Best Online Business Schools in North Carolina

May 24, 2019 | By Sarah Rickerd
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Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities in this state that met the following criteria:

  • Offer at least one business-related degree program, either in an online or hybrid format
  • Have at least 1 percent of students attending some form of distance education
  • Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in a business-related subject in 2016-17
  • Have reported data for all 11 ranking variables listed below

We ranked the resulting colleges on 11 criteria, using provisional 2017-18 data from IPEDS:

  • Number of business-related programs offered via distance education
  • Number of degrees conferred in business-related subjects
  • Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  • Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Prepaid, Other)
  • Services (Academic/ Career, Placement for Completers)
  • Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
  • Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  • Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools' tuition amounts are based on 2017-18 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.


  • U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, Accessed April 2019, https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/advocacy/North_Carolina.pdf
  • Livability, North Carolina Top Employers. Accessed April 2019, https://livability.com/nc/business/north-carolina-top-employers 
  • Forbes, “The Best States for Business 2018: North Carolina Leads the Way.” Accessed April 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2018/11/28/the-best-states-for-business-2018-north-carolina-leads-the-way/#4da16bc53c30
  • North Carolina Department of Commerce, "Why North Carolina". Accessed April 2019, https://www.nccommerce.com/business/why-north-carolina  
  • This is Momentum North Carolina, Business and Financial Services in North Carolina. Accessed April 2019, https://edpnc.com/industries/business-financial-services/
  • Fortune, "Wanted, 1.4 Million New Supply Chain Workers by 2018." Accessed April 2019 https://www.fortune.com/2014/05/01/wanted-1-4-million-new-supply-chain-workers-by-2018/
  • North Carolina Business Council, Accessed April 2019, https://www.ncbusinesscouncil.org
  • The Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), Accessed April 2019, https://cednc.org/
  • The Business Alliance of North Carolina, Accessed April 2019, https://businessalliancenc.com/
  • BNI NC, Accessed April 2019, https://trianglebni.com/en-US/index

best business colleges in north carolina

The Tar Heel State enjoys a booming business environment with strong projected growth, low unemployment, and an engaged workforce. This has created innumerable opportunities for business students in North Carolina to apply their skills at establishments both large and small.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, North Carolina small businesses employ over 1.6 million people, which is just over 15 percent of the state's population of 10.38 million residents. The state is also seeing an increase in individual proprietors, as well as a greater private startup entry versus exit rate. Graduates of online business schools in North Carolina can also enjoy career opportunities with larger companies. Livability reports that top employers in North Carolina include Merrill Lynch & Co, WakeMed Health and Hospitals, Wells Fargo, and Duke Children's Hospital.

Whether you're getting ready to graduate from high school or looking to change careers later in life, online or hybrid business degree programs in North Carolina — at the certificate, associate, bachelor's, and master's level — can help prepare you to work in business-related fields.

North Carolina Business Fast Facts

  • North Carolina was ranked as the best state for business by Forbes for two years in a row. In part, this ranking was driven by steady job growth for graduates and a gross state product growth projected to be the strongest in the country over the next five years.
  • North Carolina boasts a booming economy for businesses, as well as a low cost of living, a high personal satisfaction level, and attractive tax rates. And good news for graduates on the path to entrepreneurial business ownership: North Carolina has the lowest corporate income tax rate in the United States at just 3%.
  • North Carolina features a strong and highly accessible infrastructure, making it easy to do business across the country or even across the globe. Their four international airports include the sixth-busiest hub in the U.S., Charlotte-Douglas International (CLT), which sees 1,000+ daily domestic and international flights.

How to Pick a Business Major that's Best for You

Business school is a lofty goal that promises exciting, lucrative opportunities for graduates. But the business field is a broad one, with many different disciplines that cater to different strengths and skill sets. Here are a few suggestions to help you understand what business specialization might work for you.

  • Extroverts with a love of working with others and traveling throughout the city, the state or even the globe may be interested in hospitality management or international business, which could help them to pursue global sales or event planning.
  • Creative risk-takers with a love of adventure could consider entrepreneurship programs, especially with North Carolina's favorable business landscape and corporate tax rate in mind.
  • Sports enthusiasts who want to work hands-on in the industry can earn a degree in sports management that can enable them to work closely with high-level athletes — perhaps at one of the state's many professional and collegiate teams.
  • Students can even blend other interests into their business education. For example, students who are interested in psychology may consider pursuing a degree in organizational psychology that uses analysis, research, and statistics to improve the quality of life in the workplace.

Most Popular Business Degrees in North Carolina

Below is our ranking of the most popular Business degrees in North Carolina, based off how many degrees of each type were awarded by North Carolina schools in the 2017-18 school year.

Bachelor in Hospitality Administration/Management, General
Certificate in Hotel, Motel, and Restaurant Management
Bachelor in Agribusiness/Agricultural Business Operations
Associate in Hotel, Motel, and Restaurant Management
Master in Financial Mathematics
Bachelor in Business Administration, Management and Operations, Other
Associate in Agricultural Business and Management, General
Master in Business Administration, Management and Operations, Other

Best Online Business Schools in North Carolina

Many business schools in North Carolina offer flexible degree programs to kick-start your higher education journey, but not all programs are created equal. Our ranking methodology analyzes specific IPEDS data points — including tuition costs, retention rate and availability of alternative tuition payment plans — in order to determine which online colleges provide the best business-related options to prospective students.

We only considered accredited business schools in North Carolina for this list, and in order to be considered an "online college," each school had to offer at least one business-related degree program in either an online or hybrid format. After analyzing the data and crunching the numbers, we have selected the following schools as the best online business schools in North Carolina.


North Carolina Central University

Business-related programs at North Carolina Central University blend classroom learning at the university's Durham campus with online course options for flexibility and accessibility. Traditional semester-long courses benefit from an interactive, community-driven learning environment created by the Blackboard learning management system (LMS). Meanwhile, NCCU's Career Services and Outreach office supports students outside the classroom, creating opportunities to network with nationwide employers.

Students with an interest in business and decision-making may enjoy NCCU's unique decision sciences program, which aims to help students better understand how decisions are made in business and beyond. Graduates of the program also walk away with a job-focused SAS certification intended to improve their skills and expertise in quantitative analysis. Alternately, those with an interest in both IT and business may want to consider the school's interdisciplinary B.S. in computer science and business degree program.


East Carolina University

The East Carolina University (ECU) B.S.B.A. in management program allows four-year students who have completed their first two years of eligible coursework at community colleges to complete the second half of their degree program online. The B.S.B.A. in marketing with a focus on operations and supply chain management is also worth a look, as Forbes reports that some 1.4 million supply chain workers are needed to meet demand.

Like NCCU, ECU runs semester-long courses, including two summer sessions. Delivery of coursework is at the discretion of professors, who may use tools including Blackboard, Webex, McGraw Hill Connect, independent blogs and other digital resources to facilitate ease of learning.


Western Carolina University

Students looking for online business schools in North Carolina should also be aware of Western Carolina University. This institution features a unique business administration and law program, available in two different forms: as a B.S.B.A. major and as a minor. The program offers hands-on experience in business, strategy and policy, along with the pre-law foundation necessary for future law school entrance. The B.S.B.A iteration of the program is unique to the University of North Carolina system and is the only one of its kind east of the Mississippi.

WCU relies on the Blackboard LMS system, through which professors individually design courses using a combination of self-paced and time-sensitive assignments. Undergraduate students are accepted on a rolling basis until the program reaches capacity. Once the program is full, students may be waitlisted to the school's Fall, Spring or Summer sessions.


Piedmont International University

Through its Spurgeon School of Online Education, Piedmont International University offers students the ability to take courses through flexible seven-week sessions that have six predetermined enrollment dates throughout the year. While Piedmont's online courses are all delivered through the Blackboard LMS, the university offers several distinct course models:

  • Integrated classes allow distance students to join in and participate in classroom lectures being taught on campus.
  • Traditional classes involve viewing video courses and engaging with other students through digital forums.
  • Flipped classes enable students to work with professors on homework assignments after viewing traditional class course materials.

Professional Business Organizations in North Carolina

It's never too early to think about joining professional business organizations to help bolster your career. Students attending any of the best business colleges in North Carolina can look to the state's numerous organizations for networking, seminars and local event opportunities.

  • The North Carolina Business Council partners with businesses and organizations like Trophy Brewing, NC Sustainable Energy Association, and CareerPro, any of which can prove to be a beneficial networking opportunity for the council's members.
  • The Council for Entrepreneurial Development currently supports more than 400 entrepreneurial companies with high-value resources to accelerate their business growth.
  • The Business Alliance of North Carolina helps businesses accelerate growth through networking opportunities, access to vetted members, seminars and business resources.
  • BNI NC is part of the Business Network International — the world's largest business referral organization. There are 29 chapters in North Carolina, including Raleigh, Triangle Park, and Chapel Hill.

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