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10 Best Colleges in North Carolina

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What’s Covered:

 

North Carolina is home to plenty of top schools, including liberal arts colleges and research universities. If you’re hoping to attend college in a Southern state with lots of personality, the world — or rather, NC — is your oyster. Here are 10 of North Carolina’s top institutions of higher learning.

 

Our Ranking Methodology

 

We based our rankings on factors like school quality, outcomes, and return on investment (ROI). We also focused on retention rate, selectivity, endowment per student, student-faculty ratio, median earnings, and cost of attendance. You can find CollegeVine’s rankings in their entirety here

 

10 Best Colleges in North Carolina

 

1. Duke University

 

Location: Durham

Acceptance Rate: 9%

Middle 50% SAT: 1450-1570

Middle 50% ACT: 33-35

Undergrad Enrollment: 6,600

 

Ibtihaj Muhammad, Timothy Cook, Melinda Gates, Ken Jeong, and William Styron are just a handful of the acclaimed alumni who graduated from Duke. Known as a “Southern Ivy,” the university is home to two undergraduate schools, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and Pratt School of Engineering, along with a host of graduate schools and programs. 

 

Students have the opportunity to explore interdisciplinary topics, as well as research and explore creatively. In fact, more than half of undergraduates graduate with research experience. 

 

Learn more about Duke and what it takes to get accepted.

 

2. Davidson College

 

Location: Davidson

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Middle 50% SAT: 1290-1450

Middle 50% ACT: 29-33

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,800

 

From anthropology to dance, engineering to neuroscience, along with interdisciplinary studies, diverse programs abound at Davidson. The small liberal arts college is the first of its kind to eliminate loans in financial aid packages and boasts many other claims to fame, including 21 Division I sports, top study abroad programs, and much more.

 

Learn more about Davidson and what it takes to get accepted.

 

3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | UNC

 

Location: Chapel Hill

Acceptance Rate: 23%

Middle 50% SAT: 1270-1480

Middle 50% ACT: 29-33

Undergrad Enrollment: 19,100

 

One of the oldest public universities in the U.S., UNC is the flagship institution of the UNC system, chartered in 1789. It is widely acknowledged as a Public Ivy for its rigorous academic standards and selectivity.

 

The university offers a huge array of programs. Undergraduates may pursue majors in areas like education, journalism, business, and more, along with more than 70 additional bachelor’s-degree programs. It is also known for its Honor System, which governs student conduct.

 

Learn more about UNC and what it takes to get accepted.

 

4. Wake Forest University

 

Location: Winston-Salem

Acceptance Rate: 29%

Middle 50% SAT: N/A

Middle 50% ACT: N/A

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,200

 

Founded in 1834, Wake Forest offers 45 majors and additional programs across six colleges and schools. The university has the distinction of being the only college to advance from a classification as a Regional University to a Top 30 school in the U.S. News rankings list. It also ranks no. 1 in Fall Campus Beauty, also according to U.S. News.

 

Learn more about Wake Forest and what it takes to get accepted.

 

5. North Carolina State University | NC State

 

Location: Raleigh

Acceptance Rate: 47%

Middle 50% SAT: 1250-1390

Middle 50% ACT: 27-31

Undergrad Enrollment: 25,100

 

NC State calls itself “the university that unites thought with action — and uses both to overcome grand challenges.”

 

A leader in STEM disciplines, it is a leading public research university across fields, including agriculture, education, textiles, business, and natural resources. Focusing on experiential learning, NC State offers numerous opportunities to students, from research to internships. For its efforts, it is ranked no. 1 the Southeast for Entrepreneurs by the Princeton Review.

 

Learn more about NC State and what it takes to get accepted.

 

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6. Elon University

 

Location: Elon

Acceptance Rate: 72%

Middle 50% SAT: 1150-1330

Middle 50% ACT: 25-30

Undergrad Enrollment: 6,100

 

From self-described humble beginnings as a small liberal arts college, Elon is now a national university that draws thousands of students from all over the world every year. Today, the university is comprised of six colleges or schools. 

 

Elon has several honors and distinctions. U.S. News ranks it no. 1 in the nation for undergraduate teaching. Additionally, it is consistently no. 1 for study abroad, according to the Institute for International Education.

 

Learn more about Elon and what it takes to get accepted.

 

7. University of North Carolina at Wilmington | UNC Wilmington

 

Location: Wilmington

Acceptance Rate: 61%

Middle 50% SAT: 1190-1320

Middle 50% ACT: 23-27

Undergrad Enrollment: 14,400

 

Founded in 1947, UNC Wilmington, then known as Wilmington College, was originally a junior college. In 1969, the school, which was then a four-year liberal art college, joined the UNC system as a university. Today, it is well known as an institution focused on student-centered learning experiences, diversity, innovation, and community engagement.

 

Learn more about UNC Wilmington and what it takes to get accepted.

 

8. Appalachian State University

 

Location: Boone

Acceptance Rate: 69%

Middle 50% SAT: 1100-1270

Middle 50% ACT: 23-28

Undergrad Enrollment: 17,300

 

Originally founded as a teachers college in 1899, Appalachian State joined the UNC system in 1971. Today, it offers 150 bachelor’s degrees and 80 graduate degree programs, both in person and online. 

 

Appalachian is driven by a spirit of inclusion, toward the aim of preparing students to lead “purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all.” The curriculum begins with a First Year Seminar, encouraging students to “develop as a critical and creative thinker, an effective communicator, an inquisitive local-to-global learner and a responsible member of your community.”

 

Learn more about Appalachian State and what it takes to get accepted.

 

9. Western Carolina University

 

Location: Cullowhee

Acceptance Rate: 40%

Middle 50% SAT: 1030-1210

Middle 50% ACT: 20-25

Undergrad Enrollment: 10,000

 

Another member of the UNC system, WCU offers programs in fields such as nursing, education, forensic science, emergency management, entrepreneurship, engineering, project management, natural resources conservation, sports management, global Black studies, and many more. 

 

One of the university’s most notable schools is the Brinson Honors College, the oldest and one of the largest residential honors colleges in the UNC system. Like the larger university, it attracts students from diverse backgrounds with diverse aspirations who live and learn together and push each other to excellence.

 

Learn more about WCU and what it takes to get accepted.

 

10. Carolina Christian College

 

Location: Winston Salem

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Middle 50% SAT: N/A

Middle 50% ACT: N/A

Undergrad Enrollment: 50

 

Carolina Christian College is a four-year faith-based institution that prepares students for ministry and community service. Although the school focuses on the African-American community, it accepts people of all races. 

 

CCC’s program includes Biblical and theological studies, general education in the arts and sciences, and professional studies, emphasizing cultural awareness and leadership. Students may earn:

 

  • Certificate in Biblical Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Ministry (A.C.E./A.S.A.P.)
  • Master’s of Religious Education (A.M.P)
  • Doctor of Divinity

 

Learn more about Carolina Christian and what it takes to get accepted.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?

 

Whether you’re aiming for a college in North Carolina or elsewhere, it’s important to know where you stand. Find out your real chances of getting into top colleges and universities across the country using CollegeVine’s free chancing engine. We’ll take into account factors like grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities to estimate your odds, plus give you personalized tips on how to improve your profile.


Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.