For the nontraditional student, someone with work, with a family, or with any number of different responsibilities, gaining the education needed to move forward in a career, to better your situation or even just to develop yourself, can seem impossible. And while attending a traditional on-campus program may not be possible, there are solutions adaptable to your circumstances. Online colleges in North Carolina excel, with some of the oldest, highest praised, most diverse, and most adaptable programs in the country.
The universities of North Carolina provide quality and expert online education to anyone in a nontraditional setting, allowing any type of student to learn and achieve, regardless of circumstance. Online education is achieving greater and greater results every day, as it harnesses greater technological advancement and more and more students are willing to excel.
To help you choose the school that best fits your needs, we have assembled a list of the 25 best online colleges in North Carolina. Each school offers something unique and individual, with strengths that set it apart from its competitors and one of them is just right for you!
Here are the 25 Best Online Colleges in North Carolina
#1 Fayetteville State University (FSU)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $114
- Most Popular Degree: Sociology
- What Sets It Apart: Coursework Variety
FSU was founded in 1867 and is the second oldest public university in North Carolina. Since it’s beginning, FUS has been championing students and creating an environment where education can thrive. With 43 undergraduate programs, 23 master’s degrees, and a doctoral program available completely online, students will be able to succeed in almost any area of study. Undergraduate degrees at Fayetteville are offered to students as degree completion programs, allowing individuals who have completed two years of study to finish their North Carolina degree online. Degrees at Fayetteville are regularly recognized for their excellence, and the school is tied for #43 in Top Public Schools according to U.S. News & World Report. FSU also offers students a rolling admission, allowing them to apply at any time.
#2 University of North Carolina At Charlotte (UNC Charlotte)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $240
- Most Popular Degree: Marketing
- What Sets It Apart: Partnership with other Universities
Known as a research-oriented university, UNC Charlotte offers online degrees in the form of bachelor completion programs, master’s degrees, graduate certificates, and teacher licensure programs. Classes are taught by the same faculty online as on campus, guaranteeing students a quality education regardless of their course of study. UNC Charlotte boasts an average freshman retention rate of 81% and is rated #202 in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report. Perhaps the greatest advantage to online learners though is UNC Charlotte’s partnership with 16 other schools in the UNC system. This partnership allows online students much greater flexibility because it enables them to complete classes at a partnering university and apply the credit to their degree at UNC Charlotte.
#3 Western Carolina University (WCU)
- Cost Per Credit Hour $324
- Most Popular Degree: Education
- What Sets It Apart: Highly Ranked Programs
WCU’s bachelor degree completion programs are available to students entirely online, with the exception of the hybrid Engineering Technology Program. Western Carolina is highly ranked, tying at #13 in Top Public Schools and #37 in Regional Universities South by U.S. News & World Report. The student to faculty ratio at the school is a low 16:1 and 67% of full-time students receive some kind of financial aid.
#4 East Carolina University (ECU)
- Cost Per Credit Hour $173
- Most Popular Degree: Biomedical Sciences
- What Sets It Apart: Online Lifelong Learning Program
With an online degree program that has been around for almost 60 years, ECU was one of the first institutions to offer fully online degrees to students. Currently, 75 online programs are available in the form of online degrees and degree completion programs. ECU also demonstrates its dedication to education through its online Lifelong Learning Program. This program is available to adults over 50 and allows them to obtain an education without the pressure of grades, entrance exams or other traditional academic pressures. As a military friendly university, special programs are also designed for those in the armed forces.
#5 North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (A&T)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $434
- Most Popular Degree: Agriculture Education
- What Sets It Apart: Agricultural and Technical Emphasis
A&T is traditionally and primarily still an African American university, and can boast more African American graduates in the fields of engineering and accounting than any other historically Black institution of higher learning in the country. The majority of engineering graduates also report having a job lined up prior to completing their studies. While A&T emphasizes study in Agricultural and Technical studies, over 20 degrees and certificates are available for study at the bachelor’s, masters and doctoral level. Students enrolling online at North Carolina A&T State University receive program coordinators who help students learn about and utilize their resources and develop a plan for graduation.
#6 Gardner Webb University (GWU)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $482
- Most Popular Degree: Law Enforcement
- What Sets It Apart: Emphasis on Student and Faculty Relationship
GWU is a Baptist based university founded in 1905. Known as a “character building college”, GWU focuses on what they consider to be the whole value of the student. This includes helping students develop well-rounded skills and meaningful relationships, particularly with university faculty. In an effort to help facilitate these relationships, student classes are kept small with a student to faculty ratio of 13:1. The university offers students online degrees in the form of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Gardner-Webb University is tied for #220 in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report and has also received high rankings for their online business and nursing programs. Unfortunately, due to state requirements, online programs are not available to students living in California, Massachusetts, Florida or New Jersey.
#7 North Carolina State University (NC State)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $302
- Most Popular Degree: Business
- What Sets It Apart: High Graduation Rate
NC State offers students degrees either entirely online or in a hybrid format for the flexibility and preference that best fits the student’s needs. Classes are taught both synchronously and asynchronously depending on the course. North Carolina’s attention and care for its students are evidenced in it’s low 14:1 student to faculty ratio and remarkably high 75% graduation rate. An extensive and worldwide alumni network is also available to recent graduates, providing access to countless professional connections and opportunities.
#8 University of Mount Olive (UMO)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $430
- Most Popular Degree: Homeland Security
- What Sets It Apart: Baptist Emphasis
UMO is a private, faith-based university affiliated with the Original Free Will Baptist Church. The university provides a quality education for students with small class sizes, and a holistic approach to education, which is designed to promote strong relationships and to help students grow professionally, academically, and personally. While only six degree programs are currently available to students at Mount Olive, the university has more students learning online than on campus. UMO is tied at #32 in Regional Southern Colleges by U.S. News and World Report.
#9 Appalachian State University (App State)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $472
- Most Popular Degree: Business Management
- What Sets It Apart: High Ranking
Students at App State receive their North Carolina online education from the same faculty that teaches on-campus courses and enjoy the small class ratio of 27:1. Degrees are offered to students as either an undergraduate degree completion program or a completely online master’s degree. Appalachian State enjoys high rankings, being rated #3 in Top Public Schools, and #9 in Regional Universities South by U.S. News & World Report. Freshman retention rate, which is often an indicator of satisfaction is a remarkably high 87%.
#10 Pfeiffer University
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $659
- Most Popular Degree: Marriage and Family Therapy
- What Sets It Apart: Methodist Emphasis
Pfeiffer University is associated with the United Methodist Church and offers students an education with a uniquely Christian perspective. Classes are offered either entirely online or in a hybrid format as degree completion or online graduate programs. Pfeiffer University is rated #84 in Regional Universities South by U.S. News & World Report.
#11 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $300 about
- Most Popular Degree: Economics
- What Sets It Apart: North Carolina Residence Emphasis
Courses at UNC-Chapel Hill are offered to students either entirely online, in a hybrid format, or online as a distance student. This variety allows students to learn in the method that is the most convenient and works best for their individual needs. UNC-Chapel Hill is currently ranked #30 in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report. UNC-Chapel Hill also puts North Carolina residents first. At least 82% of the incoming freshman class must be made up of North Carolina Resident.
#12 Piedmont International University
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $310
- Most Popular Degree: Biblical Studies
- What Sets It Apart: Online Demo Program
Piedmont International University is a Bible-centered institution offering students a wide variety of online programs including high school dual enrollment, single year certificates, undergraduate degrees, and graduate degrees. Classes are offered at the astoundingly small student to faculty ratio of 9:1 and 96% of students receive some type of financial aid. For prospective students who may be hesitant to enroll, Piedmont offers an online demo, allowing students to try undergraduate or graduate level courses and determine if online learning is right for them.
#13 Montreat College
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $395
- Most Popular Degree: Exercise Science
- What Sets It Apart: High Financial Aid
Montreat is a private, nondenominational Christian college founded in 1916 that incorporates faith and Christian values into its education. The school academically is best known for its state of the art cyber security program and for its 100% placement rate for biology majors apply to medical school. Montreat strongly supports its students and does all that it can to make learning more convenient and accessible. In this effort, 99% of students receive some type of financial aid and classes are designed to be completed in five to eight weeks.
#14 Campbell University
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $425
- Most Popular Degree: Information Technology
- What Sets It Apart: Degree Variety
Campbell University first began offering coursework to students online in 1999, making it one of the oldest North Carolina online colleges. In its spirit of advancement and improvement, Campbell also offers prospective students more online degree program options than any other private school in North Carolina. This Baptist based institution offers its students a low 19:1 student to faculty ratio and class completion in a convenient eight-week format. Campbell is also a military-friendly university, with a long history of offering military and veteran students additional educational opportunities.
#15 Barton College
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $507
- Most Popular Degree: Nursing
- What Sets It Apart: Debate Emphasis
While Barton College affiliates itself with Christianity, it strongly welcomes all faiths and backgrounds to their institution. Classes are offered to students in eight weeks courses throughout the year. While the majority of these classes can be completed online, some on-campus participation may be required. Barton is tied for #13 place in Regional Colleges South by U.S. News & World Report. Barton is known to encourage students to challenge ideas and debate viewpoints, helping them to uncover the truth and greater understanding in their educational pursuits. Students benefit from an 11:1 student to faculty ratio and on average 91% of students receive some type of financial aid.
#16 John Wesley University
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $330
- Most Popular Degree: Management/Business Ethics
- What Sets It Apart: Working Adult Emphasis
John Wesley University strives to follow its Christian mandate by providing online learners with flexible and quality education. With an online program specifically designed for students working and caring for families, John Wesley reduces as many of the obstacles found in on-campus learning. These include the need to commute or physically be present on campus and many of the costs generally associated with attending a university.
#17 Mid Atlantic Christian University (MACU)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $420
- Most Popular Degree: Theology and Religious Vocations
- What Sets It Apart: Christian Emphasis
MACU is the perfect university for students wishing to further their studies in Christian theology, worship, doctrine or similar aspects of study. The school seeks to provide spiritually grounded and encouraging education allowing students to come closer to God. Created for busy, working, or otherwise nontraditional student, online classes at Mid Atlantic Christian University are designed to be as helpful as possible. Classes are asynchronous and are offered entirely online. To help students in their personal mission to come closer to Christ, the university provides students with numerous resources like their campus podcast “Impact. Transform. Lead.”.
#18 Salem College
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $440
- Most Popular Degree: Psychology
- What Sets It Apart: Women’s University
While Salem College is a private college designed for women, men over the age of 23 are allowed to enroll in their adult learner online program. As the 13th oldest college in the country, Salem has a long history of providing academic success to students. It also stands apart by being the only women’s online institution in North Carolina. While classes in the distance program are primarily offered online, students are required to participate in an internship and a two-weekend on campus seminar. The school is tied at #122 in National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.
#19 Duke University
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,489
- Most Popular Degree: Biomedical Engineering
- What Sets It Apart: High Ranking
This private Methodist university has long been known as a pillar of academic standing. In addition to traditional online undergraduate and graduate programs, Duke shows their dedication to education by their continuing education and alumni education program. These programs are designed for working professionals who want to advance their careers through individual classes. Duke is rated #8 in National Universities by U.S. News & World Report and their online nursing graduate program is tied for #3 in Best Online Graduate Nursing Program. Free online trial courses are also available for prospective students who are unsure if Duke’s online programs are right for them.
#20 St. Andrews University (St. And)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $335
- Most Popular Degree: Elementary Education
- What Sets It Apart: Strong Resources for Online Students
St. Andrews, a branch of Webber International University, is a non-profit, private university. Classes are available to distance and nontraditional students both in a hybrid format and entirely online. Class sizes are kept small to provide individual attention and emphasis to students and classes typically last eight weeks. St. Andrews’ mission is to help students develop the knowledge and qualifications for a lifetime of success. In order to achieve this goal, particular emphasis is placed on oral and written communication and critical thinking. Students are also given a wide array of tools for success like remote library access, academic and career advising, and online tutoring.
#21 Elizabeth City State University (ECSU)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $357
- Most Popular Degree: Criminal Justice
- What Sets It Apart: Relationship with UNC System
ECSU has the best interest in mind for its students, and strongly encourages students to complete their evaluation survey before applying, ensuring they are prepared and ready for online learning. ECSU is well known for their convenient, inclusive website and online resources, making working remotely simple and convenient. Students have access to dozens of online classes, both available at ECSU and those schools within the UNC system. Because of ECSU’s relationship with UNC universities, students are able to take classes from a UNC university and apply it to their ECSU degree.
#22 Queens University of Charlotte
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $464
- Most Popular Degree: Communications and Media Studies
- What Sets It Apart: Low Student Ratio
With an astounding student to faculty ratio of 9:1, Queens University of Charlotte is the perfect school for students seeking to pursue a graduate degree. Queens offers students quality graduate degrees in the fields of Health Professions, Business, Marketing, Visual Arts and Performing Arts. Queens is tied for #61 in Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
#23 Lees McRae College
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $710
- Most Popular Degree: Wildlife Biology
- What Sets It Apart: Holistic Teaching Style
Lees McRae College strives to help students discover their purpose. Lees McRae’s mission is to educate and inspire students to think creatively, collaboratively and critically, and to prepare for the diversities of life. Online degrees are offered to students as degree completion programs in fields such as criminal justice, elementary education or human services. Courses are completed entirely online and students have access to all the campus resources available to their on-campus counterparts.
#24 Wake Forest University
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $900
- Most Popular Degree: Political Science
- What Sets It Apart: Pro Humanitate Motto
Wake Forest University boasts a low student to faculty ratio of 11:1, giving students small class sizes and individualized attention. The school ranks #27 in Best Colleges in the Nation, #6 in Best Undergraduate Teaching and #28 in Best Value by U.S. News & World Report. Wake Forest’s motto, Pro Humanitate (for humanity) demonstrates the calling they issue to their students. Wake believes that knowledge, talents, and skills acquired throughout life and at their institution, help better the community and the lives of others. The school encourages students to find their own personal way to leave the world a bit better.
#25 Lenoir Rhyne University (LRU)
- Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,215
- Most Popular Degree: Marketing
- What Sets It Apart: Rolling Admission
Rated #16 in Best Value Schools by U.S. News & World Report, LRU is known for their small class sizes and service learning opportunities. Students take classes in either a hybrid or entirely online format allowing them to choose the style that best fits their needs. Lenoir Rhyne has a rolling admission for its students allowing them to apply at any time.
We know that finding the best school to fit your unique needs is a huge challenge. For that reason, we work hard to develop lists of the best schools based on the characteristics most important for you. Whether that be cost of attendance, student success, resources available, flexibility of schedule, or any other number of important factors, we’ve got you covered. For more information about our ranking process and to find lists of schools based on specific characteristics, check out our methodology page.
If you know of a school that deserves recognition, but wasn’t included on this list, please reach out to us today! We’re constantly looking for the best schools across the country, offering top-level education and phenomenal student support.