Online Colleges in North Carolina

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The state of North Carolina is Raleigh-ing in support of higher education.

Leaders in education, business and government have come together to establish MyFutureNC, a statewide nonprofit organization focused on educational attainment. In 2019, MyFutureNC unveiled its goal to ensure that 2 million North Carolinians have a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree by the year 2030.

North Carolina currently offers excellent schools and funding, so these efforts just prove that the state values education and wants to provide the very best.

Overview of Higher Education in North Carolina

There are 136 degree-granting institutions in North Carolina, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of those, 75 are public schools, 49 are non-profit private schools, and 12 are for-profit private schools.

To attend one of the state’s 4-year public institutions, residents will pay an average of $7174, according to NCES, which places it among the 10 states with the lowest tuition rate. Out-of-state students will pay around $22,968, also well below the national average.

North Carolinians also benefit from the state’s involvement in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), which encourages resource sharing among the 16 participating states. Through this program, North Carolina students can enroll in out-of-state programs in nearby states while paying in-state rates.

About Online Colleges in North Carolina

A 2018 report by the NCES stated that 16.4% of undergraduates in North Carolina were enrolled exclusively in online courses. An additional 23.6% were participating in a hybrid of online and on-campus courses. Since then, the numbers have continued to rise as more and more schools introduce online learning programs.

Today, the state’s largest higher education system – the 17 institutions of the University of North Carolina (UNC) – offers nearly 400 fully online degree and certificate programs. Their online programs include agriculture, behavioral science, business, criminal justice, education, engineering, information technology, liberal arts, medicine/health, nursing and public administration. Several of UNC’s online programs are consistently recognized in US News and World Reports’ Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, including University of North Carolina—Wilmington which ranks in the top 10.

The state’s online education efforts are supported by eLearning NC, a resource created by the North Carolina Education Cabinet and the Office of the Governor. eLearning NC is a one-stop-shop for online learning at the K-12, college and even career level. Through the website, online learners can find out about courses and degree programs, financial aid, and additional support services available to them.

Similarly, the Virtual Learning Community (VLC) is a collaborative effort of the North Carolina Community College System for providing course content and support services to students, educators and administrators at the community college level.

Scholarships and Financial Aid in North Carolina

North Carolina and the federal government give away millions of dollars each year to help students pay for college. In order to access these funds, you will first need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA becomes available each year starting on October 1st, and should be filled out as soon as possible because much of the student aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis.

As you fill out the FAFSA, you will need to include financial information for yourself as well as your parents (unless you’re considered “independent”). The information you provide will be used to determine what type and how much financial aid you qualify for – from the federal government, as well as from your state.

As a North Carolina resident, when you submit your FAFSA it will also check your eligibility for the following state-funded student aid programs:

  • NC Education Lottery Scholarship – For undergraduates taking at least six credit hours at UNC or community college; Income-based but must also meet academic requirements of institution
  • NC Community College Grant – For community college students taking at least six credit hours; Income-based but must also meet academic requirements of institution
  • UNC Need Based Grant – For students taking at least six credit hours at one of the 16 UNC system campuses; Income-based
  • NC Need Based Scholarship – For undergraduates taking at least nine credit hours; Need-based

The colleges and universities in North Carolina have their own additional grant and scholarship programs. To find out how to apply for these, contact the financial aid office at the school you’re interested in.

You can also apply for private scholarships, which may be awarded based on need, merit, or other special circumstances such as race, religion, region, athletic or artistic abilities, unique talents, intended major, and so on.

Here are some scholarships available to North Carolinians:

Scholarship Name Details Scholarship amount
Crumley Roberts Next Step Scholarship Foundation Must be community college student transferring to an accredited 4-year college in the fall Varies
The Dottie Martin Teachers Scholarship Must be a college student in a teacher education program, planning to teach in North Carolina after graduation $500
Golden LEAF Scholarship Program For students entering their first year at a participating college; Must be from certain rural counties; Need and merit based (215) $3000 per year
NC Sheriffs Association Undergraduate Criminal Justice Scholarships For undergraduate students majoring in criminal justice at eligible institutions (see list); Must demonstrate financial need; Priority given to children/step-children of law enforcement (see details) (12) $2000
SEANC Scholarships For State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) members, their spouses and children; Separate need and merit-based scholarships Varies

 You can find even more scholarships for North Carolina residents on the College Foundation of North Carolina website. Or you can broaden your search by using scholarship search sites like Just enter some basic demographic information and you will be matched up with dozens of scholarship opportunities!

List of Online Colleges in North Carolina

Online Colleges in North Carolina Location Annual Tuition Accreditation Application Fee
Gardner Webb University Boiling Springs, North Carolina  $29,810  Regional  $0
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, North Carolina  $8,834  Regional  $80
Queens University of Charlotte Charlotte, North Carolina  $32,560  Regional  $0
University of North Carolina – Charlotte Charlotte, North Carolina  $6,763  Regional  $60
Western Carolina University Cullowhee, North Carolina  $6,737  Regional  $65
Duke University Durham, North Carolina  $51,265  Regional  $85
North Carolina Central University Durham, North Carolina  $6,132  Regional  $40
Mid-Atlantic Christian University Elizabeth City, North Carolina  $13,600  Regional  $50
Fayetteville State University Fayetteville, North Carolina  $5,085  Regional  $40
University of North Carolina – Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina  $6,c971  Regional  $55
East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina  $6,997  Regional  $70
Pfeiffer University Misenheimer, North Carolina  $28,995  Regional  $50
North Carolina State University Raleigh, North Carolina  $8,880  Regional  $85
University of North Carolina – Wilmington Wilmington, North Carolina  $6,951  Regional  $75
Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, North Carolina  $49,308  Regional  $65
Winston-Salem State University Winston-Salem, North Carolina  $5,804  Regional  $50


With an impressive variety of schools to choose from, some of the lowest tuition rates in the nation, and generous financial aid funding, North Carolina has so much to offer.

Yet the state continues to set new goals, proving it’s committed to providing the very best in higher education.

Ready to start your journey?
Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.