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Best Community Colleges in Iowa: Admission Requirements, Transfer Options, and Online Degrees

Hristijan Josifovski - July 03, 2022

The best community colleges in Iowa provide students with high-quality two-year degree programs in a variety of fields, serving as an excellent springboard into higher education. Some community colleges in Iowa offer strong collaborations with public four-year institutions, while others offer affordable tuition rates.

If you are interested in advancing your education or starting a degree program, this guide will provide you with all the information you need on community colleges in Iowa. We’ve included information on the number of schools, degree’s offered on-campus, and the best online community colleges in Iowa for distance learners.

How Many Community Colleges Are in Iowa?

There are 15 locally governed community colleges in Iowa. They are sometimes known as junior colleges that provide affordable undergraduate education as a road to four-year degrees. Community colleges are important in providing vocational and technical training to students looking to join the workforce or transfer for higher education after graduation.

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How Many Community College Districts Are in Iowa?

There are 15 community college districts in Iowa. The largest community college districts in Iowa are the Des Moines Independent Community School District, Cedar Rapids Community School District, and Sioux City Community School District.

What Is the Biggest Community College in Iowa?

The largest community college in Iowa is Des Moines Community College with 23,474 students enrolled. Des Moines Community College has been the biggest community college since 1966 with nearly 500 faculty and staff, over 220 programs of study taught through six campuses, and six learning centers.

What Are the Best Community Colleges in Iowa?

Ranking Community College Graduation Rate Student-to-Faculty Ratio
1 Northwest Iowa Community College 62% 13:1
2 North Iowa Area Community College 55% 22:1
3 Iowa Lakes Community College 50% 15:1
4 Western Iowa Tech Community College 38% 16:1
5 Eastern Iowa Community College District 40% 25:1
6 Indian Hills Community College 41% 14:1
7 Marshalltown Community College 39% 17:1
8 Southeastern Community College 35% 15:1
9 Des Moines Area Community College 32% 20:1
10 Hawkeye Community College 28% 17:1

The Best Community Colleges in Iowa: Explained

Some of the best community colleges in Iowa are Northwest Iowa Community College, North Iowa Area Community College, and Iowa Lakes Community College. The Community College of Northwest Iowa is a great option with low tuition rates, a high graduation rate, and a good student-to-faculty ratio.


Northwest Iowa Community College

Grad Rate: 62%

Northwest Iowa Community College (NCC) has 1,666 students enrolled in more than 40 academic and professional training programs. NCC is one of the best community colleges in Iowa, with low tuition rates, high graduation rates, and impressive graduate employment rates.

Social science, humanities, and health vocations are among the six programs offered by NCC. Students can participate in programs for skilled trades such as nursing, gun technology, and welding. NCC also offers professional certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence for an Associate in Automotive Repair Technology.

Northwest Iowa Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $183/credit hour (in district); $193/credit hour (out of district)
  • Student Population: 1,666
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 86%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Northwest Iowa Community College Programs

  • Advanced Welding Technology. This curriculum offers students the opportunity to acquire an Associate of Applied Science degree in two years. Manufacturing skills such as welding, computer-aided drawing, and machining are the main focus in this program.
  • Automotive & Light Duty Diesel Technology . This program equips students to meet the demands of today's automotive industry, including light diesel systems. The curriculum makes use of modern industry developments, such as student laptop computers with access to service information databases and shop management software.
  • Certified Nurse Aide. This program is meant for students that enjoy offering compassion, personal care, and empathy to patients. It teaches students about checking vital signs, providing proper nourishment, and preventing the transmission of viruses.
  • Health Information Technology. With this online program, students learn to gather and analyze data for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Healthcare information technology plays a vital role in enabling our healthcare system to work by maintaining healthcare records with other regulatory requirements.
  • Medical Coding . With this program, students can learn how to submit bills, apply code, and connect with other healthcare professionals. If you become a medical coder, you will know how to use categorization systems, books, and software to assign a code to each diagnosis and operation.


North Iowa Area Community College

Grad Rate: 55%

North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) has great college degree programs for students. Prospective students can pursue agricultural education training and achieve a generalist diploma or an Associate Degree in Agriculture Marketing and Finance. It also offers low annual tuition.

NIACC was founded in 1918 as Mason City Junior College. There are 2,894 students enrolled and 40 programs in six major fields of study. The NIACC community college offers excellent business, health care, and sports management programs.

North Iowa Area Community College Overview

  • Tuition: In-state $179.25/credit how (in district); 268.88/credit hour (out of district)
  • Student Population: 2,681
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 95%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 22:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best North Iowa Area Community College Programs

  • Agriculture - Farm Management. This course introduces students to agriculture business, farm business management, commodity marketing, and salesmanship and advertising. This track is set up for students to transfer credits to an associate or bachelor’s degree in an agriculture-related field.
  • Business. This NIACC course is excellent for student entrepreneurs who want to learn how to create a company. It covers financial literacy, human relations, and emerging business practices and technologies.
  • Intercollegiate Physical Education. This program offers training in sports education. Students can learn the foundational knowledge and skills through participation in basketball, softball, baseball, soccer, or volleyball.
  • Nursing. The completion of this program results in an Associate Degree in Nursing. Students learn about the process of evaluation and nursing diagnosis to satisfy the safety and comfort requirements of clients throughout their profession.


Iowa Lakes Community College

Grad Rate: 50%

This is another great two-year college that offers dual-enrollment classes for public and private high school students through its career connect initiative. Iowa Lakes Community College was founded in 1966. There are now about 2,051 students enrolled in over 40 certificate, diploma, and associate programs.

The Iowa Lakes Community College is unique in providing transfer opportunities in disciplines such as arts, computer science, management, animal science, and biology. It offers bachelor's completion tracks, which allow students to finish upper-level baccalaureate programs at any Iowa Lakes location, and provides scholarships to the majority of its students.

Iowa Lakes Community College Overview

  • Tuition: In-state $196/credit hour (in district); $210/credit hour (out of district)
  • Student Population: 2,288
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 87%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Iowa Lakes Community College Programs

  • Associate of Arts in General Education. This associate degree is meant to provide students with two years of general education to prepare for transfers to liberal arts bachelor’s degree programs. Many students who pursue this Associate of Arts in General Education program pursue a liberal studies bachelor’s degree for elementary school teaching.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Aviation & Airport Management. With this program, you can get the skills, knowledge,  and qualifications to become a corporate pilot, charter pilot, airline pilot, flight instructor, or an airport manager. Graduates of this program earn their FFA licenses and pilot certifications.
  • Associate of Science in Biology. This is a program in which students receive an Associate Degree in Biology before transferring to a university to complete their Bachelor of Science. With this degree, students can pursue careers in pharmaceutical sales, forensics, conservation, healthcare, and teaching.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Computer Programming. This is a valuable program where students can learn about spreadsheets, computer hardware, networking, and databases in addition to understanding current high-level programming languages. It provides a hands-on approach and an Associate in Applied Science degree upon successful competition.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Wind Energy and Turbine Technology. This dual-track educational program prepares students to enter the technical workforce and transition through the renewable energy industries. It is the first program that earned the American Wind Energy Association’s Seal of Approval for wind turbine service technician programs.


Western Iowa Tech Community College

Grad Rate: 38%

This community college has certifications and degrees in 19 different subjects. Some excellent programs are in the fields of health, communications technologies, general studies, liberal arts, and sciences. Western Iowa Tech Community College was established in 1966 and now has a total of 5,674 students enrolled.

Western Iowa Tech Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $168/credit hour (in district); $169/credit hour (out of district)
  • Student Population: 5,360
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 94%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Western Iowa Tech Community College Programs

  • Accounting Specialist. This program offers an Associate of Applied Science upon completion. The program prepares students for careers in accounting and finance and credits are transferrable to a four-year university.
  • Communications . This associate degree course teaches students about communication skills and how to apply them in numerous domains of business and relationships. This major's coursework can lead to a profession or career in politics, sales, business, marketing, or public administration.
  • Cyber Security and Digital Crime . In this course, students can learn how to investigate computer crimes, appropriately seize and recover computer evidence, and assist in the prosecution of cyber offenders. Students can earn an Associate of Applied Science upon successful completion of the program.
  • Digital Marketing. Upon completion of this program, students will earn an Associate of Applied Science. The digital marketing course teaches students how to create and implement a social media strategy using many media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
  • Health Information Technology. This certificate program teaches students how to use an electronic records system to develop, gather, retrieve, manage and access medical records. Students will create and edit patients' files in a medical care setting using a software program.


Eastern Iowa Community College District

Grad Rate: 40%

This community college has excellent programs in health sciences, business management, industrial technology, agriculture, and transport. Eastern Iowa Community College District was established in 1965 and now offers certificates and associate degrees in 49 programs.

It consists of three schools located in Bettendorf, Clinton, and Muscatine. It assists working professionals by providing flexible degree options that combine evening sessions with online education. Students can earn an Associate of Applied Science or an Associate of Arts through a hybrid learning option.

Eastern Iowa Community College District Overview

  • Tuition: In-state $179/credit hour (in district); $246/credit hour (out of district)
  • Student Population: 7,081
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 98%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 25:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Eastern Iowa Community College District Programs

  • Advanced Emergency Medical Technician. This is a certificate program that equips students to meet public expectations and take on leading positions in the growth of pre-hospital patient care. It is a course that prepares graduates to successfully complete the Iowa Emergency Medical Technician-Basic and Paramedic certifying exams.
  • Agriculture Business. This program is suitable for people who want to learn the business side of establishing an agricultural enterprise. The agriculture business program provides students the opportunity to learn from a broad liberal arts and humanities curricula with a focus on agricultural marketing and farm management.
  • Automotive Technology. This program was the first in Iowa to get a Master's Certification in Automotive Service Excellence in 1988. The automotive technology program prepared graduates to pass the certification exam. With this degree, graduates can work as automotive technicians that will repair automobiles.
  • Radiologic Technology. This is an associate degree program that allows students to learn how to use X-ray technology. The radiology technology program allows graduates to learn how to use radiation to create images of the body's internal organs or identify a patient's disease or injury.
  • Web Development. The information technology (IT) department offers two tracks, one in software development and the other in networking. Students can pick specialized concentrations in cyber security or augmented reality. Graduates can gain diplomas, certificates, or an Associate in Applied Science in Web Development.


Indian Hills Community College

Grad Rate: 41%

Indian Hills Community College was founded in 1966 in Ottumwa, Iowa. It has over 250 online classes in medical and insurance coding, health information technology, and general education available. Students can fully access IHCC Aviation Ground School college courses online before commencing practical training.

Indian Hills Community College Overview

  • Tuition: In-state $195/credit hour (in district); $255 (out of district)
  • Student Population: 3,279
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 96%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: 2.0

Best Indian Hills Community College Programs

  • Aviation Maintenance Technology. This Federal Aviation Administration-approved program provides students with a degree from Indian Hills and a Federal Airframe and Powerplant License. The Aviation Maintenance Technology program prepares graduates for working on all types of aircraft.
  • Computer Software Development. This program in computer software development covers topics in web design, database design, computer languages, business systems, and interpersonal skills. It offers practical experience, helps you learn how to design apps, and allows you to attain an Associate of Applied Science degree.
  • EMS/Paramedic. With this program, students can learn how to assess ill and injured patients, learn emergency intervention and treatment, and gain in-depth knowledge of the human body. This course offers multiple paths with certificates for an emergency medical responder or advanced emergency medical technician.
  • Mathematics. This degree offers transfer opportunities so students can continue their studies in a four-year college after graduation. Students in this program can develop their logical, analytical, and critical-thinking skills that will help them solve complex math problems.
  • Medical/Insurance Coding. This program can be taken online and is a professional certificate-approved program. The AHIMA PCAP-approved program teaches students how to translate alphanumeric code, and organize, analyze, evaluate, and provide patient care information and health information.


Marshalltown Community College

Grad Rate: 35%

Marshalltown Community College is another option for a community college that is widely affordable. It offers a low tuition rate and a high acceptance rate. It has great programs in six areas, including social sciences, health occupations, and humanities.

Students can pick skilled trades from programs such as gunsmith technology, welding, and culinary arts. This college offers associate degrees and certificates in automotive repair technology, which qualifies them for professional certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Marshalltown Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $184/credit hour (in district); $201/credit hour (out of district)
  • Student Population: 1,836
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 86%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Marshalltown Community College Programs

  • Gunsmith Technology. This program is suitable for people who like to master the artistry of gunsmithing. With it, students will learn the mechanical and technical aspects of firearms and can work as technicians in the manufacturing and distribution process.
  • Advanced Manufacturing. This program provides experience to students in fabrication, welding, computer-aided drawing, welding, and CNC machine operation. In two years, students can earn an Associate of Applied Science and prepare for careers in manufacturing.
  • Welding. The welding program offers a Certificate in Manufacturing Welding or Manufacturing Welding in Construction. Graduates in this program typically receive a job offer from local businesses before graduation. Welding positions are accessible in a variety of industries, including construction, utilities, automotive, and agriculture.
  • Human Services and Social Work. This two-year liberal arts Associate of Arts program is suitable for students who desire to transfer their MCC credits and complete a bachelor's degree at a university. Students in this program will learn how to provide direct and indirect services to clients and work in fields such as psychiatry, rehabilitation, and nursing.
  • Pharmacy. This is a transferable Associate Of Arts program for students who like to become pharmacists or pharmacy Technicians. The program covers topics in biology, chemistry, and physics.


Southeastern Community College

Grad Rate: 35%

Southeastern Community College offers transfer degree options in physical sciences, criminal justice, and business administration to students interested in associate-level academics. The SCC was founded in 1967 and now has over 6,150 students in continuing education.

Some programs for students include specialized training in areas such as welding, automobile technology, construction technology, and industrial maintenance. SCC is also further distinguished from other regional schools in the community by providing agricultural production technology programs and affordable tuition prices.

Southeastern Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $200/credit hour (in district); $205/credit hour (out of district)
  • Student Population: 2,260
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 84%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Southeastern Community College Programs

  • Agriculture, Modern Food Production, and the Environment. This agricultural program covers topics in field crops fertility management, seed selection, storage, and harvesting. With this coursework, graduates can work in agricultural businesses such as farm operations, wholesale, and retail produce management. Students should be able to understand forage and field crop production methods upon completion.
  • Criminal Justice. This program awards graduates with an Associate of Arts upon successful completion. The study plan covers the areas of homeland security, juvenile services, law enforcement, parole and probation, corrections, and law.
  • Medical Assistant. This program teaches the knowledge, skill, and behavior required for a medical assistant in the healthcare profession. Students will learn about testing, throat and nose swabs, vital signs, assisting with minor operations, blood drawing, and lab testing. Graduates are eligible to take the national certification examination.
  • Pharmacy Technician. With this pharmacy technician program, students will earn a diploma upon successful completion of the course. Students in this program will learn compounding, pharmacology, calculations, and pharmacy operations and get practical experience.
  • Welding. This welding program teaches students the science, technology, and applications required for successful employment in the welding and metal industries. Students will gain a solid foundation in the concepts, methods, and applications of both gas and electric welding and the proper skills to get an entry-level welding position.


Des Moines Area Community College

Grad Rate: 32%

This college offers more than 200 certificate, diploma, and associate programs in various areas of interest. Des Moines Area Community College was founded in 1966 and is one of the largest colleges in Iowa with a total of 23,051 students enrolled.

Students can study in areas such as crime scene investigation, civil engineering, and hospitality management. A horticulture track that focuses on plant reproduction, arboriculture, and greenhouse production is also available.

Des Moines Area Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $178/credit hour (in-district); $356/credit hour (out of district)
  • Student Population: 23,051
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 69%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: None

Best Des Moines Area Community College Programs

  • Auto Collision Technology. This program is meant for prospective students who would like to work in the auto collision business. Graduates will receive an auto collision diploma upon successful completion of this course, which will enable them to do structural repairs, painting, and refinishing of damaged vehicles.
  • Crime Scene Investigation. This is a certificate program designed to focus on evidence collection and analysis, forensic documentation, and procedural reporting and testifying. People with a background or interest in criminal justice, fire science, or other related public safety fields are best suited for this qualification.
  • Homeland Security. This is a certificate program that focuses on security management, homeland security, and intelligence analysis. The homeland security program is suitable for students with a background in criminal justice or emergency management. It also provides up-to-date information and skills for security-related fields.
  • Horticulture, Arboriculture. The horticulture arboriculture program allows students to learn about tree maintenance and earn an arboriculture certification. This certificate program educates students to learn skills in trimming, pest diagnosis, tree identification, climbing, and treatment.


Hawkeye Community College

Grad Rate: 28%

Founded in 1966 as the Hawkeye Institute of Technology, it has since changed its name to Hawkeye Community College. It now enrolls more than 25,000 students and awards nearly 1,500 degrees and diplomas annually. It values diversity and inclusion among its student and faculty population.

Hawkeye offers programs in liberal arts, agricultural power technology, sustainable building, and design. It aims to educate students interested in vocational and technical training that wish to continue to further degree levels or work directly in the field with a trade.

Hawkeye Community College Overview

  • Tuition: $204/credit hour (in district); $221/credit hour (out of district)
  • Student Population: 5,042
  • Percent Receiving Financial Aid: 95%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: 2.0

Best Hawkeye Community College Programs

  • Advanced Manufacturing Welding. This program prepares students for a wide range of welding jobs. The advanced manufacturing welding program is designed to meet the required criteria of the American Welding Society. Graduates will learn about gas arc welding, thermal cutting, gas tungsten welding, and robotic welding.
  • Animal Science. Students in this program will learn the whole life cycle of cattle and swine. Students will also get hands-on experience and understanding of animal nutrition, swine science, beef cattle science, animal behavior, and proper animal care.
  • Criminal Justice Liberal Arts. With a criminal justice liberal arts major, graduates can work as forensic computer investigators, forensic child interviewers, and lab technicians. The program covers topics like criminology, criminal justice, communications, and criminal and constitutional law.
  • Landscape and Turf Management. This program offers a diploma in landscape and turf management upon successful completion. Students learn about construction safety, landscape estimation and construction, and irrigation systems. Students can earn additional certifications as part of their coursework.
  • Liberal Arts. This is an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts program that can be obtained through online classes. The liberal arts associate program covers topics in biology, chemistry, mathematics, fine arts, philosophy, and psychology.

Best Online Community Colleges in Iowa

  1. Marshalltown Community College. This community college provides an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts transfer degree. The Blackboard online learning system is used to teach entirely online with coursework supplied asynchronously. MCC also provides Associate Degrees in Communications, Accounting, Psychology, and Sociology.
  2. Hawkeye Community College. Hawkeye offers two online degrees, one in liberal arts and another in business administration. Students in liberal arts can take courses in psychology and sociology, while students in business administration can learn about economics, statistics, and accounting. Both are transfer degrees to many of Iowa’s four-year public and private universities.
  3. Northwest Iowa Community College. This community college has six online degrees in health information technology, agriculture, power line technology, and business management. It offers online diploma programs in medical coding, business, web, and graphic design.

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Other Iowa Community College Rankings

There are many Iowa community colleges that offer transferable degree programs with partner programs with universities. Some of the best are Eastern Iowa Community College District, Northwest Iowa Community College, and Des Moines Area Community College.

Best Community Colleges in Iowa for Transfer

  1. Eastern Iowa Community College District. This college has many transfer opportunity agreements with 22 colleges in Iowa and the surrounding states. It has three campuses and offers hybrid learning classes, in-person classes, and online classes, making it one of the best options for community colleges with transfer degrees.
  2. Northwest Iowa Community College. For students wishing to pursue further academic studies, NCC is a great option. It offers transfer majors and pre-professional programs. The college includes pre-professional programs in early childhood development, accounting and environmental science, and transfer majors in psychology and criminal justice.
  3. Des Moines Area Community College. Des Moines College offers the lowest tuition rates and programs that let you complete a bachelor’s degree at DMACC. DMACC has partner programs with many schools where students can continue their education.

Best Community Colleges for Trade, Transportation, and Utilities in Iowa

  1. Iowa Western Community College. This is a good community college option for people interested in transport and unities. The Iowa Western Community College offers certificate programs in HVAC maintenance, welding, construction technology, and carpentry. It also has continuing education options in plumbing water and wastewater.
  2. Northeast Iowa Community College. Northeast Iowa Community College has plenty of programs in energy and utilities that offer diploma’s in heating and air conditioning and industrial electrician. It also has good programs in trades, where students can earn certificates in construction equipment operation, welding, and computer numerical control (CNC) operation.
  3. Hawkeye Community College. Hawkeye Community College is another good option for a community college as it provides a wide range of technical and industrial training for organizations. Students can learn about welding, plumbing, HVAC, and safety.

Best Iowa Community Colleges That Offer Bachelor’s Degrees

Community colleges in Iowa don’t offer bachelor’s degree programs to students, but rather transfer credits to continue education at a university level. Below are three Iowa universities that offer outstanding programs at an affordable cost.

  1. Drake University. At Drake University, students can benefit from majors, minors, and concentration tracks in the majority of its undergraduate programs. Some of its most popular bachelor’s programs include environmental science, sustainability and resilience, and sociology.
  2. Iowa State University. Iowa State University offers Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in various fields of study. Some bachelor’s programs include chemistry, accounting, agricultural engineering, computer science, philosophy,
  3. The University of Iowa. Students who attend University of Iowa can benefit from over 200 areas of study with bachelor’s programs being offered on-campus and online. Academic areas include engineering and computing, health sciences, and education.

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Best Community College Programs in Iowa

Students holding diplomas from one of the best community colleges in Iowa
There are a variety of career training programs in Iowa community colleges that offer affordable tuition and academic transfer options to help find your dream career.

The best community college programs in Iowa are in the fields of education, health services, manufacturing, trade, transportation, and utilities. Some of the best programs offered are in nursing, welding, agriculture, gunsmith technology, and automotive technology.


With this program, students learn about nurse aid training and gain skills and knowledge to work in the health sector. Prospective students will acquire training in microbiology, biology, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and developmental psychology. Graduates of this program can attain an associate degree or a certificate.


This program offers certificate degrees recognized by the American Welding Society. Students in this course will learn about blueprint reading, robotic welding, and metal cutting and fabrication. After graduation, students with this diploma will be able to work as welders in the industrial sector.


As agriculture is a large working sector in Iowa, students who complete a program in this field can work in various areas such as agronomy, farm management, and animal science. The Associate of Science degree is offered with specialization options in farm management, business and sales, and animal science.

Gunsmith Technology

The whole purpose of the gunsmith technology program is to teach students to use specialized hand tools and machines to produce, repair, maintain, and change firearms. Typically, it is an Associate of Applied Science degree that takes two years to complete. The program prepares students for employment as technicians in the weapons manufacturing and distribution industry.

Automotive Technology

Automotive technology programs prepare students to deal with customers and repair automobiles. This kind of program offers diplomas, certificates, and associate degrees. It is a hands-on program where students can learn practical skills for engine repair, suspension, steering, and automotive electrical and electronics systems.

Iowa Community College Admission Requirements

The admission requirements to attend a community college in Iowa are minimal with an open admission policy. Iowa community colleges have few admission requirements and will admit applicants with few prerequisites.

Typically, all that is required is a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Some community colleges may require assessment scores or official test scores such as the ACT or SAT. When looking at the best community colleges in Iowa, make sure to check the admission requirements.

Iowa Community College GPA Requirements

As mentioned in the previous section, community colleges in Iowa have an open admissions policy. Our list of the best community colleges in Iowa shows that most of them do not need a minimum GPA to enroll, but requirements may change depending on the specific district.

For example, Indian Hills Community College requires a 2.0 to 3.0 minimum GPA for most of the programs offered. Hawkeye Community College, on the other hand, requires students with a GPA of 2.0 or lower to take a placement test to apply to their programs.

Residency Requirements for Community Colleges in Iowa

The residency requirement for community colleges in Iowa is to reside in the state for at least 90 days before the first day of classes. You must provide proof of your in-state status. Please keep in mind that a student cannot be a resident of more than one state at the same time.

If you live in another state and come to Iowa to attend school, you are a resident of the state you come from rather than an Iowa resident. The biggest difference between in state and out-of-state residences is the tuition and fees.

In-state residents have lower tuition and fees than non-residents and out-of-state students. For example, Des Moines Area Community College offers tuition of $178 per credit hour to residents in the district and $356 per credit hour to non-resident students.

Iowa Community College Age Requirements

You need to be at least 16 years of age to apply to a community college in Iowa. Students enrolled under the legal age of 18 are considered minors and need proof of parents’ residency. Students above the age of 18 must submit their proof of residency, rather than that of their parents.

Iowa Community College Admission Requirements: A Summary

  • Application for admission
  • Application fee
  • School transcript
  • Assessment scores
  • 16 years of age

Why Study in Iowa?

You should study in Iowa because it has a low unemployment rate and cost of living Iowa offers good career advancement opportunities, a large concentration of large companies, and relatively low tuition and community college fees. It is highly attractive for recent graduates.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Iowa is low compared to many other states. Iowa has many great cities for students of all ages and is a fantastic spot for young professionals to get an education and start careers.

Lower Unemployment Rate

According to US News, Des Moines is the 14th best place to live in America . It has a steady economy with low unemployment under the US average , making it a good destination to find job prospects after graduation.

Natural Environment

Iowa is full of natural vegetation with thick woodland areas and protected river valleys. According to US News & World Report, Iowa ranks among the best states for the natural environment and has relatively clean air and water quality.

Iowa Employment Outlook for Community College Students

The largest employment sectors in Iowa are trade, transportation, utilities, manufacturing and education, and health care. This means that Iowa has the largest number of people employed in auto service, billing, construction, welding, and medical services.

5 In-Demand Iowa Jobs

The five most in-demand Iowa jobs that can be acquired with an associate degree are registered welders, nurses, automotive service technicians, gunsmiths, and farm workers. These are positions that are integral to the economy and offer good job growth in the upcoming years.


​Registered Nurses

Average Salary: $64,990

Registered nurses (RN) work in the healthcare sector and earn good salaries. They administer and organize patient care. RNs can work with an associate degree, but they need to be licensed. In some cases, health institutions prefer RNs with bachelor's degrees.

  • Average Salary in Iowa: $64,990
  • Employment in Iowa: 32,650
  • Overall Job Growth: 9%
  • Best Iowa Community College Program: Nursing program at Kirkwood Community College



Average Salary: $44,220

Welders are professionals who work with metal and provide brazing, cutting, and arc welding. If you pay attention to detail, have a steady hand, and love metalwork, welding courses may be for you. These programs typically provide certifications, and some are recognized by the American Welding Association and the American Association of Mechanical Engineers.

  • Average Salary in Iowa: $44,220
  • Employment in Iowa: 8,400
  • Overall Job Growth: 8%
  • Best Iowa Community College Program: Welding program at Northwest Iowa Community College


Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Average Salary: $44,440

Automotive technicians and mechanics work on vehicles. A good mechanic has skills in problem-solving, time management, decision-making, and computer technology. You can work in automotive technology with an associate degree certified by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence.

  • Average Salary in Iowa: $44,440
  • Employment in Iowa: 6,720
  • Overall Job Growth: 0%
  • Best Iowa Community College Program: Automotive Technology program at Northeast Iowa Community College



Average Salary: $38,550

Gunsmiths work closely with the construction, repair, and maintenance of firearms. Graduates may work as gunsmiths for gun manufacturers, sports goods stores, gun shops, or their private enterprises. To become a gunsmith, you will need to enroll in a two-year school and get an associate degree.

  • Average Salary in Iowa: $38,550
  • Employment in Iowa: 2,090
  • Overall Job Growth: -2%
  • Best Iowa Community College Program: Gunsmith Technology program at Marshalltown Community College


Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals

Average Salary: $32,940

The responsibilities of farmworkers are to plant, grow, and harvest crops, as well as raise animals, and repair or maintain agricultural equipment. In most cases, students complete an Associate of Applied Science in Agriculture program. Graduates who wish to continue their education can choose an animal science transfer program or an agronomy transfer major.

  • Average Salary in Iowa: $32,940
  • Employment in Iowa: 1,230
  • Overall Job Growth: N/A
  • Best Iowa Community College Program: Agriculture Program at North Iowa Area Community College

What Community Colleges in Iowa Have Dorms?

Most community colleges have residence halls that offer dormitories to students. Some colleges include Northwest Iowa Community College, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, Ellsworth Community College, and Southwestern Community College.

Living in a dormitory can be convenient in college because it will provide you with the opportunity to make friends and enrich your college experience. While having the chance to socialize and create peer groups is good, dormitories are often expensive and can be costly in addition to your tuition and fees.

Iowa Community Colleges With Dorms

  1. Des Moines Area Community College
  2. Iowa Central Community College
  3. Iowa Lakes Community College
  4. Iowa Western Community College
  5. Southeastern Community College

What Community Colleges Offer Winter Intersession in Iowa?

Some of the best Iowa community colleges with winter intersessions are the Eastern Iowa Community College, Kirkwood Community College, and Southeastern Community College. Some of the benefits of winter intercession are faster graduation and flexible enrollment options.

A winter intersession is a condensed session that takes place between the Fall and Spring semesters and offers academic credit courses. During intersessions, students can earn college credits in an expedited fashion.

Iowa Community Colleges With Winter Intersession

  1. Eastern Iowa Community College
  2. Southeastern Community College
  3. Iowa Western Community College
  4. Kirkwood Community College
  5. Northeast Iowa Community College

What Community Colleges in Iowa Have Summer Classes?

Many community colleges in Iowa offer summer classes. Some of the best are Des Moines Area Community College, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, and Mason City. Summer programs are an excellent opportunity to get ahead in your degree program. These programs assist students in making up for missed credits or improving their GPA scores.

Iowa Community Colleges With Summer Classes

  1. Des Moines Area Community College
  2. Eastern Iowa Community Colleges
  3. Kirkwood Community College
  4. North Iowa Area Community College
  5. Northeast Iowa Community College

How to Apply to Community College in Iowa

You can apply to community college in Iowa by submitting an online application, submitting SAT or ACT scores, and submitting high school transcripts. There are additional steps when applying for financial aid or scholarships.

Iowa Community College Application Steps

  1. Application for admission
  2. Submit standardized test scores (if applicable)
  3. Submit official high school transcripts
  4. Apply for financial aid (optional)
  5. Apply for scholarships (optional)

Cost of Community Colleges in Iowa

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the cost of community colleges in Iowa is, on average, $5,306 for in-state tuition and $6,664 for out-of-state tuition. This would be a total of $10,612 for in-state students and $13,328 for out-of-state students when completing a two-year associate degree program.

Are Community Colleges Ever Free in Iowa?

Yes, there are community colleges that are free in Iowa. Free tuition is offered in Iowa through the Last-Dollar Scholarship which is a special program that covers dozens of high-demand career programs across the state. This scholarship is meant for postsecondary certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees.

Which Community Colleges Are Free in Iowa?

Many community colleges in Iowa are free, such as Western Iowa Tech Community College, Eastern Iowa Community College, Northeast Iowa Community College, and Kirkwood Community College. All of them offer the same Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship.

Who Qualifies for Free Community College in Iowa?

To qualify for the Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship program, you must be an Iowa resident. You also need to be a recent high school graduate enrolled in a full-time program or part-time while employed in an approved work-study learning program.

How to Apply for Free Community College in Iowa

  1. Submit your FAFSA form
  2. Choose a tuition-free degree program
  3. Wait for a reply from a Last-Dollar Scholarship once eligibility is confirmed and registration for classes is complete.

Scholarships for Community Colleges in Iowa

There are different kinds of scholarships for community colleges in Iowa. Most community colleges in Iowa offer military spouses and dependents scholarships, Iowa resident grants, and all qualifying students federal student aid. In most cases, they all have a similar enrollment process.

How to Get a Scholarship for Community Colleges in Iowa

  1. Earn a high school diploma or the equivalent
  2. Apply for admission to a community college
  3. Complete a scholarship application
  4. Provide a copy of your official high school transcript
  5. Wait for a reply

Iowa Community College Scholarships List

  • Des Moines Family Assistance Scholarship | Amount: $2,500-$5,000. This scholarship requires students with a GPA of 2.0 and be enrolled full-time. It is meant for unmarried students with dependents who live in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Hawkeye Community College GEAR UP Iowa Scholarship | Amount: $2,600 . This scholarship can be used to cover college room and board, tuition and fees, books and supplies, and other living costs. To receive the scholarship you must be under the age of 22, enroll for at least three semester hours, and have completed secondary education.
  • Iowa Western Presidential Scholarship | Amount: $2,500. This scholarship will pay up to $2,500 per semester and is a two-year conditional award worth $10,000. It is meant for freshmen entering college with a cumulative high school GPA of 3.5 or higher.

Other Iowa Community College Financial Aid Options

There are other Iowa community college financial aid options like state grants, federal funding, student loans, and work-study programs. With these aid options, students can use them to pay for educational expenditures and make college more affordable.

Federal Grants

Federal funding is one of the main sources of revenue for Iowa’s community colleges. For example, the Federal Direct Loan Program from Northwest Iowa Community College provides a maximum annual loan limitation for first-year students of $5,500, and $6,500 for second-year students.

Iowa Grants

The Kibbie Grant is a state funding program that is available to Iowa residents enrolling in specific vocational or technical education programs. For up to two years of school, one-half of the average Iowa community college tuition and required fees are paid each year.

Student Loans

Some of the most common student loans in Iowa are the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans. Subsidized loans are based on financial needs while non-subsidized loans are not based on financial needs.

Federal Work-Study Program

The Federal Work-Study Program helps students with financial needs earn money to help pay for their school expenditures by providing part-time work. This college work-study program has a pay rate of $9.75 per hour. Financial needs as established in the application process when determining student eligibility for work under the program.

The Best Financial Aid for Your Situation

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What Are the Financial Aid Requirements for Community Colleges in Iowa?

The financial aid requirements for community colleges in Iowa require the student to be a US citizen or eligible noncitizen and be enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program at a college. These are the most general eligibility requirements for financial aid at a community college in Iowa.

Iowa Financial Aid Requirements: Overview

  • US citizen or an eligible non-citizen
  • Possess a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Enrolled in a community college in Iowa that leads to a degree or certificate
  • Free of debt
  • Maintain an acceptable GPA

Should You Attend Community College in Iowa?

Yes, you should attend a community college in Iowa. Each Iowa community college provides extensive and unique undergraduate programs. Community colleges offer many undergraduate options for students and are open to all Iowa residents.

Iowa offers an affordable place to live, good job prospects, and affordable community colleges. Students can also expand their knowledge and expertise through some of the best coding bootcamps while learning at a community college.

Iowa Community College Rankings: Methodology

Our ranking of Iowa community colleges is based mainly on the graduation rate. If graduation rate statistics were not available, we used data on student-to-faculty ratios to rank the remaining schools. These figures, sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), best reflect a student’s chances of getting the education and help they need to succeed.

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Best Iowa Community Colleges FAQ

How are Iowa community colleges funded?

State funding, federal funding, tuition, and fees are the main sources of revenue for Iowa’s community colleges. The federal government typically gives financial aid to individual students and specialized research programs, whereas state financial funding mostly pays for the regular operations of public institutions.

What is Iowa the state known for?

Iowa is known as the hawkeye state, named after chief Black Hawk, leader of the native American Sauk tribe. It is also known for Otto Rohwedder, the inventor of sliced bread.

What Iowa community college has the highest acceptance rate?

Western Iowa Tech Community College, Southeastern Community College, Iowa Lakes Community College, North Iowa Area Community College, and Southwestern Community College have acceptance rates of nearly 100 percent. Most community colleges in Iowa have an open admission policy which reflects the high acceptance rate.

Why should I move to Iowa?

You should move to Iowa because it is one of the more affordable states. It is a convenient option with great colleges, good jobs, and a beautiful landscape.

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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Hristijan Josifovski

About the author: Hristijan is an expert content writer who has worked extensively in tech and human resources. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Public Relations from St. Cyril and Methodius University. He has also completed a Fullstack Academy course at Code Academy as well as a digital marketing certificate at Google.

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