Can You Attend Community College Online?

Online education is quickly becoming accepted by universities and employers. This guide shares the pros, cons, and some examples of quality online education.
Yes, over the years, more and more community colleges have started offering courses online. But the question that many students ask is if this online education is worth it? Not only do online studies make higher education more affordable but also make it very accessible for a number of students. This detailed guide will explain everything you need to know about attending community college online.
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The popularity of online courses at community colleges has been growing steadily for the last decade or so. According to an article by ThinkImpact, in 2018, over 1.9 million community college students took at least one online course. 

However, many people are still unaware of the extent to which community colleges offer online courses. 

This is mostly because when community colleges were first introduced their main goal was to help the communities around them by making education more accessible. Thus, focusing on a more community-centered, in-person approach. 

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Can you attend community college online?

Yes, you can attend community college online. After the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, the entire way human beings engage, learn, and work has changed. Online has become a regular part of our lives.

Education has become online, company meetings are now done online and you even shop more online giving a huge boost to e-commerce.

Because of these global changes in how we interact, online education has not only become accepted as having bonafide credentials but may also soon become the way we look at education in the future.

A student taking online class
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How does online community college work?

Put simply, it works the same way regular in-class education does except that it is more accessible. Just because you are learning online does not mean the quality or the methodology of imparting education has to change.

One of the very few good things to come out of this pandemic has been the growth in online communications technology by leaps and bounds. Not only that, because we were initially forced to engage more online, that has now removed the initial resistance people had to this new way of communicating.

Everything else about acquiring education online remains the same as getting it in a classroom at your community college.

Programs offered in online learning 

Well, for starters, you need to know what you’re planning on studying. Community colleges typically offer two kinds of programs online:

Associate’s degree program 

Associate degrees are typically two-year programs offered by community colleges in a variety of fields such as computer science, social science, arts, technology or industry, etc. 

Most students eventually transfer their credits to a 4-year university to pursue their bachelor’s degree. The most common associate’s degrees offered by community colleges include:

  • Associate of Arts (AA)
  • Associate of Science (AS)
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

Tip: If you’re looking for a perfect course made just for you, Unmudl’s coast-to-coast network of leading community colleges has an extensive selection of courses

Shorter certificate courses

A community college certificate is a short course ranging from a few months to a year. Essentially, a certificate acts as evidence that a student completed education and/or training in a certain field. 

These certificate programs are usually built around acquiring technical skills quickly for people looking to get employed or advance in the workplace. These certificates are also a great option for those looking to learn a new skill or study to change their careers. 

There are also many short free online community college courses that can help you add skills to your resume.

Typical program structure

Community colleges offering online courses typically have an extensive system that includes online lectures, asynchronous lectures, and discussion boards. 

While these systems are important, online learning does require a lot of self-motivation, as the student is responsible for keeping tabs on themselves and making sure they’re in sync with the course timeline.

This is the same as working online for your office. If you are hired to do a job, you can’t just play video games all day because your boss is not watching you. Self-discipline is key when it comes to doing anything online.

Most online community colleges with open enrollments are easy to get into. In order to complete an online degree or course, credit units needed to graduate are determined by the faculty and coordinators of the community college. 

Generally, 60 credit units are needed to earn an associate’s degree offered by an online community college. Certificate program credit requirements vary depending on the specific course. 

Unmudl Tip: Credit requirements for associate’s degrees can sometimes go up to 80 credit units depending on the course involved. So make sure to go through the course requirements thoroughly before enrolling. 

A Student graduating
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Pros of studying online

Now that you have a better understanding of what online community college degrees/certificates are, here are some of the reasons why choosing to study online can be advantageous to you.


As student debt increases yearly, financial affordability becomes a major part of a student’s academic trajectory. According to the 2018-2019 U.S. News Data report, the average annual fee for private colleges was a whopping $35,830. 

In comparison, community colleges cost an annual average of $3,660 for in-state students. In rare cases, there are also free degrees online like those offered by

Community colleges offer courses for every budget, including many that cost less than $50 and even some that are even free

Online courses give you all the regular community college benefits and more. Since the classes are online, you can save money on transport and accommodation expenses. 


Studies show that about 64% of people study at community college part-time pacing their education as per their needs. 

Online community college can provide non-traditional students with an amazing opportunity to pursue their education while managing other commitments in their lives. Here are some ways in which a student could benefit from choosing online education. 

Flexible timings

Whether you’re an employee or a parent, juggling studies and daily commitments can be an extremely challenging task. Luckily for you, studying online can help you manage your education with your daily routine from the comfort of your own home/workspace. 

Because most online certificates/degrees offered by community colleges teach courses asynchronously, the programs are often available 24 hours a day, every day. Having this flexibility allows students to access coursework at their convenience. 

Related: How long does community college take?

No commute troubles

Having the option of taking community college courses online is a life-changing opportunity for students who may either be situated in remote areas where community colleges are not present or for those who have transportation issues.  

Without having to worry about the commute, students no longer have to select the community college closest to them. Rather, they can focus on taking online classes at the college that best fits their needs. 

Freedom to experiment

Many fresh high school graduates are unsure of what they want to study. Luckily, enrolling in an online community college program provides them with an affordable option to experiment and figure out what they enjoy. 

Similarly, as mentioned before, whether earlier on in their career or much later, some people realize that they are either unhappy with their jobs or that they wish to advance further in their existing jobs. 

The online certificate and degree programs provided by community colleges are perfect for those looking to advance in their current field. They are also great for those looking to change their career to something more profitable or something more fulfilling for them.

Unmudl Tip: If you are thinking about changing careers here is our in-depth guide to help you do just that. It’s a step-by-step guide that shows you how hundreds of thousands of Americans are using community colleges to better their livelihood and their future.

A student taking online class
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A few cons of online education

While there are many advantages of online schooling, there are also certain things you must take into consideration before enrolling yourself in the program!

Credit transfers 

Despite the substantial growth in popularity of online degrees, some four-year colleges place limits on the credits that you can transfer from online courses. However, this varies from university to university. 

To find out specific details, you must contact the academic counselor of the university of your choice and find out whether there are any limitations to their credit transfer policy. 


Although online classes are designed to be extremely convenient, they require a lot of organization, self-motivation, discipline, and demonstration of independence in learning. This can sometimes be difficult, especially for students who have other commitments such as work, parenting, etc. 

However, as challenging as it may seem, with enough commitment, it is absolutely possible to manage.


Unfortunately, there are some institutions out there that are offering unaccredited courses. You must make sure that the program you’re enrolling in is fully accredited

Legitimate community colleges will have their accreditation present on their website. 

In case they do not, however, make sure to contact a counselor at the college and then verify that information with the accrediting agency.

List of community colleges offering online programs

Over the years, more and more community colleges have started to offer online degrees and certificates. For your convenience, we have compiled a list of some of the best online programs offered by community colleges.

If you are struggling financially, courses at these cheap community colleges online become a great alternative to traditional certification.

We have also shown the address and the state in which each community college operates to help you apply for in-state tuition discounts, scholarships, or financial aid where applicable.

Note: These online colleges are not ranked in any specific order. 

GateWay Community College

GateWay Community College (GateWay CC) offers over 28 online programs. Students can earn credentials in fields such as social work and teamwork management. The cost for online studies at Gateway CC ranges from $12 - $3,500, varying from program to program. 


GateWay CC is located on 108 N 40th St, Phoenix, AZ 85034, United States.

Pima Community College

Pima Community College (PCC) offers over 20 online programs. Students can earn credentials in fields such as IT, technical writing, business, and EMT training. The cost for online studies at PCC ranges from $89 - $9,000, varying from program to program. 


The PCC campus is located at 4905C East Broadway Blvd, Tucson, Arizona.

Central New Mexico Community College 

Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) offers over 49 online programs. Students can earn credentials in fields such as IT, security, data science, and digital media. The cost for online studies at CNM ranges from $140 - $2,600, varying from program to program. 


The CNM campus is located at 900 University Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106, USA.

Mott Community College

Mott Community College (MCC) offers over 5 online programs. Students can earn credentials in fields such as digital marketing, veterinary assistance, and accounting. The cost for online studies at MCC ranges from $100 - $400, varying from program to program. 


The MCC campus is located at 1401 E Court St, Flint, MI 48503, United States.

Tombolo Institute at Bellevue College

Tombolo Institute at Bellevue College offers over 9 online programs. Students can earn credentials in fields such as marketing, business, and cybersecurity. The cost for online studies at TI ranges from $500 - $980, varying from program to program. 


The TI campus is located at 14673 NE 29th Pl, Bellevue, WA 98007, United States.

San Juan College

San Juan College (SJC) offers over 4 online programs. Students can earn credentials in fields such as education and online learning. The average cost for online studies at SJC is $29.


The SJC campus is located at 4601 College Blvd, Farmington, NM 87402, United States. 

SUNY Broome Community College 

SUNY Broome Community College (SUNY Broome) offers a number of online programs. Students can earn credentials in fields such as business and accounting. The cost for online studies at SUNY Broome ranges from $250 - $400, varying from program to program. 


The SUNY Broome campus is located at 907 Front St, Binghamton, NY 13905, United States. 


Online learning has proven to be a great initiative that is helping millions of students nationwide by providing affordable and accessible education. Post the Coronavirus pandemic, online has become the norm and online education is no exception.

This is great news for students who have found to continue education or upgrade their skills due to real-life time management issues. This guide showed you the pros and cons of online education and gave you some examples of great community colleges offering online courses.

Frequently Asked Questions

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