Public Universities in North Carolina: A Complete List
Editor & Writer
Editor & Writer
www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Turn Your Dreams Into Reality
Take our quiz and we'll do the homework for you! Compare your school matches and apply to your top choice today.
Home to several top universities, North Carolina boasts stunning beaches along the Atlantic Ocean and breathtaking Appalachian Mountain adventures.
The Tar Heel State also has three prominent research universities: North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All are located in the Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. This region is a thriving hub for technology and biotech companies in the state.
While North Carolina has several top colleges, attending a public college or university provides advantages like affordable tuition, diverse program offerings, and abundant research opportunities. Discover popular public universities in North Carolina and get a full list of schools.
3 Popular Public Colleges in North Carolina
Here, we list three popular public universities in North Carolina to consider applying to. These schools were selected based on factors like number of applicants, overall prestige, and academic rigor.
- Avg. Annual Net Price: $10,614
- Acceptance Rate: 17%
- Total Student Enrollment: 31,705
The first public university in the United States, UNC-Chapel Hill is known for its innovative teaching and commitment to public service. The university has around 190 bachelor's and master's programs.
It also offers online and distance education. UNC-Chapel Hill has received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award and offers debt-free education to low-income students through Carolina Covenant.
- Avg. Annual Net Price: $14,410
- Acceptance Rate: 92%
- Total Student Enrollment: 27,151
ECU offers 87 bachelor's programs, with nursing, management, and biology being the most popular. The university also offers 69 master's programs, with business administration, nursing, and medicine attracting the highest enrollments.
ECU is recognized as North Carolina's top institution for graduating new nurses, and 80% of first-time full-time undergraduates receive financial aid. Additionally, the university provides over 100 online degree and certificate programs.
- Avg. Annual Net Price: $13,084
- Acceptance Rate: 83%
- Total Student Enrollment: 20,436
Nestled in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, App State is among the 17 University of North Carolina System campuses. With a student enrollment of nearly 21,000, the university maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1 and provides over 150 undergraduate and graduate majors to choose from.
App State also provides numerous flexible accredited online programs.
Featured Online Programs
List of All Public Colleges in North Carolina
We've created a complete list of all four-year nonprofit public universities in North Carolina. You can use the table below to compare data on student population, average net cost, acceptance rate, and number of applicants.
The following school data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Schools that enroll fewer than 500 undergraduates were not considered for this list.
|School||Total Student Enrollment||Avg. Annual Net Price||Acceptance Rate||Number of Applicants|
|Appalachian State University||20,436||$13,084||83%||22,255|
|East Carolina University||27,151||$14,410||92%||21,383|
|Elizabeth City State University||2,149||$4,120||74%||3,927|
|Fayetteville State University||6,787||$6,355||81%||4,116|
|North Carolina A&T State University||13,487||$9,189||56%||25,762|
|North Carolina Central University||7,553||$13,708||84%||8,423|
|North Carolina State University at Raleigh||36,700||$14,852||47%||35,568|
|University of North Carolina at Asheville||2,914||$14,730||74%||4,278|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||31,705||$10,614||17%||50,729|
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||29,551||$13,951||80%||21,355|
|University of North Carolina at Greensboro||17,978||$10,979||92%||11,515|
|University of North Carolina at Pembroke||7,666||$8,208||90%||3,420|
|University of North Carolina School of the Arts||1,104||$11,251||32%||1,139|
|University of North Carolina Wilmington||17,843||$18,709||69%||16,860|
|Western Carolina University||11,635||$13,022||85%||17,917|
|Winston-Salem State University||5,004||$14,097||73%||7,628|
What Is the Cost of College in North Carolina?
According to 2020-2021 NCES data, North Carolina students paid an average total of $17,779 — about $3,500 less than the national average of $21,337. This number includes the average costs of room and board.
In that same year, the average in-state tuition for public colleges in North Carolina was approximately $7,200, while the average out-of-state tuition for public colleges in the state was around $23,100.
|Institution Type||Average Tuition & Required Fees|
|Public 4-Year (in-state)||$7,260|
|Public 4-Year (out-of-state)||$23,136|
|Public 2-Year (in-state)||$2,474|
|Public 2-Year (out-of-state)||$8,511|
Frequently Asked Questions About Public Colleges in North Carolina
Is it expensive to go to college in North Carolina?
Attending college in North Carolina may be expensive, but it depends on several factors, including whether you attend a public or private college and your residency status. According to NCES data, attending college in North Carolina costs just over $3,000 more than the national average.
Do I qualify for in-state tuition in North Carolina?
Qualifying for in-state or out-of-state tuition is determined during the college admissions process.
You can qualify for in-state tuition in North Carolina if you have established legal residency in North Carolina for a minimum of 12 consecutive months before the start of the term. You must have a residential presence in the state and demonstrate your intent to live in North Carolina permanently.
What's the hardest public college to get into in North Carolina?
With a 17% acceptance rate, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill currently ranks as the hardest public college in North Carolina to get into. In fall 2022, UNC-Chapel Hill admitted around 9,578 out of 56,341 applicants, according to NCES.