Best Community Colleges in New York in 2020 (Online & On-Campus) - Best Value Schools

Best Community Colleges in New York in 2020 (Online & On-Campus)

Attending one of the community colleges in New York sets students on a likely path to learning new knowledge and skills, and improving on existing skills and knowledge. There are a variety of advantages to attending community college, whether the student started a college program in the past but never finished, or if the student has never taken a college or career course in their life. Are you thinking of changing careers? Wherever you are in your life right now, there are likely a variety of advantages for you to earn a certificate or degree at a New York Community College.

Advantages of Attending a New York Community College

Community colleges in New York offer academic flexibility. Students often have a longer time to complete their degree, compared to degree completion requirements at a university. Completing a community college program prepares students for transfer to a four-year school if they choose to continue their education beyond the associate’s degree, or career certificate program. Students likely experience greater personalized attention at the community college level. 

Affordability is potentially a major advantage for students that want to attend college but cannot afford the costs of attending an expensive school. Community colleges allow for easy access of classes when students choose one of these schools.

People that attend community college and earn an associate’s degree have significantly lower unemployment, compared to individuals with less education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) points out that the unemployment rate for workers with less than a high school diploma in 2016 was 7.4 percent, and for workers with a high school diploma the unemployment rate was 5.2 percent. The unemployment rate for workers with an associate’s degree was only 3.2 percent.

These community colleges in New York offer a variety of advantages, including affordable tuition, along with several schools offering courses or programs in an online format. Many schools are military-friendly, answering the question asked by the U.S. Marine Corp Community Services, ‘Why community college? Why not?’

It is important to note that the cost of in-state tuition only covers the cost of an individual course. It does not include any additional charges such as fees, books, or housing unless stated in an individual school listing.

1. Westchester Community College

Community Colleges in New York Westchester Community College

Building minds and building futures is a primary focus at Westchester Community College. Complete a certificate program or earn an associate’s degree at the school and gain the skills and knowledge that you need to enter the workforce, change careers or continue your education.

The school offers more than 65 programs in areas that include business administration, art and design, civil technology, computer-aided drafting, fashion design & technology, or journalism. Perhaps you prefer to enroll in a program such as liberal arts, marketing, medical coding, nursing, paramedic, or personal training, or one of the other certificate or degree programs offered by the school.

  • Tuition: $191 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 66%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, ACEN, JRCERT, CoARC, AVMA

2. Niagara County Community College

Niagara County Community College features two physical locations, and online programs that allow students to complete their courses from anywhere. The school calls the college the ‘smart place to start,’ and indicates that it offers the lowest tuition of any college in the area. There are five academic divisions, including business, technology and the arts, humanities and social sciences, nursing and allied health, science, health and mathematics, and the hospitality, tourism, and culinary arts division.

  • Tuition: $198 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 64%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, CAPTE, CAAHEP, ACEN, JRCERT, Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, American Culinary Foundation

3. Mohawk Valley Community College

Mohawk Valley Community College has the distinction of being the first community college in the State of New York. The school opened its doors in 1946, and today it remains committed to meet the diverse needs of students by providing accessible, affordable and high-quality educational opportunities.

There are more than 90 associate degree and certificate programs at the college, organized in to six ‘Academic Schools.’ The six options include art, health sciences, business and hospitality, humanities, STEM, and public and human services.

  • Tuition: $191 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 60%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, ETAC of ABET, ACEN, JRCERT, CoARC, ABHES, NACEP

4. Kingsborough Community College

Kingsborough Community College, located in Brooklyn, offers more than 50 academic programs, including two certificate programs. The school also offers several online programs.

Choose a traditional program, or consider a unique program such as maritime technology, polysomnographic technology, chemical dependency counseling, or an associate’s degree in women’s and gender studies.

  • Tuition: $210 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 65%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, NASAC, CAAHEP, CAPTE, CAAHEP

5. Ulster County Community College

The Ulster County Community College invites students to dream big. Perhaps your dream is to earn a degree from the Music, Art, Design, Fashion, Theatre & Communications department. Students also consider a program from the Biological Sciences department, STEM, or Business & Professional Studies department. Earn a degree or certificate from the Criminal Justice and Human Services department, or an associate’s degree in nursing. The school also offers degrees and certificates through the English, Foreign Languages & Philosophy department, and the Social Sciences, History and Education department. There are also two certificate programs and five associate degree programs offered online.

The college offers a unique program called the Battle Buddy Center, which serves as a home for student veterans, active duty military personnel and their dependents. It is a safe haven for quiet study that also provides opportunities to socialize, receive peer support and fellowship.

  • Tuition: $190 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 57%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, ACEN, AVMA

6. Queensborough Community College

Enroll at Queensborough Community College and choose your path to a certificate program or an associate’s degree. The school boasts an enrollment of more than 15,400 students. More than 50 percent of the students continue their education at a four-year school after graduation.

Choose your academic program from business administration, biotechnology, engineering, community information systems, dance, film and media production, gallery and museum studies, health care, music production, nursing, or several other academic programs.

  • Tuition: $210 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 64.2%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, ETAC of ABET, ACEN, ACCBSP, National Association of Schools of Theatre, National Association of Schools of Art and Design, National Association of Schools of Dance

7. Corning Community College

Students that enroll at Corning Community College have the advantage of small classes and excellent instructors. The school offers more than 40 certificate, and degree programs, along with continuing education courses. Some students take enjoy online learning or the accelerated learning format.

Academic departments include arts and human behavior, the business and finance, and health sciences departments. Many students choose their degree or career certificate from the Community Engagement: Education, Social Services, Law Enforcement department, the Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Computing and Information Systems department or the Technology and Manufacturing department.

Eligible veterans receive a 100 percent tuition benefit, personal advising and counseling services.

  • Tuition: $203 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 61%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, ACEN, ABET

8. Hudson Valley Community College

Enroll in a certificate or degree program at Hudson Valley Community College and enjoy traditional daytime classes, evening courses or online instruction. The college has transfer agreements with several schools for students that want to attend a four-year school after earning their associate’s degree. The school offers more than 80 certificate and degree programs.

Consider enrolling in the administrative information management and technology program, animal policy, chemical dependency counseling, dental hygiene, forensic science studies or the marketing program. Some students pursue their degree in nursing, physical education, polysomnography, or theater arts.

  • Tuition: $200 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 59%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, CAAHEP, ABET, NAEYC, COARC, ACEN, CODA, Joint Review Committee on Education for Diagnostic Medical Sonography

9. Rockland Community College

Prepare for your future by earning a certificate or degree from one of the 50 flexible programs offered by Rockland Community College. The school offers programs in the arts, humanities, social sciences, business, health professions, and mathematics.

Consider earning your certificate or degree by attending full-time or part-time, on campus, or by completing courses online. The school also offers exciting internships and the opportunity to study abroad. 

  • Tuition: $214 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 67%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, ACEN, ACOTE

10. Guttman Community College

The Stella and Charles Guttman Community College opened in 2012, and focuses on timely completion and student achievement. The college supports student achievement through an inclusive, dynamic and intellectually engaging learning environment.

The programs offered at the school provide an ideal balance between academic and professional preparation. The school offers some pre-college programs to introduce students to college-level courses. One program is the GLASS program, primarily for ESL students, and another program is Math Start, which introduces students to college math. Choose your associate’s degree program from business administration, liberal arts and sciences, urban studies, human services or information technology.

  • Tuition: $210 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 63%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

11. Suffolk County Community College

Part of the Suffolk County Community College mission is to promote ‘intellectual discovery, physical development, social and ethical awareness, and economic opportunities’ for all students. The school offers several certificate programs that lead to completion of training or licensure and that also potentially serves as a step to earning a degree at the school.

The college offers an associate in arts degree, the associate in science, and the associate of applied science degree. Some programs include accounting, business, culinary arts, drafting, fire protection, HVAC, earth and space science, nursing and radio and television production. Many programs are available online.

  • Tuition: $228 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 67%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, ACEN, ACEND, ABA, ACOTE, AVMA, ASE Education Foundation, CAHIIM, CAPTE, CoAEMSP, CAAHEP

12. Genesee Community College

Genesee Community College provides an educational experience that promotes intellectual growth and professional success. The school offers more than 60 programs, including many opportunities to complete some courses online through its main campus and six other campus centers.

Choose your degree or certificate program in business, criminal justice, liberal arts, fashion business, entrepreneurship, fitness and recreation management, nursing, physical therapy, human services, or STEM.

  • Tuition: $190 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 51%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, ACEN, CAPTE, CAAHEP, AVMA

13. Columbia-Greene Community College

Consider earning your degree or certificate at Columbia-Greene Community College if you prefer a smaller campus and smaller class sizes. The campus sits on just 144 acres and is close to the Hudson River.

Columbia-Greene Community College offers several certificate programs and online programs, in addition to associate’s degrees. Consider enrolling in automotive technology, allied health and nursing, education, or your choice of several other academic departments.

  • Tuition: $207 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 58%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, ACEN, National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation

14. LaGuardia Community College

Enroll at LaGuardia Community College and choose from 60 majors, including certificate programs. There are also 70 continuing education programs.

The certificate programs include commercial photography, network and information security, practical nursing, or digital media arts. Choose from 21 programs to earn an associate of arts degree in areas such as early childhood education, journalism, foreign languages, deaf studies, or human services. Consider an associate of science degree in engineering, business administration, criminal justice, fine arts, or therapeutic recreation. Some students choose an associate of applied science degree in industrial design, energy technician, music recording technology, nursing, or veterinary technology.

  • Tuition: $210 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 62%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, CAAHEP, ACEN, CAPTE, ACOTE, NAVTA

15. Schenectady County Community College

Schenectady County Community College indicates that it is the most affordable college in the entire Capital Region. The school invites prospective students to ‘reimagine your future,’ and enroll in one of the programs where you have access to innovative academic programs, inspiring faculty, and strong support services.

The school offers more than 50 certificate and degree programs, many of which are available online. Consider earning your certificate or associate’s degree from one of the six academic divisions, which includes college in the high school, business, criminal justice, and law, liberal arts, math, science technology and health, the school of music or the school of hotel, culinary arts and tourism.

  • Tuition: $192 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 52%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, American Culinary Federation Accrediting Commission, NASM

16. SUNY Adirondack

SUNY Adirondack offers more than 30 academic programs, workforce training and certificate courses to more than 8,000 students. Students have the opportunity to participate in research activities, and to receive individualized counseling and support.

The school recognizes the need for relative educational programs and recently added several new degree programs and concentrations. Consider enrolling in one of the eight certificate programs, or 23 associate’s degree programs in business, creative and performing arts, criminal justice, health sciences, or hospitality and tourism. SUNY Adirondack also offers degrees in information technology, liberal arts, and STEM. There are a variety of concentrations within each of these programs. Students have day, evening, or online options for many courses.

  • Tuition: $206 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 57%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, ACEN

17. Hostos Community College

Hostos Community College has focused on improving the quality of life, and being an agent for change in and around the South Bronx since 1968.

There are 28 associate degree programs, and two certificate programs. The school partners with four-year schools to make transfer to a four-year college or university an easy task. Consider enrolling in the common programs, or in a unique program, such as the fraud examination and financial forensics program, aging and health studies, game design, or the digital music program.

  • Tuition: $210 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 58%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, CODA, JRCERT

18. Nassau Community College

Nassau Community College invites students to expand their knowledge and skills, and to pursue their goal of lifelong learning.

Nassau Community College offers over 70 associate’s degree programs, along with continuing education and certificate programs. Choose your ideal career or degree program from business, legal studies, art, engineering, foreign languages, nursing, psychology, mortuary science, theater and dance, or several other academic departments.

  • Tuition: $242 per credit hour
  • First-year-retention rate: 64%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission, ACEN, ABA, FCC, CARC, ABET, American Board of Funeral Service Education, Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, Association of Food and Nutrition Service Professionals, National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science, NASM

19. Jamestown Community College

Choose your major from more than 80 programs at Jamestown Community College. The school invites prospective students to ‘come as you are’ and to ‘leave as you want to be’ after completing your program at one of the schools’ three locations. The school boasts a cutting-edge learning environment, including ‘smart’ classrooms and music studios.

Consider earning a career or training certificate, or an associate’s degree in addictions counseling, computer sciences, homeland security, mechatronics, music industry, sport management or welding.

  • Tuition: $217 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 55%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, ACEN, ACOTE

20. Broome Community College

Students that enroll at Broome Community College likely appreciate the affordability, strong academics, and strong support. Some students enjoy residing on campus while others commute or take classes online from around the world. Students also enjoy the state-of-the-art technology, and many internship opportunities.

Students select their program from four divisions, including STEM, business and professional studies, health sciences, or liberal arts.

  • Tuition: $212 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 51%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, NAACLS, CODA, CAHIIM, CAAHEP, ACEN, CAPTE, JRCERT, OASAS, ETAC of ABET, NACEP

21. Clinton Community College

Clinton Community College empowers students along their path to personal and professional growth. The school offers several certificate programs, in areas such as alcohol and substance abuse counseling, computer support, renewable energy and wind turbine service technician. There are 24 associate’s degree programs, in concentrations that include accounting, applied psychology, environmental sciences, mechanical technology, liberal arts, renewable energy technology or nursing.

The school offers several online programs.

  • Tuition: $230 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 58%
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, ACEN

22. Tompkins Cortland Community College

Tompkins Cortland Community College, located in Dryden, New York, is a smaller college in a more-rural area, yet offers more than 40 programs. The school has a passionate commitment to providing the support that each student needs for academic and personal success. Earn your associate’s degree in applied science and technology, broadcast production, criminal justice, culinary arts, international business, sustainable farming and food systems, recreation leadership, nursing, or other program options.

  • Tuition: est. $223.08 per credit hour
  • First-year retention: 46%
  • Accreditation: MSCHE, ACEN

Methodology

We conducted research and compiled this list of community colleges in New York, and then assigned a unique score based on tuition and first-year retention rate. Where there was a tie, the school with the lower tuition rate received the higher ranking.

Each school is physically located within the State of New York, although an individual school may offer courses and degree programs to students that reside outside the state. Each listed school is an accredited community college.

We work hard to make sure that we are fair, accurate and honest in the ranking of each school. We do not allow any community college to pay us for a higher placement in our rankings. Any sponsored school is listed separately, and is clearly labeled as SPONSORED.

If you would like to include your school in our rankings, or if you would like to update the information for your school, please contact us.