Best Community Colleges in Chicago in 2024 (Online & On-Campus)

January 26, 2024 | Admin

Community Colleges in Chicago

Community college, Junior Colleges, Technical College, whatever name you might know these institutions as they are all two-year institutions for higher learning in the United States that provide the backbone of most vocational and technical education across the nation. Most community colleges are affordable and provide hands-on experience for students to either use as a springboard into a career to transfer to a larger institution for a more advanced degree. Community Colleges in Chicago provide residents with some very affordable options for either vocational training and degrees or transfer degrees. Seven community colleges in Chicago are members of the City Colleges of Chicago System and six other public community colleges in Chicago.   

Best 5 Community Colleges in Chicago

Rank School Location
1Harold Washington CollegeChicago, Illinois
2Harry S. Truman CollegeChicago, Illinois
3Kennedy-King CollegeChicago, Illinois
4Malcolm X CollegeChicago, Illinois
5Olive-Harvey CollegeChicago, Illinois

Community college, Junior college, or technical college, as they are called, are institutions for higher learning in the United States that offer two-year technical and vocational education. These educational facilities are considered the backbone of tertiary education across the U.S. Community colleges are more affordable and offer hands-on experience to many students who can choose to apply the knowledge acquired to pivot their career to transfer into more advanced institutions like universities for advanced degree courses. Community colleges in Chicago offer residents less costly vocational training and degrees or transfer degrees into various universities. These institutions were established for students residing within Chicago who don’t meet the direct qualification for advanced degree programs in various universities.  

This article outlines everything you should know about community colleges in Chicago, including locations, cost, types of programs offered, and recommendations for the top ten best city colleges in the Illinois region. 

Where Can You Find Community Colleges in Chicago? 

Location-wise, seven community colleges are found within the city limits of Chicago. You can access 21 community colleges within a 50-mile radius of the city. If you intend to join a larger institution, you have to choose based on various criteria. For instance, you can consider the number of students, tuition and accommodation fees, and many other aspects. The College of DuPage stands out as one with the most enrollment. At the same time, Ivy Tech Community College-Northwest is considered the most affordable community college in Chicago in terms of in-state tuition in the Chicago region. 

To get a clear overview of how much it would cost to study in a community college in Chicago, you can consider the Net Price Calculator designed by the U.S. Department of Education. This system considers various factors like college tuition, books, supplies, and living expenses, such as food, transportation, and housing. It then estimates the cost of attending a given city college based on student’s financial data.  

How the System Works

The cost calculator looks at the student and family’s financial data and other information to estimate scholarships, grants, and financial aid available for the student. The net price is then achieved, and it is the difference between the cost of attending a specific junior college and the amount of scholarship, grant, or financial aid. 

The automated net price calculator is a system that relies on individual information from the student to estimate the amount paid out-of-pocket after scholarship and grants before student loans. This is the amount you will need to attend a community college in Chicago.

Cost of Attendance

Chicago City colleges have a specific way of calculating the cost of attendance. For instance, they estimate the educational expenses for an annual enrollment period. This is given as the estimated cost of attendance, and it reflects the amount of money the student needs to live and attend a community college in Chicago. Standard costs of attendance are established annually to reflect the average attendance cost for dependent and independent students.  

Typically, community colleges in Chicago are located within the city and its environs. This geographical location can capture the entire state of Illinois, considering the extent you want to go. City Colleges of Chicago is the most extensive community college system in Illinois and is considered among the greatest in the united states. The system has locations across the city of Chicago, including seven community colleges offering associate degrees to students residing within the city. the Chicago system has seven community colleges, including Harold Washington college, which is considered the best in the region. 

Types of Programs Offered at Community Colleges in Chicago

Community colleges of Chicago and any other Junior College in the United States were established to offer potential students the best chance of having excellent education to pivot their careers or transfer to higher learning institutions that offer advanced bachelor’s degree courses.  The list of top community colleges in Illinois have schools that excel in online programs and others that focus on on-campus programs exclusively. Regardless of the form of delivery, Chicago’s community colleges offer excellent and quality education for their students. 

Online degrees and other programs improved drastically after 2010 after the establishment of the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success. At the moment, students residing in Chicago have more comprehensive options to enroll in distance-learning programs in the state of Illinois. Online learning has proven to be a great way of receiving a quality education, especially for people with tight schedules. The extent to which Junior colleges of Chicago are offering online programs has attracted students from other states. 

The Illinois Community Colleges Online is a database of programs and courses at community colleges in Illinois. This database offers access to students wishing to pursue various programs in these schools. Accordingly, this organization provides valuable resources to all distance learners in community colleges of Chicago and the greater Illinois. All Junior colleges benefit from the Illinois Community Colleges Online resources through training support and online programs assistance. These resources should help you find the best community college in Illinois. 

Community colleges of Chicago offer various quality career programs that link conceptual learning with the knowledge and skills required to succeed in the workplace. City colleges of Chicago offer the following certificate programs:

  • Education
  • Culinary Arts and Hospitality
  • Construction technology
  • Business and Professional services
  • Health science 
  • Human sciences/liberal arts
  • Information technology
  • Natural sciences
  • Transportation, distribution, and logistics

Education Cost of Community Colleges in Chicago

As stated earlier, community colleges offer affordable ways of attaining higher education compared to universities. The cost of community colleges in Chicago varies significantly depending on the institution and other factors, such as learning mode. On average, Illinois community colleges charge approximately $7,978 as an annual tuition fee for in-state students. Accordingly, these institutions charge approximately $10,454 as a tuition fee for out-of-state students. These figures may change due to various policies and conditions. For instance, private community colleges in Chicago have different structures that also include the cost of attendance. The highest tuition charged is $25 173 from Kendall College, while Southeastern Illinois College has the lowest tuition fee in the region of $4,650. 

College does not come at a cheap, and no matter how valuable you deem your education, it should not leave you in massive debts. That is why it is essential to consider various resources that can make your college education more affordable. This section offers scholarship options and other financial aid sources to help you attend a community college in Chicago without breaking the bank. 

Higher education offers excellent returns if you make the right investment. And as with any investment, you need an upfront cost. In terms of attending a community college in Illinois, the upfront cost comes in the form of tuition and other expenses you will incur to get a certified degree. So, the question here is how are you going to pay for a community college in Chicago. 

The first thing you should consider is the school you want to attend. There are many community colleges in Illinois to choose from, and each has its cost structure. Hefty tuition does not necessarily mean that the college should be out of your priority list. You can access various financial aid to support your education at some of the best institutions. Look at the tuition stats and other costs listed on every school’s website to evaluate if you can afford to attend. It all comes down to your financial situation, whether you are dependent or independent. Accordingly, it also depends on how generous the school is and the amount of money they are willing to distribute freely. After evaluating your chances, you have three options to choose from, though not mutually exclusive. You can work and pay for your education as you go, apply for a scholarship, or take out a student loan.

12 Best Community Colleges in Chicago


Harold Washington College

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 18%

Harold Washington College is a member of the City Colleges of Chicago System and is a student-centered institution. Harold Washington empowers its students through affordable and accessible education. Harold Washington is the hub of the System’s College to Career Pathways for INsurance and Banking, Accounting, Marketing and Management, Business, and Economics. Faculty and staff partner with industry leaders in these fields of study to ensure that students are receiving current knowledge and training within the field. Internships are also available to students within these fields.

School Overview

Tuition: $9,216 In State
Online: Yes
Faculty to Student Ratio: 29 to 1
Visit School Website

Harry S. Truman College

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 19%

Harry S. Truman College is a member of the City Colleges of Chicago System and has been educating students since 1976 in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. As one of the largest community colleges in Chicago with over 23,000 students enrolled each year, Harry S. Truman College offers associate degrees, adult education, English as a second language, and GED programs. Students enjoy a supportive environment with tutoring, learning communities where students can address their academic needs and reach their goals. Students enjoy a diverse campus that celebrates inclusion.

School Overview

Tuition: $9,216 In State
Online: Yes
Faculty to Student Ratio: 30 to 1
Visit School Website

Kennedy-King College

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 29%

Kennedy-King College is a member of the City Colleges of Chicago System and continues to carry out academic excellence and civic responsibility for its namesakes, Robert F. Kenney and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students are provided with a robust holistic support system to ensure they succeed in completing their desired courses and programs enabling them to gain the necessary skills for employment or the degree needed for transfer programs. With career planning and placement services to wellness resources, the faculty and staff are there for each student. Kenney-King offers a wide array of associate degree options that qualify as transfer degrees to most larger four-year institutions.

School Overview

Tuition: $9,216
Online: Yes
Faculty to Student Ratio: 20 to 1
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Malcolm X College

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 13%

Malcolm X College is a member of City Colleges of Chicago System and serves as the healthcare hub of the City Colleges of Chicago System. Malcolm X College offers a wide array of health sciences programs and is conveniently located near the Illinois Medical District. Malcolm X College boasts a state of the art School of Health Sciences with a virtual hospital as well as housing the Chicago School of Nursing for the City of Chicago System. Students can earn several associate degrees as well as transfer degrees to prepare students for a larger four-year institution.

School Overview

Tuition: $9,216
Online: Yes
Faculty to Student Ratio: 25 to 1
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Olive-Harvey College

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 11%

Olive-Harvey College is a member of the City Colleges of Chicago system and boasts the largest campus within the City Colleges of Chicago System providing an atmosphere conducive to student growth and success. Olive-Harvey offers several programs in transportation such as air, rail, and road. With the distribution and logistics of transportation being among the fastest growing industries in the region, students can learn from hands-on experience and field experts. A new facility with the most state of the art equipment helps students learn the niche industry of TDL. Olive-Harvey also offers many other associate degree programs and transfer degree programs.

School Overview

Tuition: $9,216
Online: Yes
Faculty to Student Ratio: 22 to 1
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Richard J. Daley College

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 21%

Richard J. Daley College is a member of the City Colleges of Chicago System and is the hub for advanced manufacturing programs. Students have opportunities to work with community experts in the manufacturing field. Faculty of the manufacturing programs align the curriculum with industry standards and needs to ensure students are receiving the most up to date education within the field to ensure employment upon program completion. Richard J Daley is also a Hispanic Serving Institution with support services in place to aid those where English is a second language. There are many associate degree programs and transfer degree programs available at an affordable cost for all students.

School Overview

Tuition: $9,216
Online: Yes
Faculty to Student Ratio: 36 to 1
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Wilbur Wright College

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 24%

Wilbur Wright College is a member of the City Colleges of Chicago System and is the hub for Information Technology Programs. It has been recognized as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation with dynamic student-centered learning. Students can enroll in either certificate-granting programs, associate degree programs, or transfer degree programs. Information Technology Programs include Networking and Technology, Web Development, and Computer Science. With employers such as IBM, Cisco, Google, Microsoft, and Motorola partnering with Wilbur Wright to provide the most current curriculum for students.

School Overview

Tuition: $9,216
Online: Yes
Faculty to Student Ratio: 31 to 1
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Coyne College

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 99%

Coyne College has a long-standing reputation in technical training excellence. Founded as an institution to train electricians, at one time it was the largest and most famous school of its kind in the United States. With the addition of HVAC and Allied Health Services Coyne College now offers programs in technical training and the medical field. Programs include Electrical Construction and Planning, Electrical Construction and Maintenance, HVAC, Medical Assistant, Medical Billing and Coding, and Pharmacy Technician. Coyne College continues to move forward as a leading career-focused institution for skilled trades.

School Overview

Tuition: $16,641
Online: No
Faculty to Student Ratio: 17 to 1
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Prairie State College

  • Chicago Heights, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 16%

A public, two-year institution that originated to grant transfer degrees, Prairie State College has since expanded to offer over 100 certificates and degree programs. Now offering adult programs, continuing education programs, certificate programs, and associate degrees Prairie State College provides necessary training and opportunities for the district it serves. Students, faculty, and staff are all part of an inclusive community that fosters personal growth and lifelong learning.

School Overview

Tuition: $9,342
Online: Yes
Faculty to Student Ratio: 15 to 1
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MacCormac College

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 12%

A premier, private non-profit college, MacCormac College is the third oldest two years accredited college in the nation. At MacCormac students learn more than just knowledge of performing specific tasks, they also gain critical thinking skills, communication, and interpersonal skills. Graduates have both the skills and competencies to succeed in their chosen profession. Students that desire to earn a transfer degree can also complete the requirements to transfer successfully and seamlessly to a four-year college for a more advanced degree. Students seeking online criminal justice programs and court reporting programs will find current and engaging programs at MacCormac College Online.

School Overview

Tuition: $12,700
Online: Yes
Faculty to Student Ratio: 13 to 1
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Taylor Business Institute

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 40%

A small, for-profit institution, Taylor Business Institute is a family-owned career college. With many institutions providing higher learning to the population of Chicago, Taylor Business Institute stands out as one that exists to serve the non-traditional student with a culturally sensitive environment. Students benefit from a personal academic advisor and mentor that will restore and motivate students to obtain their goals. As a career-focused institution students gain general education and professional skills.

School Overview

Tuition: $14,325
Online: No
Faculty to Student Ratio: 12 to 1
Visit School Website

St. Augustine College

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Graduation Rate: 31%

A private Episcopal institution, St. Augustine College is a bilingual institution primarily educating those of Hispanic descent. With a mission to strengthen ethnic identity and bridge cultural, educational, and socio-economic gaps, St. Augustine College provides flexible education plans to ensure the success of each student. Courses are offered in the day, evening, and weekends to help meet the growing needs of students. To help support families, students have access to childcare on campus while they attend classes. Many other unique support services are offered both on-campus and technology to ensure the success of each student and their unique circumstances.

School Overview

Tuition: $11,736
Online: No
Faculty to Student Ratio: 9 to 1
Visit School Website

Residents of Chicago have access to many high-quality and affordable institutions to prepare them for a career or a transfer degree including the seven institutions in the City Colleges of Chicago System. Community Colleges in Chicago provide prospective students with a wide array of programs and focussed skill-based degrees that prepare students for a successful career in their chosen field of study.  

How We Ranked the Schools

Schools were not ranked as seven of them belong to the City Colleges of Chicago system and each has specified programs of expertise. Other schools are also unique in their programs offered such as Flashpoint College. Every institution listed above ie fully accredited.  

How to Work and Pay as You Learn

You can work your way through college as long as you have a job that pays more than the minimum wage. Accordingly, you can have extra support to raise your living standards above the minimum wage. Ideal options for you may include living in a relative’s house. 


If you are a prospective student, you should ensure you do not miss out on various scholarship opportunities you qualify for. These programs can reduce the cost of your education significantly. Scholarships are free money you are awarded for fitting a particular profile. For instance, you can be part of the school’s athletic team or maintain a given GPA to be eligible. Additionally, some private organizations recognize students with special skills or needs with free scholarships. 

Most community colleges in Chicago offer scholarships for almost everything of interest. If you want to get a free scholarship, you should ensure you go through the list of qualifications required to see if you meet them. Applying for many scholarships decreases the amount of out-of-pocket money you pay for your education. If you are interested in attending a community college in Illinois, go through the particular school’s website to see the types of scholarships they offer. Accordingly, if you have just graduated from high school, find out available scholarships for your graduates. 

The state of Illinois also has different scholarships for high school graduates who attend public state colleges. In many cases, organizations and companies in Illinois have supported high school graduates with scholarships to cover college costs. And if you do not qualify for a scholarship, you can also consider student loans. 

If you apply for a community college in Chicago, you will get an acceptance letter and financial aid options available for you. This means that the institution will have figured out your financial condition and how much you should pay. 

Financial aid can be classified as need-based or non-need-based aid. Need-based financial aid is meant for prospective students who cannot afford college costs, while non-need-based financial aid considers other aspects like academic merits. 

Student Loans 

Student loans are advanced to students who need assistance to cover part of the college cost. There are many things you should know about student loans:

In terms of the type of loans, there are federal and private loans, direct loans from colleges, or a combination of all of them. Every loan has its terms and conditions with different interest rates. You have to figure out the loan type that best suits your needs. 

A loan balance will help you plan for repayment. For federal loans, your loan balance will be displayed at www.nslds.ed.gov. If you have a private loan, you can check your loan balance with your lender. 

A student loan is like any other loan that accrues interest you will pay along with the loan amount. As the loan interest pile up, it is added to your loan amount, and it compounds time. If you are a fresh graduate, you should consider repaying your loan interest during the grace period to help you save money on the loan’s cost.  

Your repayment options depend on the type of student loan you have; for instance, Federal loans come with better repayment terms and flexible options. You can schedule monthly repayments or spread the repayment plan for a certain period. 

You should know the loan repayment terms. The best way is to understand how to save on interests, repaying more than your monthly repayment amount, and discharge, cancellation, and forgiveness options. 

In Summary 

Chicago has some of the most prolific community colleges in the U.S. Over the years, graduates from these higher learning institutions have made an impact in different fields within the country and abroad.   Chicago community colleges have continued to transform many students’ lives through quality education for more than one hundred years. Community colleges of Chicago aim to ensure every student is successful in various fields of study and contribute to the development of the city of Chicago. 

Community colleges offer students the opportunity to access quality education and enhance their success by offering support to complete various programs before moving on with their career or education. Community colleges of Chicago are often at the forefront in putting every prospective student on the path to success and upward trajectory in career. 

The Illinois community college system boasts of the city colleges of Chicago as its most extensive college system and one of the greatest in the United States. The system has more than 4,000 faculties and staff, with more than 77000 students every year. It also has seven community colleges. The seven community colleges include Malcolm X College, Harry S Truman College, Harold Washington College, Wilbur Wright College, Olive-Harvey College, Kennedy-King College, and Richard J. Daley College. They form some of the best community colleges that you’ll come across in the U.S. 

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Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

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