2022 Top Private Colleges and Universities in North Carolina

Private colleges and universities frequently top the lists of the best schools in the U.S. These institutions offer rigorous academic programs for students looking for a personalized college experience.

Private colleges and universities generally cost more than their public counterparts, but students often receive the benefits of smaller class sizes, strong alumni networks, and generous financial aid opportunities.

Unlike public institutions, private institutions do not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state tuition. This means students from anywhere can enroll in North Carolina's private colleges and universities without paying higher out-of-state rates.

2022 Best Private Colleges and Universities in North Carolina

  1. #1

    Davidson College

    Davidson, NC

    Graduation Rate

    91%

    Enrollment

    1,837

    Format

    In person

    Davidson College offers programs from its campus in Davidson, North Carolina. Students learn from experts in multiple disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the school's programs help students meet their professional goals. Depending on the program, students can spend anywhere from a few months up to as many as seven years earning their degree or certificate. Applicants may qualify for a test score waiver. A test score waiver makes it easier to enroll. The admissions department can provide additional resources on applying. Enrollees at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover costs. Davidson College holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

  2. #2

    Duke University

    Durham, NC

    Graduation Rate

    95%

    Enrollment

    16,686

    Format

    Online, In person

    Located in North Carolina, Duke University enrolls students in 242 programs. Degree-seekers enroll in rigorous, top-ranked programs at the school. The school reports a student-to-faculty ratio of 6-to-1. According to the school, 63% of students receive some form of financial aid. The school reports a graduation rate of 95%. Students should explore how workplace experience makes them more competitive employee candidates. Learners benefit from internships, research opportunities, and other forms of service learning. Applicants can expect admission rates of 8%. Some programs waive the test score requirement for qualified applicants.

  3. #3

    Wake Forest University

    Winston-Salem, NC

    Graduation Rate

    88%

    Enrollment

    8,495

    Format

    Online, In person

    A private institution located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest University grants degrees through multiple programs. The school offers accredited degrees that prepare students for the workforce. The institution offers academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Many of the school's degrees make national rankings. The school charges 1510 per credit for its programs. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. The school offers both academic and technical programs. Depending on their major, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

  4. #4

    Apex School of Theology

    Durham, NC

    Graduation Rate

    98%

    Enrollment

    Not Provided

    Format

    Online

    Located in Durham, North Carolina, Apex School of Theology operates as a private institution. Degree-seekers study with experts in many different fields. The school offers academic and technical programs for students planning to enter the workforce or pursue further studies degree. The school's cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited school, degree-seekers qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. At the institution, 100% of students receive aid and 95% receive loans. Degree-seekers graduate from the school at a rate of 98%. The school's admission rate is unavailable. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates.

  5. #5

    Grace College of Divinity

    Fayetteville, NC

    Graduation Rate

    46%

    Enrollment

    187

    Format

    Online

    From its campus in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Grace College of Divinity awards degrees and certificates as a top school. Degree-seekers study with experts in many different fields. With academic and technical tracks, the school offers programs for students with a variety of professional goals. Check the program website for specifics on the degree- or certificate-completion timeline. Some programs may operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. A waiver makes it easier to enroll. The admissions department can help applicants determine the next steps. Learners at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover educational costs. Grace College of Divinity holds accreditation from the Association for Bibical Higher Educaiton.

  6. #6

    Cabarrus College of Health Sciences

    Concord, NC

    Graduation Rate

    52%

    Enrollment

    475

    Format

    Online, In person

    A private institution in Concord, North Carolina, Cabarrus College of Health Sciences offers a variety of degree and certificate programs. Instructors draw on their expertise in diverse fields. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for a successful career. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid, including grants and loans. A total of 93% of students receive financial aid and 84% take out loans at the school. The school reports a graduation rate of 52%. Prospective enrollees can expect an admission rate of 28%. Prospective students can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  7. #7

    Bull City Durham Beauty and Barber College

    Durham, NC

    Graduation Rate

    100%

    Enrollment

    14

    Format

    In person

    Ranked among the top private schools in North Carolina, Bull City Durham Beauty and Barber College trains students in many professional fields. Admitted students can enroll on campus in Durham or online. Enrollees can choose from many academic and professional programs, including 1 certificate programs. The programs build specialized skills in a specific subject area. Learners can complete diplomas and certificates in far less time than traditional four-year bachelor's degrees. A certificate or diploma can greatly change students' career prospects. The return on investment includes the possibility of more career opportunities and higher pay. A diploma or certificate can also preapare students for an associate or bachelor's degree. After completing a diploma or certificate, students may be able to transfer their credits toward another degree.

  8. #8

    Anson College of Cosmetology

    Wadesboro, NC

    Graduation Rate

    100%

    Enrollment

    3

    Format

    In person

    One of the top schools in North Carolina, Anson College of Cosmetology is a private institution. Candidates can study in person in Wadesboro or online. Enrollees select from 1 certificate programs. Students in programs gain specialized professional training. These credentials do not include general education requirements, enabling candidates to graduate quickly. Certificates and diplomas can improve students' professional and academic prospects. Graduates commonly find more job opportunities and higher salary potential. These credentials can also prepare students to enroll in an associate or bachelor's program. Students may be able to transfer their credits toward a two- or four-year degree.

  9. #9

    Elon University

    Elon, NC

    Graduation Rate

    85%

    Enrollment

    7,088

    Format

    In person

    From its campus in Elon, North Carolina, Elon University awards degrees as a top school. Students choose from multiple degree-granting programs and courses. With academic and technical tracks, the school offers programs for learners with a variety of professional goals. Typically, it takes students two years to complete an associate degree, four years to earn a bachelor's degree, 1-2 years for a master's degree, or 3-7 years for a doctoral degree. Many schools no longer require admissions tests such as ACT or SAT scores. This makes it easier to enroll. The admissions department can help students complete the application process. Learners also use financial aid to pay for their college degree. Elon University has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  10. #10

    Winston Salem Barber School

    Winston-Salem, NC

    Graduation Rate

    94%

    Enrollment

    124

    Format

    In person

    Home to 1 certificate programs, Winston Salem Barber School ranks among the best schools in North Carolina. Programs deliver rigorous curricula and meet high academic standards. Degree-seekers prepare to launch their career or pursue promotions. Enrollees take their knowledge to the real world with experiential learning opportunities. The institution maintains accreditation, signifying high-quality academic programs. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. As an accredited institution, enrollees in a program at the school can receive federal financial aid. Students can learn about program requirements through the school's website. The institution holds accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

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Why Choose a Private College or University in North Carolina?

Learners in North Carolina can choose from several high-ranking public and private colleges. When selecting a school, prospective students should consider their learning objectives and financial constraints.

Nonetheless, many students choose private institutions because private four-year colleges have ‘name-brand' prestige and accreditations. North Carolina is home to 36 private colleges accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Private colleges also tend to be smaller and offer more intimate class settings. Many learners embrace the opportunity to form close-knit communities and build relationships with faculty.

However, private colleges and universities tend to be more expensive and may not be financially accessible. Smaller private institutions may not offer the same breadth of majors, minors, and research opportunities as large public universities. Public colleges also tend to offer a more active campus life.

In North Carolina specifically, the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (CAA) allows students to transfer credits easily within the state's community college and state university systems, a financial-savvy benefit that private schools may not necessarily grant.

Pros and Cons of Attending a Private College or University in North Carolina

Pros

'Name brands' attract students looking to earn degrees from reputable institutions.Many private colleges offer more direct access to faculty and, in some cases, student resources, such as tutoring or disability services.Private schools may offer close-knit campus communities and smaller, more intimate class settings.

Cons

Although exact costs depend on the institution and students' financial aid packages, private colleges are usually more expensive.Private schools might offer fewer research opportunities and academic majors.It can be more difficult to transfer credits outside a public university system.

Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Universities in North Carolina

Nonprofit colleges generate funding from state and federal governments, donors, and students' tuition. Nonprofit colleges in North Carolina use resources to directly fund school amenities.

For-profit colleges typically generate funding from students' tuition and investors. For-profit institutions function more like businesses and aim to generate money for owners or shareholders.

Since for-profit colleges are designed to make money, they often have higher tuition costs than their non-profit counterparts and may not be accredited. Even so, many for-profit schools attract students by offering support services and flexible learning formats.

While all public universities are nonprofit institutions, private institutions can be nonprofit or for-profit. Determining whether a college is nonprofit or for-profit is usually as simple as checking the school's website.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Private College or University in North Carolina?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition for private four-year colleges in North Carolina was $35,380 in the 2019-20 academic year. Students typically pay for several expenses in addition to tuition, including meal plans, housing costs, and student activity fees. In 2020, private colleges in North Carolina charged an average of $12,630 for room and board.

Although attending private colleges can be a hefty financial commitment, many private schools offer substantial need and merit-based aid. Some students see a private education as a worthwhile investment. Many private schools have close-knit alumni networks and other infrastructures to help students find employment after graduation.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Private Colleges and Universities in North Carolina

How many private universities are there in North Carolina?

North Carolina has 36 accredited private colleges and universities. In any given year, these institutions serve more than 80,000 students.

These colleges include Barton College, Brevard College, Campbell University, Catawba College, Davidson College, Duke University, Elon University, Greensboro College, Highpoint University, and Saint Augustine's University, to name a few.

What is the most expensive private university in North Carolina?

Some of the best private schools in North Carolina can be very costly. Wake Forest University was the state's most expensive private college in the 202-22 school year, with an annual tuition of $58,710. This figure accounts for tuition alone and does not include additional costs, such as room and board. In the same year, Duke University was the state's second most expensive college, charging an annual tuition of $55,880.

What is the least expensive private college or university in North Carolina?

Apex School of Theology is the state's least expensive private college. In the 2020-2021 school year, students at this college paid an annual tuition of $4,800. Residency does not impact tuition — all students, in state and out of state, pay the same price. Additionally, the school does not offer room and board. Students are responsible for securing off-campus housing, which can affect the total cost of attending.

Is a private university right for me?

College students looking for a more personalized learning experience, a close-knit campus community, and abundant student support services can benefit from a private education. However, private colleges are not ideal for all learners.

Although private schools can be costly, they offer high-quality learning experiences for students in specialized majors. Depending on your field of study, this can be a benefit or disadvantage.

Public institutions typically offer a wider variety of programs. In addition, students transferring from community colleges may find it easier to transfer credits to a public university.

There are several factors that students must consider to determine if a private college or university is appropriate for them, including cost and degree programs. Consider your circumstances before choosing a school.

Can I get more scholarship money at a private university?

Although private universities in North Carolina have very high price tags, the National Association of College and University Business Officersreports that as of the 2020-21 academic year, private four-year colleges offered students an average tuition discount of 48%.

However, it can be difficult to generalize schools' policies regarding scholarships and financial aid. Many private colleges and universities in North Carolina have different metrics to determine who qualifies for need and merit-based assistance. Some of the best private schools in North Carolina have large endowments and can afford to grant students with substantial financial aid.