Best Colleges in North Carolina

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After deciding that the college route is for you, the next step is choosing which college or university will best meet your needs. North Carolina has 119 two- and four-year schools, a number that can seem daunting, but one that is easily lowered once you determine the type of school you want. Fortunately, we have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in North Carolina, including the top four-year and two-year schools.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Higher education in North Carolina, according to a recent study, has a $63.5 billion impact on the state’s economy, the monetary equivalent of creating just over one million jobs. While higher education cost taxpayers an estimated $4.3 billion in 2012-13, the return to the economy was a whopping $17 billion.

Given this return, it’s unsurprising North Carolina has shown such strong support for its public universities. The state’s four-year schools have especially distinguished themselves, with institutions in the North Carolina Higher Education (NCHE) system responsible for $1.5 billion in added state income via start-ups begun by NCHE students and alumni. North Carolina’s breakout success with its 4-year universities is a sure sign of good things to come.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Location Description
1

Duke University

 5/5N/ADurham, NC

campus-Duke-University

Duke University is home to small class sizes, rich history and a tradition of academic excellence. The scenic campus in Durham represents students of many ethnicities, who hail from many different states and countries. All of these learners are aged 24 or under, and 100% of students are enrolled in courses full-time. Among the institution's most popular subjects are economics, public policy studies, biology, psychology and biomedical engineering. DU has a need-blind admission policy, granting students acceptance without considering their families' ability to pay tuition and other college costs. Duke meets 100% of students' demonstrated financial need for four years, and more than 50% of Duke's students earned financial aid during the 2012-13 school year.

Quick Facts

  • The student to teacher ratio is 7:1.
  • 78% of the students who attended Duke in 2012-13 came to the university from out-of-state.
  • Duke offers many courses online, but on-campus students can enjoy such facilities and sights as the Duke Forest, Duke Gardens, golf course and Marine Biology Lab.
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2

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 2/5N/AChapel Hill, NC

campus_university_of_north_carolina_chapel_hill

Chartered in December 1789, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the nation's first public university. UNC is a multi-campus, public university system that is comprised of 16 other public universities, offering students 78 bachelor's, 112 master's and 68 doctoral degree programs. The college is ranked among the top public research universities in the U.S. and has been at the center of very promising cancer research. UNC offers some flexible learning options for distance students and online learners in certificate and graduate degree programs. Students can choose to learn over the internet or on the sustainable campus littered with historical landmarks such as: the controversial Old Well, the century-old Coker Arboretum or the celebrated Playmakers Theatre.

Quick Facts

  • UNC was ranked first on Princeton Review's "Top Best Value Public Colleges for 2014" and fifth in the U.S. News & World Report's 2015 "Best Colleges" guidebook for fourteenth consecutive year.
  • The student to teacher ratio of UNC is 13:1, and 87% of the classes have fewer than 50 students.
  • Service learning within the community is important; in 2012-13, more than 17,000 UNC Tar Heels offered more than 1.7 million hours of service in communities.
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3

Davidson College

 5/5N/ADavidson, NC

campus-davidson-college

In 2007, Davidson became the first college in the U.S. to completely eliminate the need for student loans in their financial aid packages; all need-based aid is covered thanks to grants, student work-study and parental contributions. In 2012-2013, 62% of students received some form of financial aid at Davidson College. Davidson Wildcats can earn a four-year liberal arts degree in one of 25 subject areas or design their own interdisciplinary degree program. Students can also select a second major, minor or concentration at DC to complement their studies. Classes at Davidson begin in January and August each year and are typically held for 16 weeks. Student groups and organizations meet year-round.

Quick Facts

  • Davidson College boasted a 96% retention rate for first-to-second-year students in 2012; the overall graduation/transfer-out rate for students was 92% during the 2012-13 academic year.
  • More than 80% of students at DC study abroad or work internationally during their academic career. Those interested can choose from more than 10 faculty-led programs or nearly 200 study abroad programs that are offered at Davidson by third-party providers.
  • The student to teacher ratio at this college, which has been deemed "most selective" by sources such as the U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review, is 10:1.
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4

North Carolina State University

 2/5N/ARaleigh, NC

campus_north_carolina_state_university

North Carolina State University forms one corner of what is known in North Carolina as the Research Triangle. This college is a land, sea and space grant institution and is the largest university in both North and South Carolina. The university offers students more than 700 clubs and organizations to participate in on-campus, all of which supplement the more than 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs at NCSU. The Centennial Campus at NCSU is working to moderate nuclear proliferation, confront climate change and develop a smart electric grid, among other accomplishments.

Quick Facts

  • U.S. News & World Report ranked NCSU eighth among the nation's best values for public universities; Princeton Review and Kiplinger's Personal Finance also ranked NC State as among the nation's best values in education.
  • The student to teacher ratio of this big-city institution is 17:1.
  • Time magazine called the campus' innovative Hunt Library "the library of the future."
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5

Wake Forest University

 5/5N/AWinston Salem, NC

campus-Wake-Forest-University

Wake Forest University is a private, nonprofit institution that was originally founded in 1834 as the Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute. Then, students and faculty were expected to spend half of each day on the Forest of Wake plantation upon which the campus stood. Today, that spirit of hard-work and community continues in the form of student and staff contributions to service-learning projects, sustainability programs and experiential learning. Classes begin in January, August and May each year. Students can find peer-mentoring and tutoring resources on-campus and are able to earn one of more than 40 undergraduate and over 50 graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines.

Testimonial

"I was able to develop a mentoring relationship with [my first-year instructor] Dr. Fahrbach, whose interest in my personal and academic growth taught me to value hard work and attention to detail. I'll be taking those lessons with me wherever I go beyond Wake Forest." - David Hale

Quick Facts

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6

Elon University

 5/5N/AElon, NC

This mid-sized university offers students more than 60 undergraduate majors and seven graduate programs and curriculums rich in hands-on learning opportunities. Students are challenged to interject studies that foster inclusion and diversity awareness into their curriculum, no matter what their major. This immersive approach to education is part of the reason that EU boasts a 90% retention rate for first-to-second year full-time undergraduates and 100% of part-time students. Several esteemed peer review journals, including U.S. News & World Report, the Princeton Review and Kiplinger's Personal Finance, have recognized Elon time and again for its high-value education, academic excellence and character development.

Quick Facts

  • The student-to-teacher ratio at Elon University is 12:1.
  • In 2013-2014, Elon students completed 127,656 hours of service on their own and in group settings (fraternity/sorority, sports and student organizations).
  • Elon is one of only seven private universities in the country that is able to offer students accredited colleges of business, communications, education, law and health science.
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7

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

 2/5N/AWilmington, NC

UNC-Wilmington is sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River. Due to its location, UNCW is well-endowed with organic opportunities to observe and study not just nature and the environment, but also commerce, cultural dynamics and human health. There are 49 majors to choose from at this mid-sized university, and the UNCW Seahawks can learn on-campus or through Blackboard's distance learning management system.

Quick Facts

  • UNCW offers 55 bachelor degrees, 42 master degree programs, a Ph.D in marine biology and an Ed.D in educational leadership and administration.
  • The University of North Carolina Wilmington has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger, Princeton Review and many others for efficiency, affordability and scholastic excellence.
  • This university offers ten undergraduate and graduate level degree programs online to distance students in select states.
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8

Appalachian State University

 2/5N/ABoone, NC

Unique to many college and university standards, Appalachian offers undergraduates the chance to participate in research opportunities on-campus. With more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors, six undergraduate colleges, one graduate school and a college of music, ASU really does have something for everyone. ASU offers study-abroad opportunities on nearly every continent, giving scholars access to roughly 200 foreign sites for year-long, summer and semester terms. The cost of these special programs is approximately the same as on-campus tuition.

Quick Facts

  • The average class size at ASU is 26 students, and the student-to-faculty ratio of this distant institution is 16:1.
  • Appalachian's textbook rental program saves students hundreds of dollars over the course of their four-year education.
  • Appalachian State University has been recognized by major peer-review journals such as Princeton Review and the U.S. News & World Report, as well as national consumer magazines like Time and Washington Monthly. These respected ranking organizations report that ASU is a sustainable, green campus, a highly efficient, military-friendly college, and also a university offering exceptional value.
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9

East Carolina University

 2/5N/AGreenville, NC

As the third largest university in North Carolina, East Carolina University offers a wide-range of degrees and certificates, including more than 100 bachelor's degree programs, over 75 master's degrees and upwards of 15 doctoral and first-year professional curriculums to choose from. Many of these programs are also offered to distance learners online, in select states. The university hosts more than 400 registered student organizations, which learners say is a chance to make connections, network, explore new interests and gain hands-on learning experience, all of which enriches participants' academic involvement.

Testimonial

"I decided to attend ECU because I was always interested in attending a college that exemplified a full range of diverse students that would be a great model environment for the real world. Being that the real world is so full of many different types of people I wanted to attend a college that could give me that experience." - Daniel Spellman, College of Human Ecology

Quick Facts

  • On game days, the college Starbucks whips up some school spirit by topping their iced and hot drinks with purple whipped cream.
  • ECU is a diverse and well-rounded campus: 30% of students on the ECU campus represent an ethnic minority; 30% of undergraduates and 55% of graduates participate in non-traditional distance learning opportunities.
  • The student to teacher ratio at East Carolina University is 17:1.
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10

Meredith College

 5/5N/ARaleigh, NC

Meredith College opened its doors more than a century ago as a women's college. Today, that rule is a little more relaxed; the college offers 16 coeducational graduate and certificate programs on-campus. There are more than 100 student organizations and clubs offered at Meredith. These activities make lecturers, exhibitions, concerts and performances available to participating MC scholars. The largest undergraduate college for women in the southeastern U.S., Meredith offers financial aid to all of its students. The student to teacher ratio of this big-city institution is 12:1, and the average class size at Meredith College is 17 students.

Quick Facts

  • Meredith College is ranked among U.S. News & World Report's best regional colleges in the South, as well as a Best Value learning institute. Forbes and the Princeton Review have also ranked Meredith among the most excellent colleges in the country.
  • 98.5% of MC graduates are employed or pursuing graduate study within 9 months of commencement.
  • The Avenging Angels at MC compete in basketball, volleyball, tennis, cross-country, lacrosse and soccer, and have plans to add NCAA Division III track to their roster of women's athletic teams.
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11

University of North Carolina at Asheville

 2/5N/AAsheville, NC

This nationally ranked university offers more than 30 majors in the BA, BS and BFA programs, as well as one MA in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students can also choose to study abroad, participate in service learning opportunities and delve into the Outdoor Education Program offered at UNC Asheville. The Asheville Bulldogs are located on a campus that offers the best of both a rural and an urban setting. Students are near enough to beautiful outdoor amenities and activities to enjoy kayaking, hiking and caving in the nearby French Broad River and Mt. Mitchell State Park; they are also located in the hub of the city, making shopping, dining and entertainment easy to come by when students are not hitting the books.

Quick Facts

  • The student-to-faculty ratio at UNCA is 14:1.
  • During the 2012-13 academic year, 77% of the full-time beginning undergraduate students received some form of financial aid.
  • Courses at this university begin in the spring, fall and summer semesters.
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12

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

 2/5N/AGreensboro, NC

With undergraduate degree programs available in more than 100 subjects, students have many majors, concentrations and pre-professional topics to choose from at UNC Greensboro. Recognized for both its excellence and affordability, UNCG offers 30 online undergraduate, graduate and certificate degree programs for distance students, too. The college's kinesiology doctoral program is the only online Ed.D program in kinesiology in the nation. UNCG is as affordable as it is excellent: 80% of full-time beginning undergraduates earned some type of financial aid during the 2012-13 school year. Need and merit-based scholarships and grants are available to students of almost any circumstance and enrollment status.

Quick Facts

  • U.S. News & World Report ranked three online programs at UNC Greensboro among the best in the U.S. in 2015. The university also ranked among Princeton Review's list of best undergraduate educations in the U.S. for the 16th consecutive year.
  • UNCG is one of the most diverse and inclusive universities in North Carolina: 44% of the student body is classified as an ethnic minority, and 20% of the students at Greensboro are 25 years of age or older.
  • Distance learners use Canvas and Blackboard learning management systems to experience their virtual Greensboro classroom. These interfaces are intuitive, efficient and proven ways to enhance on-ground courses, as well as learn without ever having to come to campus.
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13

Western Carolina University

 2/5N/ACullowhee, NC

Western Carolina University is located in a valley, nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The campus is on the site of an early Cherokee village; this fact has made the heritage of the indigenous people, as well as the process of understanding remains and artifacts, a subject of reverence and study for students at WCU. Western is one of only two colleges in the U.S. that offers human decomposition studies, and employs two board-certified anthropologists to decipher the findings at the American Indian dig site. Students can choose from one of 120 programs of study, with many more minors and concentrations to supplement their studies. For students looking for a master's degree or higher, there are more than 62 graduate degree programs. Students are also encouraged to round out their didactic learning with an internship or other practical, hands-on learning experience.

Quick Facts

  • During the 2012-13 academic year, 83% of full-time beginning undergraduates received financial aid at WCUG.
  • The student to teacher ratio at Western Carolina University is 16:1; the average classroom at WCC contains 23 students.
  • Courses begin in January and August for the spring and fall semesters, and there are several summer sessions.
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14

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

 2/5N/ACharlotte, NC

Located just eight miles from uptown Charlotte, UNCC offers 80 bachelor's degree programs, 64 master's degree programs and 21 doctoral degree programs. Heavily wooded, the self-contained main campus has attractions such as several man-made lakes and gardens. Students can begin their course of study in the fall, spring, or one of two summer sessions. Psychology, communications, nursing, business and criminal justice are among the most popular studies at UNC Charlotte. The student body at this university is diverse and represents a broad range of interests, cultural backgrounds, ethnicities and ages.

Quick Facts

  • During the 2012-13 academic year, the retention rate of first-to-second year undergraduate students was 80% for full-time students.
  • UNC Charlotte has a main campus in University City, a Research Institute campus and a campus in Center City, where business, evening and graduate students learn.
  • There are more than 20 online undergraduate and graduate program options open to students in select states at UNC Charlotte, as well as many more graduate certificate and licensure opportunities.
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15

High Point University

 5/5N/AHigh Point, NC

A private, liberal arts college, High Point University invests in students by keeping its educational resources up-to-date and environmentally conscious, but students at High Point are investing in their learning as well as their community. During the 2014-15 academic year, the HPU offered service learning options for 24 courses in 14 majors. The economic impact of this volunteerism is approximated at $210,400. There are 46 undergraduate majors, 46 undergraduate minors and 11 graduate-degree majors to choose from at High Point. Some of the most popular subjects studied include business, communication and elementary education. Due to the unique residency requirements for students who are admitted to this university, the college does not offer distance learning options at this time.

Testimonial

"The personal attention that I receive at HPU is unlike any other. Through small classes I have been able to establish life-long relationships with my professors. No matter if you're in a class with 25 students or a class with just 7 students, the professors ensure your success." - James Ensor, Class of 2017

Quick Facts

  • U.S. News & World Report ranks HPU first among regional colleges. The Princeton Review named the campus a Green College in 2013, celebrating HPU's efforts to conserve resources, improve upon energy efficiency and enhance environmental quality.
  • With the exception of senior students, all High Point University students must reside on-campus.
  • Students will enjoy the diversions at the Slane Student Center. Here, students will find a fitness center, sand volleyball arena, climbing wall, outdoor swimming pool and a billiard table.
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16

Gardner-Webb University

 4/5N/ABoiling Springs, NC

A Baptist university, Gardner-Webb encourages meaningful analysis, spiritual consideration and significant transactions between students and faculty. In addition to 55 major and minor programs of study, GW offers two separate religious curriculums for Christian professionals. The Master of Divinity and Doctor of Divinity both have optional concentrations and dual degree opportunities with a focus in subjects such as pastoral studies, ministry or family counseling. More than 80% of the instructors at GWU have PhDs, and most have come to the institution from other prestigious colleges and universities. GWU also values outreach as a means to enhance its strong liberal arts curriculum. The institution calls its outreach programs "institutionalized community engagement," and these efforts have led the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to select the college for a Community Engagement Classification. This university is one of only 311 schools to earn this accolade since 2006.

Testimonial

"My career at Gardner-Webb lit within me a passion for reaching across curricula (and cultural) boundaries and for adding my own small voice to the buzz of academic conversation. Through exploring, writing, and presenting my honors thesis, I was introduced to the self-discipline and methodology necessary to complete lengthy research ventures." - Sarah Davis, 2009 Gardner-Webb graduate

Quick Facts

  • The school's online programs are consistently recognized at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; in 2012, the online business program was ranked first out of 161 other colleges by U.S. News & World Report for its outstanding Student Services and Technology.
  • The student-to-teacher ratio at Gardner-Webb University is 1:13, and the average class size is 25.
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17

Catawba College

 4/5N/ASalisbury, NC

Catawba College's campus, outfitted beautifully in neo gothic architecture, is centrally located and just a few hours from some of the Atlantic Coast's best beaches as well as the Appalachian Mountains. Students can earn a BA, BS or BFA in one of more than 70 different fields of study; they may also pursue a M. Ed. degree. Internships and hands-on learning are a vital and common element of study at this university. These paid and unpaid positions are available at numerous local and international organizations.

Testimonials

"If you are looking for a great education/ lasting friendships and a wonderful college experience Catawba is the place to be!" - C. M. Lee

Quick Facts

  • During the 2012-13 academic year, 99% of full-time beginning undergraduates received financial aid.
  • The most popular subjects studied at Catawba during the 2012-13 academic year were business, education, parks and recreation and the performing arts.
  • Three-quarters of the faculty at CC hold terminal degrees in their field or subject of expertise.
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18

University of Mount Olive

 3/5N/ANC

The University of Mount Olive represents a robust and diverse sampling of students from all walks of life; 67% of students at this institution are 25 or older. Many of these adult learners choose to enroll in the flexible, accelerated programs that require a weekly meeting and online participation. Three programs at UMO are even available entirely online. Students can take a virtual tour of Mount Olive by downloading a special app for their iOS or Android smartphones.

Quick Facts

  • The University of Mount Olive has been a tobacco-free institution since July 1, 2013.
  • During the 2012-13 academic year, 100% of the full-time first-year students at Mount Olive received financial aid.
  • Business, healthcare and education are among the most popular subjects studied at Mount Olive.
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19

North Carolina A&T State University

 2/5N/AGreensboro, NC

This historically black college in Greensboro began as a land-grant university in 1890. Today, it is the largest black college in the U.S. and boasts distinguished faculty and alumni. Engineering, business, psychology, communication and journalism are among the most popular programs at North Carolina A&T. The university also offers 177 different undergraduate degree programs, as well as 31 master's and nine doctoral degrees.

Quick Facts

  • During the 2012-13 academic year, 95% of full-time beginning undergraduates received financial aid; 75% of all undergraduates received some form of scholarship or grant assistance.
  • The student to teacher ratio at NCA&T is 16:1.
  • North Carolina A&T is ranked nationally by the U.S. News & World Report for its outstanding online undergraduate and graduate programs, and has also been recognized as a historically black college and for its exceptional business and engineering programs.
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20

North Carolina Central University

 2/5N/ADurham, NC

North Carolina Central University is a historically black college that is situated on 135 acres, roughly a mile from Durham. The first campus to require community service hours as a condition of graduation, NCCU is one of 311 universities that have gained national recognition from the Carnegie Foundation as a community-engaged university. NCCU offers several academic programs and over 100 concentrations, including: 37 bachelor's degrees, 39 master's/professional degrees and one doctoral program.

Quick Facts

  • The student to teacher ratio at North Carolina Central University is 15:1, and the average class size is 21 students.
  • NCCU offers a robust campus life; the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center hosts such diversions as racquetball courts, a swimming pool, several dining locations and coffee spots, a game room, a bowling alley, Greek life and more than 100 student organizations.
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21

Campbell University

 4/5N/ABuies Creek, NC

This private Baptist university gives students more than 150 majors, tracks and concentrations at the bachelor, master, professional and doctoral degree-levels. Unlike most four-year institutions, Campbell even offers an associate degree. The aim at Campbell University is to indoctrinate Christian values to students, and to graduate professionals who are well-equipped to conduct themselves ethically and morally in business, healthcare and technical fields. Led by the school mascot, Gaylord the Camel, students can cheer on their favorite of 18 NCAA Division I sports teams. If athletics do not interest students, there are more than 90 academic and pre-professional societies on campus, Greek life and other recreational or fitness activities open to learners at Campbell.

Quick Facts

  • The student to teacher ratio at Campbell University is 16:1.
  • CU has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review and other accredited agencies as one of the best and most military-friendly regional universities in the South.
  • The most popular programs at this Christian college include business, science technologies, psychology, social sciences and accounting.
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22

Queens University of Charlotte

 4/5N/ACharlotte, NC

Personal attention is guaranteed at Queens University of Charlotte. This private college, dedicated to liberal arts and professional studies, offers 39 majors, 74 minors and 11 graduate degree programs for students to choose from; traditional day, as well as evening, part-time and online degree programs are available. The motto at QUC, "Not to be served, but to serve," exemplifies the importance of active citizenship, ethics and religion that is the cornerstone of an education at this institution. Community service is a very important part of an education at QUC; service learning opportunities provide students with enriching hands-on experience and help to foster a healthy and productive spirit of community.

Quick Facts

  • The school boasts an intimate student to teacher ratio of 12:1; most courses have fewer than 14 students per class.
  • Queens has performed above the national average in scholastic achievement and campus environment consistently. The campus enjoys annual recognition from organizations like U.S. News & World Report.
  • The diverse student body at Queens can begin classes in the spring and fall semesters each year.
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23

Johnson & Wales University-Charlotte

 4/5N/ACharlotte, NC

Students at Johnson & Wales are professional-minded academics. These students value practical, hands-on experience; respected faculty; and a college that can help graduates dive right into a meaningful career. Taught in a sequential order, the foundational skills and aptitudes that form J&W's core curriculum focus on communication skills, information literacy, critical-thinking strategies and creativity. Students can earn a degree in the arts and sciences, culinary or management fields at the Charlotte campus. Academic years at JW are divided into trimesters, wherein students can take courses that are 11 weeks in length. Students take three-to-four courses each term, and can enroll in a spring, fall, summer and winter term. This student body is diverse, and consists primarily of traditional, on-campus learners, even though the college also offers an online business and liberal studies graduate degree.

Quick Facts

  • Johnson & Wales is one of the largest educators of food and beverage professionals in the world.
  • All of the full-time beginning undergraduate students at Johnson & Wales received financial aid during the 2012-13 academic year.
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24

Winston-Salem State University

 2/5N/AWinston-Salem, NC

This historically black college aims to realize the school's motto: "Enter to learn, depart to serve." Students at Winston-Salem experience a rigorous curriculum that demands the mastery of relevant hardware and software technologies. With 40 undergraduate majors and over 10 graduate programs to choose from, students have the flexibility to craft the interdisciplinary degree options which best suit their individual needs. Winston-Salem also offers several distance programs for those who are interested in select online degrees and certificates.

Quick Facts

  • During the 2012-13 academic year, 96% of WSSU's full-time, first-year undergraduate students received financial assistance.
  • Winston-Salem is a regional institution that is consistently recognized for its outstanding academic programs. U.S. News & World Report ranked WSSU among the Top Public Comprehensive Colleges in the South for five years running.
  • The student to faculty ratio at WSSU is 16:1.
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25

Guilford College

 5/5N/AGreensboro, NC

Guilford is the only Quaker-founded institute of higher learning in the southeastern United States. It is the aim of this college to offer an education that fosters ethical leadership, equality and integrity. The college offers 36 majors and 53 minor academic programs, all of which have a liberal arts foundation in common. Students are welcome to select from a structured curriculum or build their own interdisciplinary degree program. All seniors are asked to participate in an interdisciplinary capstone project once they enter their final year at GC. It is hoped that students will gain a sense of how to apply the skills they have gathered over the course of their scholarly journey to earn a college degree.

Quick Facts

  • In addition to a major course of study, any Guilford student who does not elect to pursue a double-major, triple major, BFA or integrative studies program must select a 16-credit minor to round out their perspectives and broaden their interests.
  • The student to teacher ratio at Guilford College is 15:1.
  • At GC, 99% of the students enrolled in 2012-13 received some form of financial aid.
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Two-year colleges in North Carolina offer flexible learning opportunities, reasonable class sizes and a track record of either advancing students on to their bachelor’s or to stable careers. North Carolina is a great place to start your higher learning journey; the state’s major metropolitan areas are among the fastest growing in the country. A recent report on how North Carolina’s education system has helped its economy points out that 40% of NC wage earners “received education or training at a North Carolina community college during the last 10 years.” This 40% is responsible for a $19.6 billion boost to state income, or, as the report states, an amount equal to 322,000 new jobs.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Location Description
1

Mayland Community College

  N/ASpruce Pine, NC

campus-mayland-community-college

As part of the North Carolina Community College System, MCC partners with area colleges and universities to provide students with the opportunity to transfer the credits they earn in an associate program to a four-year degree. This rural college has learning centers in Mitchell, Avery and Yancey counties and offers a number of hybrid and online courses for distance learning students. Students can earn a 44-credit hour transfer degree at Mayland or a complete 60-hour associate degree in science or the arts.

Quick Facts

  • The student to teacher ratio at Mayland Community College is a modest 14:1.
  • Students can enroll for either the fall or summer start dates, which begin in late May and August.
  • There are 34 technical certificates available to students at Mayland, most of them vocational.
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2

Piedmont Community College

  N/ARoxboro, NC

campus-piedmont-community-college

Piedmont College has two locations: the Roxboro campus, located in Person County in north-central North Carolina, and a second campus in Yanceyville, Caswell County. Piedmont also offers some services, instruction, and training at off-campus sites. Small class sizes are a hallmark of the learning environment at PC, with an average student to teacher ratio of 11:1. Classes begin in the fall and spring semesters, which are 16 weeks in length. Students can also enroll in select courses over the summer term in either four or eight-week classes.

Quick Facts

  • Piedmont Community College offers three transfer degrees: the Associate in Arts (AA), the Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) and the Associate in Science (AS).
  • The college offers dozens of specialty degree options, including a 66-credit gunsmithing diploma, a 68-credit Associate in Applied Science in Digital Effects and Animation Technology and a 34-credit certificate in cosmetology.
  • Tuition at PCC increased .3% for in-state students and .1% for out-of-state students between the 2013-14 school year and the 2014-15 school years.
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3

Haywood Community College

  N/AClyde, NC

campus-haywood-community-college

Haywood Community College offers 23 unique degree programs, diplomas and certificates. Whether they are looking to enhance their skills in the workplace, earn a certificate to supplement their higher learning or begin a transfer degree, prospective students have many programs to choose from; more than 15 of these degrees can be completed entirely or partially online. The Fish and Wildlife Management and Forest Management Technology associate degree programs are uniquely accredited and are the only two of their kind offered in the state. Also unique to Haywood are the four Professional Crafts programs, which aim to prepare students to successfully operate their own craft businesses.

Quick Facts

  • Classes at HCC have start dates three times a year; students can enroll in the fall, spring or summer semesters.
  • 81% of full-time beginning undergraduates at Haywood earned financial aid during the 2012-13 school year.
  • The school boasts a 9:1 student to teacher ratio.
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4

Brunswick Community College

  N/ABolivia, NC

campus-brunswick-community-college

An Associate in Arts or Science at Brunswick Community College is a great fit for students with many interests. The college offers an online AA, AS and several diplomas and certificate programs to distance learners. At BCC, the nursing and Allied Health programs are a big draw, as well. Students can also earn an Associate Degree in Nursing, a certificate as a Nursing Assistant or a certificate in phlebotomy. Students interested in a fine arts degree are in luck; Brunswick offers one of these, as well. The average age of students at Brunswick in 2011-12 was 27. Half of those enrolled were full-time students. That same year, nearly 95% of the Early College High School students who enrolled in this tuition-free program graduated successfully from BBC.

Quick Facts

  • The number of students enrolled in fully or partially online programs increased 169% between the 2008-09 and 2012-13 school years.
  • The Plus 50 Encore Completion Program aims to help adults over the age of 50 earn credits, certificates and degrees in high-demand fields.
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5

Vance-Granville Community College

  N/AHenderson, NC

campus-vance-granville-community-college

VGCC offers a broad range of subjects, and students at this community college can pursue programs in paralegal technology, office administration, sustainability technology, simulation and game development, entrepreneurship and criminal justice. VGCC believes learning should be flexible, so they provide access to the SmarThinking mobile tutoring platform, through which students have access to free support for subjects such as English, math, business, Spanish, science and nursing.

Quick Facts

  • Admission is selective at VGCC for several programs including: Associate Degree Nursing, Medical Assisting and Practical Nursing.
  • Students at Vance-Granville have the benefit of using some online tools, such as the Moodle learning management system and desktop publishing software like Office 365, to enhance their comfort-level with technology.
  • VGCC is mobile! Students can access course content, announcements and limited functions of select courses via iOS and Android operating systems.
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6

Randolph Community College

  N/AAsheboro, NC

For the same tuition that on-campus students pay, Randolph Community College offers classes entirely online and in a hybrid, web-supported and video-conferenced format. Like most community colleges, Randolph offers associate degrees, diplomas and certificate programs to its students in a wide variety of academic and practical disciplines. Photojournalism, welding and collision repair are a few of the unique programs that are offered at RCC currently.

Quick Facts

  • Class sizes at Randolph Community College have a student to teacher ratio of 15:1.
  • The college takes the success of its students seriously; it offers a Minority Male Mentoring Program to increase retention and success rates for populations with high risk of dropout.
  • On-campus, students can take part in a number of student-led activities, dine on-site at the full service Armadillo Café and enjoy any of the several cultural art events that Rudolph students put on.
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7

Johnston Community College

  N/ASmithfield, NC

This scenic, 175-acre campus offers over 40 occupational and continuing education programs to prospective students. Students at Johnston Community College can explore electives in studies such as natural resources technologies, transportation systems and health sciences. Students can earn a 60-credit associate degree in art or science at JCC. Earning this AS/AA provides students with the ability to transfer this baccalaureate credit to any college in the University of North Carolina (UNC) system. For non-traditional students or for those seeking a flexible, technologically-informed educational experience, students at JCC have access to the Blackboard learning management system, ed2go courses, Smithfield-Johnston Community College Television, and internet televised.

Testimonial

"Early College has been a godsend to me. I absolutely love it there. The teachers are amazing as well as the faculty. To use a cliché, they really fostered my learning so much. They've actually made me want to better myself. The smaller class sizes really help." - Alanna Hurley, JCC alum

Quick Facts

  • Johnston Community College has several campuses in the county, as well as a 2,800-acre wildlife preserve called the Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center, an auditorium and a 16-acre arboretum.
  • The campus offers rich opportunities to connect and socialize with other students through clubs and campus facilities.
  • JCC offers completely online courses for students in select states.
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8

Catawba Valley Community College

  N/AHickory, NC

Catawba Valley Community College offers an excellent college transfer program that allows students to earn the first two years of their four-year college degree; the credits they complete are communicable to any other degree program in the region as part of a Comprehensive Articulation Agreement. The campus also offers evening and online courses for added flexibility. Available thanks to an agreement with the local cable provider, CVCC offers Cablecasts--broadcasts that allow students to view telecourses and lectures from the comfort of home.

Testimonial

"Catawba Valley Community College gave me the confidence I needed to apply and then successfully transition to an Ivy League School. Having finished my first year here at Cornell, I now realize how well CVCC prepared me for the transition and the academic challenges I would come to face." - Nicole Wolski, '09 CVCC Associate in Applied Science in Business Administration

Quick Facts

  • The student to teacher ratio at Catawba Valley Community College is 11:1, and the average age of its students is 25.
  • With more than 30 scholarships offered to students at Catawba, a third of the students at CVCC receive financial aid.
  • Full-time students can complete their degree in four semesters.
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9

Central Carolina Community College

  N/ASanford, NC

At Central Carolina Community College, students can earn a degree, diploma or certificate in one of more than 130 college-level programs; they may also pursue the university transfer diplomas which allow students to transfer to a four-year college or university with advanced standing. Regular courses begin in the fall and spring semesters and consist of classes lasting 16 weeks. Some courses are offered in "minimesters"; these are accelerated, eight-week, condensed academic terms.

Testimonial

"I credit Central Carolina Community College for molding me into the nurse I have become today." - Ursula White, nursing alum

Quick Facts

  • Students at CCCC may consider distance education, career readiness programs, short-term job training and business and industry studies to enhance their job skills.
  • On-campus, students are encouraged to get involved in student organizations and athletics.
  • The student to teacher ratio at Central Carolina is 16:1.
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10

Gaston College

  N/ADallas, NC

As one of North Carolina's largest community colleges, GC offers over 100 programs of study for students who wish to earn a diploma, certificate or associate degree. This mid-sized college manages to keep classroom sizes at a 19:1, student to teacher ratio, which allows students access to one-on-one attention from instructors and faculty if they need it. Unique to GC is the Work Based Learning (WBL) program which offers students experiential learning opportunities that are generally related to their programs of study. Emphasis is placed, in these practical learning venues, on integrating classroom learning with relevant work experience.

Quick Facts

  • There is always something to do, some organization to get involved in or some sort of hands-on experience to be had by the students at Gaston.
  • The three most popular studies at Gaston College include liberal arts, business and healthcare.
  • Gaston College has consistently met or exceeded performance measures.
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11

Pamlico Community College

  N/AGrantsboro, NC

Students can begin earning their certificate, diploma, associate or transfer degree in the fall, spring or summer semesters at Pamlico. Like many other schools, PCC offers flexible learning opportunities for students both on and off-campus, including distance education options to students in select states, an online library and more. The Small Business Center promotes growth and support in the small business community by providing training, counseling, resources and funding information and is a ready resource for business students on campus. Regardless of what attracts students to this rural college, all scholars at PCC will appreciate the accessible and affordable education they receive here.

Quick Facts

  • Pamlico Community College offers start dates in 16-week terms, three times a year.
  • The student to teacher ratio at Pamlico College is 9:1.
  • Diversity is one of the hallmarks of an education at PC. More than two-thirds of the students at Pamlico studied entirely or partially online in 2012-13; 35% of the students at this college are considered an ethnic minority; 43% of the student body is comprised of mature learners.
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12

Coastal Carolina Community College

  N/AJacksonville, NC

This college offers an intimate campus with modern amenities. Enterprising high school students may take part in the North Carolina Career and College Promise Program. This dual enrollment opportunity allows students to enroll in College Transfer Pathway programs, which can lead to earning a certificate, diploma or associate degree. Like most community colleges, Coastal offers an associate degree in science, art, fine art and applied science. CCCC also offers diplomas and certificate programs that require considerably fewer credit hours to complete, but which also may not be transferrable to a state university.

Quick Facts

  • The student to teacher ratio at Coastal Carolina Community College is 15:1.
  • More than 50% of the students at CCCC received financial aid during the 2012-13 academic year.
  • A diverse campus, 34% of the students who attend CCCC are classified as minorities; 49% of those students are 25 years of age or older; 31% of students are classified as out-of-state residents; and 36% of the student body participated in complete or partial online learning in 2012-13.
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13

Stanly Community College

  N/AAlbemarle, NC

Stanly College is located in Albemarle and has a satellite campus in Locust. Non-traditional students who seek a flexible environment can pursue ten associate degrees, ten diplomas and 20 certificate programs entirely online. In addition to educational offerings that span a broad spectrum of interests, students have the opportunity to participate in a cooperative education program at Stanly. This service learning provides students with hands-on experience while creating community connections that may lead to employment upon graduation.

Quick Facts

  • Classrooms at SCC have an average student to teacher ratio of 15:1.
  • 75% of Stanly's undergraduates received financial aid during the 2012-13 academic year.
  • Continuing education at Stanly affords students the opportunity to gain vocational skills in subjects such as real estate, aquaponics and fire/rescue training.
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14

Southwestern Community College

  N/ASylva, NC

This community college offers more than 70 programs in arts, sciences, career technologies, health services and transfer studies. Courses at SCC are 16 weeks in length, and they begin in the fall, spring and summer semesters. SCC is also expanding their selection of online courses and programs for distance learners each year. Tuition at Southwestern Community College costs less than a quarter of the amount that students can expect from a North Carolina university. There are also dozens of scholarship opportunities for enrolled students, offered on the basis of both need and merit.

Quick Facts

  • The graduate success rate on licensure and certification exams after completing programs at Southwestern Community College is 91%.
  • Small class sizes are a valuable part of the educational experience at SCC; the student to teacher ratio is 16:1.
  • 86% of the first-year undergraduates at Southwestern received financial aid during the 2012-13 school year.
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15

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

  N/AAsheville, NC

Asheville-Buncombe Technical College offers a number of programs to students on and off campus, including: 52 degrees, 22 diplomas and 69 certificates. Asheville has courses aimed at traditional college undergraduates who seek their credentials for transfer to a state university, culminating in a standard 60-credit AA or AS. The college also welcomes non-traditional students, usually 25 years or older, who wish to further their careers or continue or begin their educations. To cater to the needs of its diverse student body, ABTCC offers evening and daytime classes. Evening students can expect to complete their degree in three to four years, whereas traditional learners take one to two years, on average, to complete their degrees.

Quick Facts

  • Students from select states outside of North Carolina can enroll in several curriculums at ABTCC.
  • During the 2012-13 academic year, more than half of the undergraduate students at Asheville-Buncombe received grant or scholarship aid.
  • Those who intend to earn a transfer degree can take advantage of transfer-student specific advising services through the College Transfer Program's dedicated advising staff.
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16

Davidson County Community College

  N/AThomasville, NC

For more than 50 years, Davidson County Community College has fostered a tradition of service learning, academic excellence and vocational aptitude. Students on either the 97-acre Davidson campus or any of the three satellite education centers enjoy state-of-the-art technology in a private suburban setting. One of the more popular offerings at DCCC is the Early College High School. This tuition-free program allows high school students to attend high school and college courses concurrently. Class sizes are small, and the average completion time is four to five years. Davidson also offers flexible distance learning options and opportunities for continuing education for those who aren't interested in earning a traditional college degree.

Quick Facts

  • The average classroom size at DCCC consists of 20 or fewer students.
  • 75% of students at this community college receive some form of tuition assistance; the average amount of financial aid per student is $5,256.
  • Not including transfer programs, the most popular degree programs at Davidson include an Associate Degree in nursing, business administration and criminal justice.
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17

Wilson Community College

  N/AWilson, NC

Wilson Community College believes that college is not just about hitting the books; service learning and extracurricular activities can lead to professional growth, foster school pride and supplement a traditional classroom education. Students can participate in a transfer program, as well as one of dozens of continuing education and certificate curriculums at WCC. Financial aid is available to students in need of tuition assistance and parents enrolled in classes at Wilson who may need help paying for childcare.

Quick Facts

  • At Wilson Community College, the student to teacher ratio is 16:1.
  • 85% of first-year students at Wilson received scholarship or grant monies in 2012-13; 54% of all undergraduates earned some sort of grant or aid during that same year.
  • Classes take place over the course of 16 weeks and begin in January, May and August of each year.
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18

Tri-County Community College

  N/AMurphy, NC

Tri-County Community College values flexible learning options, experiential education and affordable tuition. The majority of students at TCCC earn their certificates and degrees part-time, and academic programs are designed as either technical or college transfer curriculums. On-campus or online, TCCC aims to prepare students for rewarding careers and successful higher learning transitions. Transfer programs, which confer a 60-credit hour AA or AS degree, consist normally of four semesters, 16 weeks in length, and are perfect for those who plan to transfer to a four-year university. Technical curriculums can take as many as five semesters to complete.

Quick Facts

  • This remote campus has a student to teacher ratio of 17:1.
  • Two-thirds of the students enrolled at Tri-County Community College receive some form of tuition assistance.
  • To support learning, TCCC provides apps, tools, downloadable eBooks, eAudios, eZines and more off-campus/remote resources.
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19

College of the Albemarle

  N/AElizabeth City, NC

Students may explore many programs of study at College of the Albemarle, including: business and computer technology, health sciences and wellness, industrial engineering, construction or public service technologies. Liberal arts studies are by far the most popular degrees conferred at COA, but nursing and business degrees round out the top three. Students are required to take a placement test prior to admission to any on-campus, online or hybrid programs, although some or all parts of this test may be waived. On-campus students at COA can look forward to opportunities for work-based learning and taking part in student activities when they aren't studying for their certificate, diploma or degree.

Testimonial

"The small class size, personal attention and convenience of attending classes right here in Elizabeth City. COA is the perfect atmosphere, especially for someone who may be hesitant to attend college. The faculty and staff are genuinely concerned about the students and it shows." - Carol Adams, Nursing Program graduate

Quick Facts

  • COA is one of 16 colleges that received an Exceptional Rating on the Critical Success Factors, upon which all North Carolina state colleges are judged.
  • Albemarle is another diverse campus in North Carolina: 72% of students at COA took part in some kind of distance learning in 2012-13; 36% of students are aged 25 or older; and 30% of students at COA are considered minorities.
  • Since it was established in 1960, Albemarle Community College has opened two complimentary campuses in addition to its main location: one in Elizabeth City, and a satellite campus in both Manteo and Edenton.
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20

Wilkes Community College

  N/AWilkesboro, NC

The main campus of Wilkes Community College is situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. WCC extends programs to students in subjects such as nursing, business administration and culinary arts. In addition to general transfer degrees meant for senior institutions, the school offers a Two Year Plus Program. Designed for AAS graduates who wish to ensure that their degree credits transfer to a four-year program in certain fields. Wilkes also offers innovative telecourses, web-based classes, teleconferences and cyber classrooms. Courses At WCC begin in the spring, summer and fall semesters.

Quick Facts

  • This campus is well-known in the community as the host of MerleFest, a roots music festival held every year at the end of April.
  • The student to teacher ratio at Wilkes Community College is 11:1.
  • During the 2012-13 academic year, 74% of the full-time beginning undergraduate students received financial aid; 60% of all undergraduates received some form of scholarship during that same year.
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21

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

  N/ASalisbury, NC

Most credits earned toward degrees, diplomas and certificates at Rowan-Cabarrus can be transferred to senior institutions. The Associate in Applied Science degree is designed for students who wish to enter the workforce upon completing their studies. High school students can get a head-start on their college courses through dual enrollment at RCCC, and those who are interested in hands-on, practical experience can enroll in work-based learning opportunities in paid and unpaid positions and for a variety of programs. Rowan-Cabarrus also offers flexible distance learning opportunities for students in select states.

Quick Facts

  • A diverse campus, students at Rowan represent a broad spectrum of ages, cultural and ethnic backgrounds and personal circumstances: 61% of students study part-time; 37% of students are black, Hispanic, Asian or other races; and 47% of the students are aged 25 or older.
  • 88% of the undergraduates at RCCC received some form of financial aid during the 2012-13 school year.
  • The student to teacher ratio at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is 12:1.
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22

South Piedmont Community College

  N/APolkton, NC

South Piedmont Community College welcomes students of all cultures and heritages, and roughly one-third of the student body is made up of minority students. Flexible learning is important to students at SPCC; 60% of students took courses online in 2012-13, three-quarters of whom studied part-time. Courses are offered primarily in 16-week semesters, although select courses are offered in smaller minimesters. Programs have start dates in January, August and May and cover subjects such as web technologies and law enforcement. Students may also pursue transfer degrees that allow them to move on to four-year schools after earning their associates.

Quick Facts

  • Business, healthcare and liberal arts are the top three programs of study at SPCC for students seeking an associate degree.
  • As part of the North Carolina Community College System, South Piedmont has two campuses and an auxiliary center.
  • 71% of the 2012-13 undergraduate class received some form of financial aid.
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23

Richmond Community College

  N/AHamlet, NC

Richmond Community College has been providing students with options to reach their educational and vocational goals for more than 50 years. Thanks to partner agreements with several senior institutions, students can rest assured that the credits they earn will transfer to the four-year college of their choice. Richmond offers 34 programs that lead to associate degrees, diplomas and certificates. There are also opportunities for eligible high school students with the dual enrollment program and adult education curriculums for students on-campus and online. Students can enroll in the spring, fall or summer semesters. Most course are 16 weeks in length, although there are also eight- and four-week terms for some courses.

Quick Facts

  • The student to teacher ratio at RCC was 17:1 during the 2012-13 academic year.
  • Despite Richmond's already low tuition, 92% of first-year beginning undergraduates at the college received financial aid during the 2012-13 school year.
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24

Wake Technical Community College

  N/ARaleigh, NC

Students can choose to earn one of 180 associate degrees, diplomas or certificates in a number of subjects and career fields. WTCC has articulation agreements with many neighboring colleges and universities to help ease the transition to four-year degree programs. Wake Tech also offers an Associate in Fine Arts degree program, for creative students who are interested in visual art or music studies, and an Associate in Science degree with a pre-engineering focus. With more than 60 degree and certificate options available to students online, a quality education is accessible both on and off-campus at WTCC.

Quick Facts

  • WTCC awarded 1,840 two-year degrees during the 2012-13 school year.
  • Half of the students at Wake Tech are considered ethnic minorities, making the physical campus community at WTCC rich in culture, heritage and life experience.
  • Non-traditional students and mature learners (those ages 25 and older) account for nearly half of the student body.
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25

Forsyth Technical Community College

  N/AWinston Salem, NC

There are 66 associate degree programs to choose from at Forsyth, including three fully transferrable degrees, 27 programs offered online and more than 100 certificate programs and diplomas. The Automotive Systems Technology program is one of only 40 in the U.S. that has the distinction of partnering with Toyota's T-Ten Training Center. FTCC is also a designated mentor program by the NCCCS due to the staggering 99.6% combined licensure and certification rate for all 16 of its health programs. Class sizes are small, with a student to teacher ratio of 14:1, and students have access to a learning center and eLibrary resources.

Quick Facts

  • 72% of the undergraduate students at Forsyth earned some amount of financial aid during the 2012-13 school year.
  • Nursing, automotive repair and computer information technology are among the most popular subjects studied at FTCC (following transfer degrees, that is).
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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in North Carolina, continuing reading to learn more about living in the Old North State.

Nestled between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, North Carolina has a terrain and locale for everyone. The temperate winters and warm summers make it the perfect state for hikers and surfers alike, and the rich history provides diversions for those less inclined to be outdoorsy in the form of history museums, art galleries and brewery tours. Though the state boasts an estimated population of nearly 10 million, there are still places, such as the Appalachian trails, where it’s possible to find solitude.

The cost of living for most towns and cities in North Carolina is lower than the national average, and, according to the Census Bureau, the median household income for 2013 was $46,334. Below, we call your attention to the three sections of this state: the Mountains, the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. There are fewer areas considered “cities,” according to the Census Bureau, in the mountainous areas of NC, but this is where you will find the hiking trails that lead into the Appalachians. The Piedmont, a plateau between the mountains and the ocean, makes up the center section of the state and is home to more of the larger cities, including the state’s capital. The Coastal Plain is where visitors and residents will find the beaches and swamps of North Carolina.

Regional Spotlight: Mountains

  • Major City: Asheville
  • Attractions: Amazing PubCycle, Treetops Adventure Park, Appalachian Mountain Trails
  • Cost of Living: Asheville
  • Popular Schools: Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, UNC-Asheville
  • Population: 87,236 (2013 estimate)
  • Unemployment Rate: 4.6%
  • Climate: Humid Subtropical

Regional Spotlight: Piedmont

  • Major Cities: Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh
  • Attractions: Videri Chocolate Factory, Greensboro Science Center, Andy Griffith Playhouse, Bunker Hill Covered Bridge
  • Cost of Living: Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh
  • Popular Schools: Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, NCSU-Raleigh
  • Population: Charlotte – 87,236; Greensboro – 279,639; Raleigh – 431,746
  • Unemployment: Charlotte – 5.5%; Greensboro – 5.7%; Raleigh – 4.6%
  • Climate: Humid Subtropical

Regional Spotlight: Coastal Plain

  • Major Cities: Jacksonville, Wilmington
  • Attractions: Brunswick Islands, Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington, Burgwin-Wright House & Gardens
  • Cost of Living: Jacksonville, Wilmington
  • Popular Schools: UNC-Wilmington, Coastal Carolina Community College
  • Population: Jacksonville – 69,079; Wilmington – 112,067
  • Unemployment: Jacksonville – 5.6%; Wilmington – 5.5%
  • Climate: Humid Subtropical

Residency

Future and current college students who are considering attending school in a different state are likely already aware that tuition will be higher for them as out-of-state students. In fact, average in-state tuition and fees at four-year, public schools for the 2014-15 school year were nearly $15,000 less than for out-of-state students in North Carolina.

Students who wish to reduce the price of their college education may want to consider becoming state residents. This is not something that occurs overnight. It takes at least 12 months to attain residential status for tuition purposes, the steps to do so, however, are pretty straightforward.

Step One: Establish Residency

This should be done at least one year before you intend to apply for in-state tuition.

  • Apply for a NC driver’s license
  • Register your vehicle and obtain NC license plates
  • Register to vote in NC

Step Two: Proof

Students are required to prove:

  • They were full-time residents of the state for 12 continuous months
  • They always intended to make North Carolina their state of residence and weren’t merely there to attend school.

There are several factors that are taken into consideration in order to prove intent, including, but not limited to: permanent employment, filing state income taxes, where students live when school is not in session and where they serve jury duty. These requirements are universal across the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University campuses.

Additional Resources for North Carolina College Students

College Savings

Education Nonprofits

Higher Education News

Official State Links