An Analysis of What’s in the U.S. News Community College Directory

Community colleges, which enroll millions of students, play a very important role in U.S. higher education, especially for working adults. To provide more resources to these millions of students and their families, U.S. News has published a new edition of its online Community College Directory. This new edition completely updates the community colleges data that was published in July 2019.

This directory includes data on 1,681 community colleges from 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the U.S. territories. These are colleges whose highest degree granted is an associate degree, or a mix of bachelor’s and associate degrees, or two-year colleges with a special focus on health and technical professions, art and design, and other fields.

In order to be included in the directory, a school has to hold regional accreditation from one of the regional accrediting organizations or be accredited by other accrediting bodies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website.

All the data for each community college comes directly from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS, website and is for the 2018-2019 and 2017-2018 academic years and the 12 months ending June 30, 2018.

Nearly all U.S. higher education institutions — including community colleges — are required to annually report a wide variety of education-related information to the U.S. government if they want their students to be eligible to receive Pell Grants, which are awarded to undergrads who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Enrollment is for fall 2018, the institutional characteristics data is for the 2018-2019 academic year and the programs offered data is for the 12-month period from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018.

Individual school data available in the U.S. News Community College Directory includes location; financial aid and other details on paying for school; retention, graduation and transfer-out rates; student-to-faculty ratio; types of services offered to students; and a list of associate degree and certificate programs offered, among other details.

Additionally, U.S. News has published editorial content on frequently asked questions about community colleges, such as about applying and academic and student life; two-year colleges with the most international students; and community college degrees that can lead to jobs that pay more than $50,000.

Below, U.S. News has also conducted a detailed demographic breakdown of the schools in the updated directory.

Geographic distribution. The five states with the largest number of community colleges in the directory are California (185), Texas (126), Ohio (86), Florida (82) and Pennsylvania (81). The top 10 states with the largest number of community colleges had an aggregate of 879 schools, accounting for 52.2% of the total. There were three states with only two community colleges (Alaska, Delaware and Rhode Island). The District of Columbia and the U.S. territories had just one community college each, with the exception of Puerto Rico, which had 17.

State / territory Number of community colleges Percent of community colleges
California 185 11.0
Texas 126 7.5
Ohio 86 5.1
Florida 82 4.9
Pennsylvania 81 4.8
New York 78 4.6
North Carolina 71 4.2
Illinois 67 4.0
Georgia 54 3.2
Virginia 49 2.9
Missouri 42 2.5
Washington 42 2.5
Tennessee 38 2.3
Minnesota 37 2.2
Arizona 36 2.1
Colorado 36 2.1
Kansas 33 2.0
South Carolina 32 1.9
Alabama 31 1.8
Michigan 31 1.8
Louisiana 30 1.8
Arkansas 27 1.6
Oklahoma 24 1.4
Massachusetts 23 1.4
New Jersey 23 1.4
Kentucky 22 1.3
Wisconsin 22 1.3
Maryland 21 1.2
New Mexico 21 1.2
Oregon 21 1.2
West Virginia 20 1.2
Iowa 19 1.1
Mississippi 19 1.1
Puerto Rico 17 1.0
Indiana 15 0.9
Connecticut 13 0.8
Nevada 11 0.7
Utah 11 0.7
Maine 10 0.6
Nebraska 10 0.6
Hawaii 9 0.5
New Hampshire 8 0.5
Wyoming 8 0.5
Montana 7 0.4
Idaho 6 0.4
North Dakota 6 0.4
South Dakota 5 0.3
Vermont 3 0.2
Alaska 2 0.1
Delaware 2 0.1
Rhode Island 2 0.1
American Samoa 1 0.1
District of Columbia 1 0.1
Federated States of Micronesia 1 0.1
Guam 1 0.1
Marshall Islands 1 0.1
Northern Marianas 1 0.1
Palau 1 0.1

Community environment. Community colleges are located in many different types of locales around the U.S. Only 41.5% of the schools in the directory are in large cities or suburbs of large cities. Nearly 15% are in rural areas; 14.2% are in either small cities or a suburb of a small city; and almost 14% are in either a midsize city or suburb of a midsize city.

Community environment Percent of community colleges
City: Large 19.5
City: Midsize 10.8
City: Small 12.4
Suburb: Large 22.0
Suburb: Midsize 3.0
Suburb: Small 1.8
Town: Fringe 1.2
Town: Distant 7.3
Town: Remote 7.3
Rural: Fringe 10.9
Rural: Distant 2.7
Rural: Remote 1.0
N/A 0.2

Enrollment size. A majority of community colleges are small. Out of nearly 1,700 institutions in the directory, 54.1% have enrollments of 2,500 or less, and another 17.0% have between 2,501 and 5,000 students. Only 49 community colleges, or 3.2%, have enrollments between 20,001 and 50,000, and there are only six very large community colleges (0.4%) with enrollments of 50,001 or more.

Enrollment size Percent of community colleges Number of community colleges
Under 2,500 students 54.1 833
2,501 to 5,000 students 17.0 261
5,001 to 10,000 students 15.7 242
10,001 to 20,000 students 9.6 148
20,001 to 50,000 students 3.2 49
50,001 to 100,000 students 0.4 6

Enrollment status. Nearly two-thirds of community college students attending schools in the directory are enrolled part time. This is not a surprise, since community colleges emphasize educating working adults.

Enrollment status Percent of students enrolled at community colleges in U.S. News directory
Full time 35.3
Part time 64.7

Age distribution. Around one-third of those enrolled at community colleges in the directory are age 25 or older. As noted above, community colleges serve adult learners who need further education or additional workplace preparation. However, around 67% of the students are age 24 or younger. These students are earning credits to transfer to four-year institutions or are obtaining job skills training through an associate degree or certificate program.

Age Percent of students enrolled at community colleges in U.S. News directory
Under 18 14
Age 18-24 53.2
Age 25-64 32.2
65 and over 0.6

Gender distribution. Attending community colleges is a popular option among women, who surpassed men by 14.6 percentage points, accounting for 57.3% of the total enrollment at community colleges in the directory.

Gender Percent of students enrolled at community colleges in U.S. News directory
Women 57.3
Men 42.7

Ethnic distribution. The ethnic breakdown of the community colleges in the directory doesn’t reflect the U.S. population in some key areas. White students make up 44.5% of the enrollment at community colleges, while they account for around 60% of the overall U.S. population. In contrast, there is a far larger percentage of Hispanic students enrolled at community colleges than their respective share of the overall U.S. population (26.0% compared with 18.5% in the U.S. overall), and a slightly smaller percentage of Black students (13.1% vs. 13.4% in the U.S. overall), as of the latest U.S. Census Bureau 2019 population estimates.

Ethnicity Percent of students enrolled at community colleges in U.S. News directory
American Indian or Alaska Native 0.8
Asian 5.8
Black or African American 13.1
Hispanic 26.0
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0.4
White 44.5
Two or more races 3.6
Race/ethnicity unknown 4.2
Nonresident alien 1.7

More from U.S. News

Everything You Need to Know About Community Colleges — FAQ

10 Community College Degree Jobs That Pay $50K+

Famous People Who Attended Community College

An Analysis of What’s in the U.S. News Community College Directory originally appeared on

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