Can I Attend Community College as an International Student?

by | Dec 22, 2022 | Admissions

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During your research of U.S schools you’re likely to come across mention of community colleges. You might be wondering, “Can I attend community college as an international student?”

The answer to that question is “Yes.” Both domestic and international students can attend community colleges in the U.S.

What Is a Community College?

Community college is a terminology that might hold different meaning depending on the country of study. In the U.S, community colleges are schools that offer two-year degrees.

Qualifications from community colleges can be either the Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree. Studying in community college will earn you credits towards a bachelor’s degree – which can help lower the overall cost of your education abroad.

Community colleges also have less stringent admission requirements and processes. That makes them a great option for international students who might be worried about their grades and scores in standardized entrance tests.

Most community colleges have arrangements with four-year universities for the transfer of credits. They usually have a 2+2 agreement – meaning that you study for two years in each school to earn your 4-year bachelor’s degree.

Community colleges are typically cheaper than four-year universities. They’re known to have smaller class sizes – assuring students of individualized attention and a supportive learning environment.

Programs Offered In Community Colleges for Internationals Students

Almost half of all undergraduates in the U.S enroll in community colleges. In addition, about of bachelor’s degree graduates in STEM fields in the U.S also start their post-secondary education in community colleges.

Community colleges offer also offer a wide range of non-credit programs including English as a second language, community enrichment programs, and skills retraining.

However, community colleges may not open up their entire program offering to international students. If you are considering applying to attend a community college in the U.S, make sure that the program you’re interested in is available for international students.

Top Reasons to Opt for Community College

We’ve touched on a few benefits of attending community college. In this section, let’s have a more in-depth exploration of why choosing community college might be a great idea:

  • Affordability: Higher education in the U.S is expensive, especially for international students. If you’re worried about the cost of study abroad, consider applying to community colleges.
  • Easier to get accepted: Unlike four year universities, community colleges have an open admission policy. That means they’ll grant admission to anyone with a high school diploma or GED. That said, you’ll still have to prove English proficiency and might have to take other entrance exams.
  • Smaller class sizes: Community college classes are often smaller than those at four-year universities, allowing for more personalized instruction and support.
  • Flexibility: Community college courses are often more flexible and offer more options for scheduling than four-year universities. This flexibility can be especially beneficial for international students who are juggling multiple responsibilities.
  • Networking: Community colleges often have strong ties to local businesses and organizations, providing students with opportunities to network and make professional connections.
  • Variety: Community colleges offer a wide range of courses, from traditional academic subjects to more specialized topics. This allows international students to explore a variety of interests and find the best fit for their educational goals.
  • Working in the U.S: If you have a high school diploma and would like to work in the U.S, a community college is a great choice. An Associate Degree from a community college makes you eligible for Optional Practical Training (OTP) – which gives you 12 months of employment authorization in the U.S.

Who Is Community College Not Right For?

While community college offers international students access to quality education at a lower cost, it isn’t the right fit for everyone.

If you fit into any of the categories below, community college isn’t ideal for you:

  • You’re a top student: If you’re an ambitious student with impressive grades, attending community college might not be a great option for you. It would be more advisable to apply to high-ranking universities and looking for scholarships to help you cover the costs.
  • You already have a degree: If you’ve already studied at university level, you’re not eligible for community college education in the U.S.
  • You want to top up your CV: Do you want to impress employers with a foreign degree? If that’s the case, it’s better to go for a university degree. Two-year degrees from community colleges are not considered to be prestigious, especially by American employers.

What to Consider When Selecting a Community College

Community colleges in the U.S can give you a great study abroad experience. However, you still need to carefully consider individual colleges and what they have to offer before beginning the application process.

Here are some key factors international students should consider when choosing community colleges:

  • Number of students: You can use the number of students in a college to determine how big it is. It’s best for international students to avoid colleges that are too small.
  • International student population: Be sure to check how many international students the college has. A healthy population of foreign students is an indicator that the college is likely to have better support systems for these students.
  • Partnering universities: Which universities can you transfer your credits to? Make sure that they’re good universities, which indicates that the college is also a good one.
  • Location: The location of a university or college is something you shouldn’t overlook. Make sure that the location is ideal for you and your interests. For instance, if you love a city environment, look for a college located in or near a city.

Note: To narrow down your list of community colleges, you should also take a look at other factors including tuition fees, financial aid packages, student housing, and the programs offered.

Get Started on Your Community College Application

The process of applying to community colleges in the U.S as an international student is the same as when applying to university.

Typically, you have to submit the following documents:

  • The application form
  • Application fee
  • Application essay
  • A copy of your high school diploma (translated where necessary)
  • A copy of your passport
  • Proof of financial ability
  • English proficiency test scores

Each community college has their set of requirements and application procedures for foreign students. Be sure to check exactly what these requirements and procedures are at the colleges you’re interested in.


Are you looking for scholarships or student loans to finance your education abroad? Find a scholarship through our extensive scholarship database and compare different loans on the 8B student loan marketplace.

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