Military service is a time-consuming way of life, and it might seem like there's no chance for a formal education while serving your country. However, many colleges offer flexible, online classes for those who are unable to attend classes regularly, and community colleges with online programs are inexpensive enough that it can be easy to get a college education in your spare time. In this list, you'll find five community colleges that offer a substantial online program, as well as perks for military service.
|School Name||Institution Type||Location||Tuition (in-state)*||Military-Friendly Programs Offered|
|East Mississippi Community College||2-year, public||Scooba, MS||$2,840||Columbus Air Force Base Extension|
|Western Wyoming Community College||2-year, public||Rock Springs, WY||$2,576||Concessions for mobilization, credit for military service|
|Northeast Community College||2-year, public||Norfolk, NE||$3,285||Nebraska National Guard Memorandum of Agreement|
|Diablo Valley College||2-year, public||Pleasant Hill, CA||$1,308||Veteran career services, veteran expo|
|Jefferson State Community College||2-year, public||Birmingham, AL||$4,440||Hybrid courses, non-credit online courses|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
Military-Friendly Online Community Colleges
Community colleges are a great first step on an educational path, and online courses mean that an education can be pursued no matter what the student's circumstances. We've looked at community colleges offering online programs from all over the country and the benefits they offer military students.
East Mississippi Community College
East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) has a robust distance learning program, with over 450 online classes offered each semester. Unlike many schools with hybrid classes that blend online and in-person coursework, EMCC's online classes don't require any face-to-face contact, so a service member without any ability to attend a class could still gain an education. For those stationed on Mississippi's Columbus Air Force Base (CAFB), EMCC has an on-base extension campus, offering on-campus and online coursework to service members unable to attend EMCC campus proper; credits earned at the CAFB campus can be used toward an associate's degree, transferred to the Community College of the Air Force, or used toward a 4-year degree like any other community college.
Western Wyoming Community College
Western Wyoming Community College (WWCC) offers many opportunities for online education, both through its own associate's degree programs and through relationships with 4-year colleges to work toward bachelor's and master's degrees. Many of WWCC's associate's degree options would be attractive to military members, including an AAs in Criminal Justice and Social Science. WWCC also has many military-friendly programs to help make life easier for service members: anyone who needs to respond to emergency mobilization orders will be eligible for a number of concessions, including a full tuition refund, or class withdrawal after deadlines for doing so have passed. WWCC also offers college credit for military service, so service members may find that their time in the military could count toward their college education.
Northeast Community College
Northeast Community College (NCC) provides several associate's degrees in its online program, as well as a program for active duty designed to help members of the Nebraska National Guard with their responsibilities. A service member will find that several of NCC's associate's programs both fit well with military experience and provide a bedrock for future careers, such as degrees in criminal justice (both corrections and law enforcement), accounting, behavioral science, and education. NCC also offers online certificates in insurance services and food service and dietary management, for a service member looking for a vocational program. If you are a member of the Nebraska National Guard, NCC offers strong concessions for mobilization: any educational leave of absence due to active duty will have its cost defrayed, with no gap in continuing education once college attendance resumes. Any tuition and fees, including for housing, will be refunded for the time on duty.
Diablo Valley College
While Diablo Valley College (DVC) doesn't offer fully online degrees like some of the other schools on this list, it does offer both fully online and hybrid classes for which a service member can get college credit for a degree elsewhere, or after discharge. DVC offers over a hundred partially and fully online courses each semester, so it shouldn't be difficult to find one that fits a military schedule. Additionally, DVC has joined in a veteran's aid program with an online veteran career center to help a DVC student or graduate find a career that fits their skills. DVC also hosts a regular veteran career expo, which helps vets find jobs, further education at 4-year universities, community resources, and more.
Jefferson State Community College
For a service member looking for hybrid online/in-person classes, or a chance to get some experience for a potential future career, Jefferson State Community College (JSCC) offers classes that can kick-start a college education. Hybrid courses are a good fit for students who are often busy with their service requirements, but who can still attend a regularly-scheduled class as well. These courses may include online discussion, videoconferencing, and more. JSCC also offers fully online non-credit courses geared toward a specific career, which could give a student some helpful experience before leaving the military for the workforce. Some of the non-credit courses that would blend well with military life include classes on IT and software development, fitness, and career training classes for career counseling assistance.