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2023 Best Online Nursing Programs in North Carolina

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 5/1/2023

Explore the best online nursing programs in North Carolina for 2023. While the demand for educational programs offering flexibility and convenience continues to grow, online nursing degrees have stood out as some of the most popular program options.

Our 2023 list includes colleges in North Carolina that offer online nursing programs and have available NCLEX data, so you can easily determine which online nursing program results in graduates with the best pass rate. Additionally, aspiring nurses should consider reviewing the most affordable nursing degrees if tuition expenses are a factor in your college choice.

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Online Nursing Degrees You May Be Interested In

2023 Best Online Nursing Programs in North Carolina

School NCLEX Pass Rate Online Enrollment
South College 100.0% 385
Cabarrus College of Health Sciences 98.7% 79
Western Carolina University 97.87% 2,395
Appalachian State University 97.22% 979
East Carolina University 94.55% 7,109
Pfeiffer University 90.0% 368
University of North Carolina at Charlotte 88.17% 1,798
Gardner Webb University 86.44% 1,115
Winston-Salem State University 85.71% 694
Campbell University 84.78% 610
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Becoming a Nurse in North Carolina

In recent years, the national shortage of trained and licensed nurses has made headline news. A study published by the National Library of Medicine points to high turnover, an aging nurse workforce, and a shortage of nurse educators as causes behind the need for more nurses. This shortage creates employment opportunities for people interested in pursuing nursing careers.

The North Carolina Board of Nursing is the state's regulating body for most nursing professionals in the state. The nursing board reports that there are currently more than 126,000 North Carolina residents employed as registered nurses (RNs) and licensed professional nurses (LPNs). Nursing professionals work in a wide range of medical settings, including approximately 61,000 nurses in hospitals, 14,800 in ambulatory care, 10,000 in nursing homes and extended care facilities, and about 4,500 in medical practices.

Prospective nurses in North Carolina can pursue several different career pathways, each with its own set of educational and contact hour requirements for licensure and certification. Learn more about specific licensing requirements for certified nursing assistants (CNAs), LPNs, RNs, and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in North Carolina below.

To learn about online nursing programs and requirements in other states, explore our list of accredited nursing degrees by state below:

Nursing Degrees by State

Can I Take a Nursing Course Online?

Yes, despite a nationwide shortage of nurse educators, at least 35 nursing schools in North Carolina offer various types of online nursing degrees. Nursing students can select from a wide range of options for online associate, RN-to-BSN, master's, and doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees, as well as nursing diplomas and graduate certificates. Some programs are fully online, while others are hybrid programs involving some on-campus instruction.

Before enrolling in any North Carolina school of nursing — online or traditional — prospective students may want to check a school's average NCLEX pass rate (available from the NCBON). 

If you're interested in earning any type of nursing degree online, you may be interested in programs in nearby states, including South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia.

How To Get a Certified Nursing Assistant Certification in North Carolina

Certified nursing assistants can apply for Nurse Aide I certification through the North Carolina Board of Nursing. First, nurse aide applicants need to complete a state-approved training program and competency testing. These nursing programs are at least 75 hours in length, and they are offered at community colleges, healthcare facilities, and private companies. Then, applicants can submit their applications with a nonrefundable fee of $24. Applicants must also be listed as a Nurse Aide I on the North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation-Nurse Aide I Registry.

Registration on the Nurse Aide Registry lasts for two years. To renew registration and licensing, CNAs must have completed at least eight hours of work within that two-year period in either a nursing home or another qualifying healthcare setting. Applicants looking to renew their North Carolina CNA license are responsible for reporting their employment history with the signature of a supervising RN.

How To Get a Licensed Practical Nurse License in North Carolina

Applicants for a licensed practical nurse license in North Carolina must complete an accredited nursing school program recognized by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. This program is usually about a year in length, and transcripts must be sent to the board within 30 days of completion. 

After completing the program, prospective LPNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) and obtain a CPR card. Applicants can register and pay the $200 nonrefundable fee for the NCLEX-PN at Pearson VUE prior to sitting for the exam.

The cost of renewing a North Carolina LPN license is $100. North Carolina nursing licenses are valid for a period of two years. Licensed LPNs must submit a renewal application by the last day of their birth month in the year of expiration to renew their North Carolina nursing license.

Failure to renew the LPN license on time results in the license automatically being placed on the expired list, which means the LPN can no longer legally practice as a nurse until the license is reinstated.

How To Get a Registered Nurse License in North Carolina

Those who plan to hold RN jobs in North Carolina must obtain a state registered nurse license after completing a bachelor of science in nursing degree offered by an accredited nursing school program recognized by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Transcripts from that education program must be sent to the board within 30 days of completion of the program.

Applicants must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN), which measures core competencies needed for practicing nurses. Registering for the NCLEX-RN can be completed via Pearson VUE, and there is a $200 nonrefundable fee to sit for the exam.

Beyond proof of graduation and a passing score on the NCLEX, applicants must submit themselves to a criminal background check and fingerprinting, and they will also need to furnish proof of legal name change, if applicable. Prospective RNs may want to consult the NCBON website for complete details on how to become a registered nurse in North Carolina.

North Carolina nursing licenses are valid for two years. For RN license renewal in North Carolina, applicants must submit a renewal application by the last day of their birth month in the year of expiration. Prior to submitting the application, RNs in North Carolina must meet continuing competence requirements, which can be one or more of the following: contact hours, active practice hours, and/or semester hours of continuing education.

Failure to apply for renewal before the license expiration date means the license is automatically placed on the expired list, and the RN may not legally practice as a nurse until the license is renewed. 

How To Get an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse License in North Carolina

The North Carolina advanced practice registered nurse license is the umbrella license awarded to registered nurses that have an advanced scope of practice, including the following:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
  • Certified Nurse Midwives
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • Nurse Practitioners

These nurses tend to have greater autonomy than other types of nurses, often having the authority to work without the supervision of a doctor. As such, an advanced formal education program (master's degree in nursing or higher) is required to obtain a North Carolina APRN license.

Applicants must first hold an RN license before applying to the North Carolina nursing board to practice as an APRN in the state. They must also be certified by the national certifying body for their specialty. Applicants for a North Carolina APRN license wishing to have the authority to prescribe controlled substances will need to fill out a separate application for the state's Controlled Substances Reporting System.

The North Carolina nursing license must be renewed every two years. Continuing competence requirements — meaning fulfilling contact hours, active practice hours, and/or semester hours of continuing education — must be fulfilled prior to applying for North Carolina nursing license renewal.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in North Carolina

Are Nurses in Demand in North Carolina?

Yes, nurses are in demand in North Carolina. Job growth projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show above-average growth for all types of nursing jobs in North Carolina through 2030. For example, demand for LPNs is expected to increase by 9.2%, for nursing assistants by 10.8%, and for RNs by 11.5%.

Is North Carolina a Good Place To Be a Nurse?

Yes, North Carolina is a good place to be a nurse. Some of the top healthcare employers in the state include Atrium Health, Cone Health, Duke University Health System, and Mission Health System, and there are many other well-regarded employers. Registered nurses in the state make less than the national mean salary, but the state's low cost of living makes salaries comparable.

How Much Do Nurses Make in North Carolina?

BLS data shows that nurse salaries in North Carolina are lower than national figures. However, the state's cost of living index is 91, which is significantly lower than the national average of 100. More affordable living expenses may help offset the lower salaries.

Mean Nursing Salaries in North Carolina
Occupation Annual Mean Salary in North Carolina Annual Mean Salary Across the U.S.
Registered Nurses $71,200 $82,750
Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses $49,210 $51,850
Nursing Assistants $29,410 $33,250
Nurse Midwives $102,960 $114,210
Medical Assistants $35,650 $38,190

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