Best Public Colleges in North Carolina 2022

Best Public Colleges in North Carolina 2022

Public colleges and universities account for almost 75 percent of all undergraduate students in the U.S. The best public colleges in North Carolina provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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

What is the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a bachelor’s degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

North Carolina's Best Public Colleges Badge
Download Badge

This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 15 public universities in North Carolina. To be included in our list of the best public colleges in North Carolina, shcools must receive direct funding from the state, be fully accredited, and offer a broad range of bachelor’s degress.

Back to Top

Best Public Colleges in North Carolina 2022

  1. 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:

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1205/24

    University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Online Degrees

    BA in Elementary Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Engineering Technology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Electrical
    • Fire Safety
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (Rn To Bsn)
    • Required Credits: 121
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Political Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Professional Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Respiratory Therapy
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. #4

    East Carolina University

    Greenville , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/22

    East Carolina University’s Online Degrees

    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    Degree Concentrations
    • Rn To Bsn
    • Required Credits: 125-133
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Elementary Education (K-6)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSBA in Marketing
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication
    Degree Concentrations
    • Interpersonal/Organizational
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Information Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSBA in Supply Chain Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Industrial Technology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Health Information Technologies
    • Bioprocess Manufacturing
    • Information and Computer Technology
    • Industrial Management
    • Distribution And Logistics
    • Industrial Engineering Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Birth-Kindergarten (B-K) Teacher Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Middle Grades Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Special Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Family And Consumer Sciences Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Hospitality Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Industrial Distribution And Logistics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSBA in Management
    Degree Concentrations
    • Human Resource Management
    • Management and General Business
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSBA in Management Information Systems
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in University Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Services Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSBA in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Accounting
    • General Business
    • Human Resource Management
    • Management
    • Management Information Systems
    • Marketing
    • Supply Chain Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication
    Degree Concentrations
    • Interpersonal/Organizational
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Birth – Kindergarten Education
    • Family and Consumer Sciences Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Elementary Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion for North Carolina Community College students
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Information Management
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion for North Carolina Community College students
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Health Services Management
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion for North Carolina Community College students
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Hospitality Management
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion for North Carolina Community College students
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Industrial Distribution and Logistics
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion for North Carolina Community College students
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Industrial Technology
    Degree Concentrations
    • Bioprocess Manufacturing
    • Distribution and Logistics
    • Health Information Technologies
    • Industrial Management
    • Industrial Engineering Technology
    • Information and Computer Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Middle Grades Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion for North Carolina Community College students
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing: RN to BSN
    • Required Credits: 125-133
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Special Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Adapted Curriculum
    • General Curriculum
    • Program type: Degree completion for North Carolina Community College students
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  4. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    18K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/22

    University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Online Degrees

    BLS in Liberal Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Public Health
    Degree Concentrations
    • Health Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Information Systems And Supply Chain Management
    • Required Credits: 125
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Birth-Kindergarten Teacher Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Entrepreneurship
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Integrated Professional Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Peace And Conflict Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Philosophy
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Entrepreneurship
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Finance
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Hospitality and Tourism Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Human Development and Family Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Early Care and Education
    • Birth through Kindergarten Teacher Licensure
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Information Systems & Supply Chain Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Integrated Professional Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Liberal & Interdisciplinary Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Humanities
    • Social Sciences
    • Professional Studies
    • Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Philosophy
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Peace and Conflict Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Public Health Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  5. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/25

    Appalachian State University’s Online Degrees

    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSW in Social Work
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Veterinary Technician
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSBA in Supply Chain Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSBA in Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Career and Technical Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business
    • Finance and Information Technology Education
    • Business
    • Marketing and Entrepreneurship Education
    • Technology
    • Engineering and Design Education
    • Trade and Industry Education
    • Family and Consumer Sciences Education
    • Agriculture Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Child Development
    Degree Concentrations
    • Birth Through Kindergarten
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication
    Degree Concentrations
    • Advertising
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Middle Grades Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Workforce Leadership and Development
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSBA in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Management
    • Supply Chain Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Career and Technical Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Business
    • Finance and Information Technology Education
    • Business
    • Marketing and Entrepreneurship Education
    • Technology
    • Engineering and Design Education
    • Trade and Industry Education
    • Family and Consumer Sciences Education
    • Agriculture Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Child Development
    Degree Concentrations
    • Birth Through Kindergarten
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Communication, Advertising
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Middle Grades Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing: RN to BSN
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Veterinary Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  6. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/19

    North Carolina A&T State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Agricultural and Environmental Systems
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Information Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Economics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Electrical Engineering
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Electronics Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Elementary Education and Special Education
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Environmental Health and Safety
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Family and Consumer Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Geomatics
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Industrial and Systems Engineering
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Information Technology
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Liberal Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • African American Studies
    • Applied Cultural Thought
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/22

    Western Carolina University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Birth-Kindergarten Education
    Degree Concentrations
    • Professional Education
    • Early Childhood
    • Alternative Licensure
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSBA in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Innovation Leadership and Entrepreneurship
    • Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSBA in Business Administration And Law
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    Degree Concentrations
    • Concentration in Administration of Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Emergency and Disaster Management
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Emergency Medical Care
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSBA in Finance
    Degree Concentrations
    • Personal Financial Planning
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  8. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/24

    University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Online Degrees

    BS in Clinical Research
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Criminology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Elementary Education
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Interdisciplinary Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in International Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Middle Grades Education
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (Rn To Bsn)
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  9. #12

    Fayetteville State University

    Fayetteville , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    940/19

    Fayetteville State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Accounting
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Birth Through Kindergarten
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Computer Science
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in English Language and Literature
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Fire & Emergency Services Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in General Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in History
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Intelligence Studies
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Leadership
    • Criminal Justice and Military Intelligence Operations
    • Criminal Justice and Military Leadership
    • Language and Intelligence Studies
    • Education and History
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Mathematics
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Political Science
    Degree Concentrations
    • Public Administration
    • Environmental Politics and Policy
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Psychology
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  10. #13

    Winston-Salem State University

    Winston-Salem , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/17

    Winston-Salem State University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Birth to Kindergarten Education
    • Required Credits: 120-126
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Clinical Laboratory Science
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BIS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Integrative Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  11. Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/19

    University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Online Degrees

    BS in Birth-to-Kindergarten Education
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Economics
    • Finance
    • Management
    • Marketing
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BIS in Interdisciplinary Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Applied Education Studies
    • Applied Professional Studies
    • Applied Management Information Systems
    • Criminal Justice Studies
    • General Studies
    • Hospitality
    • Public and Non-Profit Administration
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BSN in Nursing (RN-to-BSN)
    Degree Concentrations
    • Program type: Degree completion
    • Required Credits: 120-128
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  12. #15

    Elizabeth City State University

    Elizabeth City , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    962/18

    Elizabeth City State University’s Online Degrees

    BSBA in Business Administration
    Degree Concentrations
    • Economics and Finance
    • Management and Entrepreneurship
    • Marketing and MIS
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Homeland Security
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
Back to Top

North Carolina’s Best Public College in Your Area of Interest

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. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  2. North Carolina State University
  3. Appalachian State University
  4. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  5. East Carolina University
  6. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  7. University of North Carolina at Asheville
  8. Western Carolina University
  9. University of North Carolina Wilmington
  10. North Carolina Central University
  11. North Carolina A&T State University
  12. Winston-Salem State University

Check out our directory of public colleges throughout the U.S. for a look at the top public colleges in every state.