Educators and policymakers emphasize higher education’s role in helping students succeed in the workforce–and community colleges play an important role in helping students access those educational opportunities.

Equity and affordable higher education are now almost constantly in the spotlight, and many states have launched initiatives to connect community college students to free or low tuition. Online community colleges offer flexibility for students who have unusual schedules, work or family obligations.

According to 2016 data from the American Association of Community Colleges, nearly half of all U.S. undergraduate students attend community colleges, and programs are underway to help build capacity for academic and career pathways, to strengthen leadership, and to maximize resources.

To help prospective students sort through the many online options, the Center for Online Education released its list of the 50 best online community colleges for 2017.

In order to produce the top 50, the organization scored each school using a range of factors. All criteria were subdivided into three distinct categories, and each carried a different weight for determining a school’s overall score. Categories include online flexibility, academics, and experience and affordability.

(Next page: The top online community colleges)


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