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2023 Best Online Community Colleges in Texas

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 12/29/2022
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Online community colleges in Texas offer a variety of programs for students who want to enter the workforce quickly or work toward a bachelor's degree at a relatively low cost. These colleges primarily feature online certificate programs and associate degrees, though some also have bachelor's degree programs. The potential benefits of online community college include affordability, diverse student makeup, a wide range of majors to choose from, and open admissions policies to help students get their start. Public community colleges in Texas are part of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, which works to promote associate-level education throughout the state. 

View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU.

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2023 Best Online Community Colleges in Texas

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Austin Community College District 78 78 $40,418
# 2 #2 Tarrant County College District 78 $34,314
# 3 #3 Navarro College 66 $43,886
# 4 #4 Odessa College 64 $36,659
# 5 #5 Blinn College 63 $43,028
# 6 #6 Lone Star College System 62 $34,805
# 7 #7 Grayson College 60 $46,234
# 8 #8 McLennan Community College 60 $33,471
# 9 #9 Houston Community College 59 $32,096

2023 Online Colleges Offering Associate Degrees

Ranking Details

#1 Austin Community College District

  • Salary Score: 78
  • Median Starting Salary: $40,418
  • Locations: Austin (and 2 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Austin Community College District (ACC) is a public college with more than 100 online certificate and degree programs. The most popular programs include the Associate of Arts in General Studies and Associate of Science in Business Administration degrees. For many programs, students can choose a fully online option or a hybrid model with some in-person classes. About 11% of the college's students graduate within three years.

The college's online students sign into the Blackboard learning management system to complete coursework. ACC is a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution, with Hispanic or Latinx students composing 39% of the student body. In all, 72% of enrollees study on a part-time basis.

#2 Tarrant County College District

  • Salary Score: 78
  • Median Starting Salary: $34,314
  • Locations: Fort Worth
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Tarrant County College District (TCC), a public institution, features 10 online associate degrees and 24 online certificates. These programs include some of the college's most popular offerings, such as its Business I and Business II certificates and its information technology associate degrees with concentrations in cybersecurity or programming. TCC has a 19% graduation rate.

This school uses the Canvas digital learning platform to deliver online courses. TCC is a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution; Hispanic or Latinx students form the largest single group of enrollees at 35%. Eighty percent of TCC students study part time.

#3 Navarro College

  • Salary Score: 66
  • Median Starting Salary: $43,886
  • Locations: Corsicana (and 2 others)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Navarro College is a public community college that offers many online certificates and associate degree programs. Some of the college's most popular programs are available online, such as the Associate of Arts in General Studies and Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration degrees. One in five Navarro students ends up graduating with a degree or certificate.

The college uses the Canvas learning platform to host online courses, including recorded lectures, discussion forums, readings, and assignments. Classes are fully online and asynchronous, so students can complete them at convenient times. In all, 64% of Navarro students take a part-time course schedule.

#4 Odessa College

  • Salary Score: 64
  • Median Starting Salary: $36,659
  • Locations: Odessa
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Odessa College is a public institution with a number of online education programs. These online offerings include an Associate of Arts in General Studies degree, which is the most popular program at the college. Other virtual options with relatively high enrollment include certificates in business leadership, small business management, criminal justice, and criminal justice leadership. Odessa has a 23% overall graduation rate.

The college uses the Blackboard LMS to deliver online courses. Classes may be synchronous or asynchronous, depending on the program. Odessa is a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution, with nearly two-thirds of students identifying as Hispanic or Latinx people.

#5 Blinn College

  • Salary Score: 63
  • Median Starting Salary: $43,028
  • Locations: Brenham
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The public Blinn College features a variety of online associate degrees and certificates, including some of the school's most popular programs. Common choices include an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts degree, as well as associate degrees in accounting, criminal justice, and business. The college's 15% graduation rate is less than the 30% median rate for two-year colleges nationwide.

Blinn's online students use the eCampus LMS to view course materials and submit assignments. The college is fairly evenly split between full-time and part-time students, with 53% taking a full course load.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Online Community Colleges in Texas

What Is the Best Online Community College in Texas?

South Texas College offers 22 associate degree programs in various subjects and is ranked #1 on our list. OnlineU's ranking methodology for the best online colleges uses an internal formula, which calculates a school's score based on retention rates, online enrollment percentages, and the number of distance learning associate degrees it offers.

Are Online Community Colleges Free in Texas?

While there are no free community colleges in Texas, degree-seekers can apply for financial aid to fund part or all of their education costs. Additionally, some Texas programs — such as AlamoPROMISE and Dallas County Promise — work with high schools in specific parts of the state to cover 100% of tuition fees for eligible students.

What Is the Cheapest Online Community College in Texas?

With an annual tuition fee of $1,170, Trinity Valley Community College is the cheapest online two-year institution on our ranking list. Prospective students at this online school can choose from a list of 29 associate degrees in areas of study, such as computer science, business administration, and economics. Trinity Community College also offers certificate programs in a range of subjects.

Is Going to Community College Worth It?

In addition to increased earning potential, an associate degree can help individuals land careers in a wide range of sectors, such as business, technology, and law. Graduates may also be able to transfer into a bachelor's degree program after earning this credential, making an associate program an affordable option for students hoping to pursue a four-year degree in the future. For those unsure about enrolling in a degree program, community colleges typically offer a range of educational options — such as certificate and workforce training programs — that can increase employment opportunities.

Overview of Online Community Colleges in Texas

As the second most populous state in the country, Texas is home to 50 community college districts that collectively serve over 700,000 students every year. With an enrollment of 74,300, the Lone Star College System is the largest of these institutions. Some two-year colleges in the state also offer bachelor's degrees. Additionally, in 2019, lawmakers enacted legislation to make it easier for students to transfer community college credits into a four-year program as part of the 60X30TX initiative to increase access to higher education. Students interested in pursuing an associate degree can also take advantage of various state-sponsored programs that aim to help Texans receive a college education and gain employment after graduating.

Students interested in pursuing an associate degree can also take advantage of various state-sponsored programs that aim to help Texans receive a college education and gain employment after graduating.

Texas students can enroll in fully online programs for their associate degree and complete classes with either part- or full-time schedules. According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts — an agency that oversees the state's financial functions — the most popular degree and certificate subjects are in the "liberal arts and sciences" alongside "general studies and humanities." A large proportion of students also pursue associate degrees in healthcare-related fields. Additionally, while enrollment in bachelor's programs has been steadily declining in recent years, Texas residents are increasingly attending community college. In 2020, enrollment in two-year colleges surpassed that of four-year institutions for the first time since 2004.

It's important to verify an online college's accreditation to ensure it's a high-quality institution. To learn more, visit OnlineU's comprehensive accreditation hub.

Cost of Online Community Colleges in Texas

With students paying an annual in-state tuition rate of $2,270, Texas is one of the most affordable states to attend community college in the country. Even out-of-state learners pay roughly $2,000 below the national average to attend two-year institutions in Texas.

Attending community college through distance learning is typically less expensive than the in-person route because students can avoid certain costs, such as those related to relocation, daily transport, and on-campus housing. Texas students can further reduce the cost of higher education by completing college coursework while in high school through a dual enrollment program. Other options include federal and state work-study programs, which allow individuals to offset tuition costs by working part time and simultaneously earning their degree. Lastly, individuals with certain disabilities or those who face difficult life circumstances can apply for tuition exemptions and waivers.

Students can explore College for All Texans — a state-sponsored website — for more information on how to afford online community college.

Financial Aid for Community College Students in Texas

Like their on-campus peers, online students can apply for need- and merit-based federal, state, and private financial aid. Distance learners should consider these options before applying for student loans, as they don't have to repay gift aid. To apply for financial assistance, students need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), an online form that gathers an individual's personal information to determine whether they qualify for grants and scholarships. Undocumented, or non-citizen, students are ineligible to submit the FAFSA but can still apply for aid through the Texas Application for State Financial Aid. Below is a brief list of state-sponsored education grants for Texas residents.

Students attending or planning to enroll in a public two-year college can apply to the TEOG. Award amounts range from $1,711-$3,238 per semester, depending on the type of institution they attend. Students must meet various academic and coursework requirements to be eligible.

The TPEG grant provides funds to Texas students based on their financial need. Students need to register for Selective Service in order to be eligible.

Those pursuing their first associate degree can receive up to $3,497 per year through the TEG. Applicants must register for Selective Service, be enrolled at least "3/4 time," and demonstrate financial need to receive funds.

Employment Outlook in Texas

With one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, Texas continues to attract businesses and skilled workers from around the world. Recent growth has been driven by gains in the oil and gas industry, which accounts for 15% of the economy, as well as an influx of tech companies making Texas their homebase. Given this, the Texas Workforce Commission projects a 12.7% increase in jobs across all industries in the state through 2028. These openings are largely expected in healthcare and biosciences, IT, and professional services. 

The Texas Workforce projects a 12.7% increase in jobs across all industries in the state through 2028.

Careers for Texas Community College Graduates

An online associate degree or community college education can help someone gain an entry-level position in one of Texas' growing industries. With the state's largest employers including many well-known companies — such as American Airlines, Dell, BP, Toyota, and JP Morgan — graduates can pursue a wide range of careers depending on their education. According to BLS data, the highest paying jobs are in healthcare and IT. While some professions in these sectors require a bachelor's degree, associate degree holders may still qualify for certain entry-level positions that are expected to grow as fast, or even faster, than the U.S. average of 8%.

Below is a list of potential careers for Texas students with an associate degree, along with salary and job outlook data from the BLS.

Computer Support Specialists
Median Annual Salary: $55,510
Job Outlook: 9%

Computer support specialists carry out everyday IT tasks in a range of businesses and organizations. They test networks for connectivity, including running diagnostics, performing maintenance, and diagnosing problems. Specialists in some settings also work directly with network administrators.

Flight Attendants
Median Annual Salary: $59,050
Job Outlook: 30%

Flight attendants are crucial to air travel because they help ensure passenger safety. They provide essential information related to emergency procedures, answer questions, and assist customers with a variety of in-flight needs.

Medical Records and Health Information Specialists
Median Annual Salary: $45,240
Job Outlook: 9%

Medical records and health information specialists are primarily responsible for ensuring patient information remains updated and accurate. This role involves working with dedicated software to update databases, verifying sensitive data, and providing healthcare workers with relevant information.

Preschool Teachers
Median Annual Salary: $31,930
Job Outlook: 18%

Preschool teachers educate children under the age of 5, working with them to develop basic communication, reading, and writing skills. They typically design lesson plans around student needs and watch children for signs of emotional or developmental difficulties.

Respiratory Therapists
Median Annual Salary: $62,810
Job Outlook: 23%

Respiratory therapists help individuals cope with and address various breathing problems by providing short-term care as well as helping patients deal with chronic issues. These professionals make house calls in addition to providing care in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings.

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