25 Best Online Colleges in North Carolina

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The opportunities for exploration in North Carolina are endless! With three distinct regions- mountains, Piedmont, and coast- North Carolina is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the southeastern United States.

From the Atlantic Ocean beaches to the Appalachian Mountains, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina is an outdoor wonderland and adventure awaits.

Research Triangle Park– the cities of Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill- is North Carolina’s thriving hub of more than 170 companies. Young career professionals are populating the area and the Park is an engine of growth the economy. Since 2013, North Carolina has been a nation-wide leader in economic growth and the future looks bright!

North Carolinians’ naturally warm and friendly disposition- what you’d call southern charm- will make you feel instantly welcome. Take in rich cultural traditions and art by visiting craft festivals, music, and folk art. Hospitality, southern culture, and southern football are a recipe quality lifestyle and leisure.

Combine all of these attributes and you have an amazing list of Pros for choosing to study or start a career in North Carolina. Life’s schedule is more hectic and demanding than ever. Distance learning programs have opened up educational opportunities to people who otherwise may not have had the time, flexibility or capital to pursue higher education. North Carolina has online colleges that make it possible to reach your educational goals without sacrificing your career or family commitments. Investing in your online education is investing in your future.

Top 10 Best Online Colleges in North Carolina

Rank School Location
1 Duke University Durham, NC
2 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
3 Wake Forest University Winston Salem, NC
4 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC
5 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
6 University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC
7 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
8 Campbell University Buies Creek, NC
9 Winston-Salem State University Winston-Salem, NC
10 Barton College Wilson, NC

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What are the best online colleges in North Carolina?

This ranking of the best online colleges in North Carolina focuses on two main factors: institutional excellence and return on investment. Institutional excellence is based on items such as graduation rate, test scores of incoming students, endowment size, and student-faculty ratio. Return on investment is another important part of college ranking because it indicates what you can expect to get out of your education. This is calculated based on annual tuition costs, average financial aid awarded, student loan debt accrued, and projected career salary for graduates. Using data provided by individual college websites, U.S. News & World Report, the following ranking has been compiled as a guide to help you compare the best online colleges in North Carolina.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Duke University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Go Blue Devils! Founded in 1838, Duke University is nationally recognized a leading institution of higher education, boasting exemplary academics and athletics. The private Methodist university is set in Durham, nicknamed Bull City, which has a variety of shopping, dining and nightlife. Students enjoy cheering on the mens basketball team- one of the top five in the nation. Dukes outstanding undergraduate and graduate programs, and thriving student life have earned it the #8 spot in National Universities as ranked by U.S. News World report.

    Program Features

    Duke Universitys online distance learning features programs for a variety of learners. The continuing education and alumni education programs are perfect for professionals who want to selectively take courses to further their professional skills and advance their careers. Graduate online degree tracks are available for the following programs:

    Duke University School of NursingDuke University Pratt School of EngineeringDuke Nicholas School of the EnvironmentThe Fuqua School of Business

    Notables

    Looking to pursue an online degree with an outstanding reputation? Dukes Online nursing graduate program is tied for #3 in the U.S. News World reports ranking of Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs. Not sure if distance learning at Duke is for you? They university offers free online courses led by world-renowned faculty that are open to anyone to try! Visit Duke on Coursera to check it out.

  2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Looking for an excellent education and a great value? Located on a beautiful 729 acre campus in suburban Chapel Hill, the public University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was founded in 1789. Sometimes called a public ivy, UNC is recognized for having one of the most diverse student bodies in the U.S. including students from every state and more than 100 countries! Their commitment to diversity, creativity and excellence has earned University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill the #30 position in National Universities as ranked by U.S. News World report.

    Program Features

    Want to earn a degree from a highly respected online program? University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill only offers only two online degree tracks:

    Online MBA program Online Graduate Business program

    Their programs are widely recognized for developing world-class business leaders. UNC is ranked #4 in Best Online MBA programs!

    Notables

    Youre at a major advantage if you are a North Carolina native. According to state law, at least 82 percent of each freshman class must be from North Carolina. Also, in-state tuition begins at just $8,834! High quality education does not have to come with a high price tag, and explains why UNC ranks #12 on the U.S. News World reports list of Best Value Schools.

  3. Wake Forest University
    Location

    Winston Salem, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Seeking a school environment where you can thrive? The private Wake Forest University was founded in 1834 and hosts a total student enrollment of 7,837. Find your sense of adventure! Located in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest University has an active campus recreation program that is always planning outdoor student trips to the Blue Ridge Mountains or the beaches of South Carolina. With its highly ranked graduate programs, division I basketball, and thriving student life, Wake Forest University ties for #27 in U.S. News World reports ranking of National Universities.

    Program Features

    If you are seeking higher education in the field of counseling, Wake Forest University could be for you. They offer quality graduate-level distance learning programs for counseling.

    Masters of Arts in Counseling- Clinical Mental Health Masters of Arts in Counseling- School Counseling

    Notables

    With a student/faculty ratio of 11:1, you can count on getting individual attention in an education at Wake Forest. Their distance learning program is focused on getting their students career-ready. The Wake Forest counseling program is CACREP-accredited, and the program of study meets the licensure standards for most states. This offers a high return on student investment.

  4. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    For an urban, big campus experience, check out North Carolina State University, also known as NC State, in Raleigh. Founded in 1887, NC State is the largest public four year college, and is all about student choice. The wolf pack boasts more than 100 programs to major in, and more than 400 clubs and organizations to join! Well known for their programs in engineering, education and management, North Carolina State University at Raleigh ties for the #92 spot in U.S. News World reports ranking of National Universities.

    Program Features

    Although North Carolina State University at Raleigh barely cuts the top 100 list of National Universities, they are home to some top ranked distance learning programs. With online programs ranging from undergraduate certificates, to doctoral degrees, theres a good chance youll find a program that suits your needs. There are three fully online bachelors degree programs offered and more than 25 graduate degree programs. Notably, tied for #6 in Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs, tied for #9 in Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs, and tied for #18 in Best Online MBA Programs, as ranked by U.S. News World report. Popular graduate programs include:

    Aerospace Engineering Computer Engineering Nuclear Engineering Business Administration

    Notables

    A unique part of the North Carolina State University at Raleigh distance learning program is the wide variety of business partnerships theyve cultivated that help keep course material up-to-date and career-ready. You can also enjoy the advantage of flexibility that you want in online and distance courses without sacrificing quality, because the courses are taught by the same professors who teach the subject on campus.

  5. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Boone, North Carolina, Appalachian State University was founded 1899. The rural, small campus is home to just under 2,000 students and cultivates a community that feels like family. With more than 150 undergraduate programs to choose from, and an amazing deal on in-state tuition, Appalachian State University has earned the #3 ranking in Top Public Schools, and #9 ranking in Regional Universities South as ranked by U.S. News World report. An energetic campus life and variety of student activities makes Appalachian State University the place to be.

    Program Features

    Appalachian State University may not be home to any prestigious online degree programs, but at $141 per in-state credit, they do offer a great value! They are tied for #66 in Best Online Graduate Education Programs, and also offer a whole host of online bachelors programs. Popular distance learning programs include:

    Registered Nursing Advertising Business Administration Public Health Education and Promotion

    Notables

    At Appalachian State, you can get the same quality of education that you would on campus through distance learning. Faculty who teach the online courses are the same faculty who teach face-to-face classes. Student belonging and satisfaction are key factors to academic success; Appalachian States average freshmen retention rate is a high 87 percent. Their program is ideal for anyone looking for individualized attention in instruction at an affordable price.

  6. University of North Carolina Wilmington
    Location

    Wilmington, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Want to belong to a university that makes a positive impact on its community? Founded in 1947, University of North Carolina Wilmington is an urban, public institution with a focus on generating and supporting regional economic activity. Recognized for its outstanding faculty and commitment to scholarly excellence and affordability, University of North Carolina Wilmington lands in the #6 spot on the list of Top Public Schools, and ties for #16 on the list of Regional Universities South as compiled by U.S. News World report.

    Program Features

    University of North Carolina Wilmington is most well-known for its numerous completely online Bachelors programs. In fact, they are tied at #76 in Best Online Bachelors Programs. If your goal is to earn your entire undergraduate degree through distance learning, University of North Carolina Wilmington may be a great fit for you. Their widely recognized nursing program is designed for working professionals. Popular programs of study are:

    Registered Nursing Clinical Research Education

    Notables

    Even if you are distance learning, you are still a part of the university community. Cheer on University of North Carolina Wilmingtons NCAA division I athletics, or take advantage of the internship and study abroad opportunities they offer. You dont have to wait until next semester or next year. With a rolling admissions deadline, you can start as soon as youre ready!

  7. Western Carolina University
    Location

    Cullowhee, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Founded in 1889, the public institution of Western Carolina University can be found in the heart of Southern Appalachian Mountains. It is home to a diverse community of just over 10,000 students. Focused on incorporating teaching, research, service and community engagement, Western Carolina University offers students high quality education with more than 115 undergraduate majors and more than 60 graduate-level programs to choose from. WCU ties for #13 in Top Public Schools and #37 in Regional Universities South as ranked by U.S. News World report.

    Program Features

    WCU boasts top-ranked distance learning programs in the fields of nursing, education, and engineering. Their online learning communities are built to bring ambitious students together with professors who are there to help them succeed. Their most sought after online programs are:

    Early Childhood Education Registered Nursing Public Administration Criminal Justice

    Notables

    Western Carolina University believes that distance learning students should enjoy the same benefits as traditional students enrolled on campus. Online learners have access to tutoring support, and a Student-faculty ratio of 16:1. If its financial aid youre seeking, 67% of full-time WCU undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid and the average need-based scholarship or grant award.

  8. Campbell University
    Location

    Buies Creek, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Want to grow in mind, body and spirit? The private, Baptist institution of Campbell University was founded in 1887. Set in rural Buies Creek, this liberal arts university offers an integrated curriculum that focuses on academic excellence and service learning opportunities. Ranked #30 in Regional Universities South, Campbell is affiliated with the Big South Conference, and participates in competitive Division I Varsity athletics. Go Fighting Camels!

    Program Features

    When you need options, check out Campbell. They offer more fully online degree programs than any other North Carolina private school! Campbell University began offering online education options in 1999; now their online tracks include certificate, associate and bachelor programs. Popular areas of study are:

    Criminal Justice Education Information Technology

    Notables

    Students of Campbell University Online take their courses in a convenient 8-week format. This design allows individuals who are interested in pursuing an online degree do so while also balancing a work and family life. If you want to achieve your degree in a timely manner without quitting your full time job, Campbell may have the perfect program for you!

  9. Winston-Salem State University
    Location

    Winston-Salem, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Founded in 1892, the historically black public institution of Winston-Salem State University focuses quality educational programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Skilled faculty and staff support a diverse student body of learners with engaging and experiential learning. The core belief at WSSU is that a Values-Education is the foundation of a prosperous and enlightened society. Winston-Salem State University is tied at #91 on U.S. News World reports list of Regional Universities South.

    Program Features

    Winston-Salem State Universitys distance learning program primarily serves a student audience who has limited opportunity to experience higher education in a traditional setting. Their degree programs are designed to support students academic enrichment goals. Programs include but are not limited to:

    Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Concentration in Integrative StudiesBirth to Kindergarten Education (BKE) Degree Program Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling

    Notables

    Winston-Salem State University is ranked #32 on the list of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. If you are stressed about admission, WSSU is a less selective university with open doors. You can get achieve your distance learning goals and enjoy being a part of the Ram Nation by supporting the NCAA division II sports teams.

  10. Barton College
    Location

    Wilson, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    If youre looking for an individualized liberal arts education, look no further. Located in the city of Wilson, Barton College is a private institution. Since it was founded in 1902, the Christian Church affiliated college has encouraged students to debate and challenge ideas. Students can pursue one of 30 different degrees through five academic schools: Arts and Sciences, Behavioral Sciences, Business, Education, and Nursing. This liberal arts college has landed at the #7 spot on the list of Best Value Schools, and is tied for #13 in Regional Colleges South as ranked by U.S. News World report.

    Program Features

    Barton does not offer any exclusively online degree programs. Distance learning courses are offered as part of professional studies hybrid programs that are partially on-campus and partially online.The Barton College online courses that teach exactly the same skills to students as the face-to-face campus course, and online students are equipped with the same assistance and resources that on-campus students receive; such as tutoring support and advising. Popular programs include:

    Business Elementary Education Social Work

    Notables

    Bartons website offers an online education orientation that you can review to see if their distance learning program is a good fit for you. With a total undergraduate enrollment of 985 and a student to faculty ratio of 11:1, Barton offers outstanding individualized instruction and academic counseling. If covering tuition for a private institution has you worried, youll be glad to know that 91% percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid.

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