton County. Local students who enroll in 12-18 credit hours of coursework in a given semester are all charged the same flat rate, which can be as low as $1,605 for students residing in some Northampton County school districts.
The numbers also suggest that NCC alumni go on to find career success after graduation. A recent survey indicates that graduates of its career training programs land jobs in their field at a rate of 90 percent.
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College (Richland)
Having first opened its doors in 1994, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College stands as one of the younger degree-granting schools in the state. In the 25 years since its founding, Penn Highlands took on its current name, earned full accreditation and opened several satellite campuses to reach students throughout its service area.
The widest variety of programs, courses and services can be found at the main Penn Highlands campus in Richland. The institution's other learning centers in Somerset, Huntington, Ebensburg, Altoona and Johnstown each offer a selection of programs in popular disciplines.
Penn Highlands also deserves mention among the online community colleges of Pennsylvania, thanks to its variety of career training programs and four academic degrees that can be earned entirely through online courses. These include a medical coding specialist diploma and a paralegal studies associate degree. An online readiness quiz can help students determine whether online learning will work for them.
Lehigh Carbon Community College (Schnecksville)
Lehigh Carbon Community College students have more than 90 programs of study available, in subjects like business, the humanities, education, computer science, health care, engineering and more. The student-faculty ratio here is 19:1 and the campus has a strong female majority — more than 62 percent 2018.
Just over 10,000 students attend courses here each year, with around one third committed to full-time school and the remainder taking part-time schedules. The average courseload of a full-time student is approximately 14 credits, while part-time students take an average of around six.
LCCC's nearly 40 career-focused A.A.S. programs make up the largest portion of awarded degrees in most years, with Associate in Arts (A.A.) programs in second place and Associate in Science (A.S.) plans in third. The most popular major here, whether for transfer or graduation, is liberal arts and can be earned online or on-campus.