Accredited Schools & Colleges in North Carolina

North Carolina College Guide – What You Need to Know

Best Colleges & Universities in North Carolina

North Carolina is home to several high-quality schools, both public and private. Names like Duke University and the University of North Carolina are probably the best-known schools in the state, but NC boasts a wide array of schools from small liberal arts colleges to NC State, the largest university in the Carolinas.

What are the most popular bachelor's degrees offered in North Carolina?

While the state’s private colleges are a significant investment for those who don’t have federal funding or scholarships, NC’s public universities promise a quality education for less than $10,000 per year.

The most popular bachelor’s degrees in North Carolina are similar to the most popular bachelor’s degrees across the country. Students top picks include majors such as biology, business administration, and psychology, as well as computer science. Here are the top five degrees:

How Much Can You Make by Having a Degree North Carolina

In general, the higher the degree, the greater the earning potential. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Some fields, like marketing or computer programming, allow you to advance in your career without a master’s degree. Others, like psychology, require a master’s minimum, as your point of entry. Still, getting a bachelor’s degree, or even an associate can help you earn much more than you would with only a high school diploma.

According to data PayScale, bachelor’s degree holders have an average income of about $58,000 per year. Degree type makes a difference; the site reported that those with a Bachelor of Science earned $63,000 on average, compared to those with a Bachelor of Arts who earned about $53,000 on average.

Those figures are likely skewed a bit, as high-paying technical occupations like engineering and computer science majors earn BS degrees. BA graduates span a range of majors, including some sectors where it may be harder to find employment. Associate degree holders earn about $48,000 per year.

Those with a high school diploma, or GED only, are likely to earn considerably less. The BLS reports the median weekly income for those without any formal education credential can expect to make roughly $688 per week.

$27,040* $37,024* $43,472* $60,996* $72,852* $90,636*

Cost of North Carolina College Education & Salaries

There are several things to consider when it comes to selecting the right school for you. North Carolina, fortunately, offers many schools, many of which have a solid reputation and great academics. Still, the top-ranking schools aren’t always going to have the best program for your chosen major.

Earning potential depends more on your field than what school you go to. So, if your primary concern is finding stable, well-paid work after graduation, you’ll want to select a major that paves the way. STEM fields are always a good bet, but areas like business or marketing might also be good bets.

Consider schools that have a low student to staff ratio. This will allow you to get to know professors, who can provide mentorship and career guidance in addition to lectures. When you work closely with a professor, they may be able to leverage their network when it comes time to lock down an internship or first job. On top of mentorship opportunities, consider whether the school offers access to a job center or alumni group; these resources also rely on connections to help recent grads find work.

Many students take these resources for granted, but those who do their research ahead of time and take advantage of what the university offers, will be in the best position to find a job.

Finally, don’t just enroll in the school with the lowest tuition. Sometimes more expensive schools offer larger grants or aid packages to students in need. Explore your options and see what you can get. Still, a school like the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is about $8,500 per year, compared to Duke or Wake Forest, which cost close to $50,000 annually. UNC has a similar ranking as Duke, but being a public college is considerably more affordable.

College Cost Analysis - North Carolina vs National

Average North Carolina Tuition & Fees at 4 Year Public Schools

In-State Tuition - $3500

National – $9970

Out-of-State – $16,000

National – $25,600

Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid

North Carolina falls firmly in the middle of the pack when it comes to financial aid. 63% of FAFSA applicants secured federal funding and on average, students receive $9,989 in annual support. Student aid generally includes federal loans, grants, tax benefits, and work-study access. However, North Carolina public schools tend to cost less than the national average, so in-state residents may get the most bang for their buck by staying local.

Financial Aid North Carolina Nationally
Received Federal Grants 63% 37.7%
Average $ per Recipient $9,989 $10,927

* Institutional aid represents grant and scholarship funds directly awarded by a postsecondary institution.
* Financial aid data represents 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

North Carolina College Tuition Costs Vs Salary Potential

Helping You Maximize Your Education Earnings

Below, we’ve included a table that compares North Carolina colleges and universities based on tuition, housing, supplies, and graduation rate. The reason we’ve added the graduation rate is, it’s an excellent way to identify whether you’re getting the most bang for your buck. A high graduation rate suggests that students will receive the support and resources that set them up for success after college.

That said, while shopping around is smart, these costs don’t paint the full picture. Student aid packages vary based on institution and sometimes a more expensive school can offer better funding. Finally, earning potential varies dramatically and depends on what you study, whether you need to get an advanced degree, and how much you can expect to make after getting a master’s or a doctorate.

North Carolina Colleges Tuition & Fees In State Tuition & Fees Out Of state Books & Supplies Room & Board Campus Room & Board Off Campus Graduation Rate Undergrads Median Salary
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill $9,005 $34,588 $1,600 $14,960 $14,960 91% $67,000
Duke University $53,500 $53,500 $1,260 $17,000 N/A 95% $80,000
North Carolina Central University $6,400 $19,100 $1,500 $14,200 $14,600 44% $55,000
Wake Forest University $51,400 $51,400 $1,400 $16,300 $16,300 88% $69,000
Davidson College $49,900 $49,900 $1,000 $15,700 $15,700 91% $48,000
Appalachian State University $7,300 $22,100 $700 $11,000 $11,500 73% $55,000
North Carolina State University $9,058 $27,406 $1,000 $13,500 $13,500 79% $71,000
Western Carolina University $6,800 $17,300 $2,330 $12,200 $13,000 59% $58,000
University of North Carolina Charlotte $6,800 $20,200 $1,200 $15,600 $13,300 54% $64,000
North Carolina A&T State University $6,500 $19,400 $1,600 $9,700 $9,700 43% n/a

Best Scholarships for North Carolina

According to the College Foundation of North Carolina, the state offers over $600 million in scholarships and grants. Many require students to fill out the FAFSA before applying to demonstrate need. The application functions as a gateway to many federal and state-funded scholarships, as well as other need-based awards offered through private foundations or organizations.

Students who don’t qualify for need-based assistance can still apply for other sources of funding. Merit-based scholarships are awarded based on test scores or other proof of academic excellence. Other scholarships are offered toward members of a specific group: women, minorities, or the LGBT community. Or specific majors—like nursing students or those pursuing the visual arts.

In any case, there are many different sources of funding available—you may need to do a little research. Here are some scholarships offered to North Carolina students:

  • TAES
  • ALBS


The ANSWER Endowment Scholarship
Amounts: varies
Deadline: March 1
The Andersen Nontraditional Scholarship for Women’s Education (ANSWER) is awarded to women 25 or older raising school-aged children. Applicants must be enrolled in a four-year degree program at an accredited North or South Carolina institution. Alternatively, those in a two-year nursing or healthcare program are welcome to apply.


North Carolina Student Incentive Grant
Amounts: $700 (Varies)
Deadline: FAFSA Deadline
The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority offers a $700 grant to low-income NC students. To apply, students must fill out the FAFSA and be planning to attend an accredited institution in the state of North Carolina.



North Carolina League for Nursing Academic Scholarship Fund
Amounts: $500-$2,000
Deadline: March 15
The NLN offers a $2,000 scholarship to students pursuing a graduate degree in nursing. To qualify, you must have completed six semester hours of coursework and be a legal North Carolina resident.



North Carolina Sheriffs Association Scholarships
Amounts: $2,000
Deadline: Varies by institution
The North Carolina Sheriffs Association offers 12 scholarships to full-time NC students majoring in criminal justice. The $2,000 awards are provided to each of the 12 schools that offer criminal justice degrees in the state and priority is given to the children or stepchildren of a state sheriff.



Foundation for the Carolinas Scholarship
Amounts: Varies
Deadline: March 1
This scholarship is for students pursuing a career in the arts in North or South Carolina. Students must demonstrate some talent in their chosen medium. Additionally, only rising juniors or seniors in good academic standing may apply.


Aubrey Lee Brooks Scholarship¬e=no&type=7&vocType=10&vocational=no&id=44
Amounts: $12,000
Deadline: January 31
The Aubrey Lee Brooks Scholarship is worth $12,000 and goes to 17 graduating seniors from 14 North Carolina counties. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and plan on attending North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, or UNC Greensboro. Students must maintain a 2.7 GPA or higher to renew the scholarship.