Top Nursing Schools in North Carolina

Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 McDowell Technical Community College 91.00 $$$$$ 8:1 2 13%
2 Rockingham Community College 90.00 $$$$$ 11:1 2 14%
3 Haywood Community College 88.75 $$$$$ 6:1 2 23%
4 Vance-Granville Community College 88.50 $$$$$ 16:1 2 23%
5 Blue Ridge Community College 88.25 $$$$$ 12:1 2 24%
6 Wayne Community College 87.75 $$$$$ 11:1 2 22%
7 College of the Albemarle 87.25 $$$$$ 13:1 2 18%
8 Coastal Carolina Community College 86.75 $$$$$ 14:1 2 20%
9 Bladen Community College 86.75 $$$$$ 12:1 2 20%
10 Cleveland Community College 86.25 $$$$$ 10:1 2 19%
11 Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College 86.25 $$$$$ 18:1 2 28%
12 Western Piedmont Community College 83.75 $$$$$ 11:1 2 19%
13 Craven Community College 83.75 $$$$$ 14:1 2 12%
14 Randolph Community College 83.50 $$$$$ 13:1 2 10%
15 Sampson Community College 83.25 $$$$$ 14:1 2 18%
16 Forsyth Technical Community College 83.00 $$$$$ 13:1 1 11%
17 James Sprunt Community College 83.00 $$$$$ 14:1 2 16%
18 Piedmont Community College 82.25 $$$$$ 10:1 2 14%
19 Johnston Community College 82.00 $$$$$ 16:1 2 24%
20 Central Carolina Community College 81.25 $$$$$ 16:1 2 22%
21 Lenoir Community College 81.00 $$$$$ 10:1 2 13%
22 Mayland Community College 81.00 $$$$$ 14:1 2 31%
23 Carteret Community College 81.00 $$$$$ 8:1 2 19%
24 Wilkes Community College 80.75 $$$$$ 11:1 2 17%
25 Cape Fear Community College 80.00 $$$$$ 13:1 2 20%
26 Isothermal Community College 79.75 $$$$$ 13:1 2 8%
27 Catawba Valley Community College 79.75 $$$$$ 11:1 2 14%
28 Pitt Community College 79.50 $$$$$ 17:1 2 12%
29 Rowan-Cabarrus Community College 79.50 $$$$$ 11:1 2 13%
30 Roanoke-Chowan Community College 79.25 $$$$$ 13:1 2 13%
31 Alamance Community College 79.25 $$$$$ 15:1 2 11%
32 Surry Community College 79.00 $$$$$ 17:1 2 23%
33 Beaufort County Community College 78.75 $$$$$ 13:1 2 7%
34 Durham Technical Community College 78.25 $$$$$ 18:1 2 12%
35 South Piedmont Community College 78.25 $$$$$ 15:1 2 7%
36 Brunswick Community College 77.75 $$$$$ 21:1 2 25%
37 Tri-County Community College 77.25 $$$$$ 16:1 2 11%
38 Wilson Community College 77.25 $$$$$ 15:1 2 12%
39 Halifax Community College 76.25 $$$$$ 11:1 2 10%
40 Davidson County Community College 75.75 $$$$$ 20:1 2 23%
41 Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute 75.75 $$$$$ 18:1 2 12%
42 Stanly Community College 75.50 $$$$$ 15:1 2 18%
43 Sandhills Community College 75.50 $$$$$ 16:1 2 11%
44 Richmond Community College 75.25 $$$$$ 15:1 2 9%
45 Mitchell Community College 75.25 $$$$$ 21:1 2 20%
46 Gaston College 72.25 $$$$$ 20:1 2 21%
47 Mercy School of Nursing 72.25 $$$$$ 4:1 2 N/A
48 Carolinas College of Health Sciences 71.50 $$$$$ 7:1 2 N/A
Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 93.75 $$$$$ 13:1 3 90%
2 Duke University 93.25 $$$$$ 7:1 1 95%
3 Winston-Salem State University 91.50 $$$$$ 14:1 4 46%
4 East Carolina University 91.00 $$$$$ 18:1 4 59%
5 Western Carolina University 90.75 $$$$$ 16:1 6 58%
6 Queens University of Charlotte 90.50 $$$$$ 10:1 9 62%
7 University of North Carolina Wilmington 90.25 $$$$$ 17:1 9 71%
8 Gardner-Webb University 90.25 $$$$$ 13:1 2 54%
9 University of North Carolina at Greensboro 89.50 $$$$$ 17:1 6 56%
10 North Carolina Central University 89.25 $$$$$ 15:1 14 47%
11 Cabarrus College of Health Sciences 89.25 $$$$$ 6:1 11 38%
12 University of North Carolina at Charlotte 88.75 $$$$$ 19:1 6 55%
13 Appalachian State University 88.75 $$$$$ 16:1 14 70%
14 University of North Carolina at Pembroke 88.25 $$$$$ 15:1 11 34%
15 Barton College 87.75 $$$$$ 11:1 11 44%
16 Lenoir-Rhyne University 87.25 $$$$$ 12:1 14 54%
17 North Carolina A & T State University 87.00 $$$$$ 18:1 14 48%
18 University of Mount Olive 86.75 $$$$$ 13:1 14 43%
19 Fayetteville State University 86.25 $$$$$ 18:1 14 35%
20 Pfeiffer University 86.25 $$$$$ 12:1 14 35%
21 Wingate University 86.25 $$$$$ 15:1 14 51%
22 Lees-McRae College 85.25 $$$$$ 15:1 14 38%
23 Methodist University 84.75 $$$$$ 12:1 14 34%

North Carolina Schools for Nursing

With a projected shortfall in qualified nurses, nursing schools in North Carolina are stepping up to provide additional programs and more flexible opportunities for students. Entry-level, pre-licensure programs fall under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBON) and are offered as both two-year and four-year programs. Registered nurses may earn an associate degree or a bachelor of science in nursing to meet the requirements for state licensure. The search tool below can help you narrow your school choices to those that meet your personal and professional needs.

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Getting a North Carolina Nursing License

Nurses must undergo rigorous training and hold a valid license in order to practice in North Carolina. And those who want to treat patients in a specialized area as a nurse practitioner or other advanced practice nurse must fulfill additional requirements. The North Carolina Board of Nursing oversees the licensure process an effort to standardize care at the highest level across the state.

Requirements

  • Applicants whose state of residence is a Compact State other than North Carolina should apply for licensure in their home state. That license is good in all Compact States. If your home state is not a Compact State, apply for a single-state license in North Carolina.
  • Complete a Board-approved RN education program
  • Complete Nurse Gateway registration, which gives registrants access to license applications and other tools
  • Apply to take the NCLEX-RN exam and submit the non-refundable $75 fee
  • Submit the NCBON identification document
  • Register to take the NCLEX-RN exam and pay the $200 fee
  • Provide proof of completion of an approved education program. Graduates of an out-of-state school will need to have their institution submit official transcripts directly to the NCBON. International graduates are required to complete a Credentials Evaluation Service (CES Professional Report) or submit a CGFNS Certificate or VisaScreen. In most cases, international applicants will also need to pass an English proficiency exam.
  • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN

Renewing Your North Carolina Nursing License

Nursing licenses expire on the last day of the nurse’s birth month every two years and the Board of Nursing mails reminders three months prior to the expiration date. License renewals must be completed online no more than three months prior to expiration. Continuing Competence requirements must also be fulfilled on time. These include:

  • 15 contact hours of continuing education and 640 hours of practice in the last two years
  • National certification or re-certification
  • 30 contact hours of continued education (CE)
  • Completion of a refresher course that is Board approved
  • Completion of at least two semester hours of post-licensure academic nursing education
  • 15 contact hours of CE and completion of a nursing project as principal investigator or co-investigator
  • 15 contact hours of CE and completion of CE education presentations that total at least five contact hours
  • 15 contact hours of CE and publication of an article, paper, book or book chapter as the author or co-author

All nurses must meet one of the above requirements and submit a $100 fee to renew their licenses.

Becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse in NC

Advanced practice nurses are able to work in a specialized area of health care and often with minimal supervision. They are essentially registered nurses who have completed formal, advanced training to become certified nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse practitioners. Licensure requirements for these nurses are similar to the above, but also include a few additional steps:

  • Complete a master’s or higher degree program in a nursing specialty
  • Hold national certification in the specialty
  • Submit an application for licensure in the field

The North Carolina Board of Nursing website has more information about advanced practice licensing and renewal.

Nursing by the Numbers in NC

It’s clear that nurses are in high demand, and that demand will only continue to grow. As baby boomers age and practicing nurses are lost to attrition, the state will need to add to its pool of qualified health care professionals. Get a better idea of what the nursing field looks like in North Carolina by reviewing the salary and employment data below:

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in North Carolina

Area Hourly Median Wage Annual Median Wage
Durham-Chapel Hill $31.80 $66,140
Greenville $30.04 $62,490
Asheville $29.41 $61,170
Fayetteville $29.34 $61,030
Greensboro-High Point $29.04 $60,410
Winston-Salem $28.98 $60,290
Raleigh-Cary $28.66 $59,600
Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill NC-SC $28.06 $58,370
Western Central North Carolina nonmetropolitan area $27.38 $56,950
Other North Carolina nonmetropolitan area $27.24 $56,660

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

North Carolina vs. National Numbers

Salary
  • North Carolina
  • National
  • Annual Salary (25th percentile)
  • Annual Salary (median)
  • Annual Salary (75th percentile)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Employment
Total Employment (2014)
2022 occupational outlook
Avg. annual openings (2012 – 2022)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central

Resources for NC Nurses

Continuing Education

A number of podcasts are available for continuing education and personal development through the Board of Nursing.

North Carolina Association of Occupational Health Nurses

The North Carolina Association of Occupational Health Nurses is a group of about 300 occupational nurses in the state that works with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses to advance the field.

North Carolina Board of Nursing

The North Carolina Board of Nursing regulates the practice of nursing and is the government agency that issues licenses and approves educational facilities.

North Carolina Nurses Association

North Carolina Nurses Association is the professional organization for nurses in the state and advocates for nurses and their patients.

North Carolina Organization for Nurse Leaders

North Carolina Organization for Nurse Leaders helps promote nursing leadership and boost public policy to strengthen the field. It partners with several other organizations in the state to also help improve patient care.

School Nurses Association of North Carolina

The School Nurses Association of North Carolina was established in 1992 to provide networking opportunities, professional resources and advocacy for school nurses in the state.