Top North Carolina Colleges

North Carolina is a strong state for higher education. From large research universities to small liberal arts colleges, from urban to rural campuses, North Carolina offers something for everyone. The top North Carolina colleges listed below vary so much in size and mission that I have simply listed them alphabetically rather than force them into any sort of artificial ranking. That said, Duke, Davidson, UNC Chapel Hill and Wake Forest are the most selective and prestigious schools on the list.

Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University. allygirl520 / Flickr
Davidson College
Davidson College. functoruser / Flickr
Duke University
Duke University. mricon / Flickr
Elon University
Elon University. photo courtesy of Elon University / Office of University Relations
Guilford College
Guilford College. Parkram412 / Wikipedia
High Point University
High Point University. Exwhysee / Wikimedia Commons
Meredith College
Meredith College. twbuckner / Flickr
  • Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Enrollment: 1,981 (1,685 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college for women
  • Distinctions: 12 to 1 student/faculty ratio and average class size of 16; strong experiential learning efforts through internships, co-ops and other programs; over 90 student clubs and organizations; attractive 225-acre campus; most students receive grant aid
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Meredith College profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Meredith
NC State University Football
NC State University Football. opus2008 / Flickr
Salem College
Salem College. bnhsu / Flickr
  • Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Enrollment: 1,087 (931 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college for women
  • Distinctions: Founded in 1772; oldest educational institution for women in the country; 11 to 1 student/faculty ratio; high placement rates for law and medical schools; excellent grant aid
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Salem College profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Salem
UNCA - University of North Carolina at Asheville
UNCA - University of North Carolina at Asheville. Marcy Reiford / Flickr
Louis Round Wilson Library at UNC Chapel Hill
Louis Round Wilson Library at UNC Chapel Hill. benuski / Flickr
UNCSA - University of North Carolina School of the Arts
UNCSA - University of North Carolina School of the Arts. William Davis / Wikipedia
  • Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Enrollment: 1,040 (907 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public conservatory for the arts
  • Distinctions: Part of the UNC system; well-regarded art school; excellent value; focused conservatory curriculum with specializations in dance, design and production, drama, filmmaking and music
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the UNC School of the Arts profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for UNCSA
UNC Wilmington
UNC Wilmington. Aaron / Flickr
  • Location: Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Enrollment: 15,740 (13,914 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: Strong professional programs in business, education, communications and nursing; excellent value; located just minutes from the Atlantic Ocean; member of the NCAA Division I Colonial Athletic Association
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the UNC Wilmington profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for UNC Wilmington
Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University. Jijithecat / Wikimedia Commons
Warren Wilson College Farm
Warren Wilson College Farm. brightlifephotographydotcom / Flickr
  • Location: Asheville, North Carolina
  • Enrollment: 716 (650 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college with a required work program
  • Distinctions: Campus includes a 300-acre farm and 650 acres of forest; excellent choice for outdoor lovers; strong environmental studies major; "triad" requirements cover the liberal arts and sciences, the college work program, and community service; 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Warren Wilson College profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Warren Wilson