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Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, the four-year colleges in North Carolina include 17 public and 50 private non-profit options.


    For the 2022-23 school year, the average in-state tuition for public four-year colleges in North Carolina is $7,360, according to College Board.


    In the U.S., full-time undergraduate students attending college in 2021-22 received an average of $15,330 per year in financial aid.

Our Research

This list features some of the best brick-and-mortar colleges in North Carolina. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality. We included liberal arts colleges and research universities as well as small, midsize, and large institutions. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications, such as U.S. News & World Report, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The colleges on our list are accredited by either the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) or Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). These organizations examine the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of postsecondary education programs.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission standards, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the resources and services provided for on-campus students. Then, we used this information to calculate the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Online College Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

The Top 50 Colleges in North Carolina

Best Colleges In North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Wake Forest University

University of North Carolina Wilmington

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Western Carolina University

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

University of North Carolina at Asheville

Shaw University

Warren Wilson College

Wingate University

Winston-Salem State University

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

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What You Should Know About Graduating From College in North Carolina

When determining which state to study in, you should consider the career opportunities that will be available to you. As of May 2022, the five largest industries in North Carolina are office and administrative support occupations, sales, transportation and material moving, food preparation and serving, and production.

Also, the five fastest-growing careers in North Carolina for workers with a bachelor’s degree are information security analysts, agents and talent managers, logisticians, medical and health services managers, and operations research analysts.

You can learn about employment opportunities in North Carolina by looking at the major employers in the state as well. Some of the largest employers in North Carolina include Duke University Hospital, Smithfield Foods, Spectrum, Bank of America, and East Carolina University.

What’s Next?

Financial aid is available to help cover the costs associated with higher education. Below is a list of resources where you can find additional information regarding financial aid opportunities such as grants, scholarships and fellowships in North Carolina:

  • College Foundation of North Carolina. Detailed information about studying in North Carolina, including how to apply and pay for college, is available through the College Foundation of North Carolina.
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Provided by the U.S. Department of Education, FAFSA is the main form students use to apply for financial aid for college. To determine if you’re eligible for aid, submit a completed FAFSA form online.
  • CareerOneStop Scholarship Finder. This tool will show you available scholarships, grants, and loans and can be filtered by state and degree type. It includes information such as dollar amounts, how to apply, qualifications, deadlines, and contact details.

Colleges by State

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