North Carolina hosts a wide range of growing industries in which new college graduates can begin their careers. Though agriculture, particularly tobacco farming and livestock, has long been a primary driver of the economy of North Carolina, several of the industries that now power the state's economy include aviation and aerospace, textile manufacturing, defense, energy, automotive and software development.
North Carolina also offers a variety of educational options for students, from a large and well-connected community college system to the University of North Carolina system, which has 16 campuses across the state. North Carolina also is home to some of the country's most highly regarded colleges, including Duke University, Wake Forest University and NC State University. The North Carolina State Board of Education governs public universities and colleges in the state.
Highlighted Careers in North Carolina
North Carolina has many growing employment sectors, particularly software information and technology, financial services, defense and biotechnology and pharmaceutical manufacturing and development. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are five notable North Carolina careers based on total in-state employment and median annual salary:
|Career||In-state employment||2015 mean annual salary|
|General operations managers||54,690||$128,200|
|Accountants and auditors||30,390||$73,060|
|Business operations specialists||31,140||$71,700|
|Applications and software developers||22,950||$96,680|
Popular Programs and Degrees in North Carolina
According to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the state's economy over the past two decades has steadily diversified from its longtime core in tobacco farming and textiles and furniture manufacturing. This shift also has led to a rise in different college degree programs for students attending colleges, universities and online schools in North Carolina.
The following are five fields which saw the greatest number of graduates during the 2014-15 academic year for students at campuses and North Carolina online schools, as listed by the National Center for Educational Statistics IPEDS database:
|Degree program||Number of graduates|
|Health and related professions||16,332|
|Business management and marketing||16,137|
|Liberal arts and humanities||13,701|
Spotlight on Schools and Cities for Education in North Carolina
North Carolina is widely regarded as having one of the leading higher education systems in the country. The state is home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the first public university in the country, which was chartered in 1789. North Carolina also has the third-largest community college system in the country with 58 campuses across the state that educates more than 800,000 students each year. The community college system offers more than 280 curriculum programs, and there's a campus located within a 30-minute drive from 99 percent of the state's population.
The public university system in North Carolina educates more than 220,000 students each year and offers more than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. There also are 36 nonprofit and private colleges or universities in the state that enroll another 89,000 students each year.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, there are a total of 210 campuses, universities or online schools in North Carolina. Charlotte, the largest city by population, has 36 schools located within 20 miles of downtown. There are 31 schools, universities, community colleges or technical schools located near the downtown core of Raleigh, and another 22 located within 20 miles of Greensboro. Chapel Hill, home of Duke and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has an additional 19 centers for higher education for North Carolina students.
Educational Costs in North Carolina
Despite its reputation for world-class educational institutions, North Carolina's tuition fees are lower than many states in the country. The College Board's annual survey of colleges finds that tuition fees in North Carolina for the 2015-16 academic year are as follows:
- Two-year public schools: $2,320
- Four-year universities: $6,973
- Private four-year colleges: $32,405 (national average)
Accreditation for Colleges and Universities in North Carolina
The University of North Carolina university system and other system in North Carolina are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, a regional accrediting agency that oversees an 11-state area. The State Library of North Carolina reports that the state's 36 independent colleges and universities also are accredited by the same commission.
Attending schools accredited by the commission ensures educational programs meet standards established by leaders in higher education. Accredited schools in North Carolina have the resources, programs and services necessary to help students reach clearly defined educational objectives, which can help them launch their careers in North Carolina.
- Education in North Carolina, Thrive North Carolina, www.thrivenc.com/whync/education
- North Carolina May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm
- Education systems, Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, http://marketing.thrivenc.com/acton/attachment/4901/f-0022/1/-/-/-/-/file.pdf
- College Navigator, National Center For Educational Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=NC
- Trends in Higher Education, Tuition and Fees by Sector and State over Time, College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time
- Trends in Student Aid, College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/student-aid/figures-tables/federal-aid#Federal%20Aid%20%E2%80%94%20Amounts%20and%20Recipients
- Accreditation, Office of Institutional Research & Assessment, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, http://oira.unc.edu/accreditation/