Online colleges in north carolina

Top-Rated Online Colleges in North Carolina | Your Guide

As the demand for quality online education continues to grow in the state, students will be pleased to discover a host of top-rated online colleges in North Carolina spanning various fields and industries.


This comprehensive guide highlights the best accredited online institutions in the state, ensuring future learners lack for nothing in terms of North Carolina online education opportunities.


Students seeking high-quality online education in North Carolina have access to a wealth of diverse resources and acclaimed programs.

Key Takeaways

  • North Carolina offers many top-rated online colleges, including NC State, App State, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • These accredited online colleges are designed to meet the requirements of top industries and develop essential job skills.
  • SACSCOC serves as the principal accrediting body for online colleges.
  • The job market in North Carolina is experiencing rapid expansion, such as nursing, technology, and information security.

Exploring the Best Online Colleges in North Carolina

The best online universities in North Carolina are designed to help students not only earn their degrees but also prepare for well-paying careers in the market.


Schools in areas such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Winston Salem, and Durham make it more affordable and convenient for students to attain their educational goals.


East Carolina University, one of the top online colleges in North Carolina, offers a wide range of degree and certificate programs in areas such as business, healthcare, and education.


Catering to over 20,000 online students, North Carolina distance learning programs are both affordable and easily accessible.


The following institutions offer popular online degrees North Carolina students can choose from:

All data was thoroughly vetted and researched by our team. The information was gathered, cross-referenced, and is up to date as of 2023. 

Top Rated Program

North Carolina State University

Raleigh • 4 Years • Online + Campus

General Info
Website |
Student/Faculty Ratio | 16:1
Grant/Scholarship Aid | 75%
Room & Board | $12,748

NC State University’s Online and Distance Education programs offer a flexible, world-class educational experience.

Catering to a global student body, these programs provide over 120 diverse academic options in business, engineering, and design fields.

Average Undergrad Tuition

In-state                       $6,535
Out-of-state               $26,654

Average Graduate Tuition

In-state                       $6,535
Out-of-state               $26,654
SAT Optional                    Yes
Admission Rate               45%
Students Enrolled        36,304
Institution Type             Public
Online Enrollment            41% 
Accreditation                    Yes

Recognized for excellence, including high rankings in the 2022 U.S. News & World Report, NC State delivers courses that mirror the quality of its on-campus education.

Top Ranked NC State Online Degrees

Here are the top programs from NC State University’s Online and Distance Education:


  1. Leadership in the Public Sector (LPS): Ranked No. 10 nationally, this program has risen from the previous year’s ranking and is notable for its Quality Matters Program Review certification.
  2. Engineering Online: This program stands at No. 7 overall for best online graduate engineering programs, with several specializations achieving high rankings.
  3. Civil Engineering: Achieved the 4th rank nationally, showing a significant rise from the previous year.
  4. Mechanical Engineering: Also ranked 4th in the country, highlighting the strength of this specialization.
  5. Industrial and Electrical Engineering Programs: Both of these programs are within the top 10, with industrial engineering at 7th and electrical engineering at 8th.
  6. Jenkins Professional Online MBA: Ranked No. 20 overall with a specialty in business analytics that ranks No. 9.
  7. Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs: Positioned at No. 28, showcasing the program’s comprehensive curriculum and industry relevance.
  8. Graduate Education Programs: Earned the No. 46 spot, reflecting the quality of NC State’s education-focused offerings.
  9. Education Administration and Supervision Specialty: This particular focus within the education programs received the No. 20 spot nationally.

These rankings underscore NC State’s commitment to providing high-quality, accessible online education.


This is just a small sample of NC States online education offerings, with 120+ degrees and certification programs there is something for any prospective student.

Top Rated Program

Appalachian State University

Boone • 4 Years • Online + Campus

General Info
Website |
Student/Faculty Ratio | 16:1
Grant/Scholarship Aid | 45%
Room & Board | $11,582

Appalachian State University’s online platform revolutionizes higher education by offering diverse, flexible, and nationally recognized online degree and certificate programs.

Average Undergrad Tuition

In-state                       $7,450
Out-of-state               $23,454

Average Graduate Tuition

In-state                       $8,047
Out-of-state               $23,057
SAT Optional                    Yes
Admission Rate               83%
Students Enrolled        20,436
Institution Type             Public
Online Enrollment            46% 
Accreditation                    Yes

These programs include unique undergraduate degrees like the first fully online B.S. in Veterinary Technology and highly ranked graduate programs in business and nursing.


All online classes are delivered by the same faculty who teach on campus.

Top Ranked Appalachian State Online Degrees


  1. Online Bachelor’s Programs: Ranked within the top 31% of U.S. colleges and universities, App State Online offers a variety of bachelor’s degrees that are highly flexible and interactive, providing a quality education online.
  2. Online Master’s in Education Programs: This program placed as No. 93 out of 321 schools, offering top-tier curriculum and instruction programs, and educational administration and supervision, recognized among the top 25 schools in the nation.
  3. Best Business Programs: Ranked No. 30, or within the top 13% of schools, the online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) in management at App State is notable for its flexibility and quality, suitable for both full-time and part-time students.
  4. Online Master’s in Nursing Programs: App State’s online Master of Science in Nursing, focusing on educational creativity, nursing practice, leadership, and research, ranked No. 103 among 179 national schools, placing it within the top 58% of recognized programs.
  5. New Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology: As the first fully online program of its kind, it prepares students for employment in the growing veterinary medical profession and offers career advancement opportunities for those already in the field.

Top Rated Program

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill • 4 Years • Online + Campus

General Info
Website |
Student/Faculty Ratio | 17:1
Grant/Scholarship Aid | 59%
Room & Board | $12,254

UNC-Chapel Hill, known for its innovative teaching and groundbreaking research, provides an environment that fosters collaboration and a culture of educational excellence.

Average Undergrad Tuition

In-state                       $8,989
Out-of-state               $37,550

Average Graduate Tuition

In-state                      $12,527
Out-of-state                $30,819
SAT Optional                    Yes
Admission Rate               46%
Students Enrolled        31,705
Institution Type             Public
50th Percentile Score      1460 
Accreditation                    Yes

They offer a range of online programs, boot camps, and degrees making the prestigious Carolina public education accessible worldwide.

Top Ranked UNC Online Degrees

  1. Doctoral Programs: These terminal degrees are available online, allowing you to achieve the highest level of academic qualification in your field.
  2. Master’s Programs: The online master’s programs are designed to help you advance to the next career level.
  3. Undergraduate Courses: Online courses are available for credit towards undergraduate degrees.
  4. Certificates and Boot Camps: These offer career advancement paths through coaching from skilled instructors, project-based assignments, and 100% online instruction, culminating in a completion certificate.
  5. Continuing Education: For professionals, a variety of online continuing education programs are available, including on-demand modules, self-paced courses with live sessions, and webinars.

Top Rated Program

Western Carolina University

Cullowhee • 4 Years • Online + Campus

General Info
Website |
Student/Faculty Ratio | 16:1
Grant/Scholarship Aid | 55%
Room & Board | $11,173

Western Carolina University’s Distance Education program offers a unique and flexible way to achieve higher education goals.


Average Undergrad Tuition

In-state                       $4,453
Out-of-state                 $8,453

Average Graduate Tuition

In-state                       $6,535
Out-of-state                 $7,566
Retention Rate                71%
Admission Rate               85%
Students Enrolled        11,635
Institution Type             Public
50th Percentile Score      1150
Accreditation                    Yes

With the convenience of learning on your own schedule, WCU’s Distance Education stands out as a prime choice for those striving for academic success without sacrificing their daily commitments. Here are some notable programs offered at WCU:

Western Carolina University Online Degrees

  1. Business Administration and Law: This program combines key aspects of business with legal principles, ideal for those aiming to excel in the corporate world or legal aspects of business.
  2. Emergency and Disaster Management: Designed for those interested in managing responses to emergencies and disasters, this program covers critical planning, management, and response skills.
  3. Engineering Technology (Off-site/Hybrid Program): A program focusing on practical application of engineering principles, perfect for those seeking hands-on experience in engineering technology.
  4. Nurse Leadership: This graduate program is tailored for nurses seeking leadership roles in healthcare, emphasizing advanced nursing practices and management skills.
  5. Special Education (M.A.Ed.): Aimed at educators, this graduate program focuses on teaching methods and strategies to effectively educate students with special needs.

Top Rated Program

University of North Carolina Wilmington

Wilmington • 4 Years • Online + Campus

General Info
Website |
Student/Faculty Ratio | 17:1
Grant/Scholarship Aid | 50%
Room & Board | $12,120

The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) offers a diverse array of online education options that cater to various learning needs and life circumstances.


Whether you’re looking for undergraduate majors and minors, graduate degrees, or certificate options, UNCW has a variety of programs to suit your interests and career aspirations.

Average Undergrad Tuition

In-state                        $7,238
Out-of-state                $21,858

Average Graduate Tuition

In-state                       $7,514
Out-of-state                $21,899
Retention Rate                83%
Admission Rate               69%
Students Enrolled        17,843
Institution Type             Public
50th Percentile Score      1300 
Accreditation                    Yes

Consistently recognized for its high-quality online offerings in nursing, education, and business UNCW has a lot to offer.


With 62 different online degrees and certifications, plenty of great options exist. Here are some of the most popular programs. 

UNCW Online Degrees

  1. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): Offered both on campus and online, this program equips students with the essential skills and knowledge for a professional nursing career, focusing on patient care and healthcare standards.

  2. Master of Business Administration (MBA): Available online, this program aims to develop advanced skills in business management, strategy, and leadership, preparing graduates for executive roles in the corporate world.

  3. Master of Education in Academically or Intellectually Gifted Specialization (M.Ed.): This online program is tailored for educators who wish to specialize in teaching academically or intellectually gifted students, focusing on advanced instructional strategies and curriculum development.

  4. Master of Arts in Teaching in Art Education (MAT): An online program designed for aspiring art educators, this course combines artistic practice with teaching methodologies, preparing graduates to teach art at various educational levels.

  5. Business Analytics, M.S.: Offered both online and on campus, this master’s program emphasizes the use of data and analytics in business decision-making, providing students with in-depth knowledge in data analysis, statistical methods, and predictive modeling.

Each of these programs is structured to provide comprehensive education and training, preparing students for successful careers in their respective fields. Check out the UNCW website for all of the available online programs.

#1 Rated Program

East Carolina University

Greenville • 4 Years • Online + Campus

General Info
Website |
Student/Faculty Ratio | 18:1
Grant/Scholarship Aid | 65%
Room & Board | $10,816

East Carolina University (ECU), is renowned for its commitment to student success and innovation.


Boasting #1 online college in North Carolina and #6 in the Nation they offer a variety of online education options that see some of the state’s best medical grads.

Average Undergrad Tuition

In-state                        $7,325
Out-of-state                $23,602

Average Graduate Tuition

In-state                       $7,514
Out-of-state                $21,899
Retention Rate                 80%
Admission Rate                92%
Students Enrolled         27,151
Institution Type              Public
SAT                 Not Considered 
Accreditation                     Yes

Whether you’re looking to finish an existing degree or start a new educational journey, ECU Online’s broad spectrum of bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and certificate programs offers something for everyone.


Here are the top-rated offerings from ECU according to U.S. News & World Report:

ECU Online Degrees

    1. Master’s in Nursing Program: East Carolina University’s online Master’s in Nursing program, ranked #18, offers a comprehensive curriculum designed to advance nursing skills and leadership qualities in healthcare.

    2. Online Master’s in Nursing Administration Program: The university’s Master’s in Nursing Administration program, tied at #17, focuses on developing administrative and organizational skills essential for leadership roles in nursing.

    3. Online Master’s in Nursing Education Program: Ranked as the 7th best, this program prepares nurses for educational roles, blending advanced nursing practices with teaching methodologies.

    4. Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs: At #19, this program offers an in-depth study of the criminal justice system, emphasizing policy development and effective strategies for crime prevention and management.

    5. Master’s in Education Program: The Master’s in Education program, tied at #58, provides educators with advanced instructional strategies and leadership skills for diverse educational settings.

ECU Online’s commitment to providing flexible, high-quality, and accredited online education makes it an excellent choice in North Carolina.

The Benefits of Online Education in North Carolina

Online education in North Carolina offers a multitude of advantages that cater to students’ diverse needs and schedules. These benefits span from the flexible nature of online degrees to accelerated programs that fast-track career growth.

Flexible Online Degrees

Flexibility remains a cornerstone of online education in North Carolina. Students can maintain their existing work and family commitments while pursuing their education.

This flexibility empowers students to design schedules that suit their individual needs and lifestyle.

Accelerated Online Programs

Many online colleges in North Carolina boast accelerated programs that expedite degree completion times.


These programs enable students to enter the workforce more quickly, potentially leading to higher salaries and better job opportunities post-graduation.

Prestigious Institutions Offering Online Degrees

North Carolina’s online offerings extend to some of the nation’s most highly-regarded institutions, such as Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


These schools provide a diverse range of online bachelor’s degrees, granting students access to premium educational experiences without the need for physical attendance or relocation.


Read more about these two institutions in our full breakdown: Is UNC or Duke a Better University.

Diverse Fields of Study

Online education in North Carolina encompasses a wide array of fields of study, catering to students with various interests and professional aspirations.


This diversity, combined with the accessibility afforded by online programs, ensures that a multitude of educational opportunities are available regardless of geographical location or constraints.


The benefits of online education in North Carolina lay a solid groundwork for students to access a high-quality, flexible, and diverse learning experience that suits their individual needs and goals.


As a result, online education continues to thrive in the region, acting as a valuable asset for those looking to advance both academically and professionally.

Best online schools in north carolina

How Much Is Online College in North Carolina In 2023?

Publicly available data from NCES is only available for 2020-2021, we took the national average of a 2.5% tuition increase and applied that data. 

Cost of College in North Carolina in 2023
Institution Type
Average Tuition & Required Fees
Public - In-state
Public - Out-of-state
Private Education

Residents of North Carolina have the advantage of accessing more affordable higher education by enrolling in the state’s public colleges.


Opting for a public college can save thousands of dollars, as tuition & fees are approximately two-thirds less than what out-of-state students typically pay.


On the other hand, private colleges in North Carolina tend to have higher tuition fees, with the average cost being around $36,772 during the 2020-21 academic year.


For those considering online education, many programs offer financial benefits such as waivers for out-of-state tuition and unique scholarship opportunities.


To get a clearer picture of the potential costs, you should reach out to specific online colleges in North Carolina. They can provide detailed information about the expenses involved for students pursuing their preferred degrees.

North Carolina Scholarship Opportunities

North Carolina offers a treasure trove of scholarships and grants, making higher education more accessible, especially for online students.


These financial aids are keys to unlocking a brighter future without the heavy burden of educational expenses.


CFNC’s Beacon of Hope:

This scholarship, provided by the College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC), is a boon for residents enrolled in at least six credits per semester. It’s designed for families with an annual income below $75,000. Timely submission of FAFSA results by early summer or mid-August is crucial for consideration.


Private College Champions – The Need-Based Scholarship:

Targeting students in private online colleges, this CFNC initiative supports those who are committed to pursuing at least nine credits each semester. The scholarship committee takes a close look at your FAFSA results, so early application is recommended due to limited funds.


The Jagannathan Scholarship: 

This scholarship is for those attending a University of North Carolina institution, blending merit with financial need. It requires strong academic performance, with varying award amounts and deadlines. Starting the application process involves obtaining a recommendation from your school’s financial aid office.


The NC Sheriffs Association Scholarship:

Specifically for students majoring in criminal justice or related fields, this $2,000 award by the NC Sheriffs’ Association aids those attending eligible North Carolina colleges. The unique aspect? You’ll need a sheriff’s recommendation. Remember, each school can nominate only one student annually.

North Carolina's Job Market Post-Graduation

North Carolina’s Job Market Post-Graduation

North Carolina’s job market has seen a steady growth, and it is anticipated to add over half a million new jobs from 2020 to 2030. Graduates from online colleges in North Carolina have the advantage of entering these high-demand careers in the nursing, technology, and information security sectors.


This positions them for success by equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in these industries.

High-Demand Careers for North Carolina Graduates

As the North Carolina job market continues to evolve, certain careers are experiencing a surge in demand. Graduates with online degrees find themselves well-suited to meeting the needs of these thriving industries.


Some of the most in-demand careers in North Carolina include:


  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Information Security Analysts
  • Statisticians
  • Software Developers
  • Data Scientists

These careers offer opportunities for both personal and professional growth, allowing North Carolina graduates to make significant contributions to the state’s job market and overall economy.

Salary Expectations and Career Growth in NC

North Carolina’s employment opportunities come with competitive salaries and promising career growth.


As the state invests in high-paying sectors, individuals with advanced degrees are more likely to secure lucrative positions and enjoy long-term financial stability.

Nurse Practitioners$110,000
Information Security Analysts$103,000
Software Developers$105,000
Data Scientists$120,000

These salary expectations and career growth prospects in North Carolina emphasize the value of pursuing an online degree and investing in one’s education.


The benefits of online education, combined with a vibrant job market, ensure a promising future for North Carolina graduates seeking to thrive in their chosen professions.


Navigating the realm of online schools in North Carolina can feel overwhelming at first glance, but with the proper guidance and insight, students can confidently pursue their academic and career aspirations.


The state’s accredited online colleges offer numerous benefits, from the flexibility of distance learning outcomes to the valuable resources and support offered in various degree programs.


Online education benefits in NC extend beyond the classroom, with financial aid opportunities, targeted degree programs, and alignment with the state’s fastest-growing job sectors. These factors, combined with personal drive and determination, can lead to significant career advancement for North Carolina graduates.


North Carolina’s online educational landscape offers students an array of tools and opportunities to develop in-demand job skills and achieve their educational milestones.


With the proper foundation in place and an understanding of the various benefits associated with online education, individuals can make informed decisions as they embark on their academic and professional journeys within the Tar Heel State.

What is the cheapest online colleges in nc?

The cheapest NC online college in 2023 is the University of North Carolina at Pembroke appears to be one of the most affordable options with tuition and fees of $7,495 for out-of-state students. Another affordable option is Fayetteville State University with tuition and fees of $7,906 for out-of-state students​

What is the best online community colleges in nc?

Some of the best inline community colleges in NC are institutions like the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and North Carolina A&T State University, which are known for their affordable and diverse online programs​

What is the #1 college in NC?

Duke University is often recognized as a leading institution, frequently appearing in high rankings alongside other prestigious universities such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University at Raleigh. These institutions are well-regarded for their academic excellence and research opportunities.

What is the fastest growing college in North Carolina?

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) is recognized as the most rapidly expanding university in North Carolina, and it ranks as the third-largest in the state. It boasts a diverse range of academic offerings, including seven colleges that collectively offer over 170 majors. Students at UNC Charlotte can choose from 77 bachelor’s degree programs, 65 master’s degrees, and 24 doctoral degrees.