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Online Colleges in North Carolina

Most Affordable Online Colleges
Article Sources

Sources:

  1. Fully online degree programs, UNC Online, http://programs.northcarolina.edu/
  2. Distance learning, McDowell Technical Community College, http://www.mcdowelltech.edu/dist_learn.html
  3. History of the College, South Piedmont Community College, http://www.spcc.edu/about/history-of-the-college-2/
  4. Vanguard Voyager, Vance-Granville Community College, http://www.vgcc.edu/vanguardvoyager/index.html
  5. Distance Learning, Rockingham Community College, http://www.rockinghamcc.edu/distance-learning
  6. Programs Available Online, Craven Community College, http://cravencc.edu/distance-learning/programs-available-online/
  7. Programs and Degrees, Fayetteville State University, http://www.uncfsu.edu/onlineeducation/programs-and-degrees
  8. Distance Education Courses, Elizabeth City State University, http://www.ecsu.edu/academics/offices/distance-education/students/getting-started.html
  9. Distance Learning, Winston-Salem State University, https://www.wssu.edu/academics/distance-learning/default.aspx
  10. Online Programs, UNC Pembroke, http://www.uncp.edu/academics/online-distance-education/online-programs
  11. The List: These are Charlotte's Largest Employers, Amy Shapiro, Charlotte Business Journal, July 5, 2016, http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2016/07/01/these-are-charlottes-largest-employers.html
  12. Major Employers, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, http://www.raleighchamber.org/major-employers.html
  13. Major Companies, Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, http://www.greensboropartnership.com/greensboro-story/living-greensboro/major-companies
  14. Accreditation, Carolina College of Biblical Studies, http://www.ccbs.edu/about-ccbs/accreditation/
  15. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, http://www.sacscoc.org/
  16. The Institute for College Access and Success, North Carolina, Accessed December 2016, http://ticas.org/posd/state-state-data-2015#overlay=posd/state_data/2015/nc
  17. North Carolina Education Lottery Scholarship, Accessed December 2016, https://www.cfnc.org/Gateway?command=GetBasedProgramDetail&note=no&type=7&vocType=-1&vocational=no&id=7
  18. North Carolina Need-Based Scholarship, Accessed December 2016, https://www.cfnc.org/Gateway?command=GetBasedProgramDetail&note=no&type=7&vocType=-1&vocational=no&id=161
  19. Florence Kidder Memorial Scholarship, Accessed December 2016, https://www.cfnc.org/Gateway?command=GetBasedProgramDetail&note=yes&type=8&vocType=11&vocational=no&id=174
  20. NC Community College Grant Program, Accessed December 2016, https://www.cfnc.org/Gateway?command=GetBasedProgramDetail&note=no&type=7&vocType=-1&vocational=no&id=24
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As home to such big names as UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University, North Carolina is a major player in higher education. Students from across the nation head to these universities and other schools in the state to earn their degrees and embark on new careers.

However, if you have a family or a job, you know how hard it can be to study on campus. You may have to rearrange your work schedule or even uproot your family so you can relocate closer to school. Fortunately, online colleges in North Carolina are making it easier for busier adults to get the education they need.

Both the University of North Carolina (UNC) system and the North Carolina Community College system, as well as numerous private institutions, have put their degree programs online. These include popular majors such as business and psychology as well as more specialized programs like the Bachelor of Science in Neurodiagnostics and Sleep Science completion program which is offered as a joint effort by UNC Charlotte and UNC Chapel Hill.

At UNC alone, students can select from more than 400 online degree programs offered by its 17 participating institutions. These include certificates, undergraduate and graduate degree programs. When combined with the options at other online colleges in North Carolina, students should have no trouble finding the right program for their career goals.

The chart below takes a closer look at exactly how many degree programs - both on-campus and online - are offered in North Carolina.

Degree LevelNumber of Online ProgramsNumber of Colleges
Associate26259
Bachelor's16636
Master's19332

The number of online degrees offered in the state can be overwhelming so let's narrow down your choices. Keep reading for a closer look at a few of the most affordable online colleges in North Carolina.

Affordable Online Colleges in North Carolina

When it comes to selecting a school, tuition is one of the most important considerations for many students. OnlineColleges.com has analyzed the in-state tuition rates for online colleges in North Carolina and found the following have some of the lowest costs. Tuition figures are sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics and reflect in-state tuition (when in-state tuition is available) for all students, including online students.

To see North Carolina schools ranked by quality and other factors, use our Top Colleges tool.

Affordable Two-Year Online Colleges in North Carolina

We'll start by looking at a few of the most affordable online community colleges in North Carolina. These institutions offer certificate programs, associate degree programs and similar education programs.

1

McDowell Technical Community College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$1,716
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
43.13%
Institution Type
Public

About

Located in Marion, McDowell Technical Community College tops the list of most affordable online colleges in North Carolina for those who want to earn an associate degree. The school offers a wide range of diploma and certificate programs as well as several associate degrees. Some online courses have special 14 week terms, and these cover subjects such as accounting, business administration, communications, computer information and operations management.

Online students at McDowell Technical Community College have several learning options. In addition to fully online courses, hybrid and web-assisted courses are available. These classes may be good choices for those who want to combine the convenience of online learning with some face-to-face instruction in the classroom.

School Website: 
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2

South Piedmont Community College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$1,728
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
56.63%
Institution Type
Public

About

South Piedmont Community College is a relative newcomer on the higher education scene. It was established in 1999, making it the latest addition to the North Carolina Community College system. While its main campus is in Polkton, students from across the state and even farther afield can take advantage of its distance learning options.

Those include fully online courses, blended classes that combine online with on-campus instruction and web-enhanced classes that are mainly taught on campus but use virtual resources. Accounting, business, criminal justice and psychology are a few of the subjects offering online classes at South Piedmont Community College.

School Website: 
GO
3

Rockingham Community College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$1,728
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
30.60%
Institution Type
Public

About

At Rockingham Community College, online students have a variety of learning opportunities. They can study in fully online courses or opt for hybrid classes which have some on-campus requirements. There are also web-assisted courses, video conferencing and telecourses which also offer various levels of flexibility.

Rather than having fully online degree programs, Rockingham Community College integrates their distance learning into the traditional curriculum. That means some degrees can be earned by taking half the required courses online. Business, criminal justice, economics and sociology are a few of those programs with a large number of online courses available.

School Website: 
GO
4

Craven Community College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$1,728
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
74.17%
Institution Type
Public

About

Founded in 1965, Craven Community College is another award-winning affordable online college in North Carolina. It has been on several lists of top colleges and earned the Gold for Best College in the 2016 New Bern Sun Journal Readers' Choice Awards.

Since not all classes are offered online at all times, the college notes it might not be possible to complete an entire degree program online. However, degrees in general education, accounting, business administration, criminal justice technology, information technology, early childhood education and entrepreneurship are among those programs with online courses. There are also 10 diploma and 25 certificate programs which are offered through distance learning.

School Website: 
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5

Vance-Granville Community College

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$1,776
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
52.90%
Institution Type
Public

About

Students looking for the most affordable online colleges in North Carolina may want to consider Vance-Granville Community College for an associate degree. Not only is the school affordable, it has also been tapped for a spot on two lists of the best online colleges in North Carolina.

Overall, Vance-Granville Community College offers more than 40 degree, diploma and certificate programs. Business administration, criminal justice technology, entrepreneurship and global logistics and distribution management technology are a few of those which have all their courses available online. Other programs - such as accounting and nursing - may be completed partially online.

School Website: 
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Affordable Four-Year Online Colleges in North Carolina

Students interested in earning a bachelor's degree or a graduate degree will need to head to a four-year school. The following universities are among the most affordable online colleges in North Carolina for four-year degrees.

1

Elizabeth City State University

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,820
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
48.08%
Institution Type
Public

About

Elizabeth City State University was originally formed in 1891 to provide teacher education to African-Americans in North Carolina. Since then, the school has grown to offer 22 undergraduate and four graduate degree programs. In addition to its affordable tuition, the university is known for small class sizes and rigorous academics.

For online students, Elizabeth City State University doesn't offer any fully online degree programs. However, online classes are available in a variety of subjects and can be used to reduce the time needed on campus. Those classes cover a wide range of subjects including aviation science, engineering technology and history among others.

School Website: 
GO
2

Fayetteville State University

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,833
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
50.79%
Institution Type
Public

About

Boasting a diverse student body and nationally recognized academic programs, Fayetteville State University tops the list of four-year affordable online colleges in North Carolina. The school offers seven bachelor's degrees as online degree completion programs. These programs allow students to take their upper-division classes online after they have completed their core requirements either at the university or through a partnering community college.

Criminal justice, psychology, sociology and RN-BSN programs are some of the online bachelor's degree completion programs available at Fayetteville State University. The school also offers an online MBA and an online Master of Science in criminal justice.

School Website: 
GO
3

Winston-Salem State University

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,238
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
29.45%
Institution Type
Public

About

With a rich history dating to 1892, Winston-Salem State University is another historically black institution which has grown to become one of the nation's premier schools. Within the realm of distance education, the school has a commitment to providing higher education opportunities to those who may not be able to complete a traditional degree program.

The online programs at Winston-Salem State University include a RN-BSN, birth to kindergarten education degree program and bachelor's degrees in clinical laboratory science and interdisciplinary studies. There are also online master's degrees in rehabilitation counseling and advanced nurse educator programs.

School Website: 
GO
4

North Carolina A & T State University

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,370
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
17.23%
Institution Type
Public

About

North Carolina A&T State University's programs are renowned for the education they provide students in agriculture and technology, and that expertise is reflected in its online degree programs.

Its bachelor's degree programs online are offered in agricultural education, business teacher education, information technology, electronics technology, geomatics, and environmental safety & health. Its master's degree programs are offered in agricultural education, information technology and instructional technology. It also offers a technology management online doctoral degree program.

School Website: 
GO
5

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Accredited
 
Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,371
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
40.29%
Institution Type
Public

About

Like other affordable online colleges in North Carolina, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke has a long history. It was founded in 1887 to educate American Indian teachers, and the school today maintains a diverse student body.

Pembroke's robust online degree program offerings include seven undergraduate degree programs and three master's degree programs. The bachelor's degree programs offered online include criminal justice, sociology and various concentrations in interdisciplinary studies among others. For graduate students, online programs include a MBA, a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Education in Elementary Education.

School Website: 
GO

College Accreditation in North Carolina

Students researching colleges in North Carolina should pay heed to how an institution is accredited. Accreditation is of utmost importance: the degrees earned from accredited institutions are considered valid because those educational programs have met larger standards of quality and administration. Students want to ensure they enroll in a college that has accreditation from an accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education.

The main accrediting body for most public, private two- and four-year colleges and universities in North Carolina is the following:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

North Carolina, like other southern states, has many small private faith-based colleges. Some are accredited through this accrediting body:

  • Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)

Students can check with the SACSCOC or the Department of Education to see how their prospective institution is accredited.

School Interviews

As technology advances, online education will continue to evolve in the years to come. OnlineColleges.com caught up with two North Carolina education experts for their perspective on what online students should know now and how distance learning may be changing in the future.

 Rebecca Cowles Swanson, Ph.D.
Online education, with schedule flexibility options, provides opportunity for students to obtain new skills or prepare for a new career …

Rebecca Cowles Swanson, Ph.D.

Associate Vice Provost, Distance and Distributed Education (DELTA)

North Carolina State University

Q. Can you provide an overview of your top degree program(s)?

North Carolina State University's Distance Education program fulfills its land grant mission by offering access to learning opportunities to students wherever located. Our online programs focus on the university's strengths in graduate level education in the STEM disciplines. Online programs include Engineering Online, ranked in the Top 10 Engineering programs by US News & World Report. The program includes 15 master's degrees in disciplines ranging from Aerospace Engineering to Nanoengineering. NC State's Online MBA program, ranked #9 in US News & World Report's Online MBA programs, offers an innovative curriculum for leadership and management with a global, technological focus.

Q. What advice do you have for prospective students about choosing an online program?

Take time to carefully consider whether or not this is the right program for your personal and professional goals. Explore the program website; attend virtual or campus information sessions; and email, call or visit with admissions counselors and program leaders. Also, consider your availability for completion of an online program, factoring your life responsibilities along with work and other time commitments.

Q. What are your thoughts on the future of online learning?

Current trends indicate most people will change careers several times in their lifetime. Online education, with schedule flexibility options, provides opportunity for students to obtain new skills or prepare for a new career with minimal disruption to their work and life circumstances.


 William Rivenbark
Online programs can be an excellent option for students looking to further their education but are unable to relocate to do so.

William Rivenbark

Program Director for the Master of Public Administration program

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Q. Can you provide an overview your top degree program(s)?

The UNC-Chapel Hill Master of Public Administration program is ranked sixth nationally in the specialty area of city management. Designed to prepare graduates for leadership, the MPA program combines rigorous academic study with practical experience. Launched in 2013, the online format (MPA@UNC) is designed for working professionals and others who require flexibility and want to remain in their current communities or organizations while pursuing a degree.

Q. What advice do you have for prospective students about choosing an online program?

For prospective students considering any graduate program, whether on campus or online, I'd strongly encourage them to select a program that delivers on two levels: it is designed to directly support its mission and it educates you for the career you envision. For those interested in studies offered online, effective time management and self-motivation are critical. But students should also understand that "online" does not always equal "undemanding." MPA@UNC is taught with live, online face-to-face instruction by the same School of Government faculty teaching on-campus courses. While flexibility is a bonus, it's important to keep in mind that the rigor and pace will match that of the program's on-campus format.

Q. What are your thoughts on the future of online learning?

Online programs can be an excellent option for students looking to further their education but are unable to relocate to do so. Our MPA@UNC students live and work in communities across the country. They are a diverse group who work in public service settings in local, state, and federal government; nonprofit organizations; the US military. But they all share a common goal and vision to reach their own leadership potential through furthering their education in public administration. Academic programs that can provide that opportunity and flexibility without compromising learning quality or the true educational experience are essential for higher education institutions that want to succeed in the online space.

Financial Aid in North Carolina

In North Carolina, college-bound students have lots of educational and financial support from the state. The organization called the College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) promotes access to higher education by assisting families with college planning, career planning, as well as through financial aid programs.

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, the average student loan debt is $25,218 in North Carolina. Luckily, there are numerous state financial aid programs to assist students with their college expense burden.

Here's a closer look at some financial aid programs that North Carolina students count on.

North Carolina Scholarships

Some North Carolina's state scholarships are given to students who have demonstrated academic excellence, while others require a combination of merit and financial need. Scholarships are a great way to offset the cost of college since they do not have to be repaid.

The ELS aims to assist North Carolina students in need of financial assistance to further their education. Eligible students must be undergraduates registered in a degree, certificate or diploma program at an in-state community college campus or University of North Carolina campus.

  • Application deadline:  Must file the FAFSA (priority deadline is February 1)
  • Award amount: $100 - $3,000 per year
  • Number of scholarships awarded: Not specified
  • Renewable: Yes
  • Minimum GPA:  Varies, depending on chosen institution
  • Merit vs. need-based:  Need
  • Ethnicity: All
  • Academic status:  Must be enrolled in six credit hours per semester
  • Residency required: Yes
Established by the North Carolina General Assembly, the Need-Based Scholarship assists students attending private educational institutions in the state of North Carolina. Eligible students must demonstrate financial need based on the FAFSA and the calculated Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and they must also meet requirements for the Federal Pell Grant.

  • Application deadline:  None, but the FAFSA must be filed and individual institutions may have their own deadlines
  • Award amount:  Varies, depending on EFC
  • Number of scholarships awarded: Not specified
  • Renewable: Yes
  • Minimum GPA:  N/A
  • Merit vs. need-based:  Need
  • Ethnicity: All
  • Academic status:  Must be enrolled in at least nine credit hours
  • Residency required:  Yes
In honor of North Carolina's first president of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, the Florence Kidder Memorial Scholarship awards students who plan to attend an in-state university or college. Eligible students must submit an application, transcript, letter of recommendation and an essay on a topic chosen by the foundation.

  • Application deadline:  February 5th, 2017
  • Award amount: $3,000 first-place award and $1,000 runner-up award
  • Number of scholarships awarded: 2
  • Renewable:  No
  • Minimum GPA:  N/A
  • Merit vs. need-based:  Both, but mostly merit
  • Ethnicity: All
  • Academic status:  Be a high school senior planning to attend a North Carolina college or university
  • Residency required:  Yes

For help with the scholarship process, check out our Ultimate Guide to Scholarships.

North Carolina Grants

For North Carolina students, there are a number of need-based sources of financial aid. One of the most used is designated for students who attend a North Carolina community college or public university and complete the FAFSA. Below is a more detailed look.

North Carolina residents enrolled at an in-state community college are eligible for this grant if they demonstrate financial need. Students must be enrolled in at least six credit hours per semester.

  • Application deadline:  Must file the FAFSA (priority deadline is February 1)
  • Award amount: $100 - $1,500
For students planning to attend one the University of North Carolina's 16 campuses, if they demonstrate financial need on their financial aid application, they could get assistance from the state.

  • Application deadline:  Must file the FAFSA to be automatically considered
  • Award amount: $500 to $4,200

Be sure to read the Ultimate Guide to Grants for advice and strategies on finding grants.

North Carolina Loans

North Carolina does not currently offer a state-based student loan program. However, students are encouraged to fill out the FAFSA in order to become eligible for federal students loan programs. Oftentimes, borrowing can help families meet the total cost of attendance, so finding loans with favorable rates and terms can be a great investment.

Find out how student loans work and where to find them in the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Georgia

Featured Cities in North Carolina

Since they aren't studying on-campus, online students can feel free to select a home base that best meets their needs. While everyone has difference preferences, students may want to look for a city that offers good job prospects, a diverse community and a dynamic atmosphere. Here's a closer look at some top picks for students enrolled at online colleges in North Carolina, using data sourced from the 2015 American Community Survey (census.gov).

Fun Facts

As a major metropolitan city, there is no shortage of things to do in Charlotte. There is the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Time Warner Cable Arena for professional sports and the large Carowinds amusement park. Charlotte is also rich in culture and history, and many visitors make it a point to take in the Levine Museum of the New South, the Mint Museum and the Carolinas Aviation Museum.

Raleigh, NC Metro Area

Total Population

1,216,711

Median salary for high school grads

$27,338

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$51,114

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

27.5%

Median rent

$923

Fun Facts

As the state capital, Raleigh has attractions you don't find anywhere else in North Carolina, such as the state Capitol and the impressive Executive Mansion. There is also a great family of museums, including the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Museum of History, the Marbles Kids Museum and the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Greensboro-High Point, NC Metro Area

Total Population

741,433

Median salary for high school grads

$26,696

Median salary with a bachelor's degree

$41,965

% of the population enrolled in college or grad school

31.1%

Median rent

$738

Fun Facts

The Triad has a reputation as a central point for the Civil Rights Movement so it's only fitting that Greensboro is the home of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. It's also home to the Greensboro Science Center, the Blandwood Mansion and Gardens and the Carolina Theatre.

 
Article Sources