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Best Community Colleges in Utah

Published on: January 21, 2020 | by Schools.com Editors

Earning an associate degree, certificate or other award from one of the best community colleges in Utah can set you up for success, whether you intend to join the workforce after graduation or transfer to one of the hundreds of bachelor's degree programs at Utah universities.

There are around 10 nonprofit public and private two-year schools in Utah. Public colleges in the state belong to either the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) or the Utah System of Technical Colleges, depending on the range of programs they offer. Private schools in the state are largely independent and may have religious affiliation.

We gathered data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to calculate scores for the best Utah community colleges and rank the top finishers in order. Check out the list below and see how these top schools might help you reach your academic and career goals.

THE TOP COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN UTAH

1

Salt Lake Community College (Salt Lake City)

Salt Lake Community College is the largest two-year school in Utah by far, enrolling more than 29,000 learners each semester. It's also got the most diverse student body in the state, with more than 31 percent of students coming from non-European backgrounds.

The academic catalog here contains close to 120 degree and certificate programs. Academic areas of study include English, anthropology, social work, biology, physics and math. Career-bound students can train in automotive technology, energy management, surveying and professional truck driving.

SLCC is also one of the best community colleges in Utah for students looking for the flexibility of online courses. The institution offers over 200 online courses; a handful of associate degree programs can be completed entirely in the virtual classroom.

2

LDS Business College (Salt Lake City)

As the name suggests, LDS Business College is a faith-based institution with roots in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As a member of the Church Educational System (CES), which also includes Brigham Young University and other LDS-focused schools, LDSBC requires that students participate in worship activities and adhere to a strict honor code.

More than 2,000 students each semester take classes at LDSBC. Tuition costs here come in at $300-$400 below the statewide average for in-state two-year public schools, provided the student is a member of the LDS church.

Study plans here come in a wide range of subjects. Students can earn Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees in business analytics, global supply chain and operations, network administration, interior design and more, as well as certificates in over 20 study areas.

CTE in Utah

Career technical education (CTE) programs at the best community colleges in Utah help you train for in-demand careers while also providing a solid basis of academic study that can carry you forward into more advanced education, if that's your ultimate goal. CTE programs in Utah are already making a difference in high school achievement, with the state reporting a 2019 graduation rate of 96 percent among students who focused on CTE subjects.

CTE in Utah can open up a wide range of opportunities for prospective career changers, as well. More than half of the "good jobs" in Utah — positions that pay no less than $3,500 each year and have a median salary of $55,000 for adults under 45 — are held by workers who don't have a bachelor's degree.

If you're interested in learning more about CTE opportunities in Utah, take a look at these state-based resources:

  • The Utah State Board of Education's career and technical education page can provide a primer on the approaches and foundations of CTE.
  • The Utah Education Network (UEN) provides details on CTE courses for young learners that tie into career programs at the college level.
  • The Career and Technical Education Department at Utah Valley University offers a wealth of information about college-level CTE programs, outreach and funding.

CTE programs in Utah are offered primarily by two-year schools in the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) and member institutions of the Utah System of Technical Colleges. Career and technical education catalogs tend to vary from one school to the next, so visit your chosen school's website or speak with an advisor to learn about the specific options available.

Transferring Credits in Utah

If you work with the right people throughout your community college journey, transferring to one of the top four-year schools in Utah after graduation can be relatively simple.

The most important step is to ensure that the community college you attend is accredited, preferably by a regional accrediting organization like the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCU). Without accreditation, the chances that your credits transfer at all can be pretty slim.

Once you've got the accreditation question answered, contact your target university to find out if there are any transfer agreements between it and your community college. These agreements are more likely to be available at in-state schools, but some four-year institutions in other states may also have arrangements with Utah community colleges. Some transfer agreements can accept your entire associate degree for transfer, while others assess your credits on a course-by-course basis.

You can always check the USHE's TransferUtah website or reach out to an advisor at your community college to learn more about your options.

Check our list of the best universities in Utah for more info on potential transfer destinations. For additional guidance about transfer agreements and other ways to help the process go smoothly, see our college transfer guide.

Resources for Community College Students in Utah

  • The Utah System of Higher Education, which oversees eight public colleges and universities in Utah, is a one-stop shop for data on its member schools and info about education initiatives in the state.
  • The Utah System of Technical Colleges governs the public two-year schools in Utah that offer primarily career and technical programs and can connect you to some additional options for CTE training.
  • Information on college scholarships and other Utah student aid programs can be found through the Utah STEM Action Center and the state aid programs page of the USHE site.

Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following criteria:

  • Level of institution is either "At least 2 but less than 4 years" or " Less than 2 years (below associate)"
  • Data is reported for all 14 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section

We ranked the resulting community colleges member schools 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 published in-district tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
  2. The published in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
  3. The in-district per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
  4. The in-state per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
  5. Percentage of students receiving financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  6. Percent of students that transferred to a 4-year institution and completed within 8 years, College Scorecard, 2017
  7. The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
  8. Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
  9. Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
  10. Percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
  11. Flexibility, based on the following data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
    • Whether the school offers credit for life experiences
    • Whether the school offers programs of study that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
    • Whether the school offers on-campus day care for students’ children
    • 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
  • Association for Career and Technical Education, accessed December 29, 2019: Why CTE?, https://www.acteonline.org/why-cte/; State Profiles, https://www.acteonline.org/why-cte/state-profiles/
  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  • Utah, Advance CTE, accessed December 29, 2019, https://careertech.org/Utah
  • Utah, College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed December 29, 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=UT&ct=1&ic=2;
  • Utah System of Higher Education, accessed December 29, 2019, https://ushe.edu/
  • Utah System of Technical Colleges, accessed December 29, 2019, http://www.utech.edu/

School pages, accessed December 29, 2019

  • Salt Lake Community College
    • Fact Book, http://performance.slcc.edu/Factbook/2018-19/B_student_demographics/index.html
    • Humanities, https://www.slcc.edu/academics/areas-of-study/humanities.aspx#programs
    • Construction, Manufacturing and Applied Technologies, https://www.slcc.edu/academics/areas-of-study/cmat.aspx#programs
    • SLCC Online, https://www.slcc.edu/online/
  • LDS Business College
    • About, https://www.ldsbc.edu/about
    • Application & Cost, https://www.ldsbc.edu/apply
    • Degrees and Certificates, https://www.ldsbc.edu/degrees-certificates
  • Utah Valley University
    • Career and Technical Education, https://uvu.edu/cte/