Best Colleges in North Carolina – Introduction
Looking for your dream school? You might turn to some of the best colleges in North Carolina.
With its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and bustling cities, North Carolina has a lot to offer. The best universities in North Carolina come in all shapes and sizes, from urban research institutions to small liberal arts colleges. So, if you’re looking for the best colleges in NC, you’ll have plenty of options.
The best colleges in North Carolina have many benefits, including prominent athletics programs and bountiful opportunities. Additionally, the best colleges in North Carolina offer students an alternative to the cold weather typical of northeastern campuses. With so much variety among the best colleges in NC, they might be a great fit for your college list.
In this article, we’re going to look at the best universities in North Carolina. We’ll break down the many different higher education options that North Carolina has to offer: private and public universities in North Carolina, community colleges in North Carolina, and even some of the best business schools in NC. We’ll also look at our colleges in North Carolina map and discuss where the best colleges in NC are located. And, most importantly, we’ll help you figure out how to choose the best colleges in North Carolina for you.
First things first, let’s check out some of the most prominent schools located in North Carolina.
What schools are in North Carolina?
If the best colleges in North Carolina have caught your attention, then you’ve probably already heard of a few of the most prominent universities in the state.
Later, we’ll discuss the details of some of the best colleges in North Carolina and even look at a colleges in North Carolina map. But for now, let’s look at a snapshot of some of the most well-known schools in the state.
Duke consistently ranks as the #1 university in NC on a myriad of best colleges in North Carolina lists. Located in Durham, this elite private university provides students with a “superior liberal education.” Not only does Duke want to educate—they also hope to prepare students to be leaders in their communities with high ethical and moral standards.
Based on rankings alone, Duke is truly the best of the best colleges in NC. However, with the Duke ranking so high, students will need to make sure to craft a highly competitive application.
University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
UNC-Chapel Hill is another great school, sitting near the top of several best colleges in North Carolina lists. On Niche’s 2023 Best Colleges in North Carolina list, UNC Chapel Hill ranks as #3. Forbes places the UNC ranking as #28 on their 2022 Best College list. Additionally, Wall Street Journal places the UNC ranking at #1 among public universities in the south.
UNC is a much larger university than Duke—the school has an undergraduate population of almost 20,000. However, both are considered among the best colleges in NC.
Wake Forest University
Larger than Duke, but smaller than UNC Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University has an undergraduate population of almost 9,000 students. Located in Winston-Salem, Wake Forest is one of the best private schools in North Carolina. It has a motto of “pro humanitate,” meaning “for humanity.”
Wake Forest emphasizes service and community as some of its key values. The school is also ranked as #23 in U.S. News’ Best Value list. This means that students can get a quality education at an “affordable” price with many financial aid and scholarship options.
UNC Charlotte is another one of the best colleges in North Carolina. The school has an undergraduate enrollment of just under 25,000 students. While it may not rank as highly as Duke or UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte is still one of the best universities in North Carolina and offers boundless opportunities for students.
Some of the best colleges in North Carolina fall within the 17-school University of North Carolina system (including UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Charlotte). This system is home to high-quality public universities within the state. Nearly 250,000 students are enrolled within the UNC system. Later in this guide, we’ll take a closer look at more of the UNC schools.
For some students, the best colleges in North Carolina might extend beyond typical four-year institutions. So, keep in mind the many community colleges in North Carolina when conducting your college search. Community colleges in North Carolina are a great option for many students. Any of the community colleges in North Carolina can serve as a stepping stone in your education. For example, attending one of the many community colleges in North Carolina can help you later transfer to another one of the best colleges in NC. Attending one of the community colleges in North Carolina can also help limit costs for the first year or two of your education.
How many colleges are in North Carolina?
So, just how many colleges are in North Carolina? Well, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 69 four-year institutions in North Carolina. These include both public and private colleges in North Carolina. However, note that this figure does not include two-year community colleges in North Carolina.
Students interested in the best universities in North Carolina will have no shortage of quality options. There are a variety of public universities in North Carolina, private universities in North Carolina, and community colleges in North Carolina for students to choose from. And with so many different choices, you’re sure to find a good match for you.
For example, are you obsessed with protecting the environment and living sustainably? Well, one of the best universities in North Carolina shares this core value. Appalachian State University offers over 2,000 courses on sustainability.
Introducing the UNC System
We’ve discussed how the University of North Carolina system makes up 16 of the best colleges in North Carolina. Additionally, we’ve already mentioned UNC-Chapel Hill, which is considered one of the public Ivies. Now, let’s look at some other schools in the UNC system.
First on our list of these best colleges in NC is UNC Charlotte. The UNC Charlotte campus is located in a metropolitan area and offers 75 Bachelor’s degree programs. It’s a large university with a student body of 30,000.
In fact, there are actually two UNC campuses within Charlotte. One is a 1000-acre campus in University City, while the other is uptown and aims to serve the local community and urban center. With that in mind, UNC Charlotte upholds a mission of public service and community involvement.
We understand that the UNC Charlotte ranking may not seem as impressive when compared to those of Duke or UNC Chapel Hill. However, the UNC Charlotte ranking for undergraduate teaching is quite high—#66 according to U.S. News.
Colleges in Coastal North Carolina
Alternatively, students looking for a respite from city life would do well at the UNC Wilmington location. Located on the coast, this campus has earned recognition as one of the most beautiful campuses in the South. Almost 18,000 students attend UNC Wilmington. The university emphasizes the integration of teaching, mentoring, research, and service throughout all of their degree programs.
Now that we’ve covered a couple of the public universities in North Carolina, let’s move onto some of the private universities in North Carolina. Davidson College ranks as #1 on Niche’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges in North Carolina. There are just under 2,000 students enrolled at Davidson. The campus is located in a smaller setting, but it’s just a short drive from Charlotte. So, students opting for a small school will likely prefer this school as compared to those within the UNC system.
Wake Forest College and Duke University are both high-ranking private research institutions in North Carolina. However, another high-ranking private research university that we haven’t yet mentioned is Elon University. Elon is lauded for its academic excellence, ranked #1 for undergraduate teaching by U.S. News. And with a reputation for excellent teaching, it’s no surprise that students here will enjoy personalized attention in the classroom with an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Small Liberal Arts Colleges
Davidson is one of the top-ranked liberal arts colleges in North Carolina. The Davidson College ranking is high—#15 among liberal arts colleges nationwide.
Given the high Davidson College ranking both in North Carolina and in the nation, it’s no secret that this school has a sparkling reputation. Students at Davidson can expect a lot of attention from professors in a quaint, small-town setting.
While rankings aren’t everything, the Davidson College ranking on various lists highlights its prestige. We’ll also share more details about the Davidson ranking when we dive into private schools in North Carolina later in this article.
Overall, whether you’re interested in private, public, or even community colleges in North Carolina, you’ll have no shortage of choices. Additionally, you’d get an excellent education at any one of these top institutions. Beyond the best colleges in North Carolina, many of the schools in this state are among the best in the nation.
Colleges in North Carolina Map
As you consider the best colleges in North Carolina for you, think about college location. Do you want to be in a big city or small town? Would you prefer a school near the mountains or on the coast?
Considering the college setting will help you visualize the type of college experience that you could have on campus. So, check out our colleges in North Carolina map above to understand where different schools within the state are located.
Interestingly, many of the best universities in North Carolina are located close to one another. However, you’ll still find colleges spread across the state. For example, Duke is located in Durham, which is quite close to UNC Chapel Hill. Additionally, Wake Forest is in Winston-Salem, which is just over an hour from Charlotte.
Logically, some of the most prominent cities in the state are home to the best colleges in North Carolina. Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham are all homes to top universities. This means that there will be a vibrant university culture in certain sections of the city. And if you’re interested in the best college towns, Durham made our list!
Public Universities in North Carolina
Location is certainly an important factor when creating your own best colleges in NC list. However, it’s also crucial to understand the types of universities and how they differ.
Public universities differ from private universities in that their funding comes from the government. By contrast, private universities in North Carolina (or anywhere in the U.S.) depend on tuition and private contributions in order to fund their institutions.
Public universities often have a more affordable tuition cost upon first glance, especially to those attending within their home state. For example, the cost of in-state tuition at UNC Chapel Hill is $7,020, whereas the out-of-state tuition cost is $37,360. When considering how to pay for college, that number could be a deciding factor in where you attend school. Additionally, public universities usually, but not necessarily always, offer more scholarships and benefits to in-state applicants.
For that reason, you’ll notice that many (not all) of the best universities in North Carolina have a larger in-state student body. For example, East Carolina University only has 10% of their student body from out-of-state.
Most Well-Known Public Universities in North Carolina
One of the best colleges in NC is North Carolina State University, a public university that’s invested in providing students with an affordable education. NCSU also happens to be among the top research institutions in the nation. In fact, Money ranked NCSU as #73 on their 2022 Best Colleges list.
The most well-known public universities in North Carolina are the 17 members of the UNC system. In fact, it was North Carolina that first introduced the nation to the idea of a public university. This prompted the creation of the University of North Carolina system, home to some of the best public universities in the nation. The goal of this public university system is to provide affordable, quality education that benefits the state of North Carolina and its residents.
What’s the top-ranking choice within the UNC system? UNC Chapel Hill is probably the most well-known and renowned pick. Interested in applying? Check out our UNC essay guide and our how to get into UNC Chapel Hill guide in order to maximize your admissions odds.
Which University of North Carolina is best?
As we’ve seen so far, there are many contenders when it comes to comparing the best colleges in North Carolina. Still, that may make you wonder: which of these “best colleges in NC” is actually the best?
According to U.S. News, Duke University is at the top of the best colleges in North Carolina list.
The Duke ranking from U.S. News on its Best Colleges list is #10. However, when it comes to North Carolina, it’s the #1 college in the state.
As you may recall from the colleges in North Carolina map, Duke University is located in Durham, which is considered a trendy city with a large student population. There are many cultural events as well as plenty of nature. Additionally, Durham is affordable compared to other larger cities in the nation. Students attending Duke will have ample opportunities for fun or work within the city.
Digging Deeper into Duke University
Duke is an elite private research institution renowned not only within the state, but all over the nation. The acceptance rate is competitive at just 6%. This low acceptance rate stems partly from the national college rankings, which consistently place Duke among the top universities.
Additionally, Duke’s campus life attracts many students who want a “traditional” college experience with a vibrant campus life. The campus is 8,600 acres, which makes it feel like its own mini city, with many restaurants, stores, and transit. Athletics at Duke are also a large point of interest; they have 27 Varsity Division I teams. So, no matter your interests, you’re certain to find something to get involved in at Duke.
Finding Your North Carolina Fit
That being said, there are many other good schools all over North Carolina. With such a competitive acceptance rate, Duke will likely be a reach school for most students. If you’re hoping to impress Duke admissions, you’ll need to carefully plan your application strategy. It will take much more than a good SAT score and an above average GPA in order to get an acceptance letter from Duke. Check out our Duke essay guide and this webinar to learn more about the admissions process. Intimidated by the cost of tuition at Duke? Well, you may not have to be. Learn more about how one student paid for Duke.
Additionally, remember that Duke may not be the best fit for you. Consider also looking into schools such as Wake Forest or North Carolina State University. In fact, the North Carolina State ranking may impress you. Coming in at #72 on U.S. News nationwide best colleges list, the North Carolina State ranking makes it one of the best colleges in North Carolina.
Start Your Search Early
Whatever you’re looking for in your college experience, the best colleges in North Carolina will not disappoint. When starting your college search, you should first consider your personal preferences and goals in order to create your best universities in North Carolina list.
For example, if you’re set on attending a top-ranking business school, then you may want to expand your search outside of the state. However, many schools within NC will provide an exceptional business education, even if they don’t appear on the “best universities for business” lists.
Best Private Colleges in North Carolina
We’ve talked about public universities in North Carolina above, but what about the private universities in North Carolina? While the private universities in North Carolina may seem more expensive than public options, especially for in-state residents, they often provide financial aid and scholarship opportunities for qualifying students. So, don’t rule out private universities in North Carolina based on cost alone!
Unsurprisingly, Duke University is one of the best private universities in North Carolina. Duke has an undergraduate enrollment of about 6,800. With 10 different schools housing a myriad of majors from different disciplines, students will be able to study whatever they desire at Duke.
Alternatives to Duke University
Davidson College is another one of the best private universities in North Carolina. The Davidson College ranking from U.S. News’ Best Liberal Arts Schools is #15. Niche has Davidson College ranking #1 on their 2023 Best Small Colleges in NC list. Additionally, Forbes has Davidson College ranking at #69 on their 2022 Top Colleges list.
Even more impressively, the Davidson College ranking on Forbes’ Private Colleges list is #44. Additionally, the Davidson College ranking on Forbes’ Best Liberal Arts Universities is #13. What’s the Davidson College ranking among southern schools? Well, Forbes has the Davidson College ranking at #16 among schools in the south.
With Davidson ranking so high on various lists, it will come as no surprise that it’s a very selective school with an acceptance rate of 18%. The undergraduate enrollment is just under 2,000. With a small campus, students looking for a small school with a tight-knit community will be happy at Davidson. Although it is small in size, Davidson provides its students with over 70 majors and minors to choose from.
Concerned that the impressive Davidson College ranking has made it more expensive? Well, you’ll be happy to know that U.S. News actually has Davidson ranking #10 on their Best Value Schools list.
Wake Forest University
Another one of the best private universities in North Carolina, Wake Forest University is located in Winston-Salem. Wake Forest has an undergraduate enrollment of about 5,000 students. The Wake Forest ranking according to U.S. News is #29 on its Best Colleges list. The Wake Forest ranking on their Best Value School list is #23, quite a bit higher than the Davidson College ranking. The acceptance rate is 25%.
Want to learn more about this top school? Check out what life on campus is like at Wake Forest. And if you’re hoping to eventually enroll at this school, plan ahead! Check out our “how to get into Wake Forest” guide in order to craft your most competitive application.
Next, let’s look at another small college in North Carolina—Salem College. Probably one of the smallest best private universities in North Carolina, Salem College has an undergraduate enrollment of 367 students. Logically, it has a small campus located in the city of Salem.
This small private college ranks as #1 in Social Mobility amongst liberal arts schools in the nation. Although the Davidson College ranking is #1 on Niche’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges in NC, Salem is still one of the best liberal arts schools in the state.
Known as a leader in providing quality education, Elon University is among the best private universities in North Carolina. The undergraduate enrollment is 6,000 with a higher acceptance rate at 78%. According to U.S. News, the Elon University ranking is #89 in National Universities. The campus is in a suburban setting in Elon, NC.
Differing from most private liberal arts universities, Elon offers degree programs in business, communications, law, education, and health sciences. Forget about the Elon University ranking when taking it into consideration, as it may not be impressive as the Davidson College ranking. Instead, check out what life would be like on campus.
Art Schools in North Carolina
Interested in seriously studying the arts? Well, then the public universities in North Carolina, private universities in North Carolina, and community colleges in North Carolina may not have exactly caught your attention.
However, one of the best schools in North Carolina is actually an arts conservatory. At UNCSA, you can get an excellent education in artistic fields. As a conservatory, USNCA does not offer liberal arts or STEM majors, instead focusing wholly on artistic programs. Check out all that UNCSA has to offer on their website.
Curating Your College List
And, don’t forget that your best colleges list will vary greatly from other students and even the national rankings. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that college rankings can’t tell us everything about a school. For example, the Campbell University ranking may not catch your attention, but it could certainly be one of the best private schools in North Carolina for you. In fact, the Campbell University ranking tells us nothing about how you’d feel as a student on campus at Campbell.
Likewise, you may have been impressed by the Davidson College ranking on various lists. However, the Davidson College ranking won’t matter much if you want to attend a large public school. The Davidson College ranking, and other college rankings, only go so far in your personal college search. While the Davidson College ranking may have been high according to “official” lists, your preferences may make Elon the best school for you.
So, keep an open mind during your college search. Additionally, take time to consider things like college size, campus life, and academic programs. Don’t rely solely on statistics, or you could miss out on some of the best schools in North Carolina.
What Ivy League school is in North Carolina?
When considering all of the best universities in North Carolina, you may wonder if the state is home to an Ivy League school. There are actually only eight Ivy League universities in the nation. These prestigious institutions are all located in the Northeast (NY, CT, NJ, PA, MA).
However, a school doesn’t need to technically be an Ivy League school to provide students with an elite and prestigious education. For example, Duke University often gets confused with an Ivy due to its esteemed reputation. UNC-Chapel Hill is considered to be one of the “public Ivies,” meaning that it’s one of the best public universities in the nation.
So, while there are no Ivy League universities in North Carolina, many of the best colleges in NC are quite elite and prestigious. If you’re interested in applying to an Ivy League or one of the best colleges in North Carolina but don’t know where to start, consider seeking out help from an experienced advisor or counselor.
Top Twenty Best Colleges in NC
Courtesy of U.S. News, the following is a list of the top twenty best colleges in NC. For each of the best colleges in North Carolina, we’ll include key details about their college location, acceptance rate, and academic programs. So, keep reading to learn more about the best universities in North Carolina!
1. Duke University
The top five majors at Duke are computer science, economics, public policy, biology, and electrical and computer engineering. The school is also well-known for its Duke Health program, which is made up of the School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Private Diagnostic Clinic, and the Duke University Health System.
Duke is a need-blind school, which means that the admissions office will evaluate you on your merit and academic profile alone, not on your ability to pay for tuition. That being said, tuition at Duke is costly – roughly $60,000 per year. However, don’t let the price of tuition stop you from applying. There are plenty of ways to pay for college at Duke or at any of the other best universities in North Carolina.
Because Duke is one of the best universities in North Carolina, it receives thousands of applications each year. So, you’ll want to do everything you can to stand out in the admissions process. That includes writing top-notch supplemental essays and watching webinars on all things Duke.
2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Next on the list of best colleges in NC is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Located in Chapel Hill, UNC has a 19% acceptance rate.
According to U.S. News, the UNC ranking is #29 in National Universities, making it one of the best colleges in North Carolina. Additionally, UNC is also considered a Public Ivy. Unlike Ivy League universities, Public Ivies are not an official group of universities. Instead, Public Ivies refer to universities that provide a prestigious education (similar to that of Ivy Leagues), but at a public university sticker price.
UNC offers over 95 undergraduate degree programs. The top five majors at UNC include biology, media and journalism, psychology, business administration, and computer science.
Similar to Duke, getting accepted into UNC is tough. To ensure that you are a highly qualified candidate, be sure to write compelling UNC supplemental essays, earn good test scores, and strive for a high GPA.
3. Wake Forest University
U.S. News lists the Wake Forest ranking as #29 in National Universities. Wake Forest is a private university with a curriculum based on the liberal arts. Wake Forest offers over 45 majors and 60 minors for undergraduate students.
Learn more about how to get into Wake Forest by reading our guide here.
4. North Carolina State University
Next on the list of best colleges in NC is North Carolina State University. Located in Raleigh, NC State has a 45% acceptance rate.
NC State is a research university and offers more than 100 majors. The North Carolina State ranking is #2 for best public college in North Carolina for value according to Monay.com. Money.com also ranks NC State as #73 among universities nationwide.
5. Elon University
Fifth on the list of best colleges in NC is Elon University. Elon is located in Elon, NC and has a 78% acceptance rate.
According to U.S. News, the Elon University ranking is #89 in National Universities. Students at Elon work closely with faculty in an experiential learning model, making the Elon University ranking #6 in Most Innovative Schools. Elon offers over 70+ majors and operates on a 4-1-4 academic calendar, which includes two four-month-long semesters and a January mini-term.
6. University of North Carolina – Wilmington
UNCW is one of the 17 colleges and universities in the University of North Carolina system. UNCW offers 48+ majors and prides its curriculum on a dedication to learning through a combination of research, service, teaching, and mentoring.
7. University of North Carolina – Greensboro
UNC Greensboro offers over 175+ majors and concentrations.
8. University of North Carolina – Charlotte
According to U.S. News, the UNC Charlotte ranking is #219 in National Universities. UNC Charlotte has 7 academic colleges that offer over 75 bachelor’s degree programs.
9. East Carolina University
ECU offers over 87 bachelor’s degrees. The top five undergraduate majors at ECU are nursing, management, biology, marketing, and psychology.
10. Western Carolina University
WCU is surrounded by the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains and is recognized as a top adventure college. It offers over 120+ undergraduate degrees, minors, and concentrations.
11. Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State is one of the HBCU schools in North Carolina. It offers over 39 baccalaureate degrees and 50 undergraduate minors.
12. Campbell University
Campbell is an inclusive Christian university with 150+ majors and minors for undergraduates. U.S. News lists the Campbell University ranking at #299 National Universities. Additionally, the Campbell University ranking is near the top 20% nationally for return on investment.
13. North Carolina A&T Technical State University
At #13 on the list of best colleges in North Carolina is North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. N.C. A&T is located in Greensboro and has a 57% acceptance rate.
N.C. A&T offers over 117 undergraduate degree programs. N.C. A&T is an HBCU and is well-known for its engineering programs.
14. Davidson College
Davidson College is next on the list of best colleges in North Carolina. Located in Davidson, NC, Davidson College has an 18% acceptance rate. U.S. News lists the Davidson College ranking as #10 in Best Value Schools.
Davidson offers 37 majors, plus a “create your own” major through their Center for Interdisciplinary Studies.
15. Salem College
Salem College is a liberal arts school for women that offers over 25 majors for undergraduates.
16. Meredith College
Meredith College is also a women’s liberal arts college. It offers more than 90 majors, minors, and academic programs.
17. University of North Carolina Asheville
UNC Asheville has over 500 first-generation college students within its undergraduate program. The top five most popular majors at UNC Asheville include psychology, environmental studies, mass communication, biology, and management.
18. High Point University
The most popular majors at High Point are Business, Communication, Journalism, Parks and Recreation, and Kinesiology.
19. Catawba College
Catawba has over 70 academic programs, including strong science and pre-professional opportunities.
20. Appalachian State University
Appalachian State offers more than 150 undergraduate degree programs.
Now that we know more about the top twenty best colleges in NC, let’s find out which one is at the top of the list of best colleges in North Carolina.
Best HBCU in North Carolina
Among the best colleges in NC are some of the best HBCU schools. In this section, we’ll walk you through the 10 best HBCUs in North Carolina.
There are 107 HBCU schools in the United States. An HBCU is a Historically Black College or University. As a Black student, or even a first-generation student, you’ll want to be able to meet others with shared lived experiences. Many Black students may decide to attend HBCU schools because of the institutions’ communities, values, and histories.
As you choose a college, pay attention to college size. The majority of these HBCUs are small institutions that allow students to be a part of a small, close community with shared values. Additionally, many HBCUs in North Carolina are affordable, particularly for in-state students. This makes these HBCUs some of the best colleges in North Carolina.
Below, you’ll find our ranking of the top HBCUs in North Carolina. Keep in mind that this ranking is not definitive—some HBCUs in North Carolina are larger research universities, while others are small liberal arts colleges. So, you should focus on finding the best HBCU in North Carolina for you, regardless of college rankings.
Top HBCUs in North Carolina:
Winston-Salem State University is ranked at #285 nationally according to U.S. News. Alongside its undergraduate programs, WSSU is home to one of the few historically black nursing schools in the country. The university offers strong programs in various medical fields as well as other areas.
WSSU has an undergraduate enrollment of about 4,700 and an acceptance rate of 73%. Most students study within the College of Arts, Sciences, Business, and Education as it includes a variety of academic disciplines.
Founded in 1891, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is nationally recognized for its engineering and STEM programs. The school is ranked #299 by U.S. News.
This HBCU has an urban college setting, located in the large city of Greensboro. With an enrollment just over 11,000, students can build close relationships with their professors while enjoying the benefits of a larger university. The acceptance rate is 57%.
Tied at number 3 and located in Charlotte, NC, Johnson C. Smith University offers students access to bountiful opportunities through its urban location. U.S. News ranks this school at #156-201 among national liberal arts colleges. It offers a wide variety of academic programs across all major disciplines.
The undergraduate population is about 1,200, which provides students with a strong sense of community in one of North Carolina’s largest cities. The school’s acceptance rate is 45%.
Also, considered the third best HBCU in North Carolina, Bennett College is located in Greensboro, NC. It is a private college for women. The institution aims to empower and educate women to be future leaders in their fields. Bennett College is ranked #156-201 among national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News.
The undergraduate enrollment is just 232, making this one of the smallest HBCUs in the nation. The school’s acceptance rate is 73%.
Located in Elizabeth City, NC, Elizabeth City State University has a rural setting. According to U.S. News, ESCU is ranked #32 among regional universities in the South. Its most popular majors include business and law enforcement.
With less than 2000 students, ECSU provides a personalized teaching environment and a close-knit campus community. The school’s acceptance rate is 77%.
Located in the suburban setting of Salisbury, this Christian university has a small campus of 75 acres and undergraduate enrollment of just 890. The school is ranked #68 among regional colleges in the South by U.S. News.
Livingstone College aims to provide students with a holistic education designed to help them succeed. The acceptance rate is 51%.
This public university has an undergraduate population of around 5,600. FSU boasts a “family atmosphere,” with small class sizes and a low student-to-faculty ratio. Popular majors include nursing, psychology, and business. The school has an acceptance rate of 83%.
While U.S. News does not rank FSU among national universities, the school comes in at #72 among regional universities in the South.
Tied at number eight is Shaw University, a private HBCU affiliated with the Baptist Church and located in Raleigh, NC. Founded in 1865, Shaw is one of the oldest HBCUs in the nation. The school’s prime location also gives students the chance to enjoy the benefits and opportunities that come with a city setting.
Also, sitting at number eight is St. Augustine’s University, a private, Catholic HBCU located in Raleigh. U.S. News ranks St. Augustine’s at #76-99 among regional universities in the South. The school has a rich history, particularly in the nursing field—it’s home to the first nursing school in the state specifically for Black students.
Like other HBCUs in North Carolina, St. Augustine’s has a small enrollment—just 1,180. The school has an acceptance rate of 75%.
What is the best college in North Carolina?
Based on college rankings alone, Duke University is #1 out of all the colleges in North Carolina.
However, college rankings aren’t everything – what matters most is that you find the right college in North Carolina (or elsewhere) for you.
Colleges in Charlotte, North Carolina
Are you interested in attending college in a major city with a modern city center and plenty of notable art, theater, professional sports, dining, and nightlife attractions? If your answer is yes, then you might want to study at one of the many colleges in Charlotte, North Carolina.
So, how many colleges are in North Carolina, or Charlotte specifically? There are 12 four-year colleges in Charlotte, North Carolina and its greater metropolitan area. We’ll highlight the top three colleges in Charlotte, North Carolina below. For each of the colleges in Charlotte, North Carolina, we’ll provide an explanation of where the college location is in relation to the city, along with some of their unique opportunities and offerings.
Like we mentioned above, Davidson is one of the best colleges in North Carolina. It is located just 19 miles north of Charlotte in the town of Davidson. According to U.S. News, the Davidson College ranking is #15 in National Liberal Arts Universities.
Davidson College offers small-town charm, character, and values in a close-knit campus community. Since Davidson is so close to the major metropolitan city of Charlotte, students have plenty of opportunities for outdoor and cultural activities.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
UNC Charlotte also made the list of best colleges in North Carolina. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is located in the northeastern University City neighborhood, approximately 10 miles from uptown Charlotte.
The UNC Charlotte ranking is #219 in National Universities, according to U.S. News. UNCC is Charlotte’s preeminent research university located in a vibrant 1,000-acre campus. Students at UNCC can enjoy access to outdoor adventures, city life, and pro sports games.
Queens University of Charlotte
Located just minutes from uptown Charlotte in the Myers Park neighborhood is Queens University of Charlotte. Queens University offers students unlimited opportunities to eat, play, and live within one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the nation.
There are over 300+ events hosted annually at Queens, many of which are created in collaboration with the city of Charlotte.
What is the largest university in North Carolina?
According to U.S. News, North Carolina State University is the largest of the colleges in North Carolina, with over 26,000 undergraduates. NC State was also included inour list of best colleges in North Carolina.
When you search for colleges, you’ll want to consider factors like college size as you are building your college list. College size refers to how large a college is and how many students are on campus.
Not everyone does well in all types of educational settings, which is one reason why the size of a college might factor into your college list. Some of the larger colleges in North Carolina will have both undergraduate and graduate students on campus, while other smaller colleges in North Carolina might only have undergraduate students. Community colleges in North Carolina also range in size.
What is the hardest college to get into in North Carolina?
You might be wondering what school, out of all the colleges in North Carolina, is the hardest to get into. We can report that Duke University is the North Carolina school with the lowest acceptance rate (6%).
U.S. News lists the Duke ranking as #10 in the nation. Duke University is also specifically renowned for its engineering program. In fact, the Duke ranking comes in at #16 for Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs.
Because the acceptance rate is so competitive and the programs are highly ranked, Duke University is at the top of the list for best colleges in North Carolina. This also makes Duke the hardest college to get into in NC.
Best Business Schools in NC
Niche ranked the best colleges in NC for business. Below, we’ll highlight the top 5 colleges in North Carolina for business. We’ll provide key details about their business programs, including acceptance rates and enrollment statistics. If you are interested in studying business, then these colleges in North Carolina should be on your college list.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
First on the list of best business schools in NC is UNC-Chapel Hill. The UNC ranking is #18 for best business schools in America. Students can apply to the Undergraduate Business Program at UNC in their sophomore year. However, a limited number of students receive admission through the assured enrollment program.
The business program at UNC is highly selective, as each class size is approximately 350 students.
Admitted students prepare for future careers through action-based learning, mastering skills like problem-solving, collaboration, and teamwork, while developing solutions to real-world problems.
Wake Forest University
Next on the list of best business schools in NC is Wake Forest University. The Wake Forest ranking is #20 for best business schools in America. The Wake Forest School of Business offers programs for undergraduates in Accountancy, Business and Enterprise Management, Finance, and Mathematical Business.
Admission to the School of Business is competitive, as each class has a total of just 298 enrolled students. Like UNC, students apply to the Wake Forest School of Business in the spring semester of their sophomore year.
Students at Wake Forest can learn in a supportive environment while receiving individual attention, real-world experiences, and personalized guidance to reach their desired career.
North Carolina State University
Third on the list of best business schools in NC is North Carolina State University. The North Carolina State ranking is #51 on the list of best colleges for business in America. There are approximately 3,600 students in the NC State business school.
Students in the NC State business school spend their first year exploring areas of study before choosing to major in Accounting, Business Administration, or Economics.
University of North Carolina – Wilmington
Next on the list of best business schools in NC is University of North Carolina – Wilmington. UNC Wilmington is ranked #118 on the list of best colleges for business in America.
Students interested in the UNC Wilmington business school must select the Pre-Business or Pre-Economics major on their college application. Once students meet the business school’s admission criteria, they may apply for admission.
University of North Carolina – Greensboro
Fifth on the list of best business schools in NC is University of North Carolina – Greensboro. UNC Greensboro is ranked #265 on the list of best colleges for business in America.
There are approximately 3,410 undergraduate students in the UNC Greensboro business school. Students in the UNC Greensboro business school can choose from eleven undergraduate programs to study.
Other colleges in North Carolina to explore
We have already covered most of the well-known colleges in North Carolina, but there are many more to consider. Below are a few additional colleges in North Carolina that you may add to your own best colleges in NC list.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts
UNCSA is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Founded in 1963, UNCSA is the #1 creative and performing arts conservatory in the United States. It has a 36% acceptance rate and a total enrollment of 1,300 students.
UNCSA has five conservatories that students can apply to by audition or portfolio review: Dance, Design & Production, Drama, Filmmaking, and Music.
Johnson & Wales University – Charlotte
JWU Charlotte is known for its culinary education program which offers Associates, Bachelors, and Masters degrees.
Offering students a liberal arts curriculum focused on the Methodist faith, Pfeiffer is a small university in Misenheimer, NC. The school has an acceptance rate of 76% and a total enrollment of 1,100 students.
Choosing the best college in NC for you
Choosing from the best colleges in North Carolina is a very personal choice. Before you decide on the best college in NC for you, be sure to consider various factors like location, college setting, cost, and programs.
There are plenty of positive features about colleges in North Carolina, including highly ranked academic programs, athletic programs, and career opportunities post-graduation. The best colleges in North Carolina are all over the state, so be sure to research both public universities in North Carolina and private universities in North Carolina to find the right college setting for you.
Best Colleges in North Carolina – Final Thoughts
We hope that our guide on the best colleges in North Carolina has helped you understand the many educational opportunities available in this state. With over 69 four-year institutions and community colleges in North Carolina, there are plenty of chances to discover the best schools in North Carolina for you.
And if none of the best colleges in NC or community colleges in North Carolina stood out to you, that’s okay! There are plenty of other college towns to research to find the best colleges for you. Comparing colleges is one of the first steps in the college application process to lead you to your dream school.
CollegeAdvisor is here to help you find and get accepted into the best universities in North Carolina and the best colleges for you. Register today to get one-on-one support from our expert advisors so that you can receive your college acceptance letter to one of the best colleges in North Carolina (or elsewhere!).
This article was written by Sarah Kaminski and advisor Claire Babbs. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.