Amazon workers can now attend these 180 colleges for free

BY Sydney LakeMarch 03, 2022, 2:07 PM
A worker sorts out parcels in the outbound dock at Amazon fulfillment center in Eastvale, as seen in August 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda—MediaNews Group/The Press-Enterprise/Getty Images)

As COVID-19 and modern tech advancements have changed the way we work, more Fortune 500 companies are putting millions—even billions—of dollars behind efforts to help their employees get the education they need to develop their careers. In fact, 69% of U.S. adults who are either employed or have plans to return to work say they’re likely to leave their current gig for an employer who offers upskilling opportunities, according to a June 2021 poll conducted by Amazon and Gallup. 

In fall 2021, Amazon announced a $1.2 billion investment in its hourly employees, which includes funding college tuition for its 750,000-plus operations workers in the U.S. This initiative, which is part of Amazon’s Career Choice program, kicked off in January 2022—and the company on Thursday announced expansions to the program.

Now, Amazon is adding partnerships with more than 140 colleges and universities to provide a cost-free college education to its hourly employees—bringing the number of schools Amazonians can attend debt-free to 180. Amazon, the second-largest U.S.-based retailer, also unveiled that the program will now be available to employees who have been with the company for just 90 days. 

“We’ve really listened to our associates,” Tammy Thieman, global lead of the Career Choice Program, tells Fortune. “And our associates have told us that they’d like to be able to expand their Career Choice offerings and achieve career success—and also looking ahead with what they’ll be able to do with that to grow both in the company and those other opportunities outside the company.”

How Career Choice works

Hourly employees who have been with the company for three months can apply to the schools they’re interested in through the school’s Career Choice program. Qualifications for acceptance vary from school to school, but many providers require a GED or high school diploma to apply for the bachelor’s degree programs. 

“We really want to help associates achieve career success,” Thieman says. “We really believe that anybody who comes to Amazon should be able to build their career with us—and that’s whether they stay with us or whether they go somewhere else.”

Amazon employees have access to an online catalog of schools to choose from—which includes online and in-person options. Employees can also attend classes at one of the 110 Career Choice locations across the U.S. Career Choice classrooms are located at Amazon facilities so employees only have to commute once each day to work and attend classes. In total, Amazon employees have access to more than 180 schools through the Career Choice program with the expansion.

“We do think that it’s really compelling for associates to be able to have choice because it makes it easier to study,” Thieman says. “It works with their life [and] how they learn.” 

The Career Choice program differs from other upskilling and tuition reimbursement programs because Amazon pays for 100% of educational costs up front, which “removes financial barriers,” Thieman says. Amazon is also working on piloting coaching programs that will help employees choose the right program.

What Amazon looks for in educational partners

The Career Choice program is popular among adult learners—such as those people who never attended college and went straight to work or those people who earned a few credits but then entered the workforce. For that reason, Amazon has a selective vetting process for choosing their partner schools. 

Strong partner schools are those that understand the adult learner and offer support services for employees from selecting the right program to getting academic help to ultimately achieving career placement.

“We’ve really been looking at who are those partners that can really help us achieve better outcomes for our associates—and by outcomes we mean not just course completion, but how do we help them take the next step in their career and land that next job based on the education and skills they’ve learned,” Thieman says. 

Check out the schools where Amazon employees can attend college cost-free. Note that the company is continuing to add partnerships to the list.

Alabama

Jefferson State Community College
Lawson State Community College
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of South Alabama

Arizona

Maricopa Community Colleges
Pima Community College

California

Bakersfield College
California State University—Fresno
California State University, Stanislaus
Chaffey College
Clovis Community College
Modesto Junior College
Moreno Valley College
Riverside City College
Sacramento City College
SV Academy

Colorado

Community College of Aurora
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Colorado State University Global

Connecticut

Capital Community College
University of Connecticut

Delaware

Delaware Technical Community College
University of Delaware
Wilmington University

Florida

Florida International University
Florida State College
Hillsborough Community College
Miami Dade College
Polk State College
University of Central Florida
University of Florida Online
Valencia College – Downtown Campus
Florida State College at Jacksonville
Hillsborough Community College

Georgia

Atlanta Technical College
Lanier Technical College

Iowa

Des Moines Area Community College
University of Northern Iowa

Idaho

Boise State University
College of Western Idaho

Illinois

College of Lake County – Grayslake
Columbia College
Harper College
Joliet Junior College
Lewis University
Moraine Valley Community College
Prairie State College
Rock Valley College
Triton College
College of Lake County
Governors State University

City Colleges of Chicago

Indiana

Indiana University South Bend
Indiana University- Southeast
IUPUI
Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana
Vincennes University

Kansas

Kansas City Kansas Community College

Kentucky

Bluegrass Community and Technical College
Campbellsville University
Elizabethtown Community and Technical College
Gateway Community and Technical College
Jefferson Community and Technical College
Thomas More University
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville
Gateway Community and Technical College

Louisiana

Louisiana State University Online

Massachusetts

Bristol Community College
Ben Franklin Institute of Technology

Maryland

Anne Arundel Community College
Community College of Baltimore County
Towson University
University of Maryland Global Campus
Community College of Baltimore County
UMGC

Michigan

Eastern Michigan University
Grand Rapids Community College
Grand Valley State University
Henry Ford College

Minnesota

Dakota County Technical College
Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Missouri

Missouri State University
Ozarks Technical Community College
St Louis Community College
St. Charles Community College
University of Missouri – Kansas City
University of Missouri – St. Louis

New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester Community College

New Jersey

Camden County College
Hudson County Community College
Mercer County Community College
Middlesex County College
Rowan College at Burlington County
Rowan College South Jersey
Rowan University
Rutgers University- Newark
Rowan College at Burlington County

New York

Outlier
Flatiron School
Mercy College
Bronx Community College
College of Staten Island
CUNY School of Professional Studies
Kingsborough Community College
LaGuardia Community College
Queens College

Nevada

College of Southern Nevada

North Carolina

Central Piedmont Community College
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Wake Technical Community College

Ohio

Bowling Green State University
Clark State Community College
Cleveland State University
Columbus State Community College
Cuyahoga Community College
Ohio Dominican University
Owens Community College
The University of Akron
University of Toledo
Columbus State Community College
We Can Code IT

Oklahoma

Oklahoma State University
Rogers State University
Tulsa Community College
University of Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City

Oregon

Mt Hood Community College
Portland Community College
Portland State University

Pennsylvania

Bucks County Community College
Community College of Allegheny County
Community College of Philadelphia
Drexel University
Harrisburg Area Community College – Gettysburg Campus
Lehigh Carbon Community College
Luzerne County Community College
Northampton Community College
Penn State Hazelton
Penn State World Campus

South Carolina

Greenville Technical College
Midlands Technical College
Spartanburg Community College

Tennessee

Chattanooga State Community College
Middle Tennessee State University
Motlow State Community College
Southwest Tennessee Community College
The University of Memphis
The University of Tennessee
Volunteer State Community College

Texas

Alamo Colleges
Austin Community College – Cypress Creek Campus
Dallas College
Houston Community College
Lone Star College
Tarrant County College
Texas State University
The University of Texas at Dallas
University of North Texas

Utah

Bottega University
Salt Lake Community College
University of Utah

Virginia

John Tyler Community College
Lord Fairfax Community College
Northern Virginia Community College
Reynolds Community College
Virginia Commonwealth University

West Virginia

Mountwest Community and Technical College
Blue Ridge Technical and Community College

Washington

Bellevue College
City University of Seattle
Eastern Washington University
Green River Community College
Renton Technical College
Spokane Community College
Tacoma Community College
University of Washington- Tacoma

Wisconsin

Gateway Technical College
Milwaukee Area Technical College
University of Wisconsin – Parkside

National

EnGen
GED Works
goFLUENT
Smart Horizons
160 Driving Academy
Ancora Corporate Training
Coding Dojo
CompTIA – Online Campus
Correlation One
C-Tech
Evolve Security Academy
Kenzie Academy
Merit America
National University
Natural Resources Training Group
StrataTech (Tulsa Welding School, The Refrigeration School)
Western Governors University

See how the schools you’re considering landed in Fortune’s rankings of the best business analytics programsdata science programs, and part-timeexecutive, full-time, and online MBA programs.