Many aspiring students wonder, “Can you get a bachelor’s degree at a community college?” Community colleges are most known for offering certificate and associate’s degree programs that can be completed in 2 years or less with full-time study.
Students seeking a bachelor’s degree may go to a community college for 2 years to complete general education studies before transferring to a four-year university.
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But, there is another pathway students may take to earn a bachelor’s degree that doesn’t require transferring to a four-year school.
Can You Get a Bachelor’s Degree at a Community College?
Yes, you can get a bachelor’s degree at a community college in states that allow it. But can you get a bachelors at a community college in all states? Every state has its own policies regarding community colleges and bachelor’s degree program offerings.
There are currently around 24 states that allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s programs. What degree do you get from community college if bachelor’s programs aren’t offered? An associate’s degree is one of the most common types of programs community colleges offer. Certificate programs are also available.
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In states that allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s degree programs, community colleges can also choose to only offer certificate and associate’s degree programs.
There are several reasons why a community college may choose to offer bachelor’s degree programs, though, such as:
- To expand access to higher education and career advancement opportunities
- To meet workforce demands specific to the locality or state
- To offer more affordable higher education options
The selection of bachelor’s degree programs at community colleges that offer them are often limited. Most community colleges focus on offering bachelor’s degrees in fields that are in high demand, such as healthcare or business. The process of getting a bachelors degree at a community college is similar to getting a bachelors from a 4 year university.
The first 2 years are typically focused on taking lower division courses, which include general education studies and introductory courses in an academic discipline. Then, upper division courses are usually taken, involving more advanced major coursework.
Earning a bachelors at a community college might be appealing if you’re looking for a more flexible and affordable education as well as smaller class sizes.
States Where You Can Get a Bachelor’s Degree at a Community College
Do community colleges offer bachelor degrees in your state? There are currently 24 states that allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s degree programs.
According to the Education Commission of the States, the following states allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees:
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Arizona recently became the 24th state that allows bachelors programs at community colleges. While community colleges in these states are able to offer bachelor’s degrees, not every institution may have bachelor degree programs available.
Some states allow all community colleges to offer bachelor’s programs, while other states limit which institutions are allowed to offer these four-year programs.
How to Know If a Community College Bachelor’s Degree Is Right for Me
Bachelor’s degree programs at community colleges share some similarities with on campus or online bachelors degree programs offered at four-year universities, but there are some differences between the two.
These are some things you can consider if you’re thinking about getting a baccalaureate degree at a community college:
- Are there 4 year community colleges available in your state? If your state doesn’t allow community colleges to offer bachelor degrees, it may be possible to attend out-of-state, but tuition rates may be higher.
- Is the type of bachelors program you want available at community colleges? Community colleges that offer bachelor programs tend to have a limited selection available.
- Do you prefer smaller class sizes or larger class sizes? Community colleges usually have smaller class sizes, so this could be a perk if you think you’d benefit from learning in this type of environment.
- How much support would you like to receive while earning your degree? While support systems for students at colleges and universities vary, four-year universities typically offer more student support services and resources.
- Do you have other obligations that would require a more flexible class schedule? Community colleges may offer a greater range of class times—such as in the evening or on weekends—which can be beneficial if you want to work while earning your degree.
The most important factor to consider is whether your state currently allows community colleges to offer bachelor’s programs.
Community College Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you plan on attending a community college, you can still seek federal financial aid by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Many of the same financial aid opportunities that are available to four-year university students are available to community college students. The amount of federal financial assistance you’re eligible to receive depends on several factors, but it’s mainly calculated by your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and estimated cost of attendance.
Federal assistance can be provided in the form of grants, loans, and work-study programs. Other financial aid options include private loans, grants, scholarships, and state aid. Various types of organizations offer grants and scholarships, which are non-repayable forms of aid.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s Degree from a Community College?
Earning a bachelor’s degree from a community college usually takes the same amount of time as a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university.
It generally takes 4 years to get a bachelor’s degree if you follow a 16 week semester schedule and study full-time. Some colleges may offer accelerated 8 week semester schedules, which can shorten the length of your studies with year-round enrollment.
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The first 2 years of a bachelor’s degree program are usually spent taking general education courses, while the remaining 2 years focus on major coursework.
Do you need an associate’s degree to get a bachelor’s degree? No, you do not typically need an associate’s degree to pursue and obtain a bachelor’s degree, as you can apply for a bachelor’s program directly after completing high school or meeting the program’s admission requirements.
How Much Does a Community College Bachelor Degree Cost?
Similar to four-year universities, the cost of a community college bachelors degree can widely vary depending on the school and program.
Many community colleges are known for offering more affordable tuition rates compared to universities. Although tuition varies, you can expect to pay between $100 to $400 per credit hour when pursuing a bachelors degree from a public community college as an in-state resident.
For comparison, in-state tuition rates for four-year universities often range between $300 to $600 per credit hour. Tuition rates at some universities even exceed $1,000 per credit hour.
Getting Your Community College Bachelors Degree
While not every state allows it, there are certain community colleges where you can get a bachelor’s degree. Four-year universities usually offer more bachelor’s programs, but earning a bachelor’s degree at a community college has its advantages.
Community colleges often have more affordable tuition rates, flexible class times, and smaller class sizes. If this sounds appealing to you, going to a community college to get your bachelor’s might be a good fit.
You can take the first steps toward earning your bachelor’s from a community college by researching accredited institutions that best support your goals.