2020 Best Online Community Colleges in California

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 5/7/2020
2020 Best Online Community Colleges in California Badge

These 21 community colleges are the best places in California to earn an online associate degree or certificate. While all of these community colleges offer at least one fully online associate degree, Foothill College, ranked #1, offers 41 online associate degrees at a tuition rate of $3,555 per year. Cerro Coso Community College, ranked #5, also has a wide variety of online degrees available, including an Associate of Arts in Anthropology, an Associate of Science in Information Technology, and more.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Locations
# 1 #1 $3,555 Los Altos Hills
# 2 #2 $1,380 Santa Maria
# 3 #3 $1,380 Barstow
# 4 #4 $1,380 Fountain Valley (and 3 others)
# 5 #5 $1,380 Ridgecrest (and 1 other)
# 6 #6 $1,380 Glendora
# 7 #7 $1,380 Santa Barbara
# 8 #8 $1,380 San Bernardino
# 9 #9 $1,380 Livermore
# 10 #10 $1,380 Sacramento
# 11 #11 $1,395 South Lake Tahoe
# 12 #12 $1,380 Monterey
# 13 #13 $1,380 Culver City
# 14 #14 $1,380 Sacramento
# 15 #15 $1,380 Susanville
# 16 #16 $1,380 Fresno
# 17 #17 $1,380 Los Angeles
# 18 #18 $1,380 Salinas
# 19 #19 $1,380 Merced
# 20 #20 $1,380 Santa Ana
# 21 #21 $1,380 Whittier

2020 Online Community Colleges in California - Ranking Details

For each school, we conducted manual research to provide prospective students with more details about the schools' online programs. Explore online degrees offered and accreditation information below.

#1 Foothill College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,555
  • Locations: Los Altos Hills
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Foothill College is located in Los Altos Hills, California, and offers 15 different online associate degrees. There are 14 different Associate of Arts degrees available in subjects such as Accounting, Art History, Humanities, Psychology, Sociology, and more. One Associate of Science degree is also offered in Geography. Additionally, Foothill College provides opportunities for students interested in earning an online certificate. There are 37 online certificates, including Career Certificates in Entrepreneurship, Financial Accounting, Marketing, Tax Accounting, and Financial Literacy. All online courses are offered through Canvas, and the school teaches all students how to use the system prior to the start of classes. Telecommuting students also have access to online library services, tutoring, and other free materials.

#2 Allan Hancock College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Santa Maria
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California, offers four Associate of Arts and five Associate of Science online degree programs. This selection includes an AA in Social Science, an AS in Business Marketing, and an AS in Fire Technology. Additionally, the California community college offers an online Certificate in Business. Online students complete courses remotely using the Canvas system, and the school provides a variety of tutorials to assist distance learners with common challenges, like time management and communication skills. There are also a variety of digital services available by email, including counseling and assistance from the career center.

#3 Barstow Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Barstow
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Barstow Community College serves approximately 3,700 students annually, offering online degrees and individual courses for distance learners. Students enrolled in online programs must complete coursework on the college's schedule, and classes are available to students for only the duration of the week during which they are delivered. Both fully online and hybrid programs are available, ranging from business management to child development. For those who would like assistance getting set up, the Computer Commons Tutorial Center on campus provides walk-in or appointment-based support. For those who need tutoring online, Barstow Community College offers NetTutor, which is a virtual tutoring resource. Online students graduate with transcripts that are identical to those of traditional, on-campus students, and may progress to the baccalaureate degree level or seek employment with the technical certificate or associate's degree that they receive from BCC.

#4 Coastline Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Fountain Valley (and 3 others)
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Coastline Community College offers more than 70 degree and certificate programs in a fully online format. Whether it's an associate's degree or professional certificate, students can find opportunities that match their educational goals. Additionally, students can take part in the Learning 1st program, which functions as a partnership between Coastline Community College and any of the following universities:Pennsylvania State University, Troy University, University of Illinois-Springfield, or University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Students in this program receive an AA before continuing on to earn a BA or BS at the university they have selected. Most coursework at Coastline Community College can be completed according to students' personal schedule and responsibilities. Online students can take advantage of 24/7 tutoring, online academic advisors, and access to the school's virtual library. These tools are provided to ensure success of enrolled students.

#5 Cerro Coso Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Ridgecrest (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Students attending Cerro Cosa Community College in Ridgecrest, California, will find multiple online associate degree and certificate programs. Some of the most notable options include an Associate of Arts in Anthropology, an Associate of Science in Cyber Security Technology, a Data Analyst Certificate, and a Paralegal Studies Certificate. All distance learners are provided with online academic resources, including tutoring, as well as career guidance and transfer assistance. For online courses, some classes require proctor testing at an approved location, while others utilize the Proctorio system.

#6 Citrus College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Glendora
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Based just outside of Los Angeles, Citrus College in Glendora, California, is home to various online degree and certificate options. Their online offerings include an Associate of Arts in Social and Behavioral Sciences, an Associate of Science in Business, and three Associate Degrees for Transfer in Administration — Justice, History and Sociology. Online students are provided with nearly all the same support services as on-campus students, including advising, tutoring, and career guidance. All required textbooks and supplies are available for purchase through the school bookstore's e-commerce site.

#7 Santa Barbara City College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Santa Barbara
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Founded in 1909, Santa Barbara City College is one of the oldest community colleges in California. The institution offers six online Associate of Arts degrees, including an AA in Marketing and an AA in International Business, and three Associate of Science programs. The online AA in Liberal Arts and Sciences is available with three concentration areas: arts and humanities, science and mathematics, and social and behavioral sciences. There are also numerous certificates and skills competency awards available to online learners. The distance learning program provides online support services, including tutoring, library services and counseling.

#8 San Bernardino Valley College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: San Bernardino
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

San Bernardino Valley College in California offers online Associate of Arts degrees in Administration of Justice, Anthropology, Business Administration, Liberal Arts, Philosophy and Sociology. Students can also pursue an online Associate of Science in Administration of Justice, along with a variety of online certificates, including a Water Treatment Certificate. Accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), the community college provides online courses through Canvas, and all remote students have the opportunity to participate in free tutoring sessions through the Tutorial and Writing centers.

#9 Las Positas College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Livermore
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Las Positas College offers unique opportunities for students who are looking for distance learning opportunities. Students can earn degrees in sociology, liberal arts, or marketing, or a certificate of achievement in supervisory management. Courses are generally not self-directed, but each instructor can make independent decisions regarding the structure and scope of the course. Online students at Las Positas College have the ability to complete their coursework using a laptop or desktop computer or a mobile device using the free Canvas app. Students can also take advantage of online resources including online tutoring, technical support, disability services, and counseling.

#10 American River College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Sacramento
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Located in Sacramento County, California, American River College offers a variety of online Associate of Arts degrees in five subject areas, including Accounting, General Business, History of Creative Arts, Management, and the Individual and Society. There is also a long list of online certificate programs, including Activity Coordinator, Tax Specialist, and Internet Marketing. Online students at the community college complete coursework through the Canvas system and have virtual access to tech support. The school is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).<br>

#11 Lake Tahoe Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,395
  • Locations: South Lake Tahoe
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Lake Tahoe Community College offers a number of online degrees and certificates for students who are interested in distance learning. Students can earn an associate of arts in fields such as anthropology, business, humanities, criminal justice, psychology, social science, and Spanish. Available certificates include accounting and computer and information science. Those who are unsure if an online degree is the best fit can find a short quiz on the school's website to determine whether they should pursue an online education. For those who enroll, several tools are provided by Lake Tahoe Community College in order to support students' academic journeys. Counseling, tutoring, academic advising, and financial aid are all accessible resources. In addition, many required textbooks are available in an online format.

#12 Monterey Peninsula College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Monterey
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Monterey Peninsula College offers online opportunities for students to begin or complete degree and certificate programs. Students can select from a general education path, or degrees in business administration, early childhood education, economics, history, or psychology. Many of these programs are designed to transfer to four-year institutions after students earn an associate's degree. Available programs include certificates in nutrition and food, linguistics, and IT help desk/user support training. Options for degree completion are also available for degrees such as administration of justice, and anthropology. Students can find technical support through the MPC online help desk, or the online counseling service to discuss course selection and their education plan.

#13 West Los Angeles College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Culver City
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

West Los Angeles College in Culver City, California, offers an extensive range of online programs, including Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees. Students also have the choice of multiple online Certificates of Achievement and Skill Certificates. The online resources provided by this Los Angeles-based community college are powered by the Canvas platform, and are of great benefit to their telecommuting students. Along with online tutoring, tech support, library services, and academic counseling, the school has a blog dedicated to providing tips and tricks for distance learners.

#14 Cosumnes River College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Sacramento
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Based in Sacramento, California, Cosumnes River College provides online Associate of Science degrees in the following areas of study: Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Geography, Health Information Technology, and Nutrition and Foods. There are also online certificates available in five areas, including a Certificate of Achievement in Health Information Coding Specialist and a Certificate of Proficiency in Field Data Mapping and Geographic Information. The college offers various resources to assist distance learners, including readiness tutorials and an Online Student Success course.

#15 Lassen Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Susanville
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

A number of online courses are available for distance learners through Lassen Community College. Students use Canvas by Instructure as the platform for their coursework, and use the system to engage in classroom discussions, submit assignments, and take tests and quizzes. Many of the classes that are offered are transferable to four-year universities in the California State University system, or the University of California system. When enrolled in online programs, students can take advantage of many of the same resources as traditional, on-campus students, including the bookstore, career center, and counseling. Students who excel in Lassen Community College's online courses are open-minded, self-motivated, and able to devote 4-15 hours per week to each class in which they are enrolled.

#16 Fresno City College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Fresno
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

At Fresno City College in California, online students have the opportunity to pursue an Associate of Science in Health Information Technology and an Associate of Science in Library Technology. The community college also offers an online Certificate in Retail Management and an online Library Technology Certificate of Achievement. Distance students at Fresno City College have access to free Hoonuit software, around-the-clock online tutoring, and the Peer Assisted Study Sessions program in a digital environment. They also offer academic and transfer counseling services by email, and click-to-chat.

#17 Los Angeles City College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Los Angeles
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Online course offerings at Los Angeles City College include accounting, business administration, kinesiology, social sciences, and law/administration of justice. Students can expect that the online courses that they enroll in are identical to traditional, on-campus courses, and should determine whether an online education is the best fit for them. Once signed up for classes, students receive lesson materials, participate in classroom discussions, submit assignments, and complete testing through the course management system (CMS). An online orientation is available for students prior to beginning their coursework. Throughout their studies, additional resources for distance learning success are accessible online, such as tutoring through Net Tutor, academic advising, the college's bookstore, and 24/7 online reference assistance from campus librarians.

#18 Hartnell College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Salinas
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Located in Salinas, California, Hartnell College offers a 100-percent-online Associate of Science in Administration of Justice. The program offers three specialized tracks so students can focus their studies to advance their career goals. The specializations are correctional science, paralegal/legal assistant, and criminal justice. They also offer a Fast Track program for the criminal justice specialization, where students can earn their degree a semester earlier than the standard program. Students complete online coursework in Canvas and required interactions with academic counselors take place over email, and through virtual meetings. Currently, out-of-state students pay $249 per credit, while California residents receive a rate of $46 per unit.

#19 Merced College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Merced
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Merced College is a community college offering online learning for students who need flexibility in their schedule that traditional classes cannot give them. Online courses range from being fully online, to hybrid courses that involve frequent or infrequent visits to the Merced College campus. All of the available classes are taught by the same faculty members who teach on campus, ensuring that those who are studying online are receiving the same education as traditional students. Students who are enrolling in distance learning courses for the first time can take advantage of video tutorials, a virtual orientation, and a number of online resources for success such as academic support and tutoring, a librarian online chat feature through Merced's campus library, technical support, and financial aid.

#20 Santa Ana College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Santa Ana
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Santa Ana College in California offers an online Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts with optional concentration areas in American studies and arts, humanities and communication. Students planning to transfer to a four-year institution also have the option of an online Associate of Science in Business Administration. All remote degree seekers have access to free course materials and textbooks through the school's Open Educational Resources program. Online students also have the opportunity to access academic counseling and library services, as well as tutoring through the campus Learning Center and NetTutor.

#21 Rio Hondo College

  • Annual Tuition: $1,380
  • Locations: Whittier
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC

Online students at Rio Hondo College are supported through a number of online resources such as technology assistance, online counseling and academic advising, and library/research services. While distance learning courses allow for flexibility for students with work or family responsibilities, courses are not self-paced, as instructors will set regular due dates and deadlines that students must stay on top of. Courses are available in accounting, administration of justice, anthropology, business law, childhood development, history, fire technology and prevention, and kinesiology. Online learners can access their classes on their mobile devices, however, they may not be able to complete their coursework that way. 

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