Best Colleges in North Carolina 2022

Here are the best colleges and universities in North Carolina. Our list will help you find the right kind of school for you.

Best Colleges in North Carolina 2022

Colleges and Universities in North Carolina

Among these schools are over 60 public colleges and universities, including the state’s largest school, North Carolina State University, which serves almost 30,000 students. Tuition costs average about $9,000, just below the national average, and students also have the option to enroll in over 1,000 online courses. Another notable public school is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is one of the country’s oldest universities.

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The 25,000 students who attend UNC will walk the same halls as Francis Collins, Thomas Wolfe, and former president James K. Polk. North Carolina’s private schools have also made a name for themselves, including the well-known Duke University located in Durham. Here, students can earn degrees in some of the top programs, like nursing, political science, and business. Additionally, students can attend one of the many small schools which serve less than 5,000 students, like Campbell University in Buies Creek, or a religiously affiliated school, like Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City.

From its coastal beaches to its lush forests, it’s no wonder the Wright Brothers dreamed of taking flight over North Carolina. This state is rich with history, scenic views, and famous people who once called it home, like John Coltrane and Nicholas Sparks. Students hoping to earn their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree also have the option of choosing from over 100 schools in the Tar Heel State.

Whether you prefer ocean views or wooded forests, North Carolina has something for everyone. Discover more about the state’s higher learning options.


What are North Carolina’s Colleges & Universities?

North Carolina’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine North Carolina's best colleges and universities?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great! If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence in their fields of study.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is freer from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to those schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.

We’ve identified 49 colleges and universities in North Carolina that meet our criteria. This list of the top 30 colleges in North Carolina below focuses on schools that offer bachelor’s degrees. The ranking features fully accredited public and private colleges and universities in North Carolina.

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Best Colleges in North Carolina 2022

  1. #1

    Duke University

    Durham , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1525/34

    What is Duke University known for?

    Duke University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Literature
    • Anthropology
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1405/30

    What is University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill known for?

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Communications
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    31K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1335/29

    What is North Carolina State University known for?

    North Carolina State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Wake Forest University

    Winston-Salem , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    32%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    8K

    What is Wake Forest University known for?

    Wake Forest University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1205/24

    What is University of North Carolina at Charlotte known for?

    University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Computer Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Physics
    • History
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    East Carolina University

    Greenville , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/22

    What is East Carolina University known for?

    East Carolina University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • History
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Davidson College

    Davidson , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1397/31

    What is Davidson College known for?

    Davidson College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    18K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/22

    What is University of North Carolina at Greensboro known for?

    University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Education
    • History
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    970/18

    What is North Carolina Central University known for?

    North Carolina Central University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/25

    What is Appalachian State University known for?

    Appalachian State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Education
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  11. #11

    Campbell University

    Buies Creek , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/22

    What is Campbell University known for?

    Campbell University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Law
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Economics
    • History
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    Elon University

    Elon , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/27

    What is Elon University known for?

    Elon University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • Economics
    • Law
    • History
    • Business
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #13

    High Point University

    High Point , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/25

    What is High Point University known for?

    High Point University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Economics
    • Anthropology
    • Religious Studies
    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • History
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/19

    What is North Carolina A&T State University known for?

    North Carolina A&T State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • Economics
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    Meredith College

    Raleigh , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/21

    What is Meredith College known for?

    Meredith College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Economics
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  16. #16

    Western Carolina University

    Cullowhee , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/22

    What is Western Carolina University known for?

    Western Carolina University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • History
    • Earth Sciences
    • Sociology
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #18

    Queens University of Charlotte

    Charlotte , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/24

    What is Queens University of Charlotte known for?

    Queens University of Charlotte’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #19

    Catawba College

    Salisbury , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/20

    What is Catawba College known for?

    Catawba College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  19. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/24

    What is University of North Carolina at Asheville known for?

    University of North Carolina at Asheville’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/24

    What is University of North Carolina Wilmington known for?

    University of North Carolina Wilmington’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Anthropology
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  21. #22

    Guilford College

    Greensboro , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/20

    What is Guilford College known for?

    Guilford College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • History
    • Education
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #23

    Warren Wilson College

    Swannanoa , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1177/25

    What is Warren Wilson College known for?

    Warren Wilson College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Economics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. #24

    Salem College

    Winston-Salem , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/19

    What is Salem College known for?

    Salem College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Communications
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  24. #25

    Bennett College

    Greensboro , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    29%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Bennett College known for?

    Bennett College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  25. #26

    Fayetteville State University

    Fayetteville , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    940/19

    What is Fayetteville State University known for?

    Fayetteville State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Biology
    • History
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  26. #27

    Belmont Abbey College

    Belmont , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/22

    What is Belmont Abbey College known for?

    Belmont Abbey College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Education
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  27. #28

    Winston-Salem State University

    Winston-Salem , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/17

    What is Winston-Salem State University known for?

    Winston-Salem State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  28. Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/19

    What is University of North Carolina at Pembroke known for?

    University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  29. #30

    Wingate University

    Wingate , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/20

    What is Wingate University known for?

    Wingate University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

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North Carolina’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

Resources for College-Bound Students

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. Duke University
  2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  3. Wake Forest University
  4. Davidson College
  5. North Carolina State University
  6. Guilford College
  7. Warren Wilson College
  8. Queens University of Charlotte
  9. Appalachian State University
  10. Catawba College
  11. Johnson C. Smith University
  12. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  13. Elon University
  14. East Carolina University
  15. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  16. Campbell University
  17. Salem College
  18. High Point University
  19. University of North Carolina at Asheville
  20. Meredith College
  21. Western Carolina University
  22. University of North Carolina Wilmington
  23. Barton College
  24. Wingate University
  25. University of Mount Olive