North Carolina boasts more than 100 higher education institutions, including public two- and four-year schools that offer online coursework. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we have compiled information regarding school enrollment, tuition rates, and the average salaries for post-graduate career options.
Here, prospective students can learn more about the types of higher education institutions within the state as well as job opportunities for different degrees. This guide also cover partnerships between North Carolina and state educational organizations. These partnerships make it easier for state residents to obtain degrees. For example, the Winston-Salem Foundation distributes millions in financial aid to help local students afford higher education.
Use this guide as a starting point to research the cheap online colleges in North Carolina that best suit your needs.
Before we dive into our list of the best affordable online colleges in North Carolina, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in North Carolina today.
Featured Online Programs
Overview of Higher Education in North Carolina
In North Carolina, 150 post-secondary institutions grant degrees. The National Center for Educational Statistics shows that approximately 75 of those schools are public institutions, 50 are nonprofit, and 25 qualify as for-profit schools. In 2016, more than 500,000 state residents enrolled in a higher education institution; however, these enrollment figures have decreased 4.1% from 2011, following a nationwide trend. In 2011, just over 580,000 residents enrolled in college.
- 75 public
- 50 non-profit
- 25 for-profit
According to the College Board, North Carolina students enrolled in public, two-year schools, such as community colleges, pay $2,470 in tuition and fees. This rate is much lower than the average of other states, which are usually around $7,090 for tuition and fees. At public, four-year schools, North Carolina residents pay around $7,200 in tuition and additional fees.
The National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs published data revealing that during the 2015-16 school year, the state distributed more than $229 million in need-based aid to students attending North Carolina schools. A little over $5 million went to non-need based recipients, such as veterans and members of the National Guard.
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State of Online Higher Education in North Carolina
Many states, including North Carolina, use distance education programs to reach students who otherwise cannot attend on-campus classes due to distance or a busy professional life. The Digital Learning Compass published the Distance Education State Almanac in 2017 to highlight nationwide online learning trends. Data revealed that approximately 201,800 North Carolina students took one or more online courses. This number includes undergraduate and graduate students, with 180,300 undergraduates enrolled in at least one online course. In addition, approximately 90% of the state’s distance education learners live in-state, with just 9% of out-of-state residents taking online classes in North Carolina. The study further estimates that 85.6% of students take a mix of online and on-campus courses.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) oversees public education in 16 different states, including North Carolina. The SREB upholds an interstate agreement with member states which allows them to coordinate partnerships. Additionally, the SREB aims to reduce out-of-state tuition rates for students pursuing unique degrees. Using the Academic Common Market (ACM), learners can apply to a school offering a particular program and pay the in-state tuition rate. North Carolina left the ACM in 2011, but other states, such as South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia, still participate.
The ACM gives students access to 1,900 undergraduate and graduate programs in other states. Only students living in an ACM-partner state can enroll and must meet the school’s admissions requirements. Distance learners benefit from the ACM’s Electronic Campus, which charges students in-state tuition rates for online programs not available in other states.
Distance education serves out-of-state residents who may not have access to certain programs in their state. These students can enroll at one of the cheap online schools in North Carolina to obtain a degree. As a reminder, states must give students permission to take distance learning courses in another region.
Best Online Colleges in North Carolina
Below, you can find our rankings of the best online, four-year programs in North Carolina. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list services for distance students and popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in North Carolina, explore our state resources, such as a database of every college and university in North Carolina or our index of popular in-state scholarships.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||Raleigh||$$$$$||2101 Hillsborough Street|
Raleigh, NC 27695-7001
North Carolina State University at Raleigh offers robust distance education options, including more than 90 undergraduate and graduate online and hybrid online/location-based programs. A variety of delivery formats allow students a high level of flexibility and the freedom to choose the learning platform that best fits their life circumstances. Some programs follow an asynchronous model, where students set their own schedules. Others conform to a synchronous model, through which students and instructors use technology to meet online at specific times.
Distance learners at NC State can pursue an online bachelor's degree in public sector leadership, either with or without a military specialization. Graduate learners can choose from dozens of online master's degrees in subjects like adult education, forest biomaterials, aerospace engineering, animal science, environmental assessment, and clinical mental health counseling. The school also offers an online doctoral degree, plus undergraduate and graduate certificates and teaching licensure. Individuals not currently seeking a degree or certificate can take individual distance courses through NC State.
Instructors of online programs at NC State design curricula to help students further their career and life goals, emphasizing the school's "think and do" philosophy. All programs incorporate a balance of knowledge and skills, and many programs include business partnerships that lead to internship and job opportunities for students. Support services for distance learners include enrollment advice, academic mentorship, and technical assistance.
Founded as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1887, NC State now enrolls more than 35,000 students and ranks as one of the largest universities in the country. NC State holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|2||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill||$$$$$||103 South Bldg Cb 9100|
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
Prospective students considering online colleges and universities in North Carolina might want to consider the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. UNC-Chapel Hill offers 19 online degrees and certificates. These include nine master's degrees, two doctoral degrees, and eight certificates. The school also offers a variety of non-credit online programs for students. The school enrolled 1,050 students pursuing fully online graduate degrees and certificates and more than 1,800 undergraduate students taking at least one online course in Fall 2016. The state of North Carolina gives approval for UNC-Chapel Hill's distance education programs to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.
UNC-Chapel Hill's online master's degrees cover fields like business administration, public administration, and accounting. The school offers certificates in subjects including community preparedness, disaster management, technology, and communication. UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Public Health is one of the main participants in the university's distance education efforts, offering a master's in public health, a Ph.D. in health leadership, and several public health certificates.
Distance learners receive the same types of support the school offers to on-campus students, including the help of a dedicated admissions counselor, new student orientations, and student support advisers. These students also receive access to all UNC library and career support resources, plus the opportunity to attend graduation on campus. Even after graduation, UNC alumni receive access to career help, including resume and interview advice, one-on-one career coaching, and new skills-training sessions. Graduates also benefit from participation in the UNC-Chapel Hill alumni network, which can create valuable connections across the world.
The first public university in the U.S., UNC-Chapel Hill opened in 1795. It serves as the flagship university for the University of North Carolina system, which includes 17 campuses. UNC-Chapel Hill's founding principles of light and liberty remain essential to the school's mission today.
|3||University of North Carolina at Greensboro||Greensboro||$$$$$||1400 Spring Garden St|
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro represents an excellent option for learners seeking affordable, high-quality online colleges in North Carolina. UNCG's online courses cost less than its on-campus classes. Additionally, online students living outside of North Carolina receive a special discounted online tuition rate -- less than the standard tuition assessed to nonresidents who attend in-person classes at UNCG.
One of the three original schools in the University of North Carolina system, UNCG dates back to 1891. It holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Online fields of study include undergraduate and graduate degrees in business and information technology, education, health, interdisciplinary studies, public service, and social services and humanities. UNCG offers 11 bachelor's degrees and 30 graduate degrees and certificates online.
Online courses are available both synchronously, with designated class times where students and instructors meet virtually, and asynchronously, with no designated class times and greater flexibility. The university's on-campus faculty also provide instruction for its distance education courses, using advanced technology and multimedia content, and encouraging interaction among students. Faculty boast expertise in their fields and maintain valuable workplace connections. Distance learners can access the same support resources as their on-campus counterparts, including a career services center, full library resources, disability services, and academic advising. UNCG created the Division of Online Learning to support distance learners and help them collaborate.
For students living outside of North Carolina, UNCG holds state authorization to deliver online education in every U.S. state and Puerto Rico. Prospective online students can get a feel for what it takes to succeed by reviewing UNCG's ready to learn modules.
|4||East Carolina University||Greenville||$$$$$||East 5th Street|
Greenville, NC 27858-4353
The third-largest university in North Carolina, East Carolina University began as a teacher training school in 1907 and continues to offer many education and teaching programs online today. Based in Greenville, ECU ranks among the most affordable online colleges in North Carolina. Active-duty members of the military, veterans, and their spouses receive a special tuition rate for ECU Online. Distance learners may qualify for financial aid and should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
Online students can pursue dozens of master's degrees in subjects including nurse midwifery, mathematics education, library science, nutrition, software engineering, and security studies. ECU also offers online doctoral degrees in educational leadership and public health, plus online graduate certificates in dozens of fields, including teaching children in poverty, project management, business analytics, residential construction management, and substance abuse counseling. ECU also provides a variety of online post-master's and post-doctoral nursing certificates in nursing leadership, nursing education, and family nurse practitioner. Students pursuing teaching degrees may choose to add on a teaching license or endorsement valid in North Carolina.
The school's 23 online bachelor's degree completion programs span fields like education, business, communication, nursing, industrial technology, and health information management. These programs accept eligible transfer students who typically complete their first two years of courses at community colleges. Transfer students can apply three times a year -- November, April, and June -- and must typically hold a minimum 2.5 GPA. Prospective students with lower GPAs may still gain admission based on other criteria, such as the rigor of their prior coursework and evidence that they have made positive academic progress. Transfer students can find information about which courses transfer to ECU using the school's course equivalency tool.
|5||Western Carolina University||Cullowhee||$$$$$||Highway 107|
Cullowhee, NC 28723-9646
Students looking for cheap online colleges in North Carolina might consider Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. The state of North Carolina helps WCU reduce tuition expenses, making college more affordable for both on-campus and online students through its NC Promise program. WCU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Delivering both fully online and hybrid programs in fields like nursing, education, business, and engineering, WCU offers 11 graduate degrees, eight bachelor's degrees, and six certificates through distance education. Majors for undergraduate students include emergency medical care, a registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing program, and criminal justice. Graduate students can earn certificates and degrees in entrepreneurship, sports management, nurse leadership, and project management. Learners pursuing master's degrees in education can also add on a post-master's certificate toward principal licensure.
WCU's online bachelor's programs function as degree completion programs, so students must possess some transfer credit to qualify for admission. Students can find out if their prior coursework will transfer by reviewing information on WCU's >credits earned elsewhere page. WCU only accepts credits for which students earned "C" grades or higher, and all credit must come from regionally accredited colleges. Students must earn at least 25% of the credits required for their WCU bachelor's degree in junior- and senior-level courses. Learners may also earn credit toward their degree through credit by examination, military experience, and experiential learning.
Distance learners can take as many or as few credits as they like each semester. However, students receiving financial aid must take at least six credits per semester. Full-time students take 12 credits. Most undergraduate programs at WCU maintain a rolling admissions policy, accepting students until the programs reach capacity. Deadlines to apply for graduate programs vary.
|6||Mid-Atlantic Christian University||Elizabeth City||$$$$$||715 N Poindexter St|
Elizabeth City, NC 27909-4054
Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, presents a good option for students looking for online Christian colleges in North Carolina. Established in 1948 as Roanoke Bible College, MACU holds affiliation with the Christian churches and churches of Christ. The school seeks to foster Christian leaders who want to serve God, either through vocational ministry or in other settings. The small, private university supports working adults who want to begin or complete their associate or bachelor's degree by offering flexible, online programs that include some on-campus requirements.
Through MACU's School of Professional Studies, students can complete online associate degrees in biblical studies or general studies. They can also pursue bachelor's degrees in business administration, family studies, and Christian ministry and Bible studies. A professional Christian ministries certificate and a military studies minor are also available online. Delivered in an accelerated format, each course lasts only eight weeks, allowing learners to earn their degrees faster. All students must complete coursework related to Christianity as part of the school's general education requirements.
Students seeking to enter one of MACU's bachelor's degree completion programs must hold an associate degree or at least 60 transferable credits from an accredited school, plus a minimum 2.0 GPA. The school also welcomes transfer students who hold at least 12 credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA from an accredited college. Transfer students must submit a church or character reference letter as part of their application for admission. Prospective transfer students can find out which of their prior classes will count as transfer credit at MACU by sending their transcripts to the office of the registrar.
MACU offers merit-based scholarships for transfer students. All students can also apply for federal financial aid. Online and on-campus students pay the same tuition and fees. MACU offers lower tuition than many other private colleges, making the school a more affordable option.
|7||Appalachian State University||Boone||$$$$$||Dougherty Administration Building|
Boone, NC 28608
Appalachian State University offers flexible, interactive online and hybrid undergraduate and graduate programs. Based in Boone, North Carolina, Appalachian offers eight bachelor's, 14 master's, and one doctoral degree online in hybrid formats. Bachelor's degrees cover subjects like child development, nursing, management, and communication or advertising. Students pursue master's degrees in elementary education, library science, social work, and educational media. Distance learners can also pursue 12 graduate certificates in subjects like Appalachian studies, autism spectrum disorders, school leadership, and sociology.
All bachelor's programs at App State Online function as transfer or degree completion programs. This means they offer junior- and senior-level coursework and require that students hold an associate degree, or about two years of college credit, to qualify for admission. Each program stipulates its own requirements for how much lower division coursework students must bring in. Appalachian requires transfer students to hold a cumulative 2.25 GPA to qualify for admission to the university.
In-state learners receive a fixed tuition guarantee, meaning the tuition students pay when they first start their program will be fixed for the duration of their time in the program. The university's fixed rate tuition program for resident learners makes Appalachian a good choice for anyone looking for cheap online colleges in North Carolina. Students who live outside of North Carolina pay a higher rate of tuition than in-state learners. Online students can apply for financial aid, and students pursuing some distance programs in the education field may apply for the SECU Appalachian Partnership Scholarship. Online learners may qualify for other scholarship and financial aid opportunities through the university.
As a military friendly school, Appalachian supports veterans and their families in a variety of ways, including reduced tuition options.
|8||University of North Carolina at Wilmington||Wilmington||$$$$$||601 South College Road|
Wilmington, NC 28403-5963
Distance students can find five undergraduate and 10 graduate online degrees from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Programs available include a master of science in chemistry; a master of education in curriculum, instruction, and supervision; a doctor of nursing practice; a bachelor of science in clinical research; and a bachelor of arts in international studies. The school's popular online accelerated registered nurse to bachelor of science program takes as little as 12 months to complete, depending on how many credits students already hold when they start the program.
UNCW's tuition rate for online students makes it one of the most affordable online colleges in North Carolina. UNCW participates in the state's fixed tuition program, which ensures that in-state students do not experience rising tuition for eight semesters after beginning a bachelor's program. Out-of-state learners pay more per credit than North Carolina residents, and do not benefit from the fixed tuition program. Online learners may qualify for financial aid, including student loans, grants, and scholarships.
Distance learners receive access to the same student resources as UNCW's on-campus students, including an online writing and learning (OWL) center. Students can submit papers to OWL to receive feedback and suggestions on their writing from consultants. They can also find online writing handouts, writing guides, and links to other helpful websites. Students can also request help from UNCW's tutoring center and take advantage of academic achievement resources and workshops. Other resources available to online learners include a career center, library services, and bookstore services.
Local leaders established Wilmington College in 1947, with a focus on educating veterans coming home from World War II. Today, UNCW prides itself on its community engagement and global mindset. The school's primary values include a student-centered focus, excellence, diversity, and integrity. UNCW holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|9||University of North Carolina at Charlotte||Charlotte||$$$$$||9201 University City Blvd|
Charlotte, NC 28223-0001
A public research university established in 1946, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is now the fastest-growing school in the UNC system. It holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Prospective students looking for online colleges and universities in North Carolina can find more than 35 distance education options at UNCC, including bachelor's completion programs, graduate certificates, master's degrees, and teacher licensure programs.
The Colleges of Education, Engineering, Health and Human Services, and Liberal Arts and Sciences all offer online programs at UNCC. Some available degrees include a bachelor of science in engineering with a fire safety concentration, a graduate certificate in languages and culture studies, a registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing, and a master of science in respiratory care.
The College of Education offers more than 20 online programs, including a variety of master's in teaching and master's in education degrees, with specializations focused on reading education, school administration, urban education, and instructional systems technology. Education graduate certificates cover issues like autism spectrum disorders, school counseling, special education, and elementary school mathematics.
Learners can complete many programs asynchronously. Some programs require students to log on at specific times to participate in live sessions, and others require students to visit the Charlotte campus a few times. Some online programs require students to take proctored tests or writing assignments. Learners who live near the UNCC campus can take exams in the school's distance education testing center. For those who do not live near campus, UNCC maintains a list of qualified proctors inside and outside of North Carolina. Distance learners receive access to a technical help desk, distance education program managers, and a librarian who works specifically with online learners.
|10||Duke University||Durham||$$$$$||103 Allen Bldg|
Durham, NC 27708
An internationally respected private research university in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University traces back to 1838, when a group of Quakers and Methodists founded the university. Some of the school's accomplishments include affiliations with 13 Nobel laureates and 40 Rhodes scholars. Duke ranks among the best online colleges and universities in North Carolina.
The Office of Continuing Studies at Duke offers around 20 professional online certificates in fields such as entrepreneurship, legal nurse consulting, project management, paralegal studies, and business ethics in the 21st century. Distance learners can also take individual courses without pursuing a specific certificate. More than 10,000 people take continuing studies courses at Duke each year. Duke's continuing studies program started in 1969 to help nontraditional female students finish their bachelor's degrees.
Admission requirements vary by certificate program, but generally, applicants must be at least 18 years old, speak English fluently, boast basic computer and internet skills, and be able to pay for the program. Many certificate programs also require applicants to hold an associate or bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college. Most certificates require students to complete the program within 12 months of starting.
Duke's distance education certificate programs cost a flat-rate fee, which students must pay up front before beginning coursework. Online professional certificates at Duke are non-credit programs, and their students are considered non-degree seeking. This means online learners at Duke do not qualify for federal financial aid or other types of aid limited to degree-seeking students. Learners may qualify for private loans to fund their certificates. Eligible students can use Americorp Education Awards for non-degree educational programs like these certificates. Because Duke certificates are non-credit programs, certificate students do not receive credits that transfer to other academic programs.
|11||North Carolina Central University||Durham||$$$$$||1801 Fayetteville Street|
Durham, NC 27707
Students can pursue online and hybrid bachelor's, master's, and certificate programs at North Carolina Central University. The school's affordable tuition and superior academic programs make North Carolina Central one of the top affordable online colleges in the state. NCCU's flexible programs feature dedicated faculty members committed to student success and an interactive learning experience rooted in community engagement. Its high-quality online programs feature the same curricula and instructors available on campus, but with greater convenience.
Students can pursue six bachelor's degrees online in subjects like criminal justice, nursing, and psychology. Available distance education master's degrees cover fields like library science, career counseling, and teaching students with visual impairment. NCCU's library science program produces more African-American librarians than all other library science programs combined. Distance students can also choose from seven undergraduate and graduate certificates in areas like teaching artist, digital librarianship, and computer information systems. Three hybrid programs combine online and in-person learning.
Available financial aid includes student loans, scholarships, and grants available through NCCU's Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. Career service programs help students get internships, jobs, and other professional learning experiences. Online learners also benefit from networking opportunities with their classmates, instructors, and employers inside and outside of North Carolina. Other resources for online students include access to full library services, online tutoring, disability services, a veteran's center, a counseling center, and an online learning 101 course.
Based in Durham, North Carolina, NCCU's history of educating students to become leaders goes back more than 100 years. Founded in 1909 as the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua, it became the nation's first public liberal arts school for African-Americans. The historically black university now educates a diverse population of students and boasts recognition for excellence in teaching, research, and service.
|12||Piedmont International University||Winston-Salem||$$$$$||420 South Broad Street|
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
A small, private Bible college established by a group of Baptist leaders in 1945, Piedmont International University's mission includes graduating students who plan to dedicate their lives to serving God. The curriculum incorporates a biblical worldview, and many of the school's majors focus on ministry. Piedmont holds national accreditation, and the school plans to pursue regional accreditation. Online students can apply for federal financial aid, with more than 96% of the total student body receiving aid.
Prospective students considering online community college courses in North Carolina might consider online degrees from Piedmont. The school offers several associate and bachelor's degrees for distance learners and makes it easy for on-campus students to transition to taking online courses. In fact, residential students can attend class online when they want and still be counted as present.
The school's two online associate degrees explore the Bible and ministry. Students can pursue six bachelor's degrees in subjects like ministry, sign language, and the Bible. Two accelerated, five-year programs in Christian ministry and biblical studies allow students to graduate with both a bachelor's and master's degree in just five years. Students can also choose from 10 minors to add to their degrees. Available minors include biblical languages, English, history, and missions. Graduate students can complete 10 master's and three doctoral degrees completely online in fields like ministry, education, and leadership.
Online learners receive access to the same resources and services as their on-campus counterparts. These include individualized academic advising, tutoring services for students with disabilities, and help applying for financial aid. Distance learners also receive access to full library resources, including online databases, periodicals, tutorials, and an ask-a-librarian chat and email service.
|13||Gardner-Webb University||Boiling Springs||$$$$$||Main St|
Boiling Springs, NC 28017-0997
Located in Boiling Springs, Gardner-Webb University enrolls almost 4,500 students in 80 programs. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a commitment to leadership service in keeping with the school's Baptist tradition. At the school's Blue Ridge campus learners study in classrooms with a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The institution also oversees a learning center in Charlotte and several distance learning sites across the state. Gardner-Webb's undergraduate online programs include degrees in healthcare management, human services, and nursing.
One of the best online colleges and universities in North Carolina, Gardner-Webb also offers a 128-credit bachelor's degree in wealth and trust management -- a unique program that prepares learners for careers as professional financial planners. The curriculum includes study of topics such as corporate finance, financial planning, estate planning, and retirement planning. Students can finish the program completely online, with the exception of two face-to-face courses offered each fall and spring at the school's Charlotte campus.
Learners interested in a business career can pursue the school's 128-credit bachelor's in organizational leadership. The program seeks to cultivate leadership and managerial skills with study of topics including organizational theory, change management, behavioral analysis, and team leadership.
For graduate students, Gardner-Webb offers a suite of master's degrees in fields such as nursing, accounting, and business administration. All students receive academic and career mentoring, and first-year students can transition to college life with assistance from the school's First-Year Experience program.
Transfer students from two-year colleges may transfer up to 64 credits, and those from four-year colleges up to 96 credits. All transfer credits require a minimum GPA of 2.0. The school offers several scholarships for transfer students with high GPAs. Note that Gardner-Webb does not enroll online students who live in California.
|14||University of Mount Olive||Mount Olive||$$$$$||634 Henderson St|
Mount Olive, NC 28365-0919
The University of Mount Olive is a private college with faith-based programming rooted in the liberal arts. Whether at the main campus in Mount Olive, several in-state satellite campuses, or online, students benefit from small classes designed to foster personalized learning. The school offers a small suite of fully online undergraduate degrees learners can pursue asynchronously. Students begin their higher education with the school's 64-credit associate degree in general studies, a program designed to give nontraditional learners the opportunity to earn credit for transfer to a baccalaureate program. Students with prior college credits can also enroll, transferring up to 45 credits into this program. The curriculum requires students to complete courses in communication, cultural literacy and global awareness, and problem solving and analytical skills.
Registered nurses (RN) can get a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) through the school's 126-credit RN-to-BSN. The program, accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, studies subjects including nursing theory, nursing leadership, healthcare law and ethics, and family and community care.
The 126-credit bachelor's in criminal justice and criminology focuses on social justice. Coursework includes juvenile justice and delinquency, law enforcement, victimology, and court systems and processes. These programs allow students to transfer up to 94 credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Mount Olive also offers graduate programs in nursing, education, and business administration.
Most programs enroll learners on a full-time or part-time basis, use five-week courses to foster accelerated learning, and offer five terms per year. Online learners pay the same tuition regardless of state residency. Mount Olive is one of the most attractive, cheap online colleges in North Carolina for active duty military, as these students pay less than half of the school's per-credit tuition rate.
|15||Fayetteville State University||Fayetteville||$$$$$||1200 Murchison Rd|
Fayetteville, NC 28301-4298
A historically black college, Fayetteville State University now enrolls a diverse student body of 6,500 students. The college offers 33 bachelor's programs delivered to students in classrooms with a 15-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Popular majors include nursing, business administration, and psychology. Online learners at FSU choose can choose from 10 bachelor's options in fields such as accounting, criminal justice, psychology, and sociology.
The 120-credit bachelor of science (BS) in professional studies is highly flexible and offers an interdisciplinary curriculum designed to develop skills in communication, critical thinking, and knowledge of global cultures. Students create a concentration by combining existing majors, developing a theme comprised of courses from various disciplines, or applying credits from an associate degree or military training. The BS in intelligence studies, another innovative program, prepares learners for careers in the military, government, or business. The 120-credit curriculum includes study of enforcement intelligence, intelligence and military operations, ethics and intelligence, and the history of intelligence.
The BS in fire and emergency services administration program, which students can complete predominantly online, prepares the next generation of fire professionals with coursework in areas such as investigation/analysis, fire prevention, and fire-related human behavior. Learners get hands-on experience at Fayetteville Fire Station 14, a partnership with FSU, the City of Fayetteville, and other organizations.
FSU accepts the transfer of many online community college courses in North Carolina. Transfer students may benefit from a $10,000 degree pathway program for online learners. FSU enrolls many military students and their families. The school offers fixed tuition to eligible students as long as they remain continuously enrolled.
|16||Pfeiffer University||Misenheimer||$$$$$||48380 US Hwy 52N|
Misenheimer, NC 28109
A small private college, Pfeiffer University prepares undergraduate and graduate students for academic success and a life of servant leadership. The school enrolls approximately 1,600 students on campuses in Misenheimer, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and online. Students study in classrooms with a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Pfeiffer University offers several fully online or hybrid degree completion programs.
The bachelor of science (BS) in health administration provides learners with hybrid or fully online modes of delivery to suit the needs of busy nontraditional learners. In addition to studying topics such as economics, healthcare management, and healthcare insurance and managed care, learners specialize in one of two areas: medical practice or long-term care management.
The fully online BS in business management and leadership offers a sound foundation in the various areas of business operations, such as economics, finance, and management. The program offers learners the opportunity to specialize with concentrations in entrepreneurship and supervision and finance and banking. Pfeiffer rounds out the school's catalog of degree-granting programs with a fully online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing program and a BS in criminal justice, which it offers both fully online and in hybrid format.
Mentoring and Internships are integral at Pfeiffer, with upperclassmen opting for roles as mentors to peers, and opportunities for summer internships at various organizations on Capitol Hill. Students in degree completion programs pay the same tuition regardless of state residency. Transfer students who qualify for merit-based transfer scholarships will find Pfeiffer one of a handful of cheap online colleges in North Carolina. Pfeiffer awards credits for prior learning through College Level Examination Program, Defense Activity for Nontraditional Education Support, military services, and portfolio assessment. Applicants should evaluate the page for each major to determine credit transfer requirements.
|17||Salem College||Winston-Salem||$$$$$||601 S Church St|
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
A top liberal arts institution, Salem College boasts a long tradition of educating and empowering women. The school resides on a 68-acre campus in downtown Winston-Salem and offers one of the top online master of education (M.Ed.) in school counseling programs in the state. Students acquire the education and training necessary through online education, internships, and two weekend seminars completed on the school's campus.
A research-driven program, the M.Ed. follows a cohort model, begins in the fall or spring, and lasts 36 months. The curriculum includes study of school counseling, student advocacy, culturally relevant counseling, and ethics and legalities. Students must also complete a 100-hour practicum in school counseling and a 600-hour internship to meet licensure requirements. Admission to the program requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, writing samples, a background check, and residency in North Carolina.
M.Ed. participants receive access to student services including counseling, healthcare, career and professional development, and IT assistance. Several wellness initiatives such as a nature program, fitness trails, and yoga classes provide learners with added support. Those interested in student life benefit from participation in community-oriented programs.
Learners help pay for tuition with a full suite of financial aid options, including need-based grants, low-interest loans, and merit-based scholarships. At $510 per credit for the online graduate program, learners attend one of the most affordable online colleges in North Carolina. The school notes that 100% of Salem's students complete an internship to acquire hands-on experience. Furthermore, Salem's graduates join other women who graduated from women's colleges in receiving higher pay and being twice as likely to complete a doctoral degree.
|18||North Carolina A&T State University||Greensboro||$$$$$||1601 E Market St|
Greensboro, NC 27411
Students at North Carolina A&T State University study at the largest historically black public college (HBC) in the nation. The Greensboro-based institution enjoys many accolades and graduates more accountants and engineers than any other HBC in the country. A&T Online uses distance learning and extension programming to enhance access to approximately 20 programs. Most courses provide asynchronous learning to accommodate the needs of busy learners.
A&T Online offers bachelor's degrees in fields such as economics, environmental health and safety, and business education. The school oversees several innovative programs, including the bachelor of science (BS) in geomatics, a curriculum that trains students for careers in aerial surveying and geographic information systems analysis. The program covers photogrammetry, geodesy, hydrography, and geographic information systems.
The BS in electronic technology trains technology specialists to plan, organize, and manage. The curriculum includes study of networks, energy, power systems, and digital computing environments. Learners interested in a more flexible degree plan can enroll in the bachelor of arts in liberal studies, a highly customizable curriculum with concentration options in African-American studies and applied cultural thought. A&T Online also administers a portfolio of online master's degrees in technology management, information technology, business administration, and teacher preparation.
Online learners receive academic support through mentoring and tutorial services. The school's recruiting and employment services helps learners plan for life after college. With in-state tuition rates for incoming undergraduate students at just $120 per credit hour, A&T Online is a great option for those seeking cheap online colleges in North Carolina. Military students enjoy access to a suite of scholarships. Transfer students with associate degrees or some college credit may also apply.
|19||Winston-Salem State University||Winston-Salem||$$$$$||601 Martin Luther King Jr Dr|
Winston-Salem, NC 27110-0001
One of the top historically black college in the U.S., Winston-Salem State University enrolls approximately 5,000 students. WSSU offers approximately 50 programs, delivered in classrooms with a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The school offers several distance learning degrees and certificates, including online bachelor of science (BS) degrees in nursing and education.
The BS in clinical laboratory science provides a unique curriculum that prepares clinical laboratory practitioners for entry-level positions in hospitals, clinical and research laboratories, pharmaceutical agencies, and other similar organizations. Studies include courses in chemistry, clinical microbiology, advanced hermatology, and molecular diagnostics. Learners seeking a more flexible program can choose the BS in interdisciplinary studies, a curriculum that allows them to change career pathways, transfer blocks of credits, and accelerate degree completion. In addition to completing a required foundation of courses, these students pursue a secondary area of study and focus their degree on a particular area by completing a capstone.
The school's online master of science in rehabilitation counseling prepares learners for the national Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam. WSSU's comprehensive catalog of online courses provide learners in other programs the opportunity to complete some of their degree requirements online.
Learners with associate degrees from community colleges in North Carolina can seamlessly transfer to four-year programs at WSSU. Transfer students use WSSU's transfer evaluation tool to receive an unofficial evaluation of credits. Among the most affordable online colleges and universities in North Carolina, WSSU offers fixed tuition for students continuously enrolled in a degree-granting program. Students living in the state may opt to engage in college life, participating in leadership programs and attending lectures by renowned speakers.
|20||Barton College||Wilson||$$$$$||200 ACC Drive NE|
Wilson, NC 27893-7000
A small, private liberal arts institution, Barton College harbors fewer than 1,000 students between both its Wilson-based campus and online. The school's small classrooms provide a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio designed to foster personalized learning. Barton College offers 40 programs, several delivered online through the school's virtual arm. The Professional Studies program gives nontraditional learners access to fully online degrees in nursing, business, and justice administration.
Registered nurses (RN) who hold an associate degree and an unrestricted RN license can advance their careers with the online RN to bachelor of science in nursing program. RNs complete 35 credits over two and a half semesters, studying in areas such as professional practice, health maintenance through the lifespan, and nursing leadership. The program is approved by the state nursing board and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Learners can acquire a well-rounded business education through the bachelor of arts (BA) in business, a degree that includes studies in accounting, finance, and information systems. Learners in the BA receive instruction from faculty experienced in distance learning and benefit from personalized support that complements classroom learning. Another offering is a BA in justice administration. This program enrolls professionals -- law enforcement officers, corrections personnel, and dispatch operators -- who want to earn credentials to advance their careers. The curriculum includes study of criminal law, constitutional law, criminalistics, and juvenile delinquency.
Learners may transfer up to 64 credits from online community college courses in North Carolina -- and other institutions, provided they hold a minimum 2.0 GPA. Students help pay for tuition through transfer scholarships awarded based on previous college GPA scores. Online learners receive additional savings, as tuition for degrees under the professional studies program costs less than half that of regular tuition.
|21||Montreat College||Montreat||$$$$$||310 Gaither Circle|
Montreat, NC 28757-1267
An independent liberal arts college, Montreat College enjoys a reputation for high-quality education, low student debt, and putting students on the path to success. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Montreat College is also one of the top online Christian colleges in North Carolina for nontraditional learners. With programming at sites in Charlotte, Asheville, Morganton, and online, Montreat boasts a 20-year tradition of helping nontraditional learners complete degrees.
Learners earning a bachelor's degree have their choice of majors including business administration, marketing, and human resources management. The bachelor of science (BS) in psychology and human services provides learners with theoretical knowledge influenced by a Christian perspective; it covers topics such as adult and child development, adult development and aging, and social welfare and social services. The BS in cybersecurity offers students a career path in one of the fastest growing fields in the nation. This program teaches ethical and responsible approaches to cybersecurity and emphasizes skills and hands-on experience in ethical hacking and cyber defense.
Those seeking to enhance their ministry career can choose to pursue a BS in Bible and religion, a program that covers biblical studies and theology that emphasizes practical training in spiritual formation, preaching, and church administration. The degree is notable for a preaching and evangelism concentration using a training curriculum from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association School of Evangelism. The school also offers master's degrees in business administration and management and leadership.
Online degrees at Montreat College utilize five- to eight-week courses. Students pay the same tuition rate regardless of state residency. Learners enjoy access to a full suite of financial aid, and military students benefit from tuition discounts.
|22||Campbell University||Buies Creek||$$$$$||450 Leslie Campbell Ave|
Buies Creek, NC 27506
Campbell University provides 6,500 learners with an excellent education in an inclusive Christian learning environment. Located in one of the fastest growing regions in the nation, Campbell provides learners with access to internships, research opportunities, and a network of employers. Campbell University also offers more fully online baccalaureate programs than any other private college in the state. Learners benefit from personalized instruction and eight-week accelerated programs that give returning students flexibility.
Online learners choose from associate degree majors such as behavioral sciences, business administration, and general education. The fully online associate of science in homeland security gives learners the education and training required for entry-level positions; it features a curriculum including general education, emergency management, intelligence, and terrorism.
For students pursuing a bachelor's degree, Campbell offers majors in many fields, including business administration, homeland security, and IT security. A bachelor of arts in criminal justice provides a pre-law curriculum that includes classroom instruction in criminal law, juvenile justice, courts and procedures, and a six-credit internship that imparts hands-on experience. Campbell also offers several applied sciences degrees in majors such as accounting and business administration.
Students in need of academic assistance enjoy access to online tutoring services, and those with personal and/or psychological issues receive free confidential counseling and referrals to resources. The transfer-friendly school accepts up to 64 credits from regionally accredited institutions; it also accepts American Council on Education and College Level Examination Program prior learning credits. Learners must fulfill the school's "residency" requirement with a minimum of 31 credits, including 12 credits in upper-level courses.
Campbell, one of the most affordable online colleges in North Carolina, offers competitive tuition. Students pay the same tuition regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency. Each year the school awards scholarships to more than 1,600 students.
|23||University of North Carolina at Pembroke||Pembroke||$$$$$||One University Drive|
Pembroke, NC 28372-1510
Founded in 1887, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke provides 7,000 students with a high-quality education. One of the nation's most diverse campuses, UNCP's catalog includes 41 undergraduate programs, several of which learners can pursue online. The school's online baccalaureate programs focus on degree completion. The fully online bachelor of arts in criminal justice provides learners with a curriculum that blends classroom instruction with hands-on community experience. The major includes study of criminology, criminal law, criminal procedure, and requires 15 credits of criminal justice electives.
Accredited by the Association for Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business, the bachelor of science in business administration offers concentrations in finance, economics, marketing, and management. All concentrations share a common business core, with coursework including financial accounting, organization and management, operations management, and management information systems.
Learners with an associate degree or more can apply those credits toward the bachelor of interdisciplinary studies program. This degree offers great flexibility with majors such as criminal justice, applied professional studies, and public and nonprofit administration. UNCP also offers online graduate degrees in business administration, public administration, and elementary education. To pursue baccalaureate degrees online, learners must fulfill UNCP's general education requirements unless otherwise stated.
The school's list of student services include online tutoring and a career services department that provides learners with career planning, resume assistance and interviewing skills, and on-campus recruiting events. Through the NC Promise Tuition Plan, UNCP offers affordable in-state tuition. Out-of-state students are charged $2,500 per semester. One of the best online colleges and universities in North Carolina, UNCP boasts stellar student outcomes, with 90% of alums employed or attending graduate school within a year of graduation.
|24||University of North Carolina at Asheville||Asheville||$$$$$||One University Hts|
Asheville, NC 28804-8510
The only liberal arts college in the University of North Carolina system, UNC Asheville enrolls approximately 3,900 students in 30 majors. The school offers education delivered in small classes and provides undergraduates with access to a nationally acclaimed research program. UNC Asheville's students take courses online through UNC Online, which gives them access to hundreds of programs and thousands of courses administered by 17 schools within the state system.
UNC Online offers affordable education learners can pursue from anywhere. The school's extensive catalog includes bachelor's degrees in UNC Online's most popular fields, such as behavioral science, agriculture, engineering, and public administration. The school offers teacher preparation programs leading to NC licensure in majors such as birth to kindergarten, special education, and career and technical education. With the transfer of sufficient credits, many of these programs offer degree completion in 24-30 months. Students pursuing the behavioral sciences can earn a bachelor's degree in majors including child development, psychology, and sociology.
UNC Online's IT and technology programs include majors in applied IT, information systems and supply chain management, and industrial distribution and logistics. These programs are designed for students to complete in 24-36 months. UNC Asheville belongs to a consortium of schools offering graduate students a rich catalog of degree options in fields as diverse as animal science, environmental assessment, nurse education, and aerospace engineering.
UNC Asheville provides guidelines for students pursuing online degrees at UNC Online; these include that students can take neither classes at UNC Online in their first semester nor courses already attempted at UNC Asheville. The school accepts transfer credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0 from regionally accredited institutions, providing compatibility with UNC Asheville's programs.
|25||William Peace University||Raleigh||$$$$$||15 East Peace Street|
Raleigh, NC 27604
William Peace University provides learners with an education rooted in the liberal arts and focused on real world skills. Students complete one of 30 undergraduate majors in classrooms with a 15-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. WPU notes that 100% of students complete an internship before graduation and almost 70% of students land jobs because of their internship. The school offers fully online programs specifically designed for nontraditional learners, both those beginning college and students completing a degree started at another institution.
WPU's bachelor's degrees cover fields such as education, business education, marketing, and criminal justice. The bachelor of science in leadership and nonprofit management immerses students in a study of traditional business courses, with a focus on ethics, organizational development, and community service.
Learners interested in building a career focused on digital communications can enroll in the bachelor of arts (BA) in strategic communications, a curriculum that emphasizes marketing, promotions, social media, and advertising. The BA in liberal studies is notable for providing the most flexible fully online degrees at WPU. It gives students the opportunity to use their prior education to build a curriculum that addresses particular career goals. The BA in liberal studies requires students to complete two critical thinking seminars and an internship, in addition to standard courses including English, history, and math.
WPU's online programs enroll students six terms per year. The school accepts transfer credits after a review of school transcripts. While many schools across the nation raised tuition, WPU lowered theirs, making the institution one of few cheap online colleges in North Carolina. WPU also offers merit-based scholarships of up to $14,000 for transfer students. Most graduates (96%) at WPU secure employment or enter graduate school within a year of graduation.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in North Carolina
Below, we have included all of the online schools in North Carolina sorted by tuition rates.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Fayetteville State University||Fayetteville||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||St. Andrews University||Laurinburg||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte||Charlotte||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Western Carolina University||Cullowhee||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||Appalachian State University||Boone||School profile||$$$$$|
|6||East Carolina University||Greenville||School profile||$$$$$|
|7||University of North Carolina at Wilmington||Wilmington||School profile||$$$$$|
|8||University of North Carolina at Pembroke||Pembroke||School profile||$$$$$|
|9||North Carolina A&T State University||Greensboro||School profile||$$$$$|
|10||Winston-Salem State University||Winston-Salem||School profile||$$$$$|
|11||North Carolina Central University||Durham||School profile||$$$$$|
|12||University of North Carolina at Charlotte||Charlotte||School profile||$$$$$|
|13||University of North Carolina at Greensboro||Greensboro||School profile||$$$$$|
|14||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||Raleigh||School profile||$$$$$|
|15||Montreat College||Montreat||School profile||$$$$$|
|16||Lees-McRae College||Banner Elk||School profile||$$$$$|
|17||William Peace University||Raleigh||$$$$$|
|18||Gardner-Webb University||Boiling Springs||School profile||$$$$$|
|19||Campbell University||Buies Creek||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in North Carolina
Graduates of online colleges in North Carolina hope to find a good job upon graduation. In September 2017, the BLS reported that North Carolina’s unemployment rate reached 4.4%. By August 2018, the rate fell to 3.9%. Only 15 other states reduced their unemployment rate during that same period.
Many factors affect unemployment rates, such as the economy and political climate, but ultimately, each state decides how to handle unemployment. The significant decrease in unemployment rates also coincides with higher education enrollment rates. More residents are attending online colleges and universities in North Carolina to improve their chances of finding employment.
In North Carolina, the average annual salary is $46,080, with nearly 4.3 million residents currently in the workforce. A large part of the population works in sales and business-related occupations.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in North Carolina
Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation
Student pursuing higher education at an accredited university are welcome to apply. The committee takes a special interest in applicants majoring in healthcare.
Lloyd E. and Rachel S. Collins Scholarship
Caters to graduating seniors attending the North, South, or West Stokes high school who meet the minimum 3.0 GPA requirement.
Southern Automotive Women’s Forum Scholarship Program
Applicants must be female high school students or graduates planning to enroll in a STEM program at a two- or four-year school.
Annie S. Alexander Memorial Scholarship
Available to adult learners, current college students, and high school seniors pursuing a nursing degree.
F.A. and Charlotte Blount Scholarship
Granted to African-American, Hispanic, and multiracial students with a financial need. Requires a cumulative 2.5 GPA.
Sam L. Booke Sr. Scholarship
This award helps Winston-Salem and Forsyth County high school students majoring in a math-related field pay for their postsecondary education.
Jimmy and Sara Glenn Scholarship
Available to Forsyth County residents with a cumulative, unweighted 2.5 GPA.
Paul M. Wiles Scholarship
Created for graduating high school seniors planning to attend a four-year institution.
Woodbine Big Dreams Scholarship
Open to Forsyth county high school students living in the foundation’s service area. Students must demonstrate financial need and community involvement.
Mary Speer Martin Scholarship
Applicants must be a student at Starmount, Elkin, or Forbush high schools or Yadkin early college with a 2.0 cumulative GPA.
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