Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in North Carolina

14 Min Read Published June 11, 2024
Top Nursing Schools in North Carolina | Nurse.org

There are plenty of reasons to consider a career in nursing. Not only is nursing a rewarding career, but it’s also projected to be one of the safest long-term career options. 

In North Carolina, there are roughly 104,810  registered nurses (RN), which means that the state employs more nurses per capita than the national average. Making North Carolina an excellent place to begin and enjoy a long career in nursing.

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University
GCU’s RN-BSN program is tailored to meet the needs of the RN adult learner and to maximize the strengths that the working RN already possesses. Transfer up to 90 credits and earn a BSN in as little as 12 months. GCU’s online classes allow you to study at the times that work for your schedule while still enjoying a close connection with your classmates and instructor via online discussions.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington’s online programs are designed to help you achieve more in your nursing practice with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They offer convenient, flexible options for completing your RN to BSN or BSN online, both designed to fit into your busy schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Liberty University
At Liberty, you’ll benefit from 30+ years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the needs of the online student. You can be confident that we’ve taken the time to learn what’s important to you.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Top 10 Nursing Schools in North Carolina 

Many of the schools in North Carolina are considered among the best in the nation, and their nursing programs are no exception. 

This is a nurse panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,

  • Reputation
  • NCLEX pass rate
  • Tuition
  • Acceptance rate, when available
  • Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible 

Our selection panel includes 5 Registered Nurses with over 55 years of combined nursing experience and 7 nursing degrees.

  • Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS
  • Tyler Faust, MSN, RN
  • Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN
  • Kathleen Gaines, MSN, RN, BA, CBC
  • Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN
In-State Tuition
$4,242 per year
Out-of-State Tuition
$20,246 per year
Accreditation
CCNE
Online?
Yes

Appalachian State University offers one of the most unique settings for a North Carolina school. Tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian State situates students in a rural setting surrounded by nature.

Of course, nursing students will be most interested in ASU's BSN programs. In-state students can benefit from the low tuition rate, and the option of an online, or bridge program is ideal for non-traditional students or current RNs. With its high NCLEX pass rate, this school should be on most nursing student’s lists.

School Information:
  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 83%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 8%
Tuition:
  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $177
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $844
Contact Information:
  • Address: 287 Rivers St, Boone, NC
  • Website
School Success:
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $56,415
In-State Tuition
$7,019 per year
Out-of-State Tuition
$35,580 per year
Accreditation
CCNE
Online?
Yes

One of the most recognizable research schools in the nation, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, often referred to as UNC, is famous for its excellence.

North Carolina residents interested in a BSN will appreciate the program at UNC. The high NCLEX pass rate is great, but what sets UNC apart is the extensive alumni network, the school’s connections with local hospitals, and the prestige of a UNC degree.

School Information:
  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 17%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 6%
Tuition:
  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $292
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $1,483
Contact Information:
  • Address: 103 South Bldg Cb 9100, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Website
School Success:
  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $59,534
In-State Tuition
$3,812 per year
Out-of-State Tuition
$17,936 per year
Accreditation
CCNE
Online?
Yes

Another school in the extensive UNC system, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is an excellent low-cost option for earning a degree. Easily the most urbanized of all UNC schools, students will enjoy spending time in busy Charlotte, NC, when they aren’t working toward their BSN.

UNC Charlotte’s BSN program provides students with an all-around education, which makes it ideal for nursing students who aren’t quite sure what field they want to work in.

School Information:
  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 80%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 11%
Tuition:
  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $159
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $747
Contact Information:
  • Address: 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC
  • Website
School Success:
  • Retention Rate: 84%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $58,307

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University
GCU’s RN-BSN program is tailored to meet the needs of the RN adult learner and to maximize the strengths that the working RN already possesses. Transfer up to 90 credits and earn a BSN in as little as 12 months. GCU’s online classes allow you to study at the times that work for your schedule while still enjoying a close connection with your classmates and instructor via online discussions.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington’s online programs are designed to help you achieve more in your nursing practice with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They offer convenient, flexible options for completing your RN to BSN or BSN online, both designed to fit into your busy schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Liberty University
At Liberty, you’ll benefit from 30+ years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the needs of the online student. You can be confident that we’ve taken the time to learn what’s important to you.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

In-State Tuition
$1,000 per year
Out-of-State Tuition
$5,000 per year
Accreditation
CCNE
Online?
Yes

While many students outside of North Carolina may have never heard of Western Carolina University, it’s certainly worth considering. Consistently ranked as one of the top public undergrad programs in the nation, WCU students enjoy a quality education in the small city of Cullowhee. 

Nursing students will also enjoy studying at WCU’s state-of-the-art facilities. With multiple options to earn a BSN, students from all backgrounds can find a degree that works for them.

School Information:
  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 85%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 25%
Tuition:
  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $181
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $341
Contact Information:
  • Address: Highway 107, Cullowhee, NC
  • Website
School Success:
  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $57,318
In-State Tuition
$60,435 per year
Out-of-State Tuition
$60,435 per year
Accreditation
CCNE
Online?
Yes

Perhaps the top private school in the region, Duke is more expensive than other schools on this list. However, their BSN program may be well worth the cost. The university's prestige and dedication to excellence accompany the degree, giving graduates a competitive edge in their job search.

Duke is also ideal for nurses who want to pursue an advanced education. The university's MSN and DNP programs are nationally recognized and the centerpieces of Duke's nursing school.

School Information:
  • Public or Private? Private
  • Acceptance Rate: 6%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 5%
Tuition:
  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $1,888
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $1,888
Contact Information:
  • Address: 103 Allen Bldg, Durham, NC
  • Website
School Success:
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $63,970
In-State Tuition
$1,000 per year
Out-of-State Tuition
$5,000 per year
Accreditation
CCNE
Online?
Yes

Beyond the incredibly low-cost degree, there’s plenty to like about Fayetteville State University’s nursing program. The quality of the coursework matches most other nursing programs in the US, and the small class sizes – Fayetteville State only has 6,500 undergraduate students – give students a more personalized education. It is also one of many HBCU nursing programs, historically serving marginalized students and removing roadblocks to higher education.

School Information:
  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 81%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 45%
Tuition:
  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $42
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $208
Contact Information:
  • Address: 1200 Murchison Rd, Fayetteville, NC
  • Website
School Success:
  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $61,814
In-State Tuition
$4,422 per year
Out-of-State Tuition
$19,581 per year
Accreditation
CCNE, ACEN
Online?
Yes

One of the biggest draws for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is its location. Thousands of students each year choose this school specifically for its Greensboro location and low in-state tuition.

Students interested in earning a BSN from UNC Greensboro have plenty of options, including their traditional program, an RN/BSN program, and one of the top online nursing programs in the US. 

School Information:
  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 23%
Tuition:
  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $184
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $816
Contact Information:
  • Address: 1400 Spring Garden St, Greensboro, NC
  • Website
School Success:
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $58,823
In-State Tuition
$4,452 per year
Out-of-State Tuition
$20,729 per year
Accreditation
CCNE
Online?
Yes

East Carolina University is a top destination for many North Carolina natives, largely because of the in-state tuition and Greenville location. ECU also boasts a large student body of over 28,000, which is perfect for students looking for a big school atmosphere.

Students interested in ECU's BSN program have probably already noticed its impressive 94% NCLEX pass rate. Its non-traditional BSN degrees are flexible enough for anyone currently employed, so working nurses in North Carolina may be interested in this program. 

School Information:
  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 29%
Tuition:
  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $185
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $864
Contact Information:
  • Address: East 5th Street, Greenville, NC
  • Website
School Success:
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $60,064
In-State Tuition
$4,443 per year
Out-of-State Tuition
$19,063 per year
Accreditation
CCNE
Online?
Yes

As one of the younger schools on this list, it’s impressive that the University of North Carolina Wilmington has developed such an impressive reputation.

As a younger school, UNC Wilmington isn’t afraid to innovate, and its online BSN program is among the top in the nation. Of course, most nursing students at UNC Wilmington will choose the traditional BSN option, which boasts a great NCLEX pass rate for grads.

School Information:
  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 69%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 26%
Tuition:
  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $185
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $794
Contact Information:
  • Address: 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC
  • Website
School Success:
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $59,253
In-State Tuition
$3,401 per year
Out-of-State Tuition
$14,057 per year
Accreditation
CCNE
Online?
Yes

Winston-Salem State University focuses on preparing students for their nursing careers. The BSN program touches on general nursing and niche areas like mental health, newborn care, and pediatrics. This excellent, well-rounded education introduces students to several facets of nursing, helping them decide where to take their careers upon graduation.

School Information:
  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 73%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 17%
Tuition:
  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $142
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $586
Contact Information:
  • Address: 601 S. Martin Luther King Jr Dr, Winston-Salem, NC
  • Website
School Success:
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $62,067

Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

  • Nurses employed in North Carolina make an annual mean wage of $71,200, which is lower than the national mean annual wage. 
  • North Carolina has a lower standard of living than most other states. Pay for nurses can also be higher in denser urban areas like Charlotte. 

Next Steps

You may have a pretty good idea of what schools you’re interested in. That’s good, as creating a list of schools you want to apply to is the first step to getting your BSN.

Here’s what to do next:

  • Begin your applications. Keep in mind that you should be applying to more than one school. Anything can happen, and you can increase your chances of getting into a school – and nursing program – by applying to multiple schools.
  • Get in touch with admissions. Every school has an admissions office, and they’ll tell you everything you need to know about the application process, the school’s nursing program, and any financial aid that you might be eligible for. 
  • Find out more about the nursing program. It isn’t uncommon for North Carolina schools to require 50+ hours of community service or work experience in a health-related field. Each school has its own requirements not just for admission, but for admission into its BSN program. Find out what you need to do to be eligible.
  • Finish your application. Most schools require a minimum GPA, ACT and/or SAT test scores, and multiple letters of recommendation. You’ll know exactly what you need after speaking to an admissions representative, so all you need to do now is gather the materials and apply!

Considerations When Comparing Schools 

It’s easy to get wrapped up in trying to attend the school with the most prestige. However, the “top school” might not have the top nursing program for your personal goals.

Prior to choosing a school, consider these factors:

  • Tuition cost
  • Quality of the nursing program
  • Location of the school
  • Size of the school
  • The acceptance rate to the school
  • The acceptance rate to the nursing program
  • The school’s accreditation (regional and national)

Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation

A school’s accreditation should be critical in your selection process. Depending on the type of accreditation a school has, you may or may not be eligible to receive federal financial aid. Also, some potential employers may only be looking for candidates with degrees from schools with specific accreditations. 

Any potential nursing program should be accredited by one or both of these bodies:

All schools on this list are accredited by one of these bodies, and there are plenty of other North Carolina nursing schools that meet these standards.

Getting a License in North Carolina

To become a registered nurse (RN) in North Carolina, you need to:

  • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
  • Complete a criminal background check
  • Become a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) – This is not required for all nursing positions but helps immensely when applying for a job in North Carolina.

While it isn’t yet required, many North Carolina employers are beginning to only accept nurses that have earned a BSN. So, to maximize your chances of finding a job as a nurse in North Carolina, earning a BSN is a smart decision to make.

Conclusion 

North Carolina is a top employer for nurses, and there’s an ever-increasing need for more nurses. Nurses in North Carolina have an average age of 53, too, so as those nurses retire, more nursing positions are going to open. To increase your chances of becoming a nurse in North Carolina, earning a degree from a school in the state is a good first step. 

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University
GCU’s RN-BSN program is tailored to meet the needs of the RN adult learner and to maximize the strengths that the working RN already possesses. Transfer up to 90 credits and earn a BSN in as little as 12 months. GCU’s online classes allow you to study at the times that work for your schedule while still enjoying a close connection with your classmates and instructor via online discussions.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington’s online programs are designed to help you achieve more in your nursing practice with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They offer convenient, flexible options for completing your RN to BSN or BSN online, both designed to fit into your busy schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Liberty University
At Liberty, you’ll benefit from 30+ years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the needs of the online student. You can be confident that we’ve taken the time to learn what’s important to you.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Walden University
Walden’s online programs for nursing meet rigorous standards for academic quality and integrity, and the School of Nursing teaching faculty all hold doctorates. With three degree completion options, you can choose a bachelor’s in nursing path that makes sense for your busy, unpredictable schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY, RI and CT. Certain programs have additional state restrictions. Check with Walden for details.

References:

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