ACT Scores for Admission to Public Universities in North Carolina

A Side-by-Side Comparison of College Admissions Data

Forney Building at UNCG
Forney Building at UNCG. ThoughtCo. / Allen Grove

North Carolina's public universities offer excellent value, especially for in-state students. The state's many universities vary widely in both selectivity and personality, so be sure to shop around to find the university that is the best match for your credentials, academic interests, and personal preferences. Below is a side-by-side comparison of ACT score data for all 16 four-year universities in the North Carolina system.

North Carolina ACT Scores (mid 50%)
(Learn what these numbers mean)

 Composite 25%Composite 75%English 25%English 75%Math 25%Math 75%
Appalachian State University232723282327
East Carolina University202419241824
Elizabeth City State University162014191619
Fayetteville State University172015201620
North Carolina A&T State University172215211722
North Carolina Central University172015201620
North Carolina State University263125322530
UNC Asheville222822292126
UNC Chapel Hill283328342732
UNC Charlotte222620252126
UNC Greensboro202519251824
UNC Pembroke182116211721
UNC School of the Arts222822312026
UNC Wilmington232722272126
Western Carolina University192418241824
Winston-Salem State161914191618

See the SAT version of this table.

Admissions Standards for Public North Carolina Universities

An average ACT composite score is about 21, so you can see how much the admissions standards vary within the North Carolina public university system.

At a school like Winston-Salem State University, the majority of students scored below the national average. At a highly selective university like UNC Chapel Hill, nearly all students scored well above average.

In general, if your scores are within or above the ranges presented in the table, you're on target for admission to that university.

Also keep in mind that 25 percent of students scored below the lower number, so you shouldn't give up hope of getting in if your ACT scores are less than ideal. That said, it becomes much more challenging to receive an acceptance letter with low standardized test scores.

Realize, of course, that ACT scores are just one part of the application. The most important piece of your application will be a strong academic record. High grades in college preparatory classes will strengthen your application considerably. AP, IB, Honors, and dual enrollment courses can all play a significant roll in the admissions process, for these courses are a much better predictor of college success than any standardized test.

 At some of the more selective universities such as UNC Chapel Hill, the admissions folks will also want to see a winning essay, meaningful extracurricular activities and good letters of recommendation. At NC State, these more holistic measures are optional, but they are clearly a good idea if your ACT scores aren't quite what they should be.

If you're interested in the UNC School of the Arts, an art portfolio is going to be an important part of your application. A stunning portfolio can help make up for less-than-ideal ACT scores.

A Diverse Group of North Carolina Universities

The universities in the UNC system represent excellent values. Tuition is roughly half of what you'll find in states like California and Michigan, and the cost is competitive when compared to any state in the country. Another plus is the diversity of schools in the state system. Consider some of the options available to students:

  • Over half of the schools have NCAA Division I athletic programs including the UNC Tar Heels.
  • Five of the schools are historically black colleges or universities.
  • The size of the institutions ranges from the UNC School of the Arts with about 1,000 students to NC State with over 34,000 students.
  • UNC Asheville ranks among the country's best public liberal arts colleges.
  • UNC Chapel Hill can always be found ranked highly among the very best public universities in the country.
  • Admissions standards vary from extremely selective to highly accessible.

For the great majority of high school students, the UNC system offers at least one university that will be a good match on both the academic and non-academic fronts.

More College Options

If you're drawn to the University of North Carolina system because of the low tuition, keep in mind that the price tag doesn't tell the whole story if you qualify for financial aid. A private institution such as Davidson College or Duke University may have a price tag around $70,000, but the schools also have lots of resources for financial aid. You may even find that an expensive private college ultimately costs less than a public institution once financial aid is awarded.

Be sure to check out these top North Carolina colleges and top southeastern colleges for more options. The lists include a diverse mix of public and private institutions.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics