Best Community Colleges in West Virginia
West Virginia may be a new hot spot for education and the two-year level. In March 2019, West Virginia launched it's WV Invests Grant Initiative, which covers tuition and fees of eligible students who still need help after federal and other state grant awards are first used to cover as much of the cost of community and technical college as possible.
If you're interested in a real-life education, the West Virginia Community & Technical College System says they have you covered. Known as CTCS, the system includes nine schools across the state and has served more than 150,000 students since 2008. However, they aren't the only place to get career training in West Virginia. The state also has career centers offering quality programs to those seeking technical skills.
The best community colleges in West Virginia meet the needs of diverse students. They may offer certificate programs that can have students ready for the workforce in less than a year as well as technical degrees and skill set training programs. Meanwhile, credits from some associate degree programs can be transferred to one of the top four-year schools in West Virginia and used as the foundation for a bachelor's degree.
Top West Virginia community colleges may double as online colleges and offer online courses. Those that don't may have night and weekend classes available to make it convenient for adult learners who are finishing their education.
Ready to learn more? Keep reading to discover the best community colleges in WV.
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College (Mount Gay)
This school's tradition of quality education started in 1971. That's when Southern West Virginia Community College was formed. Over the years, the school expanded its offerings -- and name. Today, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College is one of the top community colleges in West Virginia.
Often referred to simply as Southern, the school offers associate degrees and certificates as well as skill set programs that prepare students for specific occupations. What's more, there are transfer degrees for those who plan to eventually pursue a bachelor's degree. Nontraditional programs include an adult degree completion program and a technical studies program.
In addition to its main campus in Mount Gay, Southern maintains four other campuses and learning sites. Online courses are also available.
West Virginia Northern Community College (Wheeling)
West Virginia Northern Community College rates as one of the best West Virginia community colleges for several reasons. It has a diverse degree catalog, affordable tuition and strong student success measures.
More than 70 degree and certificate programs are offered at WVNCC. These include specialized programs that are designed for transfer students who want to earn their general education classes at a less expensive community college before moving on to a four-year school. WVNCC says it has some of the lowest tuition rates in the state. It offers reduced rates to students from neighboring Ohio and Pennsylvania counties.
WVNCC has campuses in Wheeling, Weirton and New Martinsville. It is also one of the best colleges in West Virginia for online degrees, with a number of fully online degree programs.
New River Community and Technical College (Beaver)
Serving nine counties with four campuses, New River Community and Technical College has made a name for itself as one of the best community colleges in West Virginia. The school has a mission of making quality higher education affordable and accessible to local residents.
Known as New River, the college offers a wide range of education programs. These result in transfer degrees, technical degrees and certificates. Online courses and an interactive video network help make learning convenient for students of all ages. Through its Advanced Technology Center, the school also provides customized training programs for local employers.
New River isn't just one of the top West Virginia community colleges, it's also one of the newest. The school was founded in 2003. Its campuses are in Beaver, Lewisburg, Princeton and Summersville.
Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College (Moorefield)
Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College encourages students to choose the school for its hands-on learning opportunities and state-of-the-art facilities.
The college offers both general education and technical education classes that can lead to a variety of career paths. Its programs are broken down into 12 main areas of study. These include business management, nursing and information technology. There is also the option to create a customized degree program.
Through a partnership with West Virginia University, Eastern has a DegreeNow program that is designed specifically for adults who have previous college credit but did not earn a degree. The school maintains six regional learning centers and offers online classes to make learning convenient for those who can't travel to the main Moorefield campus.
Pierpont Community and Technical College (Fairmont)
As one of the best community colleges in WV, Pierpont Community and Technical College has nationally ranked programs in fields such as veterinary technology and culinary arts. The school shares its main campus with Fairmont State University and has five other locations as well.
There are more than 40 associate degrees and certificate programs available through Pierpont's three academic schools. Some of its most popular programs include business, criminal justice, food service management and early childhood. Pierpont Community and Technical College has a total enrollment of nearly 3,500 students taking credit and non-credit classes.
Founded in 1974, Pierpont started as the Fairmont State College. It has since grown into a comprehensive institution with a vibrant campus. Students have access to Greek Life, student organizations and residence halls.
Carver Career Center (Charleston)
Carver Career Center is focused exclusively on career readiness programs. Its diplomas and associate degrees are intended for those who would like to enter the workforce directly after graduation.
Unlike other top West Virginia community colleges, Carver educates both high school students and adults. While secondary students may attend classes during the day, adult programs are often scheduled in the evening. Adult programs run from 11 months to two years and prepare students for careers in fields such as barbering, respiratory therapy and the culinary arts.
While Carver Career Center does not participate in the federal student loan program, grants are available for eligible students. The school has its campus in Charleston.
Mountwest Community and Technical College (Huntington)
Free tutoring, free parking and extensive student services are among what makes Mountwest Community and Technical College one of the best West Virginia community colleges. The school was founded in 1975 and today offers transfer degrees, technical degrees and certificate programs.
You'll find more than 50 programs in all at Mountwest. These include certificate programs that can be completed in one year or less as well as a number of associate degrees. The school has more than 100 online courses available to provide flexible scheduling. Other classes are offered in a hybrid format that combines classroom instruction with online learning.
Mountwest Community and Technical College prides itself on having state-of-the-art facilities. Its connections to the Huntington community mean hands-on practicum and internship opportunities are available in many programs.
Mercer County Technical Education Center (Princeton)
Mercer County Technical Education Center offers both day and evening programs for adult education. Its programs focus on career readiness although it also has community education classes for those who want to learn new skills without earning credits.
Adult education options at MCTEC include programs covering cosmetology, dental assisting and practical nursing. Some may be completed in less than one year. Students who enroll in a technical program may be eligible for scholarships from organizations such as SkillsUSA, the National Technical Honors Society, the College Foundation of West Virginia and others.
MCTEC is notable among the best community colleges in West Virginia for its strong graduation rate. According to the school, the center's overall graduation rate is 91 percent.
Blue Ridge Community and Technical College (Martinsburg)
Blue Ridge Community and Technical College is another of the top community colleges in West Virginia. With roots that go back to 1974, the school seeks to foster an environment of affordability and accessibility for its students.
The education programs at Blue Ridge are broken down into four categories: associate degrees, certificates, certification programs and career advancement education. These options mean the college can meet the needs of both transfer students and those seeking a technical education. Financial aid such as scholarships, grants and work-study programs are available to make these academic and career readiness programs more accessible.
Blue Ridge has its main campus and technology center in Martinsburg. There is also a learning center in Berkley Springs.
Transferring Credits in West Virginia
Some students enroll in the best community colleges in West Virginia because they want a technical education geared toward a specific career. Others, however, are looking for an affordable way to earn general education credits that can be used toward a bachelor's degree. For these students, understanding how credits transfer in West Virginia is essential.
While the state has made gains in recent years to ensure that credits will transfer between two-year and four-year schools, the process is still largely dictated by individual institutions. Some of the best colleges in West Virginia have articulation agreements that allow for the smooth transfer of a core set of classes. For instance, WVU has something called the Transfer Equivalency Self Service system, which outlines their requirements and guidelines. Others consider transfer requests on a course-by-course basis.
If you plan to pursue a bachelor's degree, start by reviewing those top four-year schools in West Virginia. Once you know which school you'd like to attend, talk to an admissions counselor there as well as at your community college to determine if and how your credits will transfer between institutions.
We ranked community colleges in West Virginia 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:
- The percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- 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
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- The transfer-out rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- 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.
- About, West Virginia Community & Technical College System, Accessed October 2018, https://www.wvctcs.org/about-ctcs
- Academics, Mountwest Community & Technical College, Accessed October 2018, http://www.mctc.edu/academics/
- Online Learning, Mountwest Community & Technical College, Accessed October 2018, http://www.mctc.edu/academics/online-learning
- History of Southern, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, Accessed October 2018, http://www.southernwv.edu/?q=about/history-southern
- About, West Virginia Northern Community College, Accessed October 2018, http://www.wvncc.edu/about/west-virginia-northern-community-college/28
- College History, New River Community and Technical College, Accessed October 2018, https://www.newriver.edu/college-history/#
- DegreeNow! Adult Completion Initiative, Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College, October 2018, http://www.easternwv.edu
- Pierpont Quick Facts, Pierpont Community & Technical College, Accessed October 2018, https://www.pierpont.edu/about/quick-facts
- Financial Aid Facts & Information, Carver Career Center, Accessed October 2018, https://carvercareercenter.edu/financial-aid/
- Adult Day Programs, Mercer County Technical Education Center, Accessed October 2018, http://mercer-k12.wvnet.edu/technicaled/adult-resources/
- MCTEC Graduation Rates, Mercer County Technical Education Center, Accessed October 2018, http://mercer-k12.wvnet.edu/technicaled/graduation-rates/
- About Blue Ridge, Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, Accessed October 2018, http://www.blueridgectc.edu/about-blue-ridge/
- West Virginia makes it easier to transfer college credits, George Hohmann, February 26, 2016, West Virginia Press, Accessed October 2018, https://wvpress.org/wvpa-sharing/west-virginia-makes-easier-transfer-college-credits/
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Local students, school officials react to WV free community college bill signed into law, WTAP, accessed April 2019, https://www.wtap.com/content/news/Local-students-school-officials-react-to-WV-free-community-college-bill-signed-into-law-507865781.html