Best Community Colleges in Wyoming
Wyoming's community colleges cover a lot of ground. The seven two-year schools that belong to the Wyoming Community College Commission maintain more than 40 campuses and outreach locations that serve roughly 30,000 students each year. Whether you're looking to get started on the requirements for transfer to Wyoming universities or gain some valuable career skills, the programs at these schools can set you on the right path.
On average, the state's public community colleges have a student-faculty ratio of 17:1, which can mean more opportunities for personalized learning. Plus, these schools are known for their low tuition rates and diverse academic programs. Many offer transfer degree, technical degree and certificate programs as well as non-credit classes and other training opportunities.
We calculated scores for the best community colleges in Wyoming by gathering data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) that reflected the affordability of tuition and fees, flexibility of scheduling and record of student success for each institution. Read on for our list of the top Wyoming community colleges and find out how they can help you achieve your academic and career goals.
Casper College (Casper)
Established in 1945 as Wyoming's original two-year institution, Casper College has grown into one of the most comprehensive community colleges in the state. The academic catalog contains more than 140 degree and certificate programs designed both for university transfer and for direct entry into the workforce.
Not only can you earn associate degrees and certificates at CC, but partnerships with the University of Wyoming, Boise State University and other four-year schools in the region make a range of advanced degrees available right on campus. Bachelor's programs are available in management, music, health care, art, physical science and more.
Online courses and degree programs are common here as well, with about a dozen degree programs available entirely online. Another 50+ hybrid programs require some on-campus time but consist of more than 70 percent online courses. Programs for distance learners cover subjects such as agribusiness, office management and health science.
Western Wyoming Community College (Rock Springs)
Since originally welcoming its first class of 40 students in 1959, Western Wyoming Community College has grown to possess one of the more substantial student bodies among two-year schools in the state. More than 3,000 students attend classes here each semester, either on the main campus in Rock Springs, at one of the 11 outreach centers spread across southern and western Wyoming or in the virtual classroom.
WWCC's entries into the world of online colleges include around a dozen associate degree and certificate programs. The A.A. plans emphasize social science and criminal justice, while the A.S. and A.A.S. plans lean more toward business disciplines.
On-campus students at WWCC attend their classes on the same site as some truly larger-than-life attractions. The Rock Springs location is home to five full-sized dinosaur displays and several replicas of the famous Easter Island moai statues.
Laramie County Community College (Cheyenne)
Founded in 1968, Laramie County Community College welcomes approximately 6,000 students through its doors each year. Since its early years, the institution has expanded beyond its main location in Cheyenne and added three more educational facilities: a full campus in the city of Laramie and outreach centers in Pine Bluffs and on F.E. Warren Air Force Base.
Over 100 degree and certificate programs are available to LCCC students, with the broadest selection of subjects offered at the Cheyenne campus. LCCC is also one of the more prolific online community colleges in the region, offering more than a dozen degree programs that can be earned through only online courses. These include degrees in computer information systems and early childhood education.
Cheyenne is the largest city in Wyoming, so students who like the hustle and bustle of an urban area should give LCCC extra consideration. The student-faculty ratio here is a comfortable 15:1.
Northwest College (Powell)
Northwest College first opened its doors in 1946, accommodating its first class of 100 students in classrooms borrowed from the local public school district. In the decades since its founding, NC has grown into a comprehensive institution complete with on-campus residence halls and more than 40 active student clubs.
Its total enrollment of around 1,500 students makes NC one of the smaller community colleges in Wyoming, so students who prefer an intimate learning environment should feel right at home here. The student-faculty ratio at the Powell-based school is 12:1 which is better than the national public university average.
More than 60 associate degree and certificate programs are available at NC, including around 40 Associate of Arts (A.A.) and A.S. programs designed for university transfer. Certificate programs include some more unique options such as equine riding and archaeological technician.
Northern Wyoming Community College District (Sheridan)
This multi-campus community college includes both Sheridan College and Gillette College. The Northern Wyoming Community College District was established in 1948 and offers more than 60 educational programs. Students at the school benefit from the personal attention that comes from the district's low 13:1 student-faculty ratio.
Nearly 8,000 students take classes at NWCCD, and they can choose from academic or career-focused degree and certificate programs that emphasize hands-on, real-world learning. These cover majors such as health science, business and diesel technology. Some programs can be completely entirely online.
Although both Sheridan College and Gillette College are part of the NWCCD, they don't offer the same certificate and degree programs. While Sheridan students have more than 60 options, only about two dozen degree and certificate programs are available on the Gillette campus.
Central Wyoming College (Riverton)
Central Wyoming College maintains four locations around the state — a full-service campus in Riverton and learning centers in Lander, Jackson and Dubois. Students who want the full college experience may be able to get it on the Riverton campus, thanks to a 48-student residence hall complete with common areas and laundry facilities.
Around 2,000 learners attend courses at CWC each term, and the numbers suggest that the college is realizing its vision of providing lifelong learning opportunities that break down boundaries. More than 50% of those enrolled are first-generation college students.
Academic degrees and career programs available here include some uncommon and exciting subjects. For example, students who love nature can earn Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees in outdoor recreation and expedition science.
Eastern Wyoming College (Torrington)
Eastern Wyoming College is one of the smallest community college in Wyoming by enrollment. Its total enrollment of nearly 2,000 credit students is divided between its main location in Torrington and a second site in Douglas.
Close to 40 two-year degree programs — including A.A., A.S. and Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) programs — and nearly 20 certificate programs are available at this southeastern Wyoming institution. The hottest subjects of study here are welding, agriculture, criminal justice and education, and EWC's programs in cosmetology, veterinary technology and gunsmithing can't be found at any other two-year school in the state.
EWC also features affordable enrollment costs, especially for students hoping to take a heavy courseload. In-state tuition was capped at $1,485 per term in 2019-2020, so any credits beyond a semester total of 15 come at a discount.
CTE in Wyoming
Not everyone wants or needs to earn a four-year degree. Many occupations, such as nursing, bookkeeping and skilled trades, need workers with career technical education instead. This level of education — known as CTE — can usually be completed in two years or less and results in earning a technical associate degree, diploma or certificate. The curriculum of these programs focus exclusively on teaching the skills needed for a new career.
Some of the top community colleges in Wyoming use career pathways to help students explore their education options. These may also be called guided pathways or program pathways. Typically, they are based on 16 career clusters that are used nationally by CTE organizations and agencies. Each career cluster is devoted to a specific area of interest, and students can use the clusters and their associated pathways to narrow their degree program choices.
CTE students in the state also get a boost from the following initiatives and programs:
- Wyoming Works Grants provide financial assistance to eligible students enrolled in CTE programs.
- Wyoming belongs to the Complete College America alliance which is working to increase access to higher education in the state.
- Dual and concurrent enrollment is available for high school students to earn college credit early and at no cost.
Visit the websites of the best Wyoming community colleges to learn more about their CTE options. Additional information about CTE in Wyoming is also available through these resources.
- Wyoming Department of Education - The state's Department of Education offers links to CTE resources such as student organizations, grants and policy initiatives.
- Wyoming at Work - The Wyoming at Work website includes a number of career services that can help you explore your interests and find the right CTE program.
Transferring Credits in Wyoming
Students hoping to transfer their credits into programs at the top four-year schools in Wyoming are in luck — the University of Wyoming, the state's one major public university, provides a broad range of articulation agreements and 2 + 2 degree programs that are designed to facilitate smooth and seamless transfer into a bachelor's degree program once you graduate with your associate degree.
The specific subjects of study covered under these transfer agreements tends to vary from one two-year school to the next, but there are a few university majors that are available to direct transfer students from every one of our best Wyoming community colleges:
- Family and consumer science - professional child development
- American studies
- American Indian studies
- Elementary education - creative arts
- Organizational leadership
Your community college may also maintain articulation agreements with four-year schools in other states. Central Wyoming College, for example, has agreements in place with universities in Colorado, Arizona, Texas and Florida.
For more information about your specific transfer opportunities, check in with your community college adviser or browse the transfer section of your school's website. You can also read our guide on how to transfer schools for more details.
Resources for Community College Students in Wyoming
Wyoming Community College Commission - The WCCC represents all the top community colleges in Wyoming and has information about state educational initiatives and programs.
Wyoming Department of Education - College and career readiness resources are available through the Wyoming Department of Education.
Hathaway Scholarship - The Hathaway Scholarship is one of the state's major financial aid programs to help students pay for undergraduate education.
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:
- The published in-district tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The published in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The in-district per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- The in-state per credit hour charge for part-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2018
- Percentage of students receiving financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
- Percent of students that transferred to a 4-year institution and completed within 8 years, College Scorecard, 2017
- The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2017
- Percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2017
- 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.
- Casper College, accessed December 2020, https://www.caspercollege.edu/
- Western Wyoming Community College, accessed December 2020, https://www.westernwyoming.edu/
- Northwest College, accessed December 2020, https://nwc.edu/
- Central Wyoming College, accessed December 2020, https://www.cwc.edu/
- Eastern Wyoming College, accessed December 2020, https://ewc.wy.edu/
- Northern Wyoming Community College District, accessed December 2020, https://www.sheridan.edu/
- Wyoming Community College Commission, Accessed December 2019, https://communitycolleges.wy.edu/
- Wyoming Works Grant, Casper College, Accessed December 2019, https://www.caspercollege.edu/financial-aid/grants/wyoming-works/
- Dual and Concurrent Enrollment, Wyoming Community Colleges, Accessed December 2019, https://communitycolleges.wy.edu/colleges/dual-concurrent-enrollment/
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed December 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- Wyoming, Complete College Alliance, Accessed December 2019, https://completecollege.org/wyoming/