As the largest state in the U.S., both in area and population, it should be no surprise that there are great community colleges in Texas. But with over 130 community colleges to choose from in the state, how do you figure out which one is right for you?
From performing arts and business management classes to every subject in-between, Texas has a great community college for all prospective students. In-between your studies, you can partake in the country music scene, enjoy tasty Texas barbeque, or attend one of the many festivals offered across the state.
Advancing your education with an associate degree can help you earn more money in your career, give you essential skills you need to move up the ladder, and move you towards a bachelor’s degree and beyond!
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10 Best Texas Community Colleges 2023
There are so many incredible colleges in Texas to choose from. But after reviewing hundreds of them, we have narrowed down our top community colleges list down to ten finalists. If you are considering community college this year, you have come to the right place!
Houston International College Cadtiotech Ultrasound School offers associate degrees in vascular sonography and diagnostic medical sonography. The university also offers an echocardiogram technician certificate program. Programs take five semesters to complete and prepare students for a career as an ultrasound allied healthcare professional. The cost for the programs is about $30,000, including courses, books, supplies, and uniform costs.
The School of Automotive Machinists and Technology (SAM Tech) is located in Houston, Texas, and provides students with machining and technical education in the racing industry. The school offers five programs:
- Engine block machining
- CNC machining
- Cylinder head machining
- EFI tuning
- Associate of Applied Science Degree in Automotive Engine/Block and Cylinders Head Machining.
SAM Tech graduates have worked for NASCAR, IndyCar, and automotive manufacturers such as General Motors and Ferrea.
The Culinary Institute Lenotre is one of the best culinary and baking schools in the U.S. The school offers seven majors: baking pastry arts, culinary arts, hospitality restaurant management, and wine and beverage management, just to name a few. Graduates have become acclaimed personal chefs, restaurant owners, and managers of successful restaurant groups. The average tuition is about $32,000, and financial aid is available.
With 130 chef instructors, the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts-Austin is the largest culinary school in the nation. The program offers in-person programs in culinary arts, baking, and pastry. If in-person courses don’t work for you, the program also provides online food and beverage operations as well as plant-based culinary arts programs. From farm-to-table cooking to French cuisine, this culinary school prides itself on its acclaimed chefs, affordability, and international network of students and alumni. The university also has programs located in Boulder, Colorado.
The College of Health Care Professions-Austin (CHCP Austin) offers over 26 certificate and associate degree programs in various ancillary medical careers. Alumni go on to have exciting careers as dental assistants, pharmacy technicians, healthcare managers, and sonographers, just to name a few. Programs are on-campus, online, or hybrid. Other than the Austin campus, there are eight different locations across the state of Texas.
The Lincoln Technical Institute Texas campus is in Dallas-Fort Worth. The institution specializes in automotive and skilled trade industries. They also have culinary, spa and cosmetology, information technology, and health sciences programs as well. Graduates earn a certificate, diploma, or a degree, depending on the program. This university prides itself on having more than 60 individual welding booths, fully-equipped real-world auto and diesel bays, and training space for BMW’s Mini Cooper Service Technician Education Program (STEP). The average cost of tuition after financial aid is $20K.
The College of Health Care Professions also has a campus location in San Antonio ranked highly enough to make this list of top Texas community colleges! With 1.5 million people living in San Antonio and an ever-growing need for qualified health providers, this city needs a university all to itself. Some of the most popular certificate programs help students become radiologic technologists, medical assistants, physical therapy technicians, or medical billers and coders. Several associate degree programs earn students exciting careers as surgical technologists and diagnostic medical sonographers.
If working in the animal healthcare field is the career you have always dreamed of, the Vet Tech Institute of Houston may be right up your alley! Graduates earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Veterinary Technology and work exciting careers as a vet tech. The program is 18 months from start to graduation, and there are three starting times per year. Onsite facilities include kennels, surgical suites, clinical labs, radiography rooms, and more. The institute has accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
The Pima Medical Institute-El Paso has five certificate programs and four associate degrees. Certificate program graduates become dental hygienists, healthcare administrators, medical assistants, pharmacy techs, or phlebotomists. The associate degree programs include medical sonography, occupational therapy assistant, radiography, and veterinary technician programs.
The institution prides itself on providing a “life-changing blend of a real college campus” along with “the closeness of family.” The average cost of tuition for first-time, full-time undergraduates is $20,000.
The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP) - Fort Worth provides eight certificate and associate degree programs in various allied healthcare fields. Graduates lead successful careers:
- Pharmacy techs
- Medical billers and coders
- Healthcare administrators
- Radiologic technologists.
The college also offers flexible class schedules, including night and evening classes and online programs. This flexibility allows many students to continue working part-time or full-time throughout their programs.
If you're looking for other Texas community colleges, check out the Find Your Perfect "U" tool. You can search over 6,000 colleges and universities with 11 different filters to find the perfect school for you!
How Do I Pay For Community College?
Investing in higher education is expensive. However, going to a community college is a smart way to reduce educational costs. There are several ways to help pay or minimize the costs of going to community college, such as:
- Take advanced placement (AP) classes in high school to earn college credits for free
- Research the programs that interest you most as thoroughly as you can. Switching programs or majors could end up costing thousands of dollars.
- Work part or full-time during your studies. Many programs offer flexible scheduling and allow you to take classes in the evenings or on weekends. You may also want to consider an online or hybrid program if you’re going to work during school.
- Search scholarships to help fund your education without having to pay the money back. You can search through thousands using our scholarship tool.
- Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in less than 30 minutes to see if you qualify for financial aid or grants.
Keep in mind that going to school is a temporary experience. In community college, you are gaining knowledge and skills that you can use to make more money throughout your lifetime. Without education, you may not have the qualifications you need to have the career you desire.
Scholarships for Community College Students
Scholarships are an excellent way to reduce the costs of going to college. Fortunately, Texas has several programs that can help you out. Here are three good ones:
The BAFTX is an undergraduate award for low-income families in Texas. High school seniors and college students may apply. Funding is sent directly to the college. Students must be Texas residents, have a 3.25 GPA, and major in a STEM degree: science, technology, engineering, math, or business. Students must also be able to demonstrate financial need.
This scholarship is for local high school graduates who want to pursue community college education in business, computer sciences, education, engineering, health care, manufacturing, and skilled trades. Applicants must enroll full-time at community college the semester following graduation.
This scholarship offers financial assistance to 25 students for two-year, four-year, or trade and vocational certification programs. Applicants must be high school seniors and enroll as full-time college students the semester after graduating.
If you graduate with an associate degree from a Texas community college and then transfer to a 4-year Texas public college within a year, you might be eligible for the TEXAS grant or Texas Educational Opportunity Grant Program.
Many students mistakenly think they cannot get financial aid because community colleges are less expensive than traditional four-year universities. However, students can receive financial assistance to community college as easily as they can for a 4-year degree.
Is Going to Community College Worth It?
Community college is an excellent place for students who are not sure what profession they wish to enter. In many ways, if you don’t know what you want to study, then it doesn’t make sense to spend a bunch of money on an education you aren’t sure you want.
Going to a community college is worth it for several additional reasons as well, such as:
- Community college is significantly less expensive than a four-year university
- You don’t have to know what you want to major in yet
- You can take classes to see what interests you without as much financial risk
- You can attend full-time or part-time
- Most community colleges offer in-person, online, or hybrid courses
- You can earn a professional certificate, diploma, or an associate degree
- Many employers seek community college graduates with associate degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM)
- You can transfer to a four-year university after you earn an associate degree
- The campuses are usually smaller and less intimidating than larger universities
- You may be able to get more one-on-one attention than you would at a four-year university
Are you debating between going to a community college or applying straight to a four-year university? If that is the case, it is essential to remember that four-year universities commonly accept graduates from community colleges. At the very least, you may save tens of thousands of dollars by having attended a community college first. And you will still have the degree from the four-year university of your choice!
Good luck advancing your education through community college. You are on your way to new opportunities, higher earnings, and an exciting new career!