Overview of North Carolina Colleges & Schools

North Carolina is home to a large number of colleges and universities, both public and private, located throughout the state. The state is moderately large in population and among the smaller states, though larger than most New England states, geographically. It is bordered by Virginia to the north, Tennessee to the west, Georgia to the Southwest, and South Carolina to the South.  Raleigh is the capital and second largest city in the state, the largest being Charlotte. A higher concentration of schools will be found within or near these two cities, though schools can be found in most sections of the state.

The University of North Carolina is one of the oldest educational institutions in the United States, having been founded in 1789 in Chapel Hill. The school was joined over time by other publically funded institutions that became part of a single consolidated system beginning with the merger of three colleges in 1931 as part of measures to control costs of due to the Great Depression. The process continued until 1971 when all bachelor degree granting public institutions were brought together under the umbrella of the University of North Carolina banner, with each school maintaining its own board of trustees and chancellor, but answering to the governance of a unifying body. The system enrolls over 180,000 students annually, graduating approximately 40,000 students each year, a majority of which are bachelor degree seeking students. The system is responsible for 75% of all bachelor degrees awarded in the state. The system consists of 16 colleges and universities and one high school.

University of North Carolina System Schools include:

Private institutions in the state have a history of offering a liberal arts education, with many of the institutions being rooted in Christian methods of education or teachings as part of its foundation. This often includes connection to a specific denomination or church. Private schools tend to have higher tuition costs, lower student enrollment, and an excellent student to teacher ratio. Private institutions also receive little to no public funding, utilizing private sources and tuition fees to maintain operations, often leading to more extracurricular study programs, updated facilities, and specialized education.

Private colleges and universities in North Carolina Include:

North Carolina is also home to career schools and community colleges. Career schools offer specialized education and training in specific areas of study, preparing individuals for entry into the workforce. Such schools can be found in most urban centers throughout the state. Community Colleges are managed and operated by the North Carolina Community College System and are located throughout the state. Such schools provide transfer opportunities to four year institutions or career training similar to those provided by career schools. Community colleges also confer two year associate degrees to graduates.

The most populous city in North Carolina is Charlotte, followed by Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, and Winston-Salem.  While the most populous county in North Carolina is Mecklenburg County with Wake County close behind.   If you are interested in visiting the state of North Carolina, consider visiting their state page or the state chapter of the Chamber of Commerce.

College Degree Breakdown for the State of North-carolina

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, NCES, O*NET Online

Doctoral or professional degree
Master's degree
Bachelor's degree
Associate's degree
Postsecondary nondegree award
Some college, no degree
High school diploma or equivalent
No formal educational credential

Public Universities & Colleges

Image of Public College Campus

There are sixteen public 4-year state universities and colleges in North Carolina. These four-year institutions predominantly offer bachelor's or higher level programs and some may even include research facilities. See a state-wide list of the state universities and colleges in North Carolina.

Private Universities & Colleges

Image of Private College Campus

In North Carolina there are fifty-one accredited private four-year colleges. Similar to public schools, private colleges and universities offer bachelor's or higher level programs and research opportunities, although they usually have smaller classes and higher tuition. Compare admission requirements and tuition details for private colleges in North Carolina.

Community Colleges

Community College in North Carolina

Community colleges are public institutions that offer low cost, high quality education for residents throughout the state. These schools offer 2-year programs that grant associate degrees or offer training courses in specialized trades. North Carolina" Community colleges also are the number one transfer-out programs available for four-year colleges and universities. Learn more and compare community colleges in North Carolina.

Liberal Arts Colleges

Liberal Arts Colleges

North Carolina has nine accredited liberal arts colleges. These schools primarily focus on undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences through comprehensive and flexible curriculums. Compare all the liberal arts colleges in North Carolina.

Bible & Christian Colleges

Christian Colleges

Bible and Christian colleges generally provide specialized undergraduate education with a focus on religious or biblical study. There are approximately thirty-five such colleges in North Carolina located throughout the state. See a full list of Christian colleges in North Carolina along with program and tuition information.

Browse Schools by Career in North Carolina

Follow the links below to get information on accredited schools in our database that offer programs or degrees.

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