Best Online Colleges in North Carolina 2021

Find a program that’s right for you.

Online colleges offer educational alternatives to traditional and nontraditional students alike. Many online schools follow accelerated delivery schedules and offer asynchronous classes, making them a convenient choice for out-of-state enrollees and working students.

Colleges and universities offering online programs typically require applicants to submit the same documents and meet similar application standards in terms of GPA and SAT or ACT scores. Documents commonly required include a transcript from every previous institution an applicant attended and at least one recommendation letter.

Accredited institutions maintain the same quality, rigor, and completion requirements for their online and on-campus offerings. Schools do not distinguish between online and on-campus degrees on a graduate’s diploma.

Graduates of online programs enjoy similar advantages as their on-campus counterparts. For example, graduates enjoy higher salaries and lower unemployment rates compared to associate-trained workers or employees with some college experience but no degree.

Table of Contents

Top 10 Online Bachelor Colleges in North Carolina

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.


FAQs

  • Is it cheaper to get a degree online?

    Online enrollees typically save on additional living and transportation costs. Additionally, many online programs follow an accelerated delivery schedule, reducing cost.

  • What is the average cost for online college?

    Several factors impact the cost of a college education including location and major. For example, online colleges in Florida cost about 50% less than brick-and-mortar schools ($21,100 versus $42,768).

  • Is college free in North Carolina?

    The North Carolina Promise Tuition Plan reduced tuition to $500 per semester in three UNC System schools enrolling more than 20,000 students.

  • How many colleges and universities are there in North Carolina?

    North Carolina boasts 64 four-year private and public institutions, plus nearly 60 two-year community colleges statewide.


Best Online Colleges in North Carolina 2021

Top Online Bachelor’s Programs

  1. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Tucked in the mountains of North Carolina, Appalachian State University provides a unique, holistic education that not all public schools can offer. All online undergraduate degree programs are intended for transfer students who are working toward a specific career. With that in mind, students can complete their education in 2 years while studying at their own pace. Students transferring into this program should have already completed their lower division credits at another institution. There are currently 7 entirely online bachelor's degree programs, as well as the hybrid bachelor's degree in middle grades education. Appalachian State also offers master's degree programs both online and in hybrid format, as well as graduate certificates. Every program at each level is taught with one goal in mind: to advance the student's career.

  2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Often recognized as one of the most prestigious schools in the nation, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a leader in many fields, including online education. The majority of online students at UNC are graduates, and most are involved in public health or health sciences. Public health makes up the largest part of the online graduate program with 3 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree and 6 certificates. UNC is seen as a global leader in health sciences, and the same respect given to their on-campus programs is extended to their online programs. UNC doesn't have any entirely online undergraduate programs, but they offer many undergraduate courses online. All required core courses can be completed online for active military and veterans, so those students can feasibly study toward a hybrid degree or complete their degree in less time than the traditional 4 years. There are also a variety of continuing education courses available online.

  3. North Carolina State University
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Among the top research schools in the nation, North Carolina State University has attracted world-class staff and faculty, improving the quality of education. For students considering online school at NC State, it may help to know that the same faculty teaches both on-campus and online. Aside from their faculty, NC State is among the best in online studies because of their vast number of options. There are currently 5 undergraduate programs offered at least partially online, as well as five undergraduate certificates that can be used to further specialize a degree. After earning a bachelor's degree, students can find master's and doctoral programs online, as well as certificates and licensure for teaching. Despite being online, their distance education still receives a lot of national attention and research funding, making it an excellent stepping stone for students looking to advance in their career or switch careers entirely.

  4. Apex School of Theology
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1995, Apex School of Theology is one of the younger institutions in the nation. Despite their short time teaching higher education, Apex has already established itself as a top Christian school with a focus on African-American culture. There are only 7 main programs offered at Apex - 1 bachelor's degree, 4 master's degrees, 1 doctoral degree and 1 associate degree - aside from their continuing education programs. However, students won't need to travel to campus to get any of their studies done. Apex offers all of their degree programs entirely online with each course mirroring the same quality and difficulty as their on-campus versions. Online courses are also offered in the traditional 16 week format or an abbreviated 8-week session. Regardless of where students live, Apex charges a flat rate per class, with different fees being applied to the different degree levels. This structure is meant to help keep the cost of an education low, since the programs are designed for working students.

  5. Western Carolina University
    Location

    Cullowhee, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Western Carolina University began as a teaching school but quickly grew into much more. While teaching is still one of the most popular subjects for students to study at WCU, other programs, such as nursing and engineering, have started to attract more national attention. Perhaps the most renowned program at WCU is entrepreneurship, which can be studied as a minor, bachelor's of science or bachelor's of science in business administration. This 4-year program is available both on-campus and entirely online, or as a hybrid. A master's degree in entrepreneurship is also offered entirely online through a quick 30-semester hour program. Entrepreneurship isn't the only program offered entirely online, though, as students can pick from 18 different programs, ranging from certificates to master's degrees. The program that students do end up picking will determine their tuition per credit, so students with previous credit can reduce the time and cost of their program.

  6. University of North Carolina Wilmington
    Location

    Wilmington, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Joining the UNC system nearly 50 years ago, the University of North Carolina Wilmington may not be the oldest or most storied institution in North Carolina, but they have gained national attention. Their dedication to student experience and innovation is noticeable not just with the growth of the school, but also with the growth of their online program. Online undergraduate degrees as UNC Wilmington are similar to those found at other schools, save a few of their majors. For example, their bachelor's in exercise science is a unique program both for its academics and format. Students that pursue this online degree with take courses in 6 sessions throughout the year, and courses last 7 weeks at a time. All of their bachelor's degrees can be completed entirely online, except for clinical experience (if required). UNC Wilmington also has an array of master's degrees and one doctoral degree in nursing practice.

  7. East Carolina University
    Location

    Greenville, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded over 100 years ago as a teacher training school, East Carolina University is now one of the largest schools in North Carolina. While the school has experienced significant growth over the years, they've managed to maintain the same level of quality across all their programs - including those offered online. ECU's online school has over 50 degree choices, many more than most online schools across the nation. For students that are interested in earning a bachelor's degree, it's important to know that all their online bachelor's programs are degree completion. Transfer students and students that are switching to online education should have little to no problem getting their credits to go toward their new degree at ECU. ECU recommends that all transfer students enter with at least the first 2 years of their college education completed, or with a compatible associate degree. Also, a few programs require some campus attendance.

  8. North Carolina Central University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    There is plenty to know about North Carolina Central University aside from the fact that they were the first public liberal arts school for African Americans. Since 1909, NCCU has been working to find new ways to reach students, which led to the creation of their online school. What makes NCCU online unique is that they offer 2 of their 3 most popular undergraduate degrees entirely online: a bachelor's in criminal justice and a bachelor's in psychology. Both of these online programs carry the same amount of respect as a traditional bachelor's from NCCU would. NCCU's commitment to making their online program one of the best in the state extends beyond academics. Students that earn a degree online will have access to special networking and job opportunities, helping them find a new career upon graduating. These programs are designed with working students in mind, so even busy students can find a way to make their online degrees work.

  9. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
    Location

    Charlotte, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in one of the busiest cities in the state, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte was founded after WWII specifically to be a research institution. While UNC Charlotte is still recognized for their research, they've since expanded into other areas, one of the most recent being distance education. UNC Charlotte's online program is into 4 colleges: education, engineering, liberal arts & sciences and health & human services. Each of these colleges has multiple undergraduate and graduate degree options, some of which are 4-year programs that can be completed entirely online. Some of the specific programs may also require in-person experience; for example, to become a certified teacher in North Carolina, students in the online school of education will still be required to gain licensure through clinical experience. Anyone worried about the quality of UNC Charlotte's online school should know that all online courses are taught by the same professors that teach on campus.

  10. Grace College of Divinity
    Location

    Fayetteville, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Formerly known as Grace Leadership Institute, Grace College of Divinity is a Christian school that offers education down 1 of 4 tracks: leadership, worship, ministry and family life. Following that, there are only 4 undergraduate options at GCD, each of which follows at least one of those tracks. These bachelor's degrees are made available through a variety of means, including entirely online. Online courses have students engage in online discussion boards, keeping everyone within the GCD community. GCD does require some in-person experience, and the required experience varies depending on the degree - so, strictly speaking, not all of the undergraduate degrees can be completed entirely online. That being said, each program is structured for students that are currently working, so there is flexibility regardless of how they study.

Top Online Associate Programs

  1. Pitt Community College
    Location

    Winterville, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  2. Fayetteville Technical Community College
    Location

    Fayetteville, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  3. Wake Technical Community College
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  4. Craven Community College
    Location

    New Bern, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  5. Guilford Technical Community College
    Location

    Jamestown, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  6. Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
    Location

    Salisbury, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  7. Stanly Community College
    Location

    Albemarle, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  8. Richmond Community College
    Location

    Hamlet, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  9. Durham Technical Community College
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

  10. South Piedmont Community College
    Location

    Monroe, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$


What Are the Goals of an Online Degree?

Online colleges in North Carolina make higher education accessible for students who might not otherwise pursue an undergraduate degree due to their specific life circumstances. The flexibility of online programs allows enrollees to pursue a degree while balancing work and personal responsibilities. Additionally, online degrees often cost less than on-campus degrees.

To further encourage students, colleges and universities offer online degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Online enrollees pursue degrees in diverse fields including science, engineering, social work, and nursing.

Why Get an Online Degree?

Online programs provide flexibility and convenience for students who wish to earn a degree without giving up professional and personal responsibilities. The five reasons below contribute to the continued popularity of online programs.

Earn a Degree in Less Time
Multiple start dates throughout a school year and accelerated delivery schedules (typically eight-week terms) often allow online enrollees to complete their program ahead of their on-campus counterparts.
No Career Interruption
Many students keep working at full-time or part-time jobs while enrolled in an online program, which means they do not suffer loss of income even as they pursue a degree.
Prepare for Graduate Study
Most master’s programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree for consideration; few make a distinction between applicants holding an on-campus or online degree from an accredited school.
Expand Educational Options
Students interested in pursuing a degree not offered by schools in their home state often still achieve their academic and career goals by enrolling in an out-of-state online program.
Meet Job Requirements
Many businesses and companies often prefer to hire or promote bachelor’s degree-holders for managerial and leadership positions that come with increased responsibilities and higher salaries.

What Are the Requirements for an Online School?

Accredited online schools and programs usually maintain the same requirements for off-campus and on-campus applicants. Online students, however, must ensure they possess the necessary equipment and internet access required by online schools and programs. Above-average technical skills and familiarity with the online learning environment contribute to an online student’s academic success.

Off-site programs with internship components (such as nursing or social work degrees) usually allow online enrollees to meet this requirement within their home communities. Just as with admission, degree requirements for online and onsite enrollees usually remain the same.

How Does College Accreditation Work?

Scholarships for Online Students

Many North Carolina online colleges offer the same scholarship opportunities to their off- and on-campus enrollees. However, online students often also explore funding options from civic organizations, professional associations in their area of study, and state and government agencies. The five scholarships below make up a small sample of available scholarship programs for North Carolina college students.

  • North Carolina Business and Professional Women's Foundation Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: The program welcomes applications from female students enrolled full time or part time at a two- or four-year North Carolina college who have completed their first year of college. Applicants submit a summary of their career goals and demonstrate financial need.

    Amount: $1,500

    See Scholarship

  • North Carolina Hospitality Education Foundation Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Partnering with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, NC HEF administers several financial aid packages for students pursuing a two- or four-year program in hospitality and tourism, or a related degree. Some scholarships accept applications from postgraduate students. Eligibility and application requirements vary for each scholarship.

    Amount: $2,500-$10,000

    See Scholarship

  • North State Law Enforcement Officers Association Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants show proof of enrollment in a criminal justice program (or a related field of study) in a North Carolina institution, do not exceed 24 years of age, and hold no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions. The program requires applicants to hold a 3.0 GPA. Applicants submit a completed FAFSA.

    Amount: $1,000

    See Scholarship

  • SECU Foundation “People Helping People” Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation welcomes applications from North Carolina high school seniors accepted to one of University of North Carolina’s 16 schools. Applicants show a minimum unweighted 2.5 GPA and proof of eligibility for in-state tuition. The program requires applicants to submit the FAFSA.

    Amount: $10,000

    See Scholarship

  • The North Carolina Hispanic College Fund

    Who Can Apply: The North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals welcomes applications from graduates of a North Carolina high school of Hispanic/Latino descent. Applicants enroll in a two- or four-year college and show a history of involvement with the Hispanic/Latino community. The program gives preference to foreign-born applicants or U.S.-born applicants of foreign-born parents.

    Amount: $500-$3,000

    See Scholarship

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.


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