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2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina

99 Colleges
$39,224 Avg Salary*
52% Avg Grad Rate*

Non-traditional students have to weigh their education options carefully. College Factual has developed its Top North Carolina Schools for Returning Adults ranking as a crucial tool you can use to help make the decision.

Our analysis looked at 99 schools in North Carolina to determine which ones were the best for adult learners and other students who are considered non-traditional. Our ranking methodology focuses on over 20 different objective factors - such as degree completion, loan default rate, post graduate earnings, as well as factors important to non-traditional students such as distance learning and flexible learning options.

For our ranking, we define a non-traditional student as anyone who is part-time or returning, or an adult learner (over the age of 24).

See what other factors we include in our ranking methodology.

Custom Rankings

Filtering this list by location or field of study and then explore our other rankings that feature schools great for different groups of students such as veterans or international students.

We've created a tool called College Combat that lets you create your own customized comparisons based on the factors that matter the most to you. Test it out by comparing your favorite schools against others you are considering!

Top Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tops this year’s ranking as the best school for non-traditional students in North Carolina. UNC Chapel Hill is a large public school situated in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It awarded 6,076 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

There are 8,571 adult students enrolled in the school, which is 29% of the student body. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $237. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill go into careers with an average salary of $55,600 during the early years of their career.

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#2

Appalachian State University

Boone, North Carolina

Out of the 99 schools in North Carolina that were part of this year’s ranking of the best schools for adult learners and non-traditional students, Appalachian State University landed the #2 spot on the list. Appalachian State is a public institution located in Boone, North Carolina. The school has a fairly large population, and it awarded 4,172 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.6%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $143. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to earn average salaries of $38,800 a year.

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#3

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at North Carolina State University helped the school earn the #3 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for non-traditional learners in North Carolina. This large public school is located in Raleigh, North Carolina, and it awarded 5,953 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The low student loan default rate of 2.8% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%. The school charges $221 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from NC State is $52,500 during the early years of their career.

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#4

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Wilmington, North Carolina

A rank of #4 on our Best Colleges For Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina list means University of North Carolina at Wilmington is a great place for adult learners and/or non-traditional students working on their bachelor’s degree. Wilmington, North Carolina is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 3,954 students in 2018-2019.

A high percentage of the school is made up of adult learners. 26% of the students are 25 years or older. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $263. During the early years of their career, graduates from UNCW make an average of $41,600 a year.

Full University of North Carolina at Wilmington Report

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#5

East Carolina University

Greenville, North Carolina

One of the best schools for adult learners and other non-traditional students is East Carolina University. The school came in at #5 in North Carolina in this year’s ranking. Greenville, North Carolina is the setting for this large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 5,140 students in 2018-2019.

The school charges $185 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. During the early years of their career, graduates from ECU make an average of $40,500 a year.

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#6

Gardner - Webb University

Boiling Springs, North Carolina

With a ranking of #6, Gardner - Webb University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina list. Located in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 452 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $496. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Gardner - Webb go into careers with an average salary of $38,700 during the early years of their career.

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#7

Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, North Carolina

Western Carolina University came in at #7 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking. Located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, the fairly large public school handed out 2,288 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $173 per credit hour. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from WCU go into careers with an average salary of $37,700 during the early years of their career.

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#8

Carolinas College of Health Sciences

Charlotte, North Carolina

Carolinas College of Health Sciences came in at #8 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking.

The low student loan default rate of 3.3% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $368. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Carolinas College of Health Sciences is $50,000 during the early years of their career.

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#9

Pfeiffer University

Misenheimer, North Carolina

Pfeiffer University did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #9. Pfeiffer University is a small private not-for-profit school located in Misenheimer, North Carolina that handed out 141 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $700. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Pfeiffer University go into careers with an average salary of $39,200 during the early years of their career.

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#10

Queens University of Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina

Queens University of Charlotte came in at #10 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking. Queens is located in Charlotte, North Carolina and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 400 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergraduates.

There are 1,094 adult students enrolled in the school, which is 44% of the student body. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $480. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Queens is $42,200 during the early years of their career.

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#11

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, North Carolina

With a ranking of #11, University of North Carolina at Greensboro did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina list. University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a large public school located in Greensboro, North Carolina that handed out 3,512 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school charges $553 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from UNC Greensboro make an average of $37,500 per year during the early years of their career.

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#12

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Charlotte landed the #12 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking. This large public school is located in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it awarded 5,974 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $288. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from UNC Charlotte is $44,000 during the early years of their career.

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#13

Campbell University

Buies Creek, North Carolina

Campbell University did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #13. This medium-sized private not-for-profit school is located in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and it awarded 1,006 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

There are 2,501 adult students enrolled in the school, which is 38% of the student body. The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $655. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to earn average salaries of $45,900 a year.

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#14

Winston - Salem State University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston - Salem State University landed the #14 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking. WSSU is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and has a medium-sized student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 1,026 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergraduates.

The school charges $425 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from WSSU go into careers with an average salary of $33,200 during the early years of their career.

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#15

Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Fayetteville State University came in at #15 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking. Located in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the medium-sized public school handed out 1,017 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school charges $137 per credit hour for part-time students in-state. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Fayetteville State University make an average of $31,200 per year during the early years of their career.

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#16

Montreat College

Montreat, North Carolina

Montreat College did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #16. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Montreat, North Carolina, and it awarded 121 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $714 per credit hour. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Montreat College is $37,000 during the early years of their career.

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#17

Lenoir - Rhyne University

Hickory, North Carolina

Lenoir - Rhyne University landed the #17 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking. Located in Hickory, North Carolina, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 323 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $1,545. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Lenoir - Rhyne University make an average of $38,500 per year during the early years of their career.

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#18

Lees - McRae College

Banner Elk, North Carolina

Lees - McRae College landed the #18 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking. Banner Elk, North Carolina is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 229 students in 2018-2019.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $752 per credit hour. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to earn average salaries of $33,200 a year.

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#19

University of Mount Olive

Mount Olive, North Carolina

University of Mount Olive came in at #19 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Mount Olive, North Carolina, and it awarded 590 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $455 per credit hour. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from UMO make an average of $39,500 per year during the early years of their career.

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#20

University of North Carolina at Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Asheville came in at #20 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking. University of North Carolina at Asheville is a small public school located in Asheville, North Carolina that handed out 874 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $172. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from UNCA is $34,500 during the early years of their career.

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#21

North Carolina Central University

Durham, North Carolina

With a ranking of #21, North Carolina Central University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina list. Located in Durham, North Carolina, the medium-sized public school awarded 1,145 diplomas to qualified bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The per credit hour charge for part-time students in state is $466. During the early years of their career, graduates from North Carolina Central University make an average of $32,900 a year.

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#22

William Peace University

Raleigh, North Carolina

William Peace University did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #22. WPU is located in Raleigh, North Carolina and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 213 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergraduates.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $1,040 per credit hour. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from WPU go into careers with an average salary of $36,000 during the early years of their career.

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#23

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Pembroke, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Pembroke ranked #23 on this year’s Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina list. UNC Pembroke is a public institution located in Pembroke, North Carolina. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 990 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $33 per credit hour. During the early years of their career, graduates from UNC Pembroke make an average of $34,400 a year.

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#24

North Carolina Wesleyan College

Rocky Mount, North Carolina

North Carolina Wesleyan College ranked #24 on this year’s Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina list. North Carolina Wesleyan College is a private not-for-profit institution located in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The school has a small population, and it awarded 591 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $425 per credit hour. During the early years of their career, graduates from North Carolina Wesleyan College make an average of $38,600 a year.

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#25

Lenoir Community College

Kinston, North Carolina

Lenoir Community College came in at #25 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students in North Carolina ranking.

Part-time students in-state can expect to be charged $76 per credit hour. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Lenoir Community College is $27,400 during the early years of their career.

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Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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