The Best Online Colleges in North Carolina
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North Carolina is home to one of the nation's largest state university systems as well as many private colleges and universities that offer online degrees.
Students in North Carolina continue to pursue bachelor's degrees at increasingly higher rates. To address a shortage in college-educated professionals, the state coordinated with myFutureNC to set a goal for more than 54% of adults over the age of 25 in the state to hold a bachelor's degree by 2030 — an increase of 5% from 2019.
To better accommodate students, many universities and colleges in North Carolina have turned to online education. Online learning allows students from all corners of the state to access programs with reduced travel and living costs. In fact, North Carolina boasts one of the largest online educational systems, offering more than 400 degree options.
Featured Online Schools
Students considering attending an online university in North Carolina may feel intimidated by the sheer number of available options. We hope to help make that process a little easier with this page, which ranks of best online colleges in North Carolina. Our list considers the top schools in the state, along with available employment opportunities after graduation.
|#1||East Carolina University Greenville, NC|
|#2||University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC|
|#3||Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC|
|#4||Fayetteville State University Fayetteville, NC|
|#5||North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC|
|#6||Appalachian State University Boone, NC|
|#7||North Carolina Central University Durham, NC|
|#8||University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC|
|#9||University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, NC|
|#10||Campbell University Buies Creek, NC|
The Best Online Colleges in North Carolina
Online Colleges in North Carolina Ranking Guidelines
We selected the online schools in North Carolina based on the quality of their programs, types of courses and degrees offered, and faculty strengths, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, including a strong reputation for online degree programs.
Employment in North Carolina
The overall employment outlook in the state appears strong. The North Carolina Department of Commerce and United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) project the addition of more than 300,000 jobs from 2018-2028. The unemployment rate of 6.2% is about the same as the national unemployment rate.
The state offers growing opportunities in most of its major industries, including aerospace and defense, biotechnology, and business and financial services. Many organizations within these industries and others focus on innovation, which bodes well for future professionals in those industries.
According to BLS data, the state's $47,200 median annual salary exceeds the median annual salary for all occupations by more than $7,000. Additionally, the 90.6 cost of living index suggests that life in North Carolina is less expensive than the national average.
Below are some of the fastest-growing and highest-paying careers in North Carolina, including some of the highest-paying roles employing more than 1,000 individuals in North Carolina. Salary information applies specifically to North Carolina, while job growth data pertains to the United States as a whole.
|Career||Annual Mean Salary (2019)||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)||Education Required|
|Real Estate Brokers||$84,770||3%||High School Diploma|
|Interpreters and Translators||$58,040||20%||Bachelor's Degree|
The following data reflects the highest-paying roles employing more than 3,500 professionals in North Carolina. Salary figures apply specifically to North Carolina, while job growth data refers to the United States as a whole.
|Career||Annual Mean Salary (2019)||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)||Education Typically Required|
|Health Specialties Postsecondary Teachers||$140,740||21%||Master's or Doctoral|
|Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians||$62,740||5%||Associate or Trade|
|Flight Attendants||$56,270||17%||High School Diploma|
Online Associate and Graduate Degrees
In addition to the many bachelor's degrees available through online colleges in North Carolina, the state also offers access to online associate and graduate programs. With COVID-19 pushing many classes across the country online, the state strengthened its online learning infrastructure, allowing for more programs and courses in the future.
Many of North Carolina's online schools focus on growth industries, encouraging students to take advantage of the state's major employment sectors. For example, students can find programs in nursing, business, and information technology at the associate, bachelor's, and graduate levels.
These programs and other online degrees provide the same training as on-campus schools, but through different delivery modes and schedules. Online students can commonly choose between asynchronous and synchronous programs, with the former providing more flexibility and the latter offering a more collaborative, real-time environment. Online programs may also offer accelerated completion schedules for learners who can handle a heavier course load.
In addition to delivery mode, online learners should consider other factors that vary with online learning. For example, students should think about tuition price differences for residents and nonresidents, on-campus residency requirements, and online transfer credit opportunities. For more information about online education, check out our online learning overview and resource guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
Students need to pay tuition at most community colleges in North Carolina, but some colleges offer free tuition for learners who qualify for financial aid.
NC Promise is an agreement among three University of North Carolina system schools to maintain a standard tuition rate of $500 per semester.
Western Carolina University, Elizabeth City State University, and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke participate in NC Promise. The state also offers the North Carolina Comprehensive Articulation Agreement, which allows for easier transfer of credits between schools.
All students can attend college in North Carolina, regardless of their GPA. While some schools set a 2.0 GPA minimum for applicants, others have open admission requirements for candidates with high school diplomas or GED certificates.
NC State features a robust online learning system with more than 1,000 online courses and over 100 online programs.
The UNC online system connects online programs and courses from 17 campuses. Students can take standalone courses or choose from hundreds of program options.
While the state does not have any Ivy League schools, North Carolina does host some of the country's oldest and most prestigious colleges and universities, including University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.
- Appalachian State University
- East Carolina University
- Elizabeth City State University
- Fayetteville State University
- North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
- North Carolina Central University
- North Carolina State University
- University of North Carolina - Asheville
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- University of North Carolina at Pembroke
- University of North Carolina School of the Arts
- University of North Carolina at Wilmington
- Western Carolina University
- Winston-Salem State University
- North Carolina School of Science and Math - public high school
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