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Colleges of Contra Costa

United States


The Colleges of Contra Costa are three community colleges that enroll nearly 1,000 international students from 70 countries. The colleges are:

  • Contra Costa College
  • Diablo Valley College
  • Los Medanos College

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, the colleges offer over 125 degree programs of study, along with a range of certificate programs. The colleges also have five start dates during the year. There are even programs for non-native English speakers to improve their English language proficiency.

The colleges offer transfer guarantees to 29 out of 32 public universities in California, as well as excellent transfer records to private four-year institutions in California and to public and private colleges and universities elsewhere in the United States. In addition, Diablo Valley College is the number one transfer institution to UC Berkeley among international students. 38 percent of international transfer students have been admitted to UC Berkeley since 2010 (1,000+ students).

With average class sizes ranging from 24 to 30 students, faculty are known for being welcoming, accessible, and dedicated to their students. Along with support services such as one-on-one counseling and robust transfer and career centers, international students can be assured that college staff is available to help them at every step of their student journey.

Annual tuition is just over USD 10,000 for 30 units per year, making the colleges one of the most affordable options for university transfer students. International students are also eligible for merit scholarships, as well as on-campus employment options that assist with their education and living costs. Accommodation includes private or shared apartments and friendly homestays in the vicinity of the college locations.

When not in class or studying, there are over 133 clubs and organizations for students to join. The San Francisco area also provides many exciting opportunities for outdoor activities and entertainment.

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What's new

What's new

COVID-19 update

The Colleges of Contra Costa have made arrangements and contingency plans to support students during the coronavirus pandemic. For September 2021, the colleges have introduced both fully online and hybrid courses, with the latter involving some on-campus learning. Student services have been put in place to continue to assist all international students.

Application deadlines for the 2021 academic year have been extended to July 1 for Diablo Valley College and remain as of July 15th for Contra Costa College and Los Medanos College. The colleges are accepting the following and additional tests, as evidence of English language proficiency:

  • TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition
  • IELTS Indicator
  • iTEP
  • Duolingo

International students who are enrolled for the September 2021 semester can take classes online while abroad for the first semester or have the option of deferring enrollment until January of 2022. International students who are transferring from colleges within the U.S. can also enroll in online classes while residing in the country. International students who are currently studying must maintain their enrollment for a full course of study even if they are studying from outside of the U.S.

Students who enroll for courses online from outside of the U.S. will not be required to show evidence for financial support, however evidence will be needed in order for an I-20 to be issued and for an F-1 student visa to be granted. The colleges will send a digital along with a paper copy of the I-20, if required, for the January 2022 intake.

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Teaching quality

Teaching quality

At the Colleges of Contra Costa, students receive a solid education in their chosen academic area, helping them to transfer to university in their current or even new majors. Faculty are hired to teach, not to do research, so students always have classes with professors and not graduate students. With five different start dates throughout the year, programs incorporate tutor sessions and academic counseling, so students can be sure their choices are right for them.

Teaching staff at each of the three colleges are dedicated to helping their students enrich their skills and competencies so they're successful learners for life. They ensure program content is up to date with industry developments, and designed around preparation for their students' next steps, whether that be to university or into a career.

Students regularly comment that teachers are supportive, friendly, willing, and accessible. Professors go the extra mile to assist their students, through innovative and interactive classes, and by being available outside of the classroom.

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Department structure

Department structure

There are numerous degree options across the three Colleges of Contra Costa. Each college offers AA-T and AA-S transfer degrees in different specializations that guarantee students direct entry to California State University and University of California institutions.

Contra Costa College (CCC)

Founded in 1949 in San Pablo, CCC has around full-time 1,600 students. It offers more than 120 degree and certificate programs. Some of its top programs include nursing, automotive services, and culinary arts.

Los Medanos College (LMC)

Founded in 1974 in Pittsburg, LMC has approximately 2,800 full-time students. It offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs, offering career-technical opportunities in areas such as engineering, communication studies, child development, mathematics, nursing, instrumentation technology, process technology. It also has an honors program, which is part of an alliance with ten partners, including UCLA.

Diablo Valley College (DVC)

Also founded in 1949, DVC is located in Pleasant Hill. It's home to approximately 6,500 full-time students, and offers more than 60 degree and certificate programs. Many have a career-technical focus, helping students prepare for skills-based work. DVC ranks among the top California community colleges (EDsmart).

International Education Center at Diablo Valley College (IEC@DVC)

With flexible start dates throughout the year, IEC@DVC offers six levels of intensive English as well as administers:

  • DVC Academic Bridge Program
  • EducationUSA Academy (summer and winter)

Intensive English courses have six levels with 22 hours of class time each week. Students can easily enroll at one of the three colleges after finishing level Advanced B at IEC@DVC.

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Entry requirements

Entry requirements

To study at one of the Colleges of Contra Costa, students will need to provide proof of their academic records. No SAT/ACT scores are required for admission.

English language requirements

Students whose native language is not English must provide evidence of their English language abilities. They need to meet one of the following minimum test scores, or equivalent:

  • TOEFL iBT – 61
  • IELTS Academic – 5.5 with no band lower than 4.5
  • Duolingo English Test – 90
  • CAE – 160
  • iTEP Academic – 3.5
  • PTE Academic – 45
  • GTEC CBT – 1,100
  • EIKEN – 2A
  • TOEFL iTP (*only for international students spending one/two semesters at the colleges)

There are also TOEFL/IELTS waivers available. For partner intensive English programs, students will receive a conditional letter of admission if they have the following:

  • IEC@DVC – Advanced B Level Certificate
  • ELS Language Centers – Level 109 (EAP)
  • Kaplan International – Kaplan Higher Intermediate (UPS)
  • UC Davis Intensive English Program – Completion of UC Davis's highest level of Community College Pathway Track with a 3.0 GPA or better

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Graduate outcomes

Graduate outcomes

Transfer opportunities

The Colleges of Contra Costa strive to help students reach their educational goals, by providing programs where they can transfer to top U.S. colleges and universities. It offers transfer guarantees to California State University and University of California schools.

Over 1,000 American and international students from the colleges continue their learning and enroll at respected institutions throughout the U.S., such as UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, and UC Santa Barbara. DVC is the top international student transfer college to UC Berkeley.

The Colleges of Contra Costa have a global alumni network of over 10,000 members who have transferred to a four-year college or university and earned a bachelor's degree.

Career support

Current students and alumni members can receive career support from the Colleges of Contra Costa. Help on offer includes career advice, interview preparation tips, application help, and job search support. The career services team is dedicated to helping the student community reach their career goals.

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Scholarships & funding

Scholarships & funding

Tuition costs

At the Colleges of Contra Costa, students can enjoy quality education with low tuition costs. Tuition fees are around USD 10,000 per year, which is an affordable pathway to earning a bachelor's degree. Included in these fees are free tutoring and one-on-one academic counseling.

Tuition at IEC@DVC is USD 3,200 for an eight-week course.


Each of the three colleges offers its own merit scholarships, and there are also external scholarship opportunities from donors, organizations, and foundations. These are in place to financially support students with their college costs.

Most merit scholarships range from USD 100 to USD 1,000. Awards have their own eligibility requirements, which students will have to meet. This could be based on criteria such as GPA, field of study, and community service participation.

International students are encouraged to check what might be available from each of the colleges.

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Average cost of living in United States

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At Colleges of Contra Costa
At Colleges of Contra Costa
At Colleges of Contra Costa
At Colleges of Contra Costa
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At Colleges of Contra Costa
At Colleges of Contra Costa
Colleges of Contra Costa Highlights
At Colleges of Contra Costa
At Colleges of Contra Costa

Total average cost: $1767

  • $816
  • $677
  • $98
    Daily life
  • $176
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