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Best Community Colleges in Illinois

Simone Du Toit - September 01, 2022

Finding the right place to pursue your college education can be difficult, especially considering the cost of tuition. Community colleges are a great way to get an education without the stress of massive student loans. They offer two-year associate degree programs that prepare you to transfer to a four-year college.

In this article, we break down our picks for the best online community colleges in Illinois. We also list the best community college programs from each school. This way, if you have a specific field of study in mind, you can easily decide which one is right for you.

How We Defined Illinois Our Community College Rankings

There are many different variables to consider when ranking community colleges. We considered enrollment rates, graduation rates, student reviews, and the variety and quality of the programs offered.

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These schools offer a wide variety of diplomas, certificate programs, degree programs, technical education programs, online programs, and student support services. These are a combination of both private and public colleges.

The Top 10 Community Colleges in Illinois

  1. Lincoln Land Community College
  2. Illinois Central College
  3. Frontier Community College
  4. College of DuPage
  5. Lake Land College
  6. Harper College
  7. College of Lake county
  8. Oakton Community College
  9. Moraine Valley Community College
  10. Olney Central College

The Best Community Colleges in Illinois: Explained

Person in front of his laptop
You can attend online learning opportunities to achieve your education needs.

1. Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC)

Founded in 1967, Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) is a pillar of education in Southern Illinois. With affordable tuition rates, LLCC offers high-quality programs both on-campus and online. Its online degree and certificate programs are offered via a combination of online classes and hybrid requirements. Some degrees require on-campus course attendance and are major-specific.

Best Lincoln Land Community College Programs

  • Associate Degree in Arts and Communication
  • Basic Nurse Assistant (CNA)
  • Truck Driver Training program
  • Associate Degree Nursing (RN)
  • Automotive Technician Certificate of Achievement

2. Illinois Central College (ICC)

Illinois Central College is one of the largest community colleges in Illinois and has been around since 1967. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission , ICC claims to have the lowest tuition rate of colleges and universities in Central Illinois. It offers various program options like career training programs, as well as some online programs. Some degrees are transferable to a four-year institution.

Best Illinois Central College Programs

  • Associate in Arts (Transfer Program)
  • Basic Nurse Assistant Training Program
  • Registered Nurse, Associate in Applied Science Degree (ADN Program)
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
  • Associate in Applied Science Computer Programming and Database Development Degree

3. Frontier Community College (FCC)

Frontier Community College, established in 1976, has four campuses, including Fairfield, Lincoln Trail College, Olney Central College, and Wabash Valley College, all within its network of schools. It offers incoming learners traditional classes, as well as some online class options. Some of its associate degrees can be transferred to four-year schools for further learning.

Best Frontier Community College Programs

  • Associate in Arts (AA)
  • Basic Nurse Assistant Training Program (BAID)
  • Health Careers (HLTH)
  • Electrical Distribution Systems (EDS)
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

4. College of DuPage(COD)

College of DuPage, founded in 1967, boasts 25,000 community college students and claims to be the second-largest provider of undergraduate education in the State of Illinois. COD is a public community college where prospective students can earn a certificate or associate degree in one of 26 different fields. It has options for traditional students wishing to learn in person, as well and online classes.

Best College of DuPage Programs

  • Animation (AAS)
  • Biology (BIOLO)
  • Nursing Assistant (NURSA)
  • Business Transfer Pathway, Associate in Arts (AA)
  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

5. Lake Land College

Founded in 1966, Lake Land College offers more than 150 program options. The school’s academic programs cater to on-campus learners, as well as those looking for online classes. Like many other colleges, an associate degree is the highest degree offered by community colleges and can transfer students to four-year schools for their bachelor’s degree.

Best Lake Land College Programs

  • Building Construction (CRT.BCT)
  • Horticulture (CRT.HRT)
  • Associate In Liberal Studies (ALS.LIB)
  • Food Service Sanitation course
  • Geospatial Technology (NDP.GIS)

6. Harper College

Harper College opened in 1967 and is one of the largest community colleges in Illinois, serving over 35,000 students in Chicago. Harper College offers prospective students the opportunity to earn associate degrees and certifications, both online and onsite. It also provides some advanced career programs and accelerated degree options with college credits.

Best Harper College Programs

  • Associate in Arts (AA)
  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
  • Associate in Science (AS)
  • Associate in Applied Science (AAS)
  • Advanced Accounting Bookkeeper or Clerk Certificate

7. College of Lake County (CLC)

College of Lake County offers a wide range of academic programs for career and personal development. It offers a variety of degrees, some with transferable college credit and some without, as well as professional training programs. It has both traditional classes and online certificate programs.

Best College of Lake county Programs

  • Humanities Associate in Arts (AA)
  • Associate Degree Program in Nursing (ADN)
  • Automotive Technician Associate in Applied Science (AAS)
  • Emergency Medical Technology Associate in Applied Science (AAS)
  • HVAC/R Engineering Technology Associate in Applied Science (AAS)

8. Oakton Community College

Oakton Community College offers over 2,500 courses, degree programs, and noncredit career and personal development courses covering 80 areas of learning. You can also get your GED or learn English as a second language. Its network of schools has 240 off-site locations and offers prospective learners 90 online courses every year.

Best Oakton Community College Programs

  • Associate in Arts (AA)
  • Basic Nurse Assistant Training (BNAT)
  • Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic Certificate
  • Associate in Applied Science degree in Nursing (AAS)
  • Electronics Technology Certificate

9. Moraine Valley Community College

Moraine Valley Community College, offers a community college education in over 130 programs and boasts an 89 percent post-graduation employment rate , with 97 percent of students saying they would recommend MVCC to a friend. With a large selection of education courses and transfer programs, prospective learners have a good chance of finding what they’re looking for.

Best Moraine Valley Community College Programs

  • Associate in Arts Degree (AA)
  • Associate in Science Degree (AS)
  • HAC-250 Commercial Systems Operations course
  • Associate in Engineering Science Degree (AES)
  • Automotive Technology Associate in Arts Science Degree (AAS)

10. Olney Central College

Olney Central College is known as one of the top community colleges in the country. Its smaller class sizes can provide students with one-on-one instruction. It offers in-person classes and online courses. Some of its associate degrees can be transferred to four-year universities, provided all application requirements and achievements have been met.

Best Olney Central College Programs

  • Associate in Arts (AA)
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (NUR)
  • Practical Nursing Certificate (PNURS)
  • Basic Nurse Assistant Training Progr (BAID)
  • Industrial Maintenance Technology (INDMA)

Other Illinois Community College Rankings

Student writing on a blackboard while talking to fellow students
Community colleges sometimes offer work-study programs, which are a great way of making connections while you learn.

The pandemic has affected how all students approach their school search, with many seeking a distant education program. Luckily, many colleges in Illinois offer the option to get a community college education online. Let’s look at some of the best online colleges in Illinois for online learners below.

Best Online Community Colleges in Illinois

  1. Waubonsee Community College. Waubonsee Community College offers online learning programs in a variety of different fields, such as art and design, business, computer science, construction, and trade.
  2. Sauk Valley Community College. This college offers online learners various degree and certificate online educational options in business, liberal arts, corrections, accounting, and more.
  3. Illinois Central College. Illinois Central College offers online certificates and online degrees. Those seeking career training programs in sciences and arts should consider this school.
  4. Kaskaskia College. Kaskaskia College has a wide variety of options for online learners. Here, you can earn a degree or certificate through one of their various online programs.
  5. Clark Community College. They have several online certificate programs, courses and degrees that provide academic tutoring. Their online certificate programs also have the option of some hybrid courses.

Best Community Colleges for Associate Degree in Web Development in Illinois

  1. McHenry County College. It offers four website development degree programs. In 2019, eight website development students graduated, five with certificates and three with associate degrees.
  2. Southwestern Illinois College. Southwestern Illinois College offers two website development degree programs. In 2019, 11 website development students graduated. Two with certificates and nine with associate’s degrees.
  3. Lewis and Clark Community College. This community college offers distance learners website development associate degree programs, as well as a variety of other degrees and certificates.
  4. Illinois Central College. Illinois Central College offers online learners a 45-hour credit degree in web development and is accredited by as a Web Professional Academy.
  5. John Wood Community College. This community college offers incoming learners seeking an online education the possibility of a degree in web development designed for completion within 32 weeks.

Should You Attend Community College in Illinois?

Yes, attending a community college is a great way to get an education without the fear of student debt. Many offer certificate programs and degree programs, along with various learning formats, such as in-person, online, and hybrid arrangements. Going to a community college can save on costs without having to sacrifice academic excellence.

If college is not an option for you, then perhaps you should consider enrolling in a coding bootcamp . Bootcamps are a great way to acquire valuable skills for the job market. Bootcamps usually offer training in high-demand fields, such as coding or engineering. Bootcamps offer a variety of programs, as well as flexible study and payment options to support students’ learning paths.

Best Illinois Community Colleges FAQ

Are application requirements the same at all community colleges?

No. All colleges have their own application requirements, many of which are different and dependent on the type of degree or certificate program. As a prospective student, it’s important you check the requirements for your school and program of choice.

Can international students attend a community college in Illinois?

Yes. International students can attend online or onsite programs offered by the institution, as long as they meet all of the requirements set by the institution and government. Before applying, be sure to check out the website of the college you’re interested in to ensure you meet its requirements.

What is the average tuition for a college education in Illinois?

The average tuition for in-state study for Illinois is $4,010 , and the average tuition for out-of-state is $11,320.

Which is the largest community college in Illinois?

College of DuPage, with 24,900 students, is the largest community college in Illinois.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Simone Du Toit

About the author: Simone has worked in management for over 20 years and uses her experience hiring, coaching, and supporting others to help Career Karma readers thrive in their new careers. Along with her managerial experience, Simone has taught English as a second language to students in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. She holds certificates in Retail Leadership Development and Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

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