Comprising 73 districts and 116 colleges, the California Community Colleges make up the largest higher education system in the nation—providing a gateway to higher education for over 2.1 million students per year. Community colleges offer associate's degrees, prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions, provide opportunities for lifelong learning, and train the workforce that sustains California’s economy.
The largest system of higher education in the country
- One in every four community college students nationwide are enrolled in a California Community College.
- Three out of every ten Californians age 18-24 are currently enrolled in a California Community College.
The primary gateway to higher education, serving all Californians
- Over 69 percent of California Community College students are people of diverse ethnic backgrounds and roughly 53 percent are female.
- Over 40 percent of California Community College students are age 25 or older and are already working adults.
California's largest workforce training provider
- Attending or graduating from a California Community College nearly doubles an individual’s chance of finding a job compared to those who did not complete high school.
- Students receiving a degree or certificate from a California Community College nearly double their earnings within three years.
- In 2018-19, the California Community Colleges awarded over 6,400 nursing certificates or degrees.
A pathway to four-year universities
- Almost 51 percent of graduates of the California State University system and 29 percent of the University of California system transferred from a California Community College.
- California Community Colleges are a cost-effective alternative for students who cannot afford to go to a four-year university all four years.
- Transfer students from the California Community Colleges to the University of California system currently account for nearly half of UC bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
A good investment
- For every dollar California invests to get students in and through college, the state's economy receives a $4.50 net return on investment.
- Occupations that typically require workers to have an associate degree for entry have an average annual wage of almost $53,000, compared to an average annual wage of $36,100 for workers in high school-level occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Employment in associate and postsecondary nondegree-level occupations is projected to grow 11% in the 10-year period ending in 2026, faster than the 7% average projected for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.