10 best community colleges for international students in 2023

best community colleges in the US
According to statistics about one fifth of all international undergraduate students in the US study at Community College. Source: AFP

Your education is a big investment, which makes it crucial that you know all the options available to you. If you want to study in the US, but are limited by your budget, then you should consider community colleges.

A community college is unique to the US. Think of them like universities, but one that takes two years, instead of four years, and leads to an associate’s degree instead of bachelor’s degree.

After graduating, you can start working or transfer to the third year of a four-year programme to get a bachelor’s degree.

Another key difference between a university and a community college is cost.

The average cost of studying at a private four-year school for international students is around US$38,070 per year, while the average cost of community college attendance was just US$7,460 in 2021.

Does lower price equate to lower quality? Not quite.

Similar to how major universities are ranked and differ in terms of quality of education and opportunities offered, some community colleges outperform others.

To find the best community colleges in the US in 2023, we can turn to WalletHub’s latest ranking of the best and worst community colleges.

best community colleges in the US

Attending one of the best community colleges in the US ensures students get a quality education without breaking the bank. Source: AFP

WalletHub’s 2023 Best and Worst Community Colleges looks at institutions in the American Association of Community Colleges. It analyses each institution based on factors such as the cost of in-state tuition and fees and student-faculty ratio.

Attending the best community colleges in the US comes with several benefits. These institutions often have smaller classes, allowing for more personalised attention from instructors and fostering a supportive learning environment.

The biggest benefit, of course, is the cost of tuition at community colleges, which is generally more affordable than at four-year universities.

This eases the financial burden on international students and their families. Student loan debt in the US totals US$1.75 trillion. Roughly seven in 10 parents say their child’s education is worth going into debt.

While international students cannot access these loans, these figures show how a university education is not only out of reach for many but also puts graduates in huge debt that can be hard to repay throughout their lifetime.

As most international students pay out of pocket, community college’s lower tuition fees will not burden you and your family as much. Your savings can be put to other use, such as paying for visas, for your family to travel to the US for your graduation and many more.

It can also leave some aside if you choose any one of the well-established pathways to transfer to universities. Undergrads who get general education credits at a community college before transferring can reportedly save thousands of dollars.

10 best community colleges in the US in 2023

best community colleges in the US

State Technical College of Missouri ranked the best community college in the US for international students. Source: AFP

1. State Technical College of Missouri

Tuition fees: US$418 per credit 

The State Technical College of Missouri (STC) is one of the best community colleges in the US.

Located in Linn, Missouri — population of just 1,350 in 2020 — it offers a wide variety of coursework and programme types in the areas of agriculture, computer technology/electronics, business, diesel technology, construction, industrial technology, health sciences, utilities/line workers, and transportation technology. There are various workforce training opportunities too.

The International Student Services department at STC is dedicated to providing tailored support, including assistance with visa processes, academic advising, and cultural integration activities, enabling international students to navigate their academic journey easily. 

2. Northwest Iowa Community College   

Tuition fees: US$210 per credit 

Northwest Iowa Community College is a great choice for international students seeking a well-rounded and personalised community college in the small town of Sheldon, Iowa.

The college offers some of the state’s best community college certificates and academic degree programmes, ensuring students gain practical skills and hands-on learning experience.

It has over 40 business, information technology, health, transportation, manufacturing, construction, electrical contracting, and general studies programmes.

The college’s International Student Office offers tailored assistance, including guidance on visa matters, academic advising, and cultural integration activities, ensuring that international students are prepared for university and beyond. 

The college is a popular choice among international students as it offers affordable tuition and a number of scholarship opportunities.

The college offers over 100 scholarship opportunities, including the President’s Scholarship, Foundation Scholarship, Iowa State Bank Scholarship, Multicultural Scholarship and many more. 

best community colleges in the US

Small classrooms are maintained to ensure each student gets the attention they need and can form bonds with the teacher. Source: AFP

3. Alexandria Technical & Community College

Tuition fees: US$6,500 per year 

Alexandria Technical & Community College offers a variety of academic degrees and diploma and certificate programmes. 

Located in Minnesota, the college’s diverse range of technical programmes, from healthcare to engineering, ensures that international students can pursue their passions while gaining practical experience through industry partnerships and state-of-the-art facilities. 

The Support Services team at the college offers tailored support, including assistance with visa regulations, academic guidance, and cultural adaptation, ensuring that international students will have a seamless transition into the college.

Free tutoring is provided to all students at the college. Tutors help students to understand their assignments, prepare for tests, and improve their study skills. Students have the option to be tutored by either a Support Services faculty member or a fellow student.

4. Howard Community College

Tuition fees: US$$292 per credit 

Howard Community College (HCC) offers a variety of academic degrees, certificates, and diploma programmes from its academic divisions.

Situated in the heart of Maryland, HCC provides international students access to many opportunities for internships, research, and networking in nearby Washington, D.C.

The International Student Services team at HCC is dedicated to providing comprehensive support, assistance with visa matters, academic advising, and cultural adaptation to facilitate a smooth and enriching transition for international students.

HCC is committed to creating a welcoming community through its vibrant campus life, which includes a variety of student clubs, cultural events, and international celebrations.  At HCC, students from all backgrounds are welcome. The college has many clubs, including an Asian Student Union, Black Student Union, HCC Jewish Group and Muslim Student Association. 

Through its inclusive environment, diverse academic offerings, and comprehensive support services, Howard Community College is recognised as one of the best community colleges in the US.

5. Santa Fe Community College

Tuition fees: US$144 per credit 

Santa Fe Community College is home to over 100 programmes from its six academic divisions.

Situated in Santa Fe, New Mexico (once the seat of power for the Spanish Empire north of the Rio Grande), the campus feels like a global community, thanks to its student organisations, cultural events, and activities. This includes a Diversity Day and pride celebrations. 

The college has strong ties to the local community, and partnerships with businesses and organisations create valuable internship and networking opportunities for international students, enhancing their professional development and employability. 

best community colleges in the US

At Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, students get a top-ranked education in agriculture. Source: AFP

6. Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture

Tuition fees: US$139 per credit 

Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture is well-known for its accessibility, affordability and broad programmes that facilitate a seamless transfer to a four-year institution. 

The college, known for its specialised focus on agricultural education, is nationally ranked as one of the best two-year colleges. It also placed among the top 30 trade schools in the nation, according to Forbes Business Magazine.

The college’s orientation programmes, academic advising, and English language assistance are designed to ensure a smooth transition into college.

Its ideal location in Curtis, Nebraska, home to less than 1,000 residents) allows students to immerse themselves in the heart of American agricultural practices and opportunities to network.

7. Montgomery College

Tuition fees: US$11,600 per year 

Not only is Montgomery College one of the best community colleges in the US but it is also known to be the most diverse community college in the country.

The college has three campuses in Rockville, Takoma Park/Silver Spring and Germantown.

Here, you can pursue diplomas, certificates, and academic degree programmes in many areas, including health science, business, education, social services, STEM, applied technologies, humanities, arts, and general studies. 

The college goes above and beyond to ensure its students succeed through its support services, including international student advising, English language assistance, and cultural integration programmes. 

Over the years, the college has been a top choice for many international students due to its affordability and quality of education. 

best community colleges in the US

Choosing one of the best community colleges in the US can prepare you for work and further study. Source: AFP

8. Pasadena City College

Tuition fees: US$11,860 per year

Pasadena City College is one of the best community colleges in the US that offers quality education to international students. Their student body is made up of over 1,000 students from more than 60 countries.

You will find various academic pathways here, from STEM to liberal arts. The college offers diplomas, certificates, and academic programmes in natural sciences, language studies, health sciences, career technicians, business, math, kinesiology, performing arts, social sciences, and visual arts.

This allows students to tailor their education journey based on their interests and career goals. 

With a focus on holistic student development and comprehensive support services, Pasadena City College paves the way for international students to excel academically and thrive in a globalised world.

The vibrant campus life in California has many student clubs, cultural events, and activities, providing international students with many opportunities to engage with peers and the local community, fostering cross-cultural understanding and lasting connections. 

9. St Cloud Technical and Community College

Tuition fees: US$203.16 per credit 

St Cloud Technical & Community College is a public technical school and community college in Minnesota that was established in the late 1940s. It has been recognised as a National Centre of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.

Accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC), it offers a variety of technical and academic degree programmes, including information technology, business, transportation technology, construction, manufacturing technology, health sciences, and liberal arts.

Here, to ensure students receive individualised attention throughout their academic journey, all classes remain small to allow for interaction between students and teachers. 

Beyond academics, the college’s commitment to creating cultural diversity can be seen through its various cultural events, clubs, and activities such as bbq nights, Women Club, Pride club and many more.  

St Cloud’s emphasis on practical education is complemented by its support services for international students. The dedicated faculty at the college are experienced professionals in their respective fields and offer personalised guidance and mentorship to international students.

The college’s partnerships with local businesses and industries offer international students opportunities for internships and real-world experiences that provide them with the necessary skills to join the workforce. 

best community colleges in the US

Say goodbye to student debt and financial burden when you pursue your education at a community college in the US. Source: AFP

10. College of San Mateo

Tuition fees: US$358 per credit 

College of San Mateo is recognised as one of the best community colleges in the US for international students thanks to its wide range of programmes spanning various fields. The college ensures that international students have plenty of opportunities to pursue their academic interests while providing a solid foundation to prepare them for top-ranked universities.

The college has received numerous accolades and awards over the years for its quality of education. This includes accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and has programme accreditation for cosmetology, dental assisting, nursing, and fire academy. 

Recognising the challenges that international students face when adapting to a new educational system, the college provides a range of support programmes, including international student orientation, academic advising, and English language assistance. 

One of the best things about College San Mateo is its location. The 150-acre campus, with an incredible view of San Francisco, is situated within Silicon Valley, a hub of innovation and technology, that offers unparalleled internship and employment opportunities for students.