North Carolina is home to 16 public universities, 20 private liberal arts colleges, and several community colleges and certification programs. Earning a degree has never been more accessible as many of these institutions offer online courses and programs. There are even several online Christian colleges in North Carolina for those specifically seeking schools with a religious affiliation.
Obtaining an online degree in North Carolina can prepare you for higher paying job opportunities as well as advanced studies. North Carolina residents earning an online degree at an in-state school benefit from reduced tuition rates; however, many online programs are just as affordable for nonresident students.
Higher Learning Initiatives in North Carolina
The University of North Carolina Online
The University of North Carolina Online is an organization that provides information to students in North Carolina who wish to take online courses from public universities in the state. Seventeen public schools in North Carolina offer online bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs, and University of North Carolina Online helps prospective students learn more about and apply to these programs. The organization also helps those in the military and prospective teachers find the right academic programs for their needs. Sorting through online degree programs and online schools in North Carolina can be a challenge, so having a primary searchable database can be very helpful.
Developed by the governor of North Carolina and the North Carolina Education Cabinet and Office, eLearning NC is a commission that provides information about most of the e-learning initiatives in the state. eLearning NC offers resources and useful facts to K-12 students and teachers as well as college students and professionals interested in online certification courses. There’s no shortage of information on the eLearning NC website about online schools in North Carolina and online learning tools for elementary, middle, and high school students.
North Carolina Virtual Public School
The North Carolina Virtual Public School was originally created to give high school students a chance to take online classes. Now the school offers online instruction to both middle and high school students who are unable to attend traditional classes due to illness or other circumstances. The North Carolina Virtual Public School also allows high school students to take online courses in addition to in-person courses and graduate from school in three years. Certified teachers instruct each of the classes offered at this pioneering public school.
Popular Degree Programs in North Carolina
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the occupational clusters with the largest shares of employment in North Carolina include office and administrative support positions, sales and related positions, and education and training positions. Therefore, obtaining a degree relevant to these occupations is more likely to guarantee job security within the state after graduation.
According to Business Insider, these are two popular majors in North Carolina:
- Business Management and Administration: A business management and administration degree prepares students to handle the daily operations of running a business. While this degree provides a foundational overview of many different fields, students may choose to specialize in accounting, finance, management, marketing, and more. In a state where administrative and sales positions hold two of the largest shares of employment, this is sure to be a useful degree for North Carolina graduates.
- Nuclear Engineering: A degree in nuclear engineering provides students with a foundational knowledge of nuclear physics and prepares them to work with radioactive materials. This degree is disproportionately popular in North Carolina compared to the U.S. Graduates of this major can work in electric power generation, the federal government, and scientific research positions.
Paying for College in North Carolina
College is expensive and tuition costs can be a deciding factor when considering what school to attend. Various factors can influence the cost of tuition, including a student’s residency status and their degree program. Out-of-state tuition tends to be more expensive than in-state tuition, meaning it is cheaper for a student to go to college in their home state. However, some online degree programs offer the same rates for both in-state and out-of-state students. There are many cheap online colleges in North Carolina that offer affordable tuition rates.
As shown in the table below, in-state tuition in North Carolina is generally more affordable than in-state tuition across the country. Tuition for resident students at colleges in North Carolina is $1,764 cheaper than the national average at public two-year institutions and $2,758 cheaper than the national average at public two-year institutions. It is important to remember, the overall cost of attending college includes other expenses, such as textbooks, room and board, technology fees, and course materials.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2017-18
|Public Two Year||Public Four Year|
Source: College Board
Employment Outlook in North Carolina
Graduates of online colleges and universities in North Carolina can look forward to plenty of employment opportunities in the state. Compared to the national unemployment rate, the unemployment rate is lower, which signifies more employment opportunities. Salary levels in the state are also competitive. While the annual mean salary in North Carolina was lower than the national mean salary by roughly $4,000, the cost of living in the state is also lower. According to Payscale, the cost of living in Raleigh, North Carolina, is five percent lower than the national average.
Accreditation for Colleges in North Carolina
Accreditation is a stamp of approval ensuring an institution has met a certain set of quality standards. In the U.S., an institution of higher education can be either regionally or nationally accredited. Regional accreditation is generally considered more prestigious and credits are more easily transferable across regionally accredited schools. In the U.S., there are six regional accrediting bodies. North Carolina is overseen by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). While national accreditation may not be as standardized as regional accreditation, it is preferable to a non-accredited school.
There are also some specific accreditations for different areas of study. For instance, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs is an accrediting agency that focuses only on colleges offering business degrees and certificate programs. Students may look into field-specific accreditations in addition to regional accreditation for their program of study.
Accreditation functions the same way for online colleges and universities in North Carolina as it does for their on-campus counterparts.
Scholarships for North Carolina Online College Students
Scholarships exist for all types of students, including students attending online colleges or taking online community college courses in North Carolina. These scholarships may be merit-based, need-based, or a combination of the two. Many scholarships are offered by private organizations, public institutions, nonprofit agencies, and government agencies. Listed below are ten scholarships available to students attending affordable online colleges in North Carolina.
- Aubrey Lee Brooks Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be graduating high school seniors from a 14-county area in North Carolina who plan to enroll full time at North Carolina State University, UNC Chapel Hill, or UNC Greensboro.
Amount: Up to $12,000
- Cancer for College Carolinas Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants must have been personally diagnosed with cancer, be enrolled in or planning to attend an accredited college in the U.S. as a full-time student, demonstrate financial need, and be either from or attending school in North or South Carolina.
- Colon Furr Memorial Nursing Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants must reside in North Carolina and be accepted or enrolled in a nursing program that leads to certification as a registered nurse.
- Jagannathan Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be graduating high school seniors planning to attend school in the University of North Carolina system, be North Carolina residents, demonstrate excellence in academics, and prove financial need.
- NACME Block Grant Program
Who Can Apply: Applicants should be graduating high school seniors who have been accepted into an engineering degree program or a currently enrolled college student who has completed a calculus, physics, or chemistry course with at least a B and have qualified for the engineering program.
Amount: Up to $12,500 per year
- NIADA Foundation Regional Scholarships
Who Can Apply: NIADA regional scholarship applicants should demonstrate excellence in education, be a graduating high school senior at the time of application, and reside in one of the four eligible regions (North Carolina falls in Region II).
- North Carolina Sheriffs Association Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Applicants should be North Carolina residents enrolled full time in a criminal justice program, with priority given to children and relatives of North Carolina sheriffs, deputies, and other law enforcement officers.
- William Vatavuk Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants should be graduating high school seniors of accredited high schools in North Carolina who plan to attend a two- or four-year college or university and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
- APIASF/United Health Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants should be planning to pursue a career in healthcare, demonstrate a commitment to serving underserved communities, reside in an eligible state (including North Carolina), and enroll full time in an accredited college or university.
Amount: $5,000 per year
- Bruce Shelton Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants should be graduating seniors from a Forsyth County public high school, have excelled in at least one varsity sport, have participated in at least one extracurricular activity, have a 3.0 GPA, and demonstrate leadership skills
Resources for Students in North Carolina
Below are five higher education resources for students of online colleges and universities in North Carolina.
- College Foundation of North Carolina: The College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) is a free resource provided by a network of North Carolina higher education institutions. The CFNC website contains information to help students plan for college, navigate the admissions process, obtain financial aid, and more.
- North Carolina State Department of Education: The North Carolina State Department of Education website contains student resources on high school graduation requirements, financial aid, taking the SAT and ACT, the UNC system, the NC community college system, and more. It also includes information for students with disabilities.
- Open Education North Carolina: The Open Education North Carolina project is dedicated to making education more affordable and accessible by offering free open textbooks commonly used in courses taught in two- and four-year college and university curriculums. The project is managed by faculty, administrators, and librarians.
- Work in the Triangle: The Work in the Triangle website is a resource created by Wake County Economic Development in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. It provides information about living, working, and learning in the metropolitan areas of these North Carolina cities. This is a helpful resource for graduates looking for jobs in North Carolina.
- North Carolina Association on Higher Education and Disability: NCAHEAD is an organization dedicated to fostering a supportive higher education experience for students with disabilities. They host conferences and events concerning disabilities and host a job board on their website.
Online Schools in North Carolina
Appalachian State University
- Graduation Rate: 66%
- Average Net Price: $13,626
- Graduation Rate: 48%
- Average Net Price: $21,073
Buies Creek, NC
- Graduation Rate: 51%
- Average Net Price: $24,470
Carolina College of Biblical Studies
- Graduation Rate: 50%
- Average Net Price: $12,378
- Graduation Rate: 24%
- Average Net Price: $18,999
East Carolina University
- Graduation Rate: 58%
- Average Net Price: $15,298
Boiling Springs, NC
- Graduation Rate: 45%
- Average Net Price: $20,268
Grace College of Divinity
- Graduation Rate: 50%
- Average Net Price: $7,075
- Graduation Rate: 35%
- Average Net Price: $21,806
Heritage Bible College
- Graduation Rate: 6%
- Average Net Price: $10,321
John Wesley University
High Point, NC
- Graduation Rate: 18%
- Average Net Price: $15,982
Banner Elk, NC
- Graduation Rate: 34%
- Average Net Price: $20,725
Mars Hill University
Mars Hill, NC
- Graduation Rate: 46%
- Average Net Price: $17,911
- Graduation Rate: 42%
- Average Net Price: $19,591
North Carolina A & T State University
- Graduation Rate: 43%
- Average Net Price: $12,466
North Carolina Central University
- Graduation Rate: 43%
- Average Net Price: $13,203
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
- Graduation Rate: 71%
- Average Net Price: $13,439
- Graduation Rate: 41%
- Average Net Price: $16,896
Piedmont International University
- Graduation Rate: 32%
- Average Net Price: $15,517
University of Mount Olive
Mount Olive, NC
- Graduation Rate: 44%
- Average Net Price: $13,844
Fayetteville State University
- Graduation Rate: 31%
- Average Net Price: $9,754
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- Graduation Rate: 54%
- Average Net Price: $13,507
University of North Carolina at Pembroke
- Graduation Rate: 34%
- Average Net Price: $12,682
University of North Carolina Wilmington
- Graduation Rate: 69%
- Average Net Price: $15,463
Western Carolina University
- Graduation Rate: 48%
- Average Net Price: $13,804
Winston-Salem State University
- Graduation Rate: 40%
- Average Net Price: $10,900
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
- Graduation Rate: 53%
- Average Net Price: $12,481
University of North Carolina at Asheville
- Graduation Rate: 55%
- Average Net Price: $13,007
William Peace University
- Graduation Rate: 31%
- Average Net Price: $19,951
St Andrews University
- Graduation Rate: 35%
- Average Net Price: $22,700