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Forbes ranks WCU in top 10 of best online colleges in NC

forbes online ranking


By Julia Duvall

Western Carolina University’s distance learning programs have been ranked among the best in North Carolina, making the top 10 on the Forbes list of best online colleges in the Old North State. 

“We are proud of this recognition of our ongoing institutional commitment to serving the people of North Carolina in achieving their educational goals,” said WCU Provost Richard Starnes. “It is a result of the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff in facilitating student success. We do this work every day for all our students, both distance and residential. It is a foundational aspect of our university mission and one we take very seriously.” 

Forbes used a methodology that scored 41 accredited, nonprofit colleges offering online bachelor’s degree programs in North Carolina using 16 data points in the categories of credibility, affordability, student outcomes, student experience and application process. 

Data was pulled from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System; private, third-party data sources; and individual school and program websites. Data is current as of January 2023. 

“We believe in the power of affordability through NC Promise, delivering an education that is accessible without sacrificing greatness,” said Carolyn Callaghan, executive director of WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach which houses the Office of Distance and Online Learning. 

The State of North Carolina established the NC Promise Tuition Plan to increase access to a quality university education by reducing student costs. Through NC Promise, tuition for all undergraduate students at WCU is $500 per fall, spring, and summer semesters for in-state students and $2,500 for out-of-state students. All undergraduate students, including full and part-time new freshmen, returning students, transfer students and students in online programs, receive the NC Promise tuition rate. 

WCU offers 100% online and hybrid undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs designed to fit the busy schedules of nontraditional learners. 

“Guided by a high-touch student experience, we foster an environment where each online student’s journey is valued and supported,” said Tony Miller, director of distance and online learning. 

 For more information about online programs at WCU, visit 

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