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.
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Online enrollees typically save on additional living and transportation costs. Additionally, many online programs follow an accelerated delivery schedule, reducing cost.
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).
The North Carolina Promise Tuition Plan reduced tuition to $500 per semester in three UNC System schools enrolling more than 20,000 students.
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
Appalachian State University's App State Online offers synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. App State Online's bachelor's program lineup covers business management, communications, education, nursing, and social work.
Online graduate degrees include master of public administration and library science programs, while doctoral students can complete an Ed.D. in educational leadership. A total of 21 certificate programs supplement App State Online's diverse distance learning opportunities.
App State Online's undergraduate programs cater to transfer students, requiring at least 24 transferable credits and a 2.25 minimum GPA for admission. The university holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school's first-year student retention rate of 86.5% indicates high levels of learner satisfaction.
The University of North Carolina Wilmington offers an extensive list of online certificate and degree programs. Online learning opportunities at this regionally accredited institution include nondegree, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs.
UNCW's seven online bachelor's degrees include clinical research, criminology, interdisciplinary studies, international studies, and RN-to-BSN nursing programs. Prospective teachers can major in elementary or middle school education. Master's students benefit from a robust program lineup featuring accelerated MBAs and 12 specialized education degrees. Learners can also earn doctoral credentials in nursing practice and education.
Most programs feature asynchronous schedules that facilitate flexible learning. However, some courses maintain synchronous requirements. In-state undergraduate tuition rates for the 2021-22 academic year are under $5,000 per year, making UNCW highly affordable.
To qualify for admission, first-time undergraduates must meet minimum course requirement standards. These include at least four course units each of English and mathematics, three course units of science, and two course units each of social studies and foreign languages.
NCCU Online features a total of 28 fully online certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs. The regionally accredited school delivers its online programs through the Blackboard platform, leveraging the technology's advanced features to create a seamless learning experience that closely replicates the traditional classroom.
The school's nine online bachelor's programs include majors in behavioral science, criminal justice, early childhood and elementary education, environmental science, and hospitality administration. Master's students enjoy 13 available programs in counseling, education, information and library science, mathematics, and business administration.
NCCU Online highlights career growth and access to employment opportunities. The school maintains affordable tuition rates, with in-state undergraduates paying $184 per credit for the 2021-22 school year.
The University of Carolina at Greensboro offers nationally ranked undergraduate and graduate programs through its UNCG Online learning network. Most of the university's online programs support asynchronous learning, maximizing student scheduling flexibility. The school is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Undergraduate learners can earn a bachelor's degree in peace and conflict studies, human development, entrepreneurship, and supply chain management. Online graduate degree programs cover arts and sciences, business, education, music, and interdisciplinary studies. Learners pursuing healthcare careers enjoy multiple degree options in nursing and health and human sciences.
UNCG holds state authorization to provide online education to learners in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Fayetteville State University (FSU) offers online undergraduate and graduate programs. Distance learners can earn bachelor's degrees in accounting, business administration, and RN-to-BSN nursing. The school also offers several online bachelor's programs in intelligence studies and fire and emergency services administration.
Online graduate offerings include a fully online MBA program, along with criminal justice, nursing, psychology, and sociology. The military-friendly school features generous transfer credit policies. FSU supports online students with extensive resources, including orientation sessions and learning modules that introduce learners to the school's digital learning platform.
Students can access academic assistance through the institution's FSU Engage portal, which offers online tutoring and writing labs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.