Why This Matters


    The higher learning institutions in North Carolina prepare students for a wide range of careers. According to College Navigator, there are 17 public colleges, 45 private non-profit colleges, and seven private for-profit colleges in North Carolina.


    During the 2020-21 school year, the average college student in North Carolina paid $7,260 in tuition fees.


    According to College Board, $14,940 was the average amount of financial aid awarded to U.S. students during the 2019-20 academic year.

Our Research

This guide includes a curated list of the best colleges in North Carolina. During our research, we evaluated both large universities, midsized private institutions, and pubic liberal arts colleges. Academic-related costs, the amount of credits required to graduate, and whether classes are taught in-person or online were considered when creating this list.

The schools on this list are accredited at the national and regional levels. Accreditation ensures that higher learning institutions uphold certain academic standards and is determined through self-assessment and peer review. Colleges on this list are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 51 hours to write this article
  • 197 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 293 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Colleges in North Carolina

Best Colleges In North Carolina


What You Should Know About Graduating From College in North Carolina

When determining which state to study in, consider the career opportunities that will be available to you. Insight into future job prospects can be found by looking at the biggest industries in North Carolina. As of October 2020, the top five industries in North Carolina are trade, transportation and utilities; government; goods-producing services; professional and business services; and education and health services.

Job seekers with a bachelor’s degree have many high-earning careers available to them. The five fastest-growing careers in North Carolina are software developers, actuaries, information security analysts, operations research analysts, and cartographers and photogrammetrists.

You can also learn about employment opportunities in North Carolina by looking at the largest employers in the state. Msg Holding LP, Property Management Childress, Collins Aerospace Systems, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and House of Raeford Farms are all on the list of the top 50 largest employers in North Carolina.

What’s Next?

Federal and state financial aid is available to assist you in covering 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.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who are eligible can receive part of the $120 billion allocated every year for higher education by the U.S. Department of Education. It’s free to apply and can be done via the online FAFSA form.
  • CareerOneStop. Information about the scholarships and grants available in each state is provided by CareerOneStop. Use the filter options to search by degree level and state. All listings include the award amount, deadline for applications, and eligibility requirements.