Best colleges North Carolina

2022 best colleges in North Carolina

With leading academics and top sports teams, what’s not to love about North Carolina’s higher education scene? On par with the country’s top institutions, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is designated as a Public Ivy and one of the oldest and most environmentally friendly universities in the nation. Duke University ranks among the most diverse institutions in the state and its sports teams consistently top national charts. Perhaps less well known but equally deserving of attention is East Carolina University – the only university in the state to boast a medical school, dental school, and engineering school all on one campus.

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Net cost: The median annual cost of all students that receive any aid. This does not refer to the “sticker price”, the price listed by the college.

Earnings: The median earnings of all bachelor-level students 10 years after enrollment. This includes both students that do and do not graduate, across all majors.

Payback: The amount of time in years it takes to pay off the median net cost by the median earnings. For this calculation, the median earning of high school graduates (in the school’s home state) are deducted from the median earnings.

Earningsplus: The difference between the school’s median earnings and the median earnings for all schools in the same state.

Rankings: The ranking order is based on the economic score. The economic score is calculated using a school’s payback and earningsplus performance.

Net cost
Payback
Earnings
EarningsPlus
Rankings
Ranking methodology
#1 in North Carolina | #9 in National Universities

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

Economic score: 0.70

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $27,020

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $93,115

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $51,044

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 8%
Graduation rate: 96%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#2 in North Carolina | #18 in National Universities

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Economic score: 0.86

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $12,352

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $61,915

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $19,844

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 26%
Graduation rate: 90%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#3 in North Carolina

Elizabeth City State University

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Economic score: 1.01

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $2,350

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: Under a year

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $35,274

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $6,797

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 75%
Graduation rate: 46%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#4 in North Carolina | #4 in Liberal Arts

Davidson College

Davidson, North Carolina

Economic score: 1.15

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $19,115

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $71,671

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $29,600

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 20%
Graduation rate: 91%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#5 in North Carolina | #53 in National Universities

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Raleigh, North Carolina

Economic score: 1.26

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $16,458

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.8 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $61,353

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $19,282

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 47%
Graduation rate: 81%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#6 in North Carolina | #60 in National Universities

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Economic score: 1.29

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $29,990

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $74,968

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $32,897

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 32%
Graduation rate: 89%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#7 in North Carolina | #126 in National Universities

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina

Economic score: 2.02

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

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Net cost: $16,529

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $52,252

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $10,181

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 80%
Graduation rate: 61%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#8 in North Carolina

Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Economic score: 2.24

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $5,899

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $36,409

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $5,662

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 80%
Graduation rate: 44%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#9 in North Carolina | #162 in National Universities

Elon University

Elon, North Carolina

Economic score: 2.35

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $37,230

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $64,238

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $22,167

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 72%
Graduation rate: 83%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#10 in North Carolina

Appalachian State University

Boone, North Carolina

Economic score: 2.37

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $13,920

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $45,602

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $3,531

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 80%
Graduation rate: 73%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#11 in North Carolina | #189 in National Universities

East Carolina University

Greenville, North Carolina

Economic score: 2.49

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $15,844

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.8 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $47,403

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $5,332

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 88%
Graduation rate: 68%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#12 in North Carolina | #190 in National Universities

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, North Carolina

Economic score: 2.49

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $12,748

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $44,195

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $2,124

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 88%
Graduation rate: 57%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#13 in North Carolina | #191 in National Universities

University of North Carolina Wilmington

Wilmington, North Carolina

Economic score: 2.49

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $19,055

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $49,739

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $7,668

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 68%
Graduation rate: 73%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#14 in North Carolina | #59 in Liberal Arts

University of North Carolina at Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina

Economic score: 2.63

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $12,061

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $42,027

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $44

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 80%
Graduation rate: 62%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#15 in North Carolina | #205 in National Universities

North Carolina A & T State University

Greensboro, North Carolina

Economic score: 2.65

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $10,274

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $41,157

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $914

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 57%
Graduation rate: 54%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#16 in North Carolina

Queens University of Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina

Economic score: 2.69

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $25,078

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $52,880

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $10,809

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 69%
Graduation rate: 51%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#17 in North Carolina

Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, North Carolina

Economic score: 2.77

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $13,722

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $43,366

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $1,295

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 49%
Graduation rate: 64%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#18 in North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Pembroke, North Carolina

Economic score: 3.05

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $10,228

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.8 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $39,279

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: - $2,792

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 92%
Graduation rate: 46%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#19 in North Carolina | #248 in National Universities

Wingate University

Wingate, North Carolina

Economic score: 3.10

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $18,759

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $46,233

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $4,162

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 74%
Graduation rate: 54%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#20 in North Carolina

Lenoir-Rhyne University

Hickory, North Carolina

Economic score: 3.19

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $18,924

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3.4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $45,457

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $3,386

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 77%
Graduation rate: 55%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

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