10 USA community colleges for international students

There are over 1000 community colleges in the US and many have an excellent track record of supporting international students.

International families are often surprised to hear that around 45% of US undergraduates are attending a community college and that there are many well established 2 + 2 transfer pathways where students complete an initial two years at a community college (at a substantially lower cost) and then progress to a 4 year college to complete their bachelor’s degree.

Many community colleges have transfer partnerships with leading US institutions, offer excellent academic, athletic and social facilities, and do a superb job of preparing students for academic and professional success.

There are some key factors to consider if you are an international student exploring the community college option:

  • % international students
  • Accommodation / homestay programmes
  • Intensive english language programmes
  • High transfer rates to 4 year colleges
  • Range of courses
  • International support services and academic advisors
  • Affordability

Bunker Hill Community College

Boston, Massachusetts

Founded in 1973, Bunker Hill has 9,300+ students and multiple campuses in the Boston area. It has a very diverse student body with 800+ international students from more than 100 countries. There are more than 100 degrees and certificates on offer through day, evening and weekend classes, and web-based and distance learning.

Students enrolling at Bunker Hill must be 17 years old and have completed high school. The International Centre offers extensive practical, academic and personal support and, as an institution, Bunker Hill seeks to nurture a global perspective in its student body.

There are a range of English Language Learning programmes, scholarships for travel and study abroad, and a Commonwealth Honours Programme. The average class size at Bunker Hill is 19 students and the estimated cost of attendance is $27,000. There is no on-campus housing.


Orange Coast College

Costa Mesa, California

Founded in 1947, OCC is one of the nation’s top transfer community colleges and has an excellent reputation for supporting international students through the Global Engagement Office.

Located near Disneyland and California’s coastline, it has a nationally acclaimed athletics programme and a beautiful 164 acre campus – 24,000+ students are enrolled of whom around 1300 are international from 80+ countries. OCC is the only community college in Southern California to offer on-campus student housing – The Harbour has bed spaces in apartment-style living.

There are 135+ academic and career programmes, and OCC would be a good choice for students looking to transfer into California State University or one of the University of California campuses. OCC accepts applications year round and the estimated cost of attendance for international students is around $26,140 per year. OCC does not offer scholarships or financial aid to international students.

Shoreline Community College

Shoreline, Washington State

Located just 14km from downtown Seattle, Shoreline has been in operation since 1964 and offers 100+ academic, professional/technical and job training programmes. There are over 12,000 full-time and part-time students with nearly 1,000 international students from 45+ countries.

With over 25 staff in the International Education Department, Shoreline offers students the option to study both on campus in the US or take their classes from overseas – it has over 20+ experience in online education. Shoreline has on-campus housing for students who are 17 and homestay options. Students who are 16 can take a High School Completion programme of dual-credit courses which allows them to gain their high school diploma and a two-year associate degree concurrently.

Shoreline has a strong track record of students transferring to top US universities. The total estimated cost for international students on campus is around $21,150 per academic year (9 months).

Green River College

Auburn, Washington State

Located 45 minutes south of Seattle on a beautiful 180-acre forested campus, Green River is very committed to supporting its international students. Established in 1963, there are now over 8,700 students – 850+ international from 60+ countries.

Offering on-campus housing for around 340 students, Green River has a wide variety of programmes, including the 2+2 University Transfer Programme across a wide range of academic disciplines, High School Completion+, Intensive English, Study Abroad, and a Gap Year Programme for students who would like to spend a year in the US between high school and college. There are also peer mentors for international students and a leadership development initiative.

Students can start in the fall, winter, spring or summer terms and the estimated cost of attendance for a 9 month academic year is around $21,000. The Intensive English Programme is an additional $3,716. Students can apply for scholarships in the form of tuition waivers and work grants.

De Anza College

Cupertino, California

De Anza, located on a 112-acre campus in the heart of Silicon Valley, is also top-ranked for transfers into the University of California system and California State University. It has over 21,000 students and is known for its strong academics, extensive sustainability programs and the civic engagement of its students.

The strongest and most popular programmes with international students are: Computer Information Systems; Business Administration/Marketing; Biological, Health and Environmental Sciences; and Broadcasting (Film/TV) – the Flint Centre for the Performing Arts is on campus and invites celebrities and dignitaries for regular public speaking engagements.

De Anza has more than 90 associate degrees and transfer programmes and offers an Honours programme and a number of learning communities. There is no on-campus housing, but the Office of International Student programs offers support with finding homestays and apartments. The estimated total cost of attendance for three quarters is $27,800. Students can apply for certains scholarships after beginning their first term and can work on campus for up to 19 hours per week.


Foothill College

Los Altos Hills, California

Founded in 1957, Foothill has more than 13,800 students and is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, 40 miles from San Francisco. It has transfer agreements with 130+ 4-year institutions and is ranked amongst the top community colleges for transfers into the University of California system. Their Honours Programme offers preferred admission to UCLA.
With a campus focus on service leadership and sustainability, Foothill offers 79 associate degrees and 100 certificates; its one bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene is considered one of the top programmes in the US. Foothill also offers a full schedule of online classes so students can start their degree from anywhere in the world.

The International Student Programmes Office supports around 550 international students and although there is no on-campus housing helps find homestays or private apartments. The total estimated cost for three terms is $27,800 and while there are no scholarships for newcomers, students can apply for a financial award in their 2nd year and can also work on campus for up to 19 hours per week.

Valencia College

Orlando, Florida

Founded in 1967, Valencia has a number of campuses in sunny Orlando and its DirectConnect programme offers guaranteed transfer to the University of Central Florida; there are also established paths to other state universities in Florida and elsewhere around the US. Valencia has 50+ degree programmes for international students with Engineering, General Studies, Business, IT, Hospitality Management/Tourism, and Arts & Entertainment being the most popular.

Students can join the campus in any quarter and the International Student Services Team offers orientation sessions and a high level of support. The Seneff Honours Programme allows high achieving students to study abroad and have early access to class registration, as well as small classes. International students can apply for one of three Valencia College Global Achievers Awards which will contribute towards the estimated cost of attendance of $23,228.

Students must have the equivalent of a US high school diploma to enrol and those who need to increase their English Language skills can take an Intensive English Program either on campus or online before matriculation.

Olympic College

Bremerton, Washington State

Established in 1946, Olympic has 13,000+ students and offers a small city atmosphere with easy access to Seattle – less than one hour by ferry. Olympia offers 70+ associate degrees and certificates, four bachelor degrees, an Intensive English Programme and allows students who are 16+ to earn their high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time.

The 2+2 University Transfer Program has Transfer Admission Guarantees with 20 global universities in the US, Canada, France, Japan and Australia. Olympia offers the option of on-campus housing or a homestay and the Office of International Education and Study Abroad offers comprehensive support.

Top programs include: Business, Marketing and Accounting; Computer Science and IT; Education; Engineering; Health Professionals; and Journalism and Communication. The estimated cost of attendance for three academic quarters is around $21,300 and scholarships are available for current students. Students can enrol in all four terms.


Santa Monica College

Santa Monica, California

Founded in 1929, SMC has over 30,000 students and is considered one of the best community colleges in California and the United States. It has a very diverse student body with 3,000+ international students from over 110 countries and is located just a stone’s throw from the Pacific coastline and its stunning beaches.

SMC is top ranked in California for transfers into the University of California system and offers 180+ degrees and certificates. The International Education Centre offers a full range of counselling and support services and clubs include an International Students Forum.

SMC offers an Intensive English Program and is considered a leading college for its online education offerings. This is definitely a college for those seeking a large campus experience and to benefit from the 70+ student clubs, 17 athletic teams and central LA location. Students can enrol in all 4 terms, but there is no student housing on campus.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)

Annandale, Virginia

NOVA is one of the largest community colleges in the United States with 80,000+ students from over 150 countries. There are six campuses and extensive online course options. The main campus in Annandale is just 15 minutes from Washington D.C.

NOVA has over 100 associate and certificate programmes and Guaranteed Admission Agreements with 40 area colleges. There is an Intensive English Program and the Honours Program offers advanced teaching and mentoring, small classes and leadership opportunities.

The Office of International Education supports the diverse student body and guides enrollment in all 4 terms. There is no on-campus housing, but 4stay connects students with off campus housing, roommates and homestay options. As befits such a large school, there are extensive clubs and societies, many athletics teams and a myriad of civic engagement opportunities.

Please get in touch if you would like further support with your community college or university applications to the United States.

Start typing and press Enter to search