Why This Matters

  • 62 TWO-YEAR ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS IN ILLINOIS

    According to College Navigator, there are 62 two-year institutions that offer associate degree programs in Illinois.

  • $4,482 IN-DISTRICT TUITION & FEES

    Data from College Board reveals that, during the 2022-23 school year, the average Illinois student paid $4,482 in tuition at public in-district community colleges.

  • 80.6% OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS RECEIVED FINANCIAL AID

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 452,493 students attending two-year programs in the United States received some form of financial aid during the 2019-20 school year.

Our Research

This list features some of the best community colleges in Illinois. 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 Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a reputable organization that examines objectives, quality and overall effectiveness of education programs throughout the 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 34 Community Colleges in Illinois

Best Community Colleges In Illinois Badge 2023
01
Intelligent Pick
Frontier Community College
01
Best for Drone Technology
Olney Central College
01
Best for Career Development
Elgin Community College
01
Best Student Support Services
Richland Community College
01
Best for Transfer Students
Lincoln Trail College
01
Best for Unique Careers
Lake Land College
01
Best in Northwest Chicago
Harper College
01
Best for Applied Science Degrees
Morton College
01
Best Workforce Institute
Lincoln Land Community College
01
Best for First Generation Students
Spoon River College
01

College of Lake County
01

Sauk Valley Community College
01

McHenry County College
01

Waubonsee Community College
01

Moraine Valley Community College
01

Illinois Central College
01

Oakton Community College
01

Danville Area Community College
01

College of DuPage
01

City Colleges of Chicago at Malcolm X
01

Kaskaskia College
01

Joliet Junior College
01

Parkland College
01

Southeastern Illinois College
01

Rend Lake College
01

City Colleges of Chicago at Wilbur Wright
01

John Wood Community College
01

Black Hawk College
01

City Colleges of Chicago at Harold Washington
01

Carl Sandburg College
01

Triton College
01

Highland Community College
01

Wabash Valley College
01

Lewis & Clark Community College

What You Should Know About Graduating From Community College in Illinois

While preparing for community college, you should consider your career objectives and desired salary. Data from May 2021 shows that the highest-paying jobs for associate degree holders in Illinois are air traffic controllers, nuclear technicians, radio/cellular tower equipment installers and repairers, electro-mechanical and mechatronics technicians, and radiation therapists.

New graduates entering the workforce should take into account which career fields tend to have high employment rates. The occupations projected to have the most annual job openings for associate degree holders in Illinois are preschool teachers, paralegals and legal assistants, computer network support specialists, radiologic technicians, and dental hygienists.

Associate degree holders in Illinois should also be aware of which career fields are expected to experience a decline in job availability. The occupations projected to undergo a large drop in employment over the next 10 years are nuclear technicians, desktop publishers, broadcast technicians, embalmers, and funeral home managers.

What’s Next?

There’s no doubt that higher education can be expensive. As you research community colleges, you should consider how you plan to fund your education. Below, we’ve put together a list of federal and state resources to help associate degree students in Illinois find scholarships, grants, and loans.

  • Illinois State Board of Education. The Illinois State Board of Education encourages prospective students to plan for college by providing information about scholarships, federal aid, and loans.
  • Federal Student Aid. The U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid awards over $120 billion of financial aid to students across the country every year. Interested parties can check their eligibility at the FAFSA4caster and apply through the online FAFSA form.
  • CareerOneStop. This resource, sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, helps students find scholarships available in their state and at their degree level. It also connects users to helpful information about award amounts, minimum requirements, and deadlines.