Some of North Carolina's largest employment sectors -- such as healthcare, education, and business and financial operations -- feature careers with salaries that average approximately $50,000-$75,000 per year. This income range allows professionals to live comfortably throughout the state. Even in North Carolina's largest city, Charlotte, the cost of living falls below the national average by 5%.

In addition to lucrative careers and a low cost of living, North Carolina reported a 4% unemployment rate in October 2019. This generally means employers offer competitive wages and benefits to attract the best candidates. As a result, North Carolina residents have a much easier time finding employment than in previous years.

Top 10 Online Colleges in North Carolina

  1. North Carolina State University at Raleigh - Raleigh, NC
  2. Grace College of Divinity - Fayetteville, NC
  3. Appalachian State University - Boone, NC
  4. East Carolina University - Greenville, NC
  5. University of North Carolina - Wilmington, NC
  6. University of North Carolina at Greensboro - Greensboro, NC
  7. Western Carolina University - Cullowhee, NC
  8. University of North Carolina at Charlotte - Charlotte, NC
  9. Apex School of Theology - Durham, NC
  10. Gardner-Webb University - Boiling Springs, NC

To obtain a new career in this healthy economic climate, you need some education beyond a high school diploma. Fortunately, the best online colleges in North Carolina offer many excellent bachelor's and master's programs.

Online institutions offer degree and certificate programs that allow first-time and returning students the chance to increase their career and salary potential. Most programs use an asynchronous curriculum, and online learning software connects distance students to professors through virtual office hours.

Additionally, colleges and universities provide learners with multiple student success resources, such as virtual tutoring sessions and private job boards. At some schools, distance learners can even save thousands of dollars on tuition and fees.

The following ranking spotlights the 25 best online colleges in North Carolina. Below you can learn more about each school's online programs, student services, application requirements, and other information that can help you make your decision. You can also use the embedded links to visit the schools' websites, where you can find contact information for admissions and financial aid advisors.

2020 Best Online Colleges in North Carolina

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Raleigh, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 79%

One of the best online universities in the state, North Carolina State University at Raleigh offers online undergraduate and graduate degrees, undergraduate and graduate certificates, and a teacher licensure program. Additionally, students can pursue fully online doctoral programs in areas such as community college leadership and education administration and supervision.

Student support at NC State takes many forms. Before applying, prospective learners can speak to an enrollment advisor, while program coordinators ensure that students meet all course and graduation requirements. The university also features a 24/7 IT help desk.

NC State accepts new online learners in the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Bachelor's degree completion programs require at least 30 transferable credits that reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA.

All learners pay the same distance education tuition rate. Each college awards scholarship opportunities, each of which requires a separate application.


Grace College of Divinity

Fayetteville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

Grace College of Divinity delivers undergraduate certificates and degrees in four areas: divinity, leadership, intercultural studies, and worship ministry. Graduate students can earn a master's degree in either Christian leadership or divinity. Certificates at this top online North Carolina college require one year to complete, while most full-time degree-seekers can earn a bachelor's degree in four years.

GCD provides on-campus and online learners with various success tools. Learners can access tutorials that cover library resources, citation guides, and videos that explore ProQuest and Google Scholar fundamentals. Additionally, each academic program features a departmental advisor who helps students select courses each semester.

GCD does not accept GED certificates and does not require recommendation letters or standardized test scores. All students pay the same tuition rate, and financial aid opportunities include both tuition discounts and funded scholarships. Learners may qualify for one scholarship and one tuition discount.


Appalachian State University

Boone, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

Online bachelor's degree completion programs at Appalachian State University include tracks in career and technical education, management, and workforce education and development. This top online North Carolina University also offers one hybrid program in middle grades education. Additionally, Appalachian features over 20 online and hybrid graduate programs in areas such as library science and nursing.

All incoming learners complete Appalachian's Online Learning 101 Orientation. This interactive video introduces students to the university's extensive academic, career, and IT support services. Online learners can receive help at the University Writing Center through a virtual appointment. Appalachian also provides multiple guides that improve students' time management and study skills.

Appalachian hosts virtual information sessions each month. Prospective students should already possess an associate degree or a significant number of transfer credits.

Those seeking to enter the program for middle grades education must also obtain a passing score on the Praxis I examination. All students pursuing education programs may qualify for the SECU Appalachian Partnership Scholarship.


East Carolina University

Greenville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

Online offerings available through East Carolina University include bachelor's degree completion programs, graduate degrees, and teacher licensure endorsements.

The university delivers four undergraduate majors in business, communication, education, and industrial technology -- all of which feature multiple concentration options. Graduate degrees include nursing and network technology, while licensed teachers can earn an endorsement in birth-to-kindergarten or computer education.

New students can access seven video tutorials that cover topics such as ECU's self-service portal, how to schedule courses, and how to apply for financial aid. The university also provides question-and-answer pages regarding Blackboard and additional IT topics. Other academic resources for online learners include a writing center and specialized research software.

Prospective undergraduates should have an associate degree. Graduate programs feature additional requirements, including a recommendation letter and essay. While ECU does not award institutional aid to online students, the university's financial aid advisors help incoming learners research and apply to private scholarship and grant opportunities.


University of North Carolina Wilmington

Wilmington, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

Online programs at the University of North Carolina Wilmington include bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, as well as certificates and teacher licensure endorsements.

The eight online bachelor's degrees feature options in elementary and middle grades education; both tracks qualify graduates for an initial North Carolina teaching license. This top online North Carolina University also delivers 12 master's programs in education for aspiring principals and curriculum specialists.

UNCW provides online students with 10 essential resources and services, including the Collaboration for Assault Response and Education (CARE). CARE works with assault survivors to ensure physical and mental recovery while promoting academic success. Other student resources include the University Learning Center (ULC). Online learners can submit a paper to ULC specialists to receive individualized feedback.

UNCW accepts the Common Application, and freshman applicants can submit GED diplomas. Some programs have additional application requirements.

The university awards some merit-based scholarships to incoming freshmen, and incoming degree-seekers should submit the UNCW scholarship application by the Jan. 1 deadline.


University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers nine online bachelor's degrees, 15 online master's degrees, two doctoral degrees, and 15 graduate certificates. Undergraduate programs include supply chain management and public health.

Students can create a custom major by selecting the special programs in liberal studies track. Additionally, three master's programs at this top online North Carolina university qualify degree-seekers for an initial teaching license.

Like other UNC institutions, UNCG offers learners a host of academic support resources. All students meet with an advisor at least once per semester, and the university provides an extensive tutorial on how learners can prepare for an advising session. The Career and Professional Development Department solicits employers to both attend career fairs and recruit UNCG alumni.

Undergraduate applicants should have an associate degree that satisfies UNCG's general education requirements. Application materials for graduate degrees and certificates vary by program.

In-state students pay approximately 75% less on tuition than out-of-state learners. First-time degree-seekers may also qualify for an automatic merit-based scholarship.


Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Western Carolina University offers online bachelor's degrees that appeal to both recent high school graduates and professionals in search of degree-completion programs. Popular majors include emergency and disaster management, an RN-to-BSN option, and innovation leadership and entrepreneurship.

Graduate programs at this top online North Carolina university feature master's degrees in human resources and sports management. Additionally, certificate programs prepare practicing nurses and teachers for leadership positions.

Learners who need help with coursework can turn to free Brainfuse software. Brainfuse hires highly trained tutors in nearly all academic subjects, including writing and math. WCU also promotes student academic success through a comprehensive distance education orientation that learners can access at any time.

WCU uses rolling admissions. Transfer credit must reflect a minimum C grade. The university proudly participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program to provide active-duty service members and veterans with a tuition discount. Other financial aid opportunities include merit-based scholarships that require a separate application by the Feb. 1 deadline.


University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Charlotte, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Distance education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte features undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as certificates in four colleges: education, engineering, health and human services, and liberal arts and sciences.

The undergraduate education program qualifies graduates for an initial teaching license, and practicing educators can select from 11 graduate degree options including school administration. Teachers can also earn an undergraduate or graduate certificate in one of 12 areas, such as school counseling and special education - adapted curriculum.

Student services at this top online North Carolina university include academic advising each semester. Additionally, the Banner Self-Service system allows learners to manage courses and pay tuition. Online learners can also take advantage of academic and career resources other UNC institutions offer.

UNC Charlotte hosts a virtual information session each month, and all programs have different application requirements. In-state students save approximately 80% on tuition compared to out-of-state learners.

Institutional scholarships require a separate application that incoming students submit through the NinerScholars Portal.


Gardner-Webb University

Boiling Springs, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

Online bachelor's completion programs at Gardner-Webb University feature over a dozen majors, and some programs offer a hybrid learning option. Popular degrees at this top online university in North Carolina include birth-to-kindergarten education, Christian ministry, and fire service administration. The university also offers four graduate programs in finance and business.

The Gardner-Webb Plus! program ensures that new students can succeed academically by providing a host of academic support services such as a career readiness center, writing lab, and a leadership development program. Online learners can access program advisors at any time, and the university employs highly trained counselors who work solely with students working on completing a bachelor's degree.

Like some other colleges and universities in this ranking, Gardner-Webb does not admit California residents to online programs. Undergraduate applicants should have at least 24 transferable credits, an associate degree, or a bachelor's degree. Some programs -- such as the RN-to-BSN option -- require additional application materials.

Gaston and Stanly County residents may qualify for an endowed scholarship.


North Carolina A & T State University

Greensboro, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 43%

North Carolina A&T State University offers online undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as certificates.

Undergraduate degrees include a mix of bachelor's degree completion programs -- such as electronics technology -- and those that accept first-time students, like economics. Graduate degrees prepare learners for careers across agricultural, IT, and education sectors. Additionally, one of the certificate programs qualifies graduates to become a certified financial planner.

Each degree and certificate program at N.C. A&T employs a program coordinator who works with students to select courses and stay on track for graduation. As learners approach graduation, they can contact the Office of Career Services to learn about upcoming career fairs and receive a resume critique.

N.C. A&T accepts GED certificates and considers transfer credit on a case-by-case basis. Out-of-state students pay a higher tuition rate than in-state students.

Additionally, this top online North Carolina university offers scholarship opportunities to freshmen, transfer students, and graduate learners, as well as active-duty service members and veterans.


Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 33%

Fayetteville State University offers 10 online bachelor's degree completion programs to prepare graduates for careers such as sociologist, intelligence analyst, and teacher. Each program website features a complete curriculum and undergraduate research opportunities. Additionally, this top online North Carolina university offers a master's degree in criminal justice and an MBA.

Online learners at FSU can access all university student services. Valuable career services include on-campus career fairs, a personality assessment, and Handshake software that connects learners and alumni with job opportunities throughout North Carolina. Additionally, the university website allows students to explore which careers align with particular FSU degrees and certificates.

Undergraduate applicants should possess an associate degree or transfer credit that satisfies FSU's general education requirements. All transfer credit must reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA, and FSU does not ask for recommendation letters or standardized test scores.

In-state students pay approximately 60% less on tuition than out-of-state learners. The university's more than 100 scholarship opportunities require a separate application and essay.


Cabarrus College of Health Sciences

Concord, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Located in Concord, Cabarrus College offers two online bachelor's degree completion programs: an RN-to-BSN option and a medical imaging track. Additionally, this top online college in North Carolina features a single master's program in occupational therapy.

Master's students learn in a hybrid format by attending on-campus courses every third weekend. Full-time learners in any program can graduate in just two years.

Cabarrus College recommends that prospective learners take an online readiness assessment. To promote student academic success, the college offers short lessons on topics such as time management and how to participate in an online course.

Cabarrus College admits new students in the spring and fall semesters, and each program has different application requirements. For instance, RN-to-BSN applicants must possess an active nursing license.

Incoming degree-seekers can apply for over a dozen endowed scholarship opportunities by submitting a single application by the April 1 deadline. Students may also apply to up to six community scholarships.


Winston-Salem State University

Winston-Salem, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

Online programs at Winston-Salem State University include four bachelor's degrees, two master's degrees, one master's certificate, and one doctorate. Fields of study include education, nursing, and physical therapy.

Distance learning coordinators ensure that learners can access the university's student support services. The WSSU website also provides numerous tips for how to succeed in an online course, and learners benefit from courses that cap class sizes.

Freshman applicants can submit either high school transcripts or GED scores. This top online university in North Carolina uses an 880 SAT and 17 ACT score cutoff, and transfer students should possess at least 24 transferable credits.

Chancellor and provost scholarships consider applicants who possess a minimum 3.75 high school GPA and submit two recommendation letters.


University of Mount Olive

Mount Olive, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 42%

A Baptist institution that opened in 1951, the University of Mount Olive offers online learners undergraduate and graduate programs. Popular undergraduate degrees include leadership, RN-to-BSN, and teacher education - licensure.

Additionally, degree-seekers can earn an associate degree that can transfer to a bachelor's degree completion program. This top online North Carolina university offers four graduate degrees in fields such as business, education, and nursing.

UMO's Learning Commons provides on-campus and online learners with multiple academic success tools. Academic advisors meet with students at least once per semester and continuously monitor each learner's academic progress. Degree-seekers who need academic help can turn to the Academic Resource Center to receive supplemental instruction. The Writing Center also offers one-on-one tutoring sessions.

Undergraduate applicants submit undergraduate or high school transcripts. UMO also accepts GED scores. Each master's program requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, and applicants to the master's in education program provide three recommendation letters.

UMO does not award merit-based scholarships or need-based grants to online learners at this time.


North Carolina Central University

Durham, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

Online programs at North Carolina Central University include bachelor's and master's degrees, certificates, and hybrid degrees that feature some courses on the university's Fayetteville campus.

Popular undergraduate programs include RN-to-BSN, criminal justice, and psychology. Many master's programs cater to practicing educators, such as educational technology, science, and mathematics. Additionally, educators can also hone in-demand skills by earning a certificate in digital librarianship or teaching artistry.

This top online North Carolina university provides students with multiple success tools, including video tutorials that cover online learning strategies. Other resources include a virtual library help desk, tutoring through Upswing software, and one-on-one career counseling.

NCCU admits new students in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Application materials for prospective freshmen include high school transcripts or GED scores, ACT or SAT scores, and a resume. The university requires a minimum C grade for all transfer credit.

Incoming learners interested in financial aid should submit FAFSA results and the university's scholarship application by the Jan. 1 deadline.


University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Pembroke, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 40%

Online bachelor's degree completion programs at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke typically require just two years. Students can pursue fields such as criminal justice, sociology, interdisciplinary studies, and business administration.

Online graduate degrees at this top online North Carolina university include MBA and public administration. Additionally, in-state educators can earn an add-on endorsement in academically and intellectually gifted education.

Student services at UNCP include virtual tutoring services that learners can access by submitting a web form. Online students can also use all library research tools, such as advanced search engines. The Office of Academic and Military Outreach helps veterans returning to civilian life select a major and use federal tuition benefits.

Freshman applicants submit SAT or ACT scores, and UNCP does not use a GPA cutoff for transfer credit. Prospective graduate students send recommendation letters in addition to transcripts. UNCP uses a March 1 application deadline for merit and endowed scholarship opportunities.


Campbell University

Buies Creek, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 52%

Campbell University offers accelerated online programs in accounting, cybersecurity, and special education, while undergraduates can personalize their degree by completing one of eight minors. Additionally, students at this school among the best online colleges in North Carolina can complete a certificate in Christian studies or choose from eight associate degrees.

Online learners can access an enrollment or academic counselor in one of three ways. The university offers both 30-minute chat and telephone appointments. Students who live near the Buies Creek campus can also schedule a one-hour in-person appointment. The Campbell student handbook also provides in-depth information concerning the university's tutoring and career services.

Online courses at Campbell last eight weeks, and prospective students can apply for one of five annual start dates. Prospective freshmen should have either a high school diploma or acceptable GED scores, and transfer applicants should have a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA. The university uses a July 31 deadline for merit scholarships.


Barton College

Wilson, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

Online degrees and programs at Barton College include four bachelor's programs in birth-to-kindergarten education, business, justice administration, and nursing.

Online degree-seekers use the Canvas virtual learning software to access asynchronous course content. Students who want to earn a degree in less than four years can enroll in summer courses, some of which use a hybrid format.

The Office of Academic and Career Planning at this top online North Carolina university features one-on-one advising sessions, peer tutoring through Smarthinking software, and the Sam and Marjorie Ragan Writing Center. Additionally, degree-seekers receive grade reports at many points throughout each semester.

Barton considers transfer credit on a case-by-case basis and does not use a GPA cutoff. Newly admitted students complete an online orientation before registering for courses. Also, all degree-seekers pay the same per-credit tuition rate.

Scholarship and grant opportunities award up to $12,000 per year and do not require a separate application. Merit-based scholarships renew automatically as long as recipients maintain an excellent GPA.


Montreat College

Montreat, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 32%

Montreat College offers 11 online programs at the associate, bachelor's, and master's degree levels.

Associate degrees are available in one of three areas, while bachelor's programs include majors in cybersecurity, marketing, and business administration. Two master's programs prepare graduates for careers in management and business leaders, and Montreat offers additional certificates in information technology.

Montreat students who need help with coursework can make a virtual appointment at the Center for Learning, Calling, and Career. Academic coaching and peer tutoring help learners improve grades, and peer-led reviews provide additional instruction on many topics. Students can also attend academic skills workshops in areas such as time management.

Prospective students can apply either online or through the mail. Application requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores and undergraduate transcripts, if applicable. Graduate school applicants submit additional materials.

Some in-state students may qualify for the North Carolina Need-Based Scholarship.


Pfeiffer University

Misenheimer, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 42%

Students at Pfeiffer University can pursue one of five online degree-completion programs such as criminal justice, health administration, and an RN-to-BSN option. This top online North Carolina university also offers 10 master's programs in areas such as business, education, and leadership.

All online courses use an asynchronous curriculum. Full-time students can earn a bachelor's or master's degree in just 24 months.

The Office of Career Services and Internships provides valuable career coaching services, such as interview preparation and resume critique. Like on-campus students, online degree-seekers can research and apply to internship opportunities on the Pfeiffer website. Learners can additionally contact IT support, faculty, and staff at any time of day.

Peiffer uses rolling admissions, but prospective students should complete an application by May 1. Degree-completion applicants should submit undergraduate transcripts. Additionally, each graduate program uses different requirements.

Undergraduates may qualify for $7,000-$12,000 per year in automatic merit-based scholarships.

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