Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in North Carolina [2022 Guide]

Updated August 17, 2022 • 6 Min Read

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Many different people are drawn to the nursing field. Whether attracted to the lucrative salaries, the reward of helping others, or the challenge of working in a dynamic healthcare setting, nursing schools in North Carolina can help aspiring RNs achieve their career goals. Find out more about where you can get proper education and training, as well as what is required to become licensed in North Carolina. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Top Nursing Schools in North Carolina

Methodology +


The top nursing programs listed in this state's ranking were determined by comparison of three primary, equally-weighted criteria including

  • Student-to-faculty ration
  • In-state tuition
  • Graduation rate

Additional details for each school were included:

  • Count of programs available
  • Public and not-for-profit schools
  • Normalized on a 100 percent curve

The methodology used for tie-break is as follows...

  • Ties are broken based on lowest average net price for full-time, first-time undergraduates paying in-state tuition (average cost of tuition and expenses after grants and scholarships).
  • If necessary, the lowest in-state tuition rate is used as a second tie-break

2-Year Schools

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Chapel Hill, NC

  2. Duke University

    Durham, NC

  3. Winston-Salem State University

    Winston-Salem, NC

  4. East Carolina University

    Greenville, NC

  5. Western Carolina University

    Cullowhee, NC

  6. Queens University of Charlotte

    Charlotte, NC

  7. University of North Carolina Wilmington

    Wilmington, NC

  8. Gardner-Webb University

    Boiling Springs, NC

  9. University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    Greensboro, NC

  10. North Carolina Central University

    Durham, NC

4-Year Schools

  1. McDowell Technical Community College

    Marion, NC

  2. Rockingham Community College

    Wentworth, NC

  3. Haywood Community College

    Clyde, NC

  4. Vance-Granville Community College

    Henderson, NC

  5. Blue Ridge Community College

    Flat Rock, NC

  6. Wayne Community College

    Goldsboro, NC

  7. College of the Albemarle

    Elizabeth City, NC

  8. Coastal Carolina Community College

    Jacksonville, NC

  9. Bladen Community College

    Dublin, NC

  10. Cleveland Community College

    Shelby, NC

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.

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.

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  • 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

AreaHourly Median WageAnnual Median Wage
Durham-Chapel Hill$31.80$66,140
Greensboro-High Point$29.04$60,410
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

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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.

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.

See All Posts is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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