Best Online Community Colleges

Rio Salado Community College in Phoenix, Arizona is probably the best known community college in terms of its size and the creativity that characterizes its online degree programs. The school has 60,000 students enrolled in degree programs fed by 500 online courses, the main campus and its ten service centers scattered throughout Maricopa County. Rio Salado does not offer bachelors’ degree programs, but it can accomplish a lot in other ways as exemplified by its teaching program.

Rio Salado offers online instruction for both elementary teaching and secondary school teaching degrees. Their coursework is called a bachelor’s degree pathway, providing many of the core courses for a teaching degree and some of the classroom experience. They partner with local schools for student teaching opportunities. There is also a program called “50+ Encore” which is specifically designed to help people over 50 who want a new career in teaching achieve the academic requirements for teaching certification.

There is a general trend in many states to create a virtual campus within the state community college structure that taps all of the schools for online course presentation material. New York’s enormous SUNY system manages thirty community colleges and has drawn all of them into the SUNY Learning Network. The system isn’t totally seamless; a student must enroll at each campus offering the online courses of interest. Several of the campuses offer criminal justice degrees one with a computer forensics degree another with a police science degree, and so forth. For more details please visit these sites:-

Illinois has a similar organization, the Illinois Virtual Campus that includes community college courses and degree programs. There are dozens of associates’ degrees available online through the Illinois system. Typically a couple of schools will specialize in business degrees; another few schools in different accounting degrees, while yet another group of schools will list the associates’ in early education or in elementary education degrees. One school offers six online IT degrees with concentrations in multimedia, computer design, data administration, etc.

The Virtual College of Texas is an effort by the state’s fifty community college districts and their colleges and vocational schools. A student may enroll in one school and access online courses provided by any of the participating schools. There are no degree programs offered exclusively online in Texas yet, but the variety of courses is impressive. There are online courses in Spanish, in psychology, substance abuse, history, literature and biology – to name but a few.

Iowa has an Online Community College Consortium. Michigan’s program is similar to that of Illinois. Colorado has pulled together its fourteen community colleges as an online team – their online academic options include an associates’ degree in paralegal. Oregon Colleges Online is the state’s community college consortium, offering four degrees that are designed for transfer into various majors at one of Oregon’s state universities. Their certificate program is notable, with an online certificate in computer assisted drafting (CAD); a business software certificate; and an online certificate in web development.

The Florida Distance Learning Consortium offers associates’ degrees that are great starter options. Through their network you can obtain an associates’ degree in pre-law, a degree in pre-med, and a range of IT degrees that can lead to many options at the university level. These are a few prominent examples of what community colleges are attempting to provide online. Generally they are as aggressive, if not more so, than the state university systems in embracing online education. Look up your state’s community college association and see what you find for distance learning; you may be pleasantly surprised.


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