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Best Online Community Colleges in Florida

By Jordan Beliles | Updated 7/20/2022
2020 Best Online Community Colleges in Florida Badge

In Florida, students can earn an associate degree or certificate online at any of these 19 community colleges. Many of these schools also offer online bachelor's degrees, allowing students who've earned an associate degree to seamlessly continue their education. Ranked #1, Hillsborough Community College has a tuition rate of just $2,654 per year. Students there can earn one of 11 online associate degrees, such as an AA in Business Administration, an AA in Psychology, and an AS in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Locations
# 1 #1 Hillsborough Community College $2,654 Tampa
# 2 #2 Florida Gateway College $3,099 Lake City
# 3 #3 Seminole State College of Florida $2,393 Sanford (and 3 others)
# 4 #4 Santa Fe College $2,753 Gainesville
# 5 #5 Eastern Florida State College $3,120 Cocoa
# 6 #6 St. Johns River State College $2,365 Palatka (and 2 others)
# 7 #7 Valencia College $2,473 Orlando (and 2 others)
# 8 #8 South Florida State College $2,375 Avon Park (and 1 other)
# 9 #9 Tallahassee Community College $3,024 Tallahassee
# 10 #10 State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota $3,074 Bradenton (and 2 others)
# 11 #11 College of Central Florida $2,483 Ocala (and 2 others)
# 12 #12 St. Petersburg College $3,352 Clearwater
# 13 #13 Indian River State College $3,114 Fort Pierce (and 4 others)
# 14 #14 Florida SouthWestern State College $2,436 Fort Myers (and 3 others)
# 15 #15 Polk State College $3,366 Winter Haven
# 16 #16 Broward College $2,400 Fort Lauderdale
# 17 #17 Pasco-Hernando State College $3,155 New Port Richey
# 18 #18 Florida Keys Community College $2,483 Key West
# 19 #19 Pensacola State College $3,137 Pensacola

2020 Online Community Colleges in Florida - 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 Hillsborough Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,654
  • Locations: Tampa
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Hillsborough Community College offers 19 programs that can be completed either entirely online or through a blend of online and in-person coursework. Fully online programs include associate's degrees in criminology and criminal justice, fire science technology, opticianry, or business management and administration. Students studying online can benefit from many of the same resources as traditional students, such as 24/7 academic tutoring, counseling, career development assistance, and library access, which includes an expansive online database. Support is also available through the HCC Live Online Support Center. A number of the online degree programs are designed to be transfer tracks, which prepares students to transfer their degree to a four-year institution.

#2 Florida Gateway College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,099
  • Locations: Lake City
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Based in Lake City, Florida, Gateway College offers online Associate of Science degrees in Business Administration, Early Childhood Education, Environmental Science Technology, and Veterinary Technology. Online students may also pursue an Associate of Arts degree, along with nine certificate programs. While some online courses require proctored exams, many classes allow tests to be completed at home. Additionally, all remote students receive personalized advising services, as well as access to library and career center services. This Florida-based institution is authorized to provide online courses through the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement.

#3 Seminole State College of Florida

  • Annual Tuition: $2,393
  • Locations: Sanford (and 3 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Located in Sanford, Seminole State College of Florida is home to a long list of online educational opportunities. The college offers multiple technical certificates and Associate of Science degrees to remote students, along with a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology with an optional cyber security track. All online students complete self-paced courses through the Canvas system, which is accompanied by around-the-clock technical support. The school also offers resources catered to distance learners, including advising, tutoring, library services, and financial aid support.

#4 Santa Fe College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,753
  • Locations: Gainesville
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Santa Fe College offers fully online degree programs, as well as hybrid programs that blend online lessons with on-campus coursework. Students.can find a quiz on the school's website that can help them determine whether an online education is the best fit for them. Courses range from business management to health services, and include options in information technology and library science. Certain online classes require proctored exams, which may require trips to campus. Online students have access to a number of resources, including virtual appointments with academic advisors and tutors, a digital bookstore and library, and a career exploration center with tools that are available in an online format.

#5 Eastern Florida State College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,120
  • Locations: Cocoa
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Formerly known as Brevard Community College, Eastern Florida State College in Brevard County gives students the opportunity to pursue multiple degrees and certificates remotely. The program selection includes an Associate of Science in Social and Human Services, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Management (eight concentrations), and a College Credit Certificate in Accounting Technology Operations. The distance-learning programs are powered through Canvas and authorized by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). The institution encourages an interactive learning environment for online courses, which includes live virtual discussions and collaboration.

#6 St. Johns River State College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,365
  • Locations: Palatka (and 2 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Founded in 1958, St. Johns River State College in Northeast Florida offers online Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees. A few of the most popular degrees include an AS in Computer Programming and Analysis and a BS in Organizational Management. The state college also offers an online Certificate in Criminal Justice Technology Specialist and an RN to BSN online program track. Participation in online courses occurs in Blackboard, with some courses requiring proctored testing. All remote students have access to the school's scholarship offerings, along with online tutoring services through the Smarthinking program.

#7 Valencia College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,473
  • Locations: Orlando (and 2 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Students at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, have three online program options: an Associate of Science in Health Information Technology, an Advanced Technical Certificate in Leadership in Healthcare, and a Certificate in Health Information Technology. All students have access to the Career Coach system, which provides online tools and services for both working professionals and full-time students. For testing, students visit one of the school's campuses or arrange an approved location for proctored exams. The estimated tuition cost at Valencia College is around $103 per credit hour for Florida residents and about $390 per credit hour for out-of-state students.

#8 South Florida State College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,375
  • Locations: Avon Park (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

South Florida State College offers online classes and programs through the Florida Virtual Campus, or FLVC. This platform is a consortium of institutions that provide distance learning opportunities to students state-wide. Through FloridaShines, a hub of educational services, students can pursue online degrees through taking courses at any of the schools in the Florida Virtual Campus consortium after receiving permission from both the home institution and the secondary institution. Online courses can be either synchronous or asynchronous, depending on the class, and students are expected to log on regularly to keep up with coursework. South Florida State College students can also download the school's app, which allows them to keep track of their schedules and grades.

#9 Tallahassee Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,024
  • Locations: Tallahassee
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Part of the Florida College System, Tallahassee Community College is home to four online associate programs. They include an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice Technology, an Associate of Science in Early Childhood Development and Education, and an Associate of Science in Paralegal and Legal Studies. Additionally, the school offers an Associate of Arts for students interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree at a four-year institution. The asynchronous courses are arranged with regularly scheduled deadlines and virtual participation.

#10 State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota

  • Annual Tuition: $3,074
  • Locations: Bradenton (and 2 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Students can pursue several different degrees and certificates entirely online through State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota. From a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education to an RN-BSN completion program, distance learners will find options that fit their professional goals, as well as their lifestyles. Available two-year associate degrees include accounting technology, business administration, computer information technology, and insurance risk management. Certificates are also available in professional fields such as marketing, network security, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice technology. Online students can take advantage of the Academic Resource Center (ARC), which hosts an online writing center, tutoring services, and a library database search engine. Prior to enrolling, students can sample an online course through the SCF-Manatee-Sarasota website.

#11 College of Central Florida

  • Annual Tuition: $2,483
  • Locations: Ocala (and 2 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Based in Ocala with physical campuses in multiple counties, the College of Central Florida offers a range of online program offerings. Students have the opportunity to earn an Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science in Business Administration, Criminal Justice Technology, and Early Childhood Education. They also offer an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing as well as 11 certificate options, including a Certificate in Business Administration. The school has a Virtual Library system to provide online students with around-the-clock catalog access. Distance learners are also able to seek career services through the Talent Center's online portal.

#12 St. Petersburg College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,352
  • Locations: Clearwater
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

St. Petersburg College is part of the Florida College System. The state college offers a wide range of online programs for individuals seeking an associate or bachelor's degree, as well as certificates in specialized areas. Some of the most notable options include an Associate of Science in Cybersecurity, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Sustainability Management, and a Certificate in Homeland Security. Offering both eight-week and traditional 16-week sessions, online classes are available in both asynchronous and synchronous formats, with live web conferencing and on-demand lecture streaming capabilities.

#13 Indian River State College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,114
  • Locations: Fort Pierce (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida, offers multiple associate and bachelor's degrees through their online-learning program. A few of the top options available include an Associate of Science in Computer Information Technology, a Bachelor of Science in Education with a specialization in middle grades math, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. All online courses are provided through the Blackboard system with help desk support available 24 hours a day. Tuition for Florida and non-Florida residents varies by course level. Lower-level class rates are around $104 per credit hour for in-state residents, while out-of-state students pay around $390 per credit.

#14 Florida SouthWestern State College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,436
  • Locations: Fort Myers (and 3 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Based in Fort Myers, Florida, Florida SouthWestern State College offers an online Associate of Science in five areas of study: Accounting Technology, Business Administration and Management, Criminal Justice Technology, Early Childhood Education, and Social and Human Services. There is also an online Associate of Arts, along with various bachelor's degrees and certificate options. Utilizing the Canvas system, students access all coursework remotely, with exams taking place online through Proctorio. The school also offers support services to remote participants, including resume-building guidance.

#15 Polk State College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,366
  • Locations: Winter Haven
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Polk State College offers a variety of courses and degree programs in an online format. Classes are offered asynchronously through Canvas, a platform through which students receive lesson material, take tests, and submit assignments. Canvas can be used on desktop or laptop computers, as well as accessed from one's mobile phone, making coursework available on-the-go. Popular classes include courses in computer systems, business management, criminal justice, nursing, and education. Distance learners at Polk State College have access to a number of online resources to support them in their academics, such as a virtual student center, counseling, tutoring and writing assistance, and a student help desk.

#16 Broward College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,400
  • Locations: Fort Lauderdale
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is home to a substantial number of online programs. The offerings cover technical certificates, as well as both associate and bachelor's degrees, including an Associate of Science in Office Administration, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management, and a Technical Certificate in Airport Management. The state college offers both synchronous and asynchronous courses, with some classes offering game-based learning options. All remote courses are designed with online proctoring for exams, and every distance learner has access to online tutoring, academic advising, career counseling, and library services.

#17 Pasco-Hernando State College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,155
  • Locations: New Port Richey
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

With locations across both Hernando and Pasco counties, Pasco-Hernando State College offers a few online associate and bachelor's degree programs. The selection consists of an Associate of Arts, an Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. There are also five online certificate options available. Students access digital resources through the PHSC Online system, with all remote coursework taking place in Canvas.

#18 Florida Keys Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $2,483
  • Locations: Key West
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Florida Keys Community College in Key West features one online program — an Associate of Arts. The degree is designed for students planning to transfer to a four-year college or university to pursue a bachelor's degree. With a little more than 1,200 students, this Florida community college offers an 11-to-1, student-to-faculty ratio. While online courses take place through the Canvas platform, all online students are able to request live, virtual tutoring services through the school's Smarthinking program.

#19 Pensacola State College

  • Annual Tuition: $3,137
  • Locations: Pensacola
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Founded in 1948, Pensacola State College offers both online associate degrees and certificate programs. Students can pursue an Associate of Arts in Business or General Studies, as well as an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice Technology, Accounting Technology, and Business Administration. For online certificates, the options cover a variety of areas, including Business Management, Human Resource Administrator, and Project Management. Online courses are available with both proctored and non-proctored requirements, and each student has virtual access to support and library services.

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:

Florida does not require its colleges to be accredited. However, for those seeking financial aid, accreditation is required.

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, 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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