Online Colleges in North Carolina

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Updated October 5, 2021 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 Online Programs

North Carolina institutions are dedicated to online learning. In 2010, the state government launched an eLearning website designed to help North Carolina students locate affordable, flexible online programs. Learners in the state have an increasing number of distance education options, including programs from top universities and professional training programs.

Because of the high number of options, prospective students should research carefully to determine the best program for their needs. This guide lists the most affordable online colleges in North Carolina, along with scholarship opportunities, popular degree majors, and job outlook statistics. The guide also provides information about the financial and professional benefits of higher education, fields experiencing significant growth, and financial support available to state residents.

Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in North Carolina

As the table below shows, North Carolina's unemployment rate, at 3.6%, is lower than the national average. North Carolina ranks 23rd in the nation for unemployment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most popular occupations in the state include production positions, such as packaging operators and quality inspectors, and office administration positions, including accountants, receptionists, and customer service professionals. The state's highest-paying occupations are in management and specialized fields, including information technology, computer security, and industrial and civil engineering. These professions all require postsecondary education, such as professional certification or a diploma.

The 2014 employment projections from the North Carolina Department of Commerce illustrate a trend toward increased education. The department projects significant growth in healthcare services positions, which require specialized training and certification. Occupations that require higher education, such as an associate degree, doctoral degree, or professional degree, are projected to expand during the next decade. Because of this growth, learners should consider earning undergraduate and graduate degrees to improve their career prospects.

Unemployment Rate, August 2018

North Carolina 3.6%
United States 3.8%

Source: BLS

Annual Mean Wage, May 2017

North Carolina $46,080
United States $50,620

Source: BLS

Cost of Online Colleges in North Carolina

Students attending online colleges in North Carolina pay about the same tuition rates as on-campus learners; however, online students typically save money on transportation and accommodation costs. Distance learners can live at home or in an area with a low cost of living and do not have to pay expenses associated with a daily commute to campus. Online learners can also maintain full-time employment, which can make paying for school more manageable.

North Carolina institutions offer many affordable online programs. As the table below illustrates, the average tuition rate at North Carolina institutions during the 2018-2019 school year is more than 30% less than the national average. Tuition rates also compare favorably against those in neighboring states. For example, South Carolina tuition rates average $5,640 for public, two-year institutions and $12,950 for public, four-year programs. Virginia rates average $5,260 for two-year schools and $13,490 for four-year schools. The average tuition rates in North Carolina are nearly 50% lower. Students can take advantage of cheap online colleges in North Carolina while receiving a high-quality education that can improve their job prospects.

Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19

  Public Two-Year Public Four-Year
North Carolina $2,470 $7,220
U.S. Average $3,660 $10,230

Source: The College Board

In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in North Carolina

In every state, tuition costs at public institutions vary depending on residency status. While tuition rates in North Carolina are lower than the national average, out-of-state students pay higher tuition rates than in-state learners. Students must meet several requirements to qualify for in-state tuition rates.

To qualify for in-state status, learners must prove North Carolina residency for 12 months prior to the start of the program. Students who do not receive in-state status can apply the following year and, if approved, qualify for in-state tuition rates.

Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19

  Public Two-Year Public Four-Year
North Carolina $7,220 $23,860
U.S. Average $10,230 $26,290

Source: The College Board

Financial Aid in North Carolina

With the cost of higher education increasing, students should think strategically about financial support. First, learners should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply for many types of federal support simultaneously. Federal student aid includes subsidized and unsubsidized loans, need- and merit-based grants and scholarships, and work-study opportunities. Students should prioritize grants and scholarships, which do not need to be repaid, and then subsidized loans, which do not accrue interest while the student is in school.

Borrowers of federal loans who pursue certain careers may qualify for loan forgiveness. Medical professionals may receive loan forgiveness opportunities after 10 years of service. Similarly, many government branches and public institutions offer forgiveness tracks. Candidates should apply for the relevant loan forgiveness program as soon as possible to document their entire professional career. Additionally, individuals who pursue a legal education can qualify for loan repayment assistance in exchange for legal aid and public defense work.

State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17

North Carolina $820
U.S. Average $820

Source: The College Board

Scholarships and Grants for North Carolina College Students

To ease the financial burden of higher education, students can apply for external funding. Below are statewide and regional scholarships available to North Carolina students. Many organizations offer scholarships for students pursuing degrees in certain disciplines. Learners should also research scholarships and grants from their institution.

Best Majors for Online Students in North Carolina

In its 2014 Employment Projections Report, the North Carolina Department of Commerce projects employment to increase 12.6% from 2014 to 2024. The fields with the highest projected growth include healthcare, construction, and technical services. The most lucrative positions include management and administration roles.

The state demonstrates high demand for healthcare professionals; the department projects employment for healthcare support services workers and for healthcare practitioners and technicians to increase 2.7% and 2%, respectively. In addition to direct care providers to support the aging population, the healthcare services industry needs administrators and technical specialists. Online colleges and universities in North Carolina offer programs that prepare students to enter these growing professions.


Nursing students prepare to take advantage of the projected growth in the healthcare field. Students learn to work directly with patients and to collaborate with other medical professionals. Graduates of bachelor's programs often sit for the registered nurse exam or pursue further education to qualify to become independent nurse practitioners.

Construction Management

Construction is a fast-growing industry in North Carolina, and construction companies require careful administration to meet deadlines and production costs. Construction management students learn how to consolidate resources, connect with vendors, and organize workers, while gaining leadership, problem-solving, and communication skills.


Companies and institutions need statisticians to analyze metadata and produce reports. These professionals also collaborate with project managers and administrators to streamline processes and improve productivity. Students earning a bachelor's in mathematics with a focus in statistics explore the effects of analytics on software and computer technology.

Resources for Online College Students in North Carolina

College Foundation of North Carolina: CFNC collaborates with the state government and local institutions to provide resources for college applicants and parents. The CFNC website lists scholarship opportunities, college planning resources, and student support systems to prepare first-generation college students.

North Carolina Education Department: This government agency provides links to financial assistance resources, state certification requirements, and community college curricula. Visitors can explore resources and career networks available to North Carolina students and can review current statewide education standards.

North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities: NCICU provides information about resources and assistance students can obtain from participating institutions. Member schools comprise 36 private, nonprofit North Carolina institutions, including Duke University. Along with financial aid information, the website offers distance learning resources, including program listings.

North Carolina Community Colleges: Students interested in two-year programs can use this website to research North Carolina community colleges. Visitors can find local schools and explore online community college courses in North Carolina to plan their education.

eLearning North Carolina: This resource supports the state's online students. Visitors can learn about benefits and resources for distance students, types of available programs, and government and private assistance opportunities for online learners. The website also provides information about learning platforms and transferring credits.

Become Team
Become Team
Contributing Writer 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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