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2023 Best Online Community Colleges in North Carolina

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 1/6/2023
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North Carolina's community colleges offer several postsecondary education programs, including degree and non-degree options for students. There are 58 institutions that make up the North Carolina Community College System. This makes it the third-largest community college system in the country, and it offers nearly 250 online programs. These facts make the state a formidable place to study. 

Students may take advantage of scholarship and grant programs that help to ease tuition costs — even if community colleges are already significantly less expensive than traditional four-year universities. This is also true for online colleges in North Carolina that offer savings on tuition compared to in-person programs. 

View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU.

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List Of Accredited Online Schools

Fayetteville Technical Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $8,688
  • Locations: Fayetteville (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) is a public institution in Fayetteville, NC. It offers associate degrees and certificates for remote students that want to study 100% online and on a flexible schedule. There are over 30 undergraduate degrees in a variety of subjects, such as information technology, accounting, hospitality, healthcare, and business. For example, students may choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science in Finance, an Associate of Applied Science in Geospatial Intelligence, or an Associate of Applied Science in General Early Childhood Education. FTCC's certificate programs are even more expansive, with dozens of offerings in 10 different fields, like public service, emergency management, and business. Students use Blackboard's learning management system (LMS) to study online while also taking advantage of support that include student success coaches and financial literacy services.

Wake Technical Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $8,912
  • Locations: Raleigh (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Wake Technical Community College (WTCC), also known as WakeTech, is a public college located in North Carolina's capital city of Raleigh. It offers two-year degree programs and even shorter non-degree programs known as Workforce Continuing Education courses. There are over 90 programs among more traditional associate degrees, including an Associate of Applied Science in Accounting, an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Programming and Development, and an Associate in Fine Arts - Visual Art. As far as non-credit programs, students can engage in individual online courses, such as Become a Physical Therapy Aide, Writing for ESL, Human Resources Professional, and Multimedia Arts Certificate. All online courses are taken through the LMS Moodle. Additionally, academic advising, tutoring, and career services are all available for remote students.

Central Piedmont Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $8,936
  • Locations: Charlotte
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) is a public institution in Charlotte, NC and the second largest community college within the North Carolina Community College System. The school's selection of remote learning programs are 100% online — including for-college-credit certificates, associate degrees, and non-credit programs. It offers two transfer programs, an Associate of Arts and an Associate of Science, each designed for students interested in pursuing bachelor's degrees. It also offers two Associates of Applied Science in Information Technology, an Associate of Applied Science in Simulation and Game Development, and an Associate of Applied Science in Fire Protection Technology. Finally, there are several options for certificates, ranging from criminal justice to game design. CPCC's non-credit courses are in corporate and continuing education. The LMS Brightspace handles all online coursework, and enrolled students are eligible for career and IT services, as well as remote counseling.

Guilford Technical Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $7,695
  • Locations: Jamestown
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) is a public college situated in the Piedmont Triad between Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Highpoint, NC. It serves over 26,000 students each year through in-person and online programs. Online programs are offered in both certificate and associate degree levels. Within the criminal justice field, for example, GTCC features an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice Technology and four additional certificates covering criminal justice foundations, homeland security, intervention, and law enforcement management. Other areas of study include business administration, customer service, information technology, and medical office administration, among others. Out-of-state students, except those in California, are permitted to apply for a GTCC online program. Coursework is delivered via the Canvas LMS, and remote students also have access to telehealth counseling services and a remote student success center.

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

  • Annual Tuition: $8,776
  • Locations: Salisbury
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College (RCCC) is a public college with campuses throughout Rowan County and Cabarrus County, North Carolina. It features more than 250 online courses that make up 19 associate degrees, nine diplomas, and 33 certificates. Associate degrees are focused in areas such as business administration, healthcare management technology, and information technology, while certificates cover more specific areas of focus, including criminal justice, fire protection technology, and early childhood education. Transfer pathways are also available for an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and Associate of Fine Arts in Visual Arts. Blackboard is the primary LMS for RCCC students. Distance learners have access to tutoring, technology assistance, digital libraries, and career and academic advising.

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Overview of Online Community Colleges in North Carolina

The North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) has 58 public two-year institutions that collectively serve over 700,000 students per year. With campuses located throughout the state, these colleges offer a wide range of associate degrees as well as certificates, continuing education, apprenticeships, and workforce training programs. Students can take advantage of the NCCCS' Virtual Learning Community, a higher education initiative designed to advance online learning by training faculty, developing new methods of course delivery, and providing enrollment information.

While community college isn't free in North Carolina, students can typically apply for financial aid to help pay for school.

While community college isn't free in North Carolina, students can typically apply for financial aid to help pay for school. In-state residents enrolling in an associate degree or certificate program can apply for need-based scholarships funded by the state and select private institutions. Those close to finishing their education may be eligible for a Finish Line grant, a state-wide program aimed at benefiting North Carolina's community college students. Lastly, qualified students can begin earning tuition-free college credits while in high school — which can later be applied toward a postsecondary credential — through the state's Career and College Promise program.

Students interested in applying for financial assistance should begin by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Employment Outlook for North Carolina Community College Graduates

With employment decreasing in traditional sectors — including agriculture, utilities, and manufacturing — a community college education can help graduates land entry-level positions in North Carolina's changing economy. According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce the Tar Heel state is expected to add over 302,000 new jobs through 2028. This post-pandemic recovery is primarily driven by projected growth in certain sectors, including healthcare, accomodation and food services, and education services, which are among the industries that employed the highest number of North Carolina workers in 2018. Furthermore, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, a majority of these new jobs will be available in metropolitan areas, such as Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham.

Community college graduates may also take advantage of opportunities included in the NC Job Ready initiative, an overarching program that seeks to prepare working-age North Carolinians for success in the job market. In addition to providing them with financial assistance, this initiative promotes work-based learning opportunities at community colleges so that students can secure in-demand careers.

Students can also explore NCWorks, a state-sponsored initiative that helps graduates match their skills and knowledge with current employment opportunities..

Careers for North Carolina Community College Graduates

NCWorks, a state-sponsored Associate degree holders and individuals with some college experience earn an average of $96-$157 more per week than those with a high school diploma. In North Carolina, the highest paying jobs are typically in healthcare or professional service sectors, such as finance and technology. Students can find jobs in these fields with some of the state's top employers from 2020, including Wal-Mart Associates Inc., Duke University, Atrium Health, Wells Fargo, Navy and Air Force, and Bank of America. The list below describes some in-demand careers for North Carolina's community college graduates that have job growth projections higher than the U.S. average of 8% across all occupations. It also features salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians
Median Annual Salary: $66,680
Job Outlook: 11%

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians ensure that airplanes are safe to fly. This can involve several overlapping tasks, such as performing maintenance checks on critical parts, making repairs, and diagnosing problems. These professionals also typically work with advanced softwares to analyze different kinds of flight data.

Computer Network Support Specialists
Median Annual Salary: $55,510
Job Outlook: 9%

Computer network support specialists help organizations with various IT needs. This may include performing daily maintenance, performing connectivity tests, troubleshooting everyday problems, and working with computer network architects to improve user experience.

Medical Assistants
Median Annual Salary: $35,850
Job Outlook: 18%

Medical assistants help provide healthcare services by obtaining patients' histories, monitoring signs of illness or injury, and maintaining records. Some of these professionals tend exclusively to administrative tasks, such as filling out insurance paperwork, while others work in a clinical capacity with physicians or nurses.

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