Best Community Colleges in Rhode Island

There may not be many places in the Ocean State where you can earn an associate degree before starting a new career or transferring into one of the bachelor's programs at Rhode Island universities, but attending the best community colleges in Rhode Island can help you make just the right move for your future nonetheless. We put together a database using numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to help sort out the top Rhode Island community colleges from the rest.

When the dust settled, the list of best Rhode Island community colleges contained just one name. Read on below to learn about the degree offerings and other amenities at the Community College of Rhode Island and find out what qualifies it to stand alone at the top of our list.



Community College of Rhode Island (Warwick)

Originally founded as Rhode Island Junior College, the Community College of Rhode Island opened its doors to its first class of students in 1964. The institution was popular right away -- that first year's enrollment surpassed the initial expectation by more than 60 percent.

The main campus in Warwick opened in 1972, less than 10 years after that first class, and it admitted close to 3,000 students its first year. More campuses continued to pop up all over the state, and today the institution has outposts in Newport, Lincoln, Providence and Westerly.

Total enrollment at CCRI is close to 18,000 students, but you're not likely to feel like an anonymous face in the crowd. The student-faculty ratio here is a comfortable 17:1, and 70 percent of students attend classes on a part-time basis.

More than 120 degree and certificate programs are available from CCRI's 23 academic departments. Those looking for online colleges will find a general business degree that can be earned entirely in the virtual classroom and a range of online courses that can add some flexibility to a traditional semester schedule.

Resources for Transfer Students in Rhode Island

CCRI is the only public community college in the state, so many of the top four-year schools in Rhode Island and throughout New England have entered into agreements that make it easier for CCRI graduates to transfer into their bachelor's programs. Commonly called articulation agreements, there are more than 70 of them in place for CCRI students.

Most articulation agreements result in students entering their university programs with junior status and facilitate the smooth transfer of all eligible credits earned during their associate degree work. It's important to note, though, that the transfer of courses isn't automatic even when covered under these agreements, so you'll need to stay informed and be responsible for your own transfer process.

Officials at both CCRI and your destination school can help keep you pointed in the right direction, so make sure to meet with a counselor in your first semester to start the process off right.

Read about the top universities in Rhode Island for additional insight into education in the state.


We ranked community colleges in Rhode Island 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:

  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. 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 November 25, 2018, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=RI&ct=1+2&ic=2
  • Community College of Rhode Island, accessed October 25, 2018: Our History, http://www.ccri.edu/about/history.html; Campuses, http://www.ccri.edu/about/campuses.html; General Information, http://www.ccri.edu/about/general.html; Academic Departments, http://www.ccri.edu/programs/; Online Program - General Business, https://www.ccri.edu/distance/online_genbus/; Course Offerings, Online Learning, https://www.ccri.edu/distance/courses.html;
  • Transfer Information, Community College of Rhode Island, accessed November 25, 2018, https://www.ccri.edu/advising/transfer_information/
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/