The Houston Community College System (HCC) is a network of post-secondary community colleges located in and around metropolitan Houston.
There are six area schools:
- Central College
- Northeast College
- Northwest College
- Southwest College
- Southeast College
- Coleman College of Health Sciences
as well as 32 campuses that serve Houston and Spring Branch, North Forest, Alief, and Fort Bend County
Although each of the colleges that comprise the system operate with a degree of autonomy, a series of mergers and consolidations over the past several decades have created the current district. HCC is an open enrollment public institution that provides all students with the opportunity to pursue high‐quality, affordable education for academic advancement, workforce training, career and economic development, and lifelong learning.
The HCC system awards associate’s degrees and certificates in over 70 different occupations. It also gives students the chance to complete the first two years of general college coursework for transfer to a four-year institution. In addition, the schools offer non-degree options, continuing education courses, community education, and corporate training modules.
Major areas of study include: Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources, Architecture & Construction, Arts, AV Technology & Communications, Business, Education & Schools, Government & Public Service, Manufacturing, Health & Medical Sciences, Hospitality & Tourism, Human Services & Social Sciences, Information Technology, Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, and Transportation & Logistics.
HCC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCC).
Most Popular Fields of Study
In order to fulfill its mission of providing post-secondary education to as broad an audience as possible, the college has an open enrollment policy. Admissions requirements generally include a high school diploma or GED equivalency, English language proficiency, and state-mandated college readiness and placement examinations. However, in order to ensure readiness for college-level coursework, additional placement testing, consultations, and/or prep courses are necessary for some students.
Although there are specific application deadlines for admission to certain programs, the HCC system generally operates on a rolling basis.
Community college is generally considered a more affordable alternative to four-year universities, and HCC is no exception. Tuition and fees are approximately 75 to 85 percent lower than those at public Texas universities. Even so, eligible students are presented with numerous options to help pay for tuition, textbooks, and other educational expenses.
Students who are interested in being considered for need- and/or merit-based financial aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form along with with their application. The FAFSA must be filed each year that the student is enrolled in classes.
The most common types of financial aid awarded to eligible students include scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study jobs. Approximately half of the student population receives at least some form of financial aid.
Student Financial Aid Details
The Houston Community College System serves a highly diverse student population drawn from all walks of life and cutting across many different demographic categories. The institution qualifies for federal recognition as a Minority Serving Institution because of the high proportion of Latino and Hispanic students who comprise the student body. The age distribution of students varies, with a high percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds registered in the associate’s degree and 4-year transfer programs and older adults making up the majority of the continuing education and professional certificate programs.
Although the campus network is spread throughout the entire Houston metro area, a wide range of activities enliven campus life for students. Popular organizations and activities include student government, honor societies, campus ministries, interest-based clubs, and service organizations.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Although organized athletics are not a major part of student life, several of the campuses do field teams in sports like basketball and baseball. Typically, these teams compete in the Lonestar College Sports Club Conference and NIRSA Region IV. Intramural sports and club teams are also a popular pastime on several campuses.
Additional School Information
Over 1.5 million students have taken HCC classes since the school’s inception in 1971. More than 70,000 students are enrolled in courses each semester.
It is the second-largest community college in the United States.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.