New study reveals best colleges, universities in North Carolina -- who was No. 1?

Posted October 18, 2021 11:04 a.m. EDT
Updated October 19, 2021 8:34 a.m. EDT

At the heart of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sits the Old Well

— A new study examined North Carolina's many colleges and universities, ranking the top 10 based on metrics like career outcomes versus net attendance cost, on-campus crime and gender and racial diversity.

With so many generally high-ranking schools like Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the competition between universities in both academics and athletics is rooted in the culture of North Carolina.

To help college-bound seniors make informed choices – and to give alumni bragging rights – WalletHub compared over 1,000 educational institutions across the country.

So – where does your favorite college or university rank? Is it on the list?

Top 10 colleges and universities in North Carolina

  1. Duke
  2. UNC-Chapel Hill
  3. N.C. State
  4. Davidson College
  5. Western Carolina University
  6. UNC-Wilmington
  7. Catawba College
  8. Elon University
  9. Appalachian State University
  10. Queens University of Charlotte

Duke University

Duke: Ranks high in post-grad salary, expensive in overall net costs, middle-ground in crime rate

It's also important to look at why each school ranked where it did. Duke, for example, scored dead last in overall net cost and middle-of-the-road in on-campus crime. However, its graduation rate and gender and racial diversity was top tier. It also ranked high in post-attendance median salary – so although it's expensive to attend, graduates have a good chance of landing a higher salary afterwards.

UNC-Chapel Hill

UNC-Chapel Hill: More affordable with similar overall post-grad salaries; lower crime

UNC-Chapel Hill has a more mid-level overall net cost ranking, so it's a little easier on the wallet and has a comparable post-attendance median salary to Duke. For less overall cost, graduates should have similar opportunity for salaries. The university ranks slightly lower in gender and racial diversity, but still better than average. Its on-campus crime is quite a bit lower than Duke, according to the study.

North Carolina State University; N.C. State; NC State; NCSU

N.C. State: Less diverse, less expensive, less crime than Duke

N.C. State ranks middle-of-the-road in net cost, ranking very close to UNC-Chapel Hill and significantly better than Duke. The study ranks N.C. State as having slightly more on-campus crime than UNC-Chapel Hill, but not as much as Duke. However, its gender and racial diversity ranked worst of all, so students seeking a more diverse college experience may prefer UNC-Chapel Hill or Duke.

Overall nationwide or statewide metrics can be found on WalletHub's website, where they compiled their research and ranking data for 2022.

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