When you research schools that can support your academic interests and career aspirations, the abundance of degree options will be overwhelming. Nevertheless, this guide can aid your search by offering information on the 10 best colleges in North Carolina.
North Carolina boasts a strong economy, in addition to its accessible and competitive schools. There are exciting job opportunities in growing sectors, especially pharmaceuticals, such as aerospace and defense, advanced manufacturing and biotechnology. Another big source of employment is the information technology sector, mainly due to the Research Triangle and the collaborations the state has with Google and Cisco. In addition, the condition of Tar Heel has a relatively low cost of living. Even in urban areas like Charlotte, living expenses fell below the national average by 5%.
The rankings below take into account important factors such as tuition costs and financial aid availability. The profiles outline program offerings, options for distance learning, student services and opportunities for professional growth, such as internship placements.
1. Elon University (Elon)
- Tuition fees: $36,571
- Book & supplies: $900
- Living cost: $12,685 (on & off campus)
- Financial aid (average amount of aid received): $14,752 (grant or scholarship aid), $4,525 (pell grants), $6,264 (federal student loans)
Elon University offers innovative academic programming which prepares students in their communities for career success and roles as ethical leaders. There are 60 undergraduate and 10 graduate programs in the University list.
Each year, approximately 12,000 students apply to Elon, yielding the admissions process competitive. The average incoming graduate student has a 3.4 GPA minimum. Requirements for graduate admission vary by program but usually require a minimum of 2.5 GPA. Elon provides dedicated counseling resources and transfer programs in addition to generous financial assistance to help new students ease their way into college life.
2. Davidson College (Davidson)
- Tuition fees: $53,166
- Book & supplies: $1,000
- Living cost: $14,803 (on campus)
- Financial aid (average amount of aid received): $39,494 (grant or scholarship aid), $4,484 (pell grants), $5,869 (federal students loans)
Davidson College is a private, liberal arts school which supports more than 1,840 students. Davidson students enjoy a number of personal and academic freedoms through a unique honor code which includes unplanned, self-scheduled final examinations.
The school offers more than 30 undergraduate programs. Bachelor’s degrees include psychology, engineering, environmental and data science studies. Students may also participate in a neuroscience program that explores human mental and moral faculties’ biological substrates.
With the support of at least two faculty members, Davidson allows candidates interested in interdisciplinary studies to develop their own major. The college also offers four pre-professional government, law, veterinary, and allied health programs.
Students outside the classroom benefit from immersive internship programs, such as a dedicated East Asian program. All learners can participate with academic projects through the Davidson Research Initiative, and gain funding for their own work.
3. Meredith College (Raleigh)
- Tuition fees: $38,620
- Book & supplies: $850
- Living cost: $11,360 (on & off campus)
- Financial aid (average amount of aid received): $23,947 (grant or scholarship aid), $4,840 (pell grants), $6,871 (federal student loans)
Meredith College is an institution of liberal arts undergraduate students, and a graduate coeducational school. Students may enroll in the engineering, criminology, hospitality management, and social work bachelor programs. They can also pursue a degree in political science, choosing either a pre-law track or a concentration on public relations. In addition, Meredith encourages students to plan their own major, with input from faculty mentors and academic council approval.
Graduate candidates can select from the teaching, education, nutrition, and business administration master programs. Meredith offers a Master of Arts degree in Psychology with an industrial/organizational psychology emphasis. The 30-credit program emphasizes professional preparation, and during their second year, students prepare for career entry by completing a full-time internship.
4. Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte)
- Tuition fees: $35,720
- Book & supplies: $1,200
- Living cost: $11,222 (on campus) / $8,964 (off campus)
- Financial aid (average amount of aid received): $21,409 (grant or scholarship aid), $4,508 (pell grants), $10,899 (federal student loans)
Queens University of Charlotte is a private, liberal arts college that focuses on active learning and collaborative academic curriculum. The school serves 2,400 students, and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 9 to 1. The university offers internships and study journeys abroad to help students develop their careers. Opportunities include enterprise summer programs in Strasbourg, France.
First-year applicants must submit an online application, official transcripts from high school and scores ACT or SAT. Graduate admissions vary from program to program, but normally allow applicants to provide GRE or GMAT scores and two recommendations.
Queens automatically considers every student for merit scholarships.
5. Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem)
- Tuition fees: $55,440
- Book & supplies: $1,500
- Living cost: $15,018 (on & off campus)
- Financial aid (average amount of aid received): $37,534 (grant or scholarship aid), $4,722 (pell grants), $6,135 (federal student loans)
Wake Forest University blends a major research institution’s opportunities with the connectedness of a local, liberal arts college. The school serves 8,400 learners, and has an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. WFU maintains a test-optional admissions policy that allows applicants to determine whether standardized tests correctly represent their academic ability or not.
The university offers not only need-based scholarships, but also merit-based awards such as the Graylyn Scholarship for outstanding student leaders and the Randall D. Ledford Scholarship for physics majors.
6. Barton College (Wilson)
- Tuition fees: $31,732
- Book & supplies: $1,200
- Living cost: $10,422 (on & off campus)
- Financial aid (average amount of aid received): $19,880 (grant or scholarship aid), $4,549 (pell grants), $6,962 (federal student loans)
Barton College is a private school of liberal arts that enrolls 1,000 students in more than 40 undergraduate programs. The school has affordable fees, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 11-to-1.
In addition to tailored academic counseling and career advice, Barton offers generous financial assistance to the graduates. The reward opportunities include the Barton W. Stone Scholarship based on merit, and the Transfer Opportunity Grant.
The college favors freshman applicants showing a minimum score of 2.3 GPA and either 19 ACT or 900 SAT. Transfer candidates need at least 12 credits received with a GPA of 2.0.
7. Duke University (Durham)
- Tuition fees: $58,031
- Book & supplies: $1,434
- Living cost: $15,588 (on campus)
- Financial aid (average amount of aid received): $49,026 (grant or scholarship aid), $4,966 (pell grants), $5,408 (federal student loans)
Routinely ranked among the best US higher education institutions and top colleges in North Carolina, Duke University provides 15,900 students per semester with rigorous academics and innovative study opportunities.
Students can select from over 50 majors, including cultural anthropology, comparative international studies, statistical science, and biophysics. Duke offers a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering that immerses applicants in hands-on design experience and research of entrepreneurship. Even the university allows students to plan their own major through the Program II track.
Graduate applicants can seek Master’s degrees in areas such as medical physics, material science and engineering, and economics and computing. Students may also receive a Ph.D. in public policy, focusing their work on fields such as health care and sustainability in the environment.
8. Gardner-Webb University (Boiling Springs)
- Tuition fees: $32,240
- Book & supplies: $1,850
- Living cost: $10,360 (on campus) / $5,800 (off campus)
- Financial aid (average amount of aid received): $19,225 (grant or scholarship aid), $4,136 (pell grants), $6,858 (federal student loans)
The Gardner-Webb University has 3,600 students participating in 60 study programs. Majors such as graphic design, French (with teaching license), international business, and journalism may be choosee from undergraduate studies. Students may enroll in an administration of criminal justice program which prepares them for law enforcement and cybersecurity careers. The university also offers an accelerated nursing bachelor program which focuses on therapeutic relationships and clinical skills.
In addition to accessible campus-based courses, Gardner-Webb also provides online degree completion tracks that are suitable for returning students and working professionals. Professional programs concentrate on corporate degrees such as accountancy, asset and trust management, and business management. Students can participate in either a 10-month online track or the international MBA program, instead of a conventional MBA.
9. Piedmont International University (Winston-Salem)
- Tuition fees: $11,900
- Book & supplies: $1,400
- Living cost: $8,000 (on campus) / $11,900 (off campus)
- Financial aid (average amount of aid received): $6,010 (grant or scholarship aid), $4,551 (pell grants), $2,959 (federal student loans)
Piedmont International University, established in 1945 as a junior college, now offers a wide variety of academic programs to mainstream students and distance learners. The university pays low tuition rates depending on the form of course, and offers financial support such as merit-based undergraduate and graduate grants.
10. Catawba College (Salisbury)
- Tuition fees: $30,520
- Book & supplies: $1,400
- Living cost: $10,488 (on campus) / $9,048 (off campus)
- Financial aid (average amount of aid received): $23,920 (grant or scholarship aid), $4,485 (pell grants), $6,293 (federal student loans)
Routinely ranked as one of the best colleges in North Carolina, Catawba College offers more than 70 affordable and career-relevant academic programs. The school maintains a rolling admissions policy and provides first year candidates with a minimum of 3.25 GPA a test-optional procedure. Nearly all freshman students receive financial assistance, including big awards and merit scholarships for students who are transferred.
Undergraduate programs include areas like excellence in the theater arts, public policy, and integrated marketing relations. Students may earn a bachelor’s degree in environment and sustainability which allows them to conduct independent research in the 189-acre ecological preserve located in the backyard of Catawba. The university also provides online and flexible evening classes, with options such as entrepreneurship and nursing (RN-to-BSN).
Catawba provides one graduate program, a master of STEM education which offers a pathway for advanced licensing to practitioner teachers.
Partnered with some of the nation’s top colleges, North Carolina’s diversity makes it a perfect location to study abroad in the United States. In addition to dozens other independent colleges and universities, the North Carolina University System features 17 State institutions.
If you’re interested in banking and trade, information technology , environmental studies or farming, colleges in North Carolina offer academic programs that suit any student.