Why This Matters

  • 213 ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS IN CALIFORNIA

    As reported by College Navigator, there are 213 community colleges offering 2-year associate degree programs in California.

  • $1,428 IN-DISTRICT TUITION

    According to research from College Board, in-district students paid an average of $1,428 for community college tuition in California during the 2022-23 academic year.

  • 452,493 U.S. COLLEGE STUDENTS WERE AWARDED FINANCIAL AID

    For the 2019-20 academic year, 80.6% of U.S. students enrolled in a two-year community college received one or more forms of financial aid.

Our Research

This list features some of the best community colleges in California. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. We included small, midsize, and large colleges as well as trade, technical, and vocational programs. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The colleges on our list are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), a reputable organization that examines objectives, quality and overall effectiveness of education programs in the western United States.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

The Top 50 Community Colleges in California

Best Community Colleges In California Badge 2023
01
Intelligent Pick
Las Positas College
01
Best Transfer Rate
Irvine Valley College
01
Best Partnerships
Mt. San Antonio College
01
Most Affordable
Moorpark College
01
Best for Veterans
Diablo Valley College
01
Best Faculty
Santa Barbara City College
01
Best Career Services
Imperial Valley College
01
Best Scholarships
De Anza College
01
Best Student Activities
Foothill College
01
Best Hands-On Learning
Lake Tahoe Community College
01

Santiago Canyon College
01

Pasadena City College
01

Allan Hancock College
01

Barstow Community College
01

Coastline College
01

Cerro Coso Community College
01

Citrus College
01

Los Angeles City College
01

American River College
01

San Bernardino Valley College
01

Monterey Peninsula College
01

Hartnell College
01

West Los Angeles College
01

City College of San Francisco
01

Cosumnes River College
01

Lassen Community College
01

Sacramento City College
01

Fresno City College
01

Cuesta College
01

West Valley College
01

Fullerton College
01

Orange Coast College
01

Chabot College
01

Merced College
01

Canada College
01

Santa Ana College
01

Cerritos College
01

Palomar College
01

Rio Hondo College
01

Taft College

What You Should Know About Graduating From Community College in California

When searching for a community college program that suits you, it’s important to consider which careers pay the most. Air traffic controllers and radiation therapists earn the highest wages in California for associate degree graduates, followed by nuclear medicine technologists and MRI technicians.

Demand is another factor to look at when choosing an associate degree program. In California, preschool teachers and paralegals are in demand. Dental hygienists as well as electrical and electronics engineering technicians are also career fields with ample job openings.

By that same token, it’s also a good idea to know which jobs have the highest rate of job decline when researching community college degree programs. Of all the occupations in this state, the job outlook for mechanical drafters is the worst.

What’s Next?

There are multiple financial aid options you can use when researching community colleges in California. This list contains state and federal websites where you’ll find comprehensive information about student loans, grants, work-study, and other financial aid programs, so that you can get help paying for your associate degree.

  • California Department of Education. Learn about grants and other education financing at the California Department of Education website. There’s also plenty of data and statistics regarding higher learning institutions and financial aid in the state.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education pays an average of $120 billion annually in financial aid. The first step is to fill out your FAFSA or check the FAFSA4caster to see if you’re eligible.
  • CareerOneStop. Discover thousands of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities at CareerOneStop, which is sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The information can be filtered by your state and the type of degree you want to attain and includes application requirements, deadlines, and contact information.