2023 Best Online Community Colleges in Florida
The online community colleges in Florida make up the Florida College System. In total, 28 schools offer bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and certificates that students can complete entirely online. Thanks to the state's 2+2 Transfer Pathways program, students are able to attend community colleges while easily transferring their credits to many local four-year universities. In 2021, Florida State University accepted around 3,000 transfer students.
Like many schools, Florida's online community colleges offer programs with flexible schedules so students can maintain a work-life balance while studying for their online degree. Each school below is ranked by salary score, a proprietary measurement we use to compare the average salary outcomes of alumni. View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU.
Online Programs You May Be Interested In
South University Online
Annual Tuition: $13,594 - $17,014
2 Programs (view all)
Saint Leo University Online
Annual Tuition: $23,750
5 Programs (view all)
2023 Best Online Community Colleges in Florida
|Rank||School||Salary Score||Median Starting Salary|
|# 1||Florida State College at Jacksonville||$36,122|
|# 2||Hillsborough Community College||63||$33,972|
|# 3||St. Petersburg College||61||$33,340|
|# 4||Broward College||53||$31,833|
|# 5||Seminole State College of Florida||51||$29,884|
#1 Florida State College at Jacksonville
Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) is a public college situated in Jacksonville, FL. They offer 25 online degrees and 35 online certificates — all of which are available to remote students globally. FSCJ sets itself apart from other community colleges by its abundance of bachelor's programs available to online students. There are 10 programs in total, including a Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education.
Some students may prefer to pursue a certificate that may offer a quicker path to the workforce. To achieve this, FSCJ offers technical certificates and career certificates for clinical research coordinators, funeral directors, and health navigator specialists, among several others. Online programs such as these are delivered through the learning management system (LMS) Canvas. Additional resources for online students include career development and academic advising.
#2 Hillsborough Community College
Hillsborough Community College (HCC), located in Plant City, FL, is a public school and the fifth largest institution in Florida's State College System. HCC's catalog features 29 online programs in a wide array of majors that include information technology, communications, humanities, engineering, and performing arts. Among the online offerings is one Bachelor of Science in Nursing — the rest of the programs are at the associate or certificate level.
There are nine college credit certificates which serve to prepare students to enter the workforce in that particular field. These subjects include game design and development, real estate paralegal, a variety of business certificates, and more. For remote students, HCC offers a live online support center, where students can receive technical support for their required software, including Canvas, the school's chosen LMS.
#3 St. Petersburg College
St. Petersburg College is situated in its namesake city on the Gulf Coast. They offer 79 online programs which include certificates, associate in science degrees, associate in arts degrees, transfer plans, and bachelor's degrees. With so many options to choose from, students can explore a range of majors, such as accounting, cybersecurity, homeland security, nursing, and web development. St. Petersburg College is unique in that they also offer short-term training programs that are less than three months long. Here, students will gain a foundational understanding of subjects ranging from health services administration to project management. Online students take classes through the LMS MyCourses, receive free 24/7 tutoring support through Tutor, and have access to a virtual learning commons that features video tutorials.
#4 Broward College
Broward College is a public college located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. They have over 70 online programs students can participate in from around the world. These online degrees are categorized through eight pathways: (1) Arts, Humanities, Communication, and Design; (2) Business; (3) Education; (4) Health Science; (5) Industry, Manufacturing, and Construction; (6) Public Safety; (7) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; and (8) Social Behavioral Sciences and Human Services.
Courses are delivered on a flexible schedule through the Desire2Learn platform. Students can view live lectures and engage with instructors and fellow students through discussion forums and live chats. Exams are proctored online as well, meaning students aren't required to visit campus at any point. Online students have access to career services and a 24/7 online writing center.
#5 Seminole State College of Florida
The Seminole State College of Florida is a public community college in Sanford, FL. With 58 online programs available, the majors at SSC span business, marketing, art, geography, and more. Students may choose from technical certificates, bachelor's degrees, and associate degrees. Examples of available online programs include a Bachelor of Science in Construction, a Technical Certificate in Accounting Operations, and an Associate in Science - Business Administration.
All online courses at SSC are taken through the Canvas LMS, where students can engage in a more flexible learning environment. Some programs may require on-campus orientation or proctored exams; however, the majority of courses are delivered in a fully online format. Additionally, the college's Office of eServices is available to assist online students with academic advising, financial aid, and enrollment.
Overview of Higher Education in Florida
Over the years, Florida has become a beacon for higher education. According to Statista, the Sunshine State ranks fifth in the country for the number of post-secondary schools it has to offer, with 128 four-year universities and 48 two-year colleges.
While quantity doesn't always equal quality, Florida's innovative 2+2 Transfer Pathways program has allowed for more students to graduate from an online community college and enter a bachelor's program at a university. The program works by state universities agreeing to accept transfer credits that students earn at the community college level. Historically, some universities have only accepted certain transferable credits, making it more difficult to achieve a bachelor's degree. For Florida online colleges, however, Transfer Pathways has broadly expanded student's access to higher education.
When it comes to earning a degree from an online community college in Florida, the advantages are crystal clear: The options are abundant and the path to a bachelor's degree is there for the taking. Now, let's take a look at some of the options for attending online colleges in Florida.
Online Schools in Florida
As stated above, Florida colleges online offer benefits that go beyond the general benefits of online community colleges.
Among these schools, students will find many varieties of associate degrees and certificates — most of which can be taken fully online and on a flexible schedule. For example, Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida offers 21 online programs in total. This includes associate degrees in criminology, math education, hospitality administration, and fire science technology. Its programs are designed with transferable credits in mind, leaving graduates with options to apply to a four-year university.
Transferable credits are an important selling point for many online community colleges in Florida.
Furthermore, Florida is a part of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), which is a national program designed to bolster distance learning initiatives. Florida Gateway College and Eastern Florida State College are two such institutions that offer consumer protections for students engaging in online coursework.
Online community colleges in Florida have several pathways to achieve career advancement. Many institutions, such as Seminole State College, have a long list of technical certificates that students can achieve through remote learning. This includes subjects in IT — such as network support and client specialist — or project management certificates that can be leveraged into a number of professional fields.
Accreditation of Online Colleges in Florida
Accreditation means that a college has been independently evaluated by a third-party education organization, such as the U.S. Department of Education. Schools that meet this standard have viable financials and qualified academic programs. Many Florida schools have regional accreditation through specific accrediting organizations, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as well as the Commission on Colleges.
When applying to online colleges in Florida, it's important to verify that they are an accredited institution. It's important to ensure accreditation for several reasons, and one of these is that the school offers transferable credits. As mentioned above, Florida online colleges offer easy routes to transfer credits from an associate degree to a bachelor's degree. However, colleges that are not accredited may not be a part of the state's 2+2 Transfer Pathways program.
Another consideration when it comes to accreditation is a school's ability to provide financial aid:
Popular Online Degree Programs at Florida Community Colleges
Not all community college graduates need to pursue a bachelor's degree. Those with an online associate degree can go on to lead successful careers without incurring more tuition costs.
Many roles in the medical field can be obtained through associate degrees. Radiologic technologists and sonographers, for example, earn roughly $61,000 to $75,000, while dental hygienists earn median salaries of over $75,000. At Sante Fe College, an accredited online community college with a 59% graduation rate, you can get an Associate of Science in Health Information Technology and an Associate of Science in Nursing.
Associate degrees in business are also viable online degree programs at Florida community colleges. One of the top-rated online community college in Florida, Hillsborough Community College, hosts two business administration associate degrees: an Associate of Arts (AA) in Business Administration as well as an Associate of Science (AS) in Business Administration and Management. Graduates can expect to earn around $44,000 per year with an associate degree in business.
Criminal justice associate degrees present another lucrative, viable program option to pursue at online community colleges Florida. For example, St. Johns River State College offers an AS in Criminal Justice Technology, which delves into courses such as Police Administration, Criminal Evidence, and Court Procedures. On average, these graduates can earn up to $66,020 as a police detective.
Cost of Florida Colleges Online
While the online college experience isn't for everyone, most of these schools are more affordable than traditional four-year universities. This makes distance learning attractive to students on a budget.
The average community college student will see $4,072 in annual tuition costs. Overall, online associate degrees from community colleges can cost upwards of $8,300. Keep in mind, online bachelor's degrees may reach $13,919 per year. According to EducationData.org, Florida averages a tuition cost of just $2,580 for in-state community college students. This makes it the 8th most affordable state for this particular education track.
Financial Aid for Online Students in Florida
Florida has many resources available for students seeking financial aid to pay for their online college tuition. Some students may qualify for fee exemptions if they are in an early admission program or find themselves enrolled in an approved apprenticeship. If you're a full-time employee or a student intern supervisor at a state university, you may qualify for tuition-free waivers. Florida also offers a number of scholarship opportunities, as well as financial aid for unhoused students and waivers for military members.
The Bright Futures Scholarship Program is one of Florida's most important financial aid programs. Students may be eligible for up to 100% tuition coverage based on their academic performance during high school through Florida Academic Scholars (FAS), or 75% of their tuition through Florida Medallion Scholars (FMS). Eligibility is based on test scores and an individual's GPA. Keep in mind, the FMS is less competitive than the FAS, which is only awarded to the top performing students in each Florida county.
Aside from Florida-specific aid, there are plenty of ways to seek help through national financial aid programs. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a national program that provides financial assistance to students who need it.
Under our Resources for College Students, you'll discover articles — from how to save money in college to understanding student loans — to help you prepare financially for the next step into higher education.
Employment Outlook for Community College Graduates in Florida
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's short-term employment projections, the state expects a 5.1% job growth among all industries statewide into 2023. This includes 146,333 new hospitality jobs added by the second quarter of 2023, plus 59,639 new roles in the same period for the utilities, trade, and transportation industries. This helps illustrate the fact that several prominent corporations based in Florida hire thousands of graduates from local colleges and universities.
Online students, in particular, are finding a lot of employment opportunities through the Department of Defense, which sees 8% of these graduates working for the Air Force.
Miami Dade College, a community college and member of The Florida College System, has several health care programs, which alumni can use as a stepping stone to employment with large health care providers in the state. This includes Baptist Health, University of Miami, and Mount Sinai, to name a few.
FAQs About Florida's Online Community Colleges
Are Online Degrees Respected?
The idea that online degrees don't hold as much weight as traditional degrees is an antiquated notion. Online colleges are just as respected as traditional universities. The majority of the largest, most sought-after institutions offer both online and on-campus degree programs. Furthermore, when you receive your degree from a university's online program, it most likely won't mention that you earned your credentials through distance learning.
Does Florida Have Good Online Colleges?
Florida has some of the best colleges in the country, many of which offer online programs allowing for remote learning at a student's convenience.
When looking more specifically at our list of the best online community colleges in Florida, it's important to take into account each school's assigned Salary Score. This is a metric we use to determine the potential salary outcomes for graduates of a certain program. The scale is between 0 and 100, with a school's score representing how high a program's salary outcome will be in comparison to a different school with the same degree option.
Are There Scholarships in Florida for Community College?
Scholarship opportunities are widely available for online community colleges in all states. Along with grants and financial aid, the Florida Tax Credit Program incentivises corporations to donate to Scholarship-Funding Organizations (SFOs). In turn, this increases the amount of financial assistance that students have for scholarships in the state. There's also the Florida Student Scholarship and Grant Programs that includes a list of available scholarships for students.
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