In 1876, Civil War nurse Jane Wilkes was instrumental in establishing St. Peter’s Hospital in Charlotte, which was the first civilian hospital in North Carolina. Before that point, nurses either worked at Confederate or Union hospitals run by the military, or at “Wayside Hospitals” that were organized by the nurses themselves.

Since then, the healthcare profession in the state has come a long way. As of 2018, there are 125 hospitals in the Tar Heel State, and between them, they employ thousands of nurses. In addition, North Carolina nursing professionals can find employment at a variety of other healthcare facilities, such as nursing homes, residential care facilities, doctor’s offices and ambulatory health organizations.

Continue reading this page to find out more about the nursing profession in North Carolina, including information on the schools nurses attend and the standards the state has put in place for nursing licensing.

Best Nursing Schools in North Carolina

From attending wounded soldiers on the battlefield of the Civil War to treating AIDS patients in the modern day, nurses in North Carolina have carried a huge responsibility to their communities. In order to meet these expectations, nurses of all levels undergo intensive education and hands-on training in order to learn how to offer their patients the care they deserve. As a result, it is important that nurses find the best school for their needs — and they have 84 schools offering nursing degree programs in North Carolina to choose from.

In order to help aspiring nurses find the school and program that is best for them, we have created separate lists of the best graduate and undergraduate schools for nursing, based on data compiled by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Continue reading to review our rankings, and — if you’re curious about how we chose these schools — find out more about our methodology at the bottom of the page.

01
Southwestern Community College
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$2,128
Undergraduate graduation rate
35%
Undergraduate retention rate
62%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
85%
02
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$2,432
Undergraduate graduation rate
15%
Undergraduate retention rate
66%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
73%
03
North Carolina Central University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,655
Undergraduate graduation rate
43%
Undergraduate retention rate
81%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
97%
04
Forsyth Technical Community College
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Undergraduate tuition
$1,906
Undergraduate graduation rate
12%
Undergraduate retention rate
58%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
67%
05
Winston-Salem State University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,335
Undergraduate graduation rate
47%
Undergraduate retention rate
77%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
96%
06
Mitchell Community College
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$2,432
Undergraduate graduation rate
24%
Undergraduate retention rate
57%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
64%
07
Fayetteville State University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$2,923
Undergraduate graduation rate
32%
Undergraduate retention rate
67%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
75%
08
Cleveland Community College
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$2,432
Undergraduate graduation rate
21%
Undergraduate retention rate
54%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
79%
09
North Carolina A & T State University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,470
Undergraduate graduation rate
43%
Undergraduate retention rate
75%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
86%
10
Guilford Technical Community College
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$2,128
Undergraduate graduation rate
17%
Undergraduate retention rate
52%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
75%
01
East Carolina University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$4,656
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
3
02
Duke University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
13
Graduate Tuition
$49,500
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
03
Appalachian State University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$4,744
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
04
University of North Carolina at Charlott...
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$4,252
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
05
University of North Carolina at Chapel H...
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$9,643
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
06
Western Carolina University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$4,348
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
07
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$4,448
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
08
University of North Carolina at Greensbo...
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$5,117
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
09
Winston-Salem State University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$3,796
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
10
University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$3,639
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0

Nursing Accreditation in North Carolina

There are several factors to be considered when students choose a nursing school in North Carolina — from the cost of a program to what kind of clinical experiences may be offered. One factor that students should not overlook, however, is whether or not a school is accredited. Employers expect nurses to meet certain standards before hiring, and accreditation is your way to check whether or not a school’s curriculum has been found to live up to United States standards. As a result, students should search out schools that have been accredited by official organizations such as:

  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs
  • Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education
  • North Carolina Board of Nursing
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center

North Carolina Nursing Licensure

Completing a degree program is just the first step toward beginning a nursing career in North Carolina. Prospective nurses are also required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®), as well as pass a criminal background check and pay a $75 application fee to the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Likewise, people who want to become a licensed practical nurse are required to go through the same process, except they are required to take the NCLEX-PN.

More information about the nursing licensure process in North Carolina can be found at https://www.ncbon.com/licensure-listing-overview.

North Carolina Nursing organizations

The nursing profession evolves rapidly, so it’s important for people to stay connected to the industry. One way nurses can do this is by joining professional organizations, which may offer continuing education courses, as well as opportunities to network with peers and keep in touch with nursing research. The following are some of the organizations North Carolina nurses may be interested in joining.

  • Members of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association can take advantage of benefits on both the national and local level. This includes participating in events around the state, as well as accessing journals, newsletters, and a career center.

  • Founded in 1958, this organization is dedicated to helping hopeful nurses navigate the road from being a student to a licensed, working professional. Members can participate in an annual conference where they connect with their peers, get information about the field from working professionals, and attend review sessions to prepare for the NCLEX examination.

  • Affiliated with the National Association of School Nurses and the North Carolina Nurses Association, this organization has been working on behalf of school nurses since 1992. In fact, SNANC’s advocacy activities have resulted in several pieces of legislation being passed that benefit school nurses around the state. Members also benefit from the organization’s publications, continuing education courses, and annual conference.

  • Psychiatric nurses who join this organization can network with local professionals through events around the state and a North Carolina-focused online community. In addition, the association assists its members with locating potential job leads.

North Carolina-Specific Continuing Education

A nurse’s education does not end when they complete their degree program. In order to maintain their nursing license, professionals are required to complete at least 15 hours of continuing education courses every two years. Continuing education courses are designed to sharpen nurses’ skills in a variety of areas, and may cover topics related to geriatrics, management, alternative medicine, community health, mental health nursing and/or pharmacology.

Hospitals in North Carolina

Since the first hospital opened in Charlotte, hospitals have been an important part of the nursing profession in North Carolina. Not only do facilities across the state hire nurses to treat their patients, these organizations also partner with local colleges to train matriculating nurses. The following are examples of some of the hospitals that can be found in North Carolina.

  • Carolinas Medical Center (Charlotte) The flagship hospital of the Carolinas Healthcare System, the Carolinas Medical Center operates through two locations that are over a mile apart: CMC and CMC-Mercy. This facility is the only local provider that offers Level 1 Trauma care to patients, and it is also approved to provide heart, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants.
  • Duke University Hospital (Durham) Duke University Hospital has been recognized on a national and international level for its medical care and research. The hospital prides itself on delivering healthcare in several specialties — such as eye care, neurology, pulmonology, and geriatrics — based on its core values of teamwork, safety, excellence, diversity and integrity.
  • Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center (Winston-Salem) When Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center was founded in 1887, it was a ten-bed facility that was run inside of a private home where people received care for $5 per week. It has become one of the largest health care systems in the state, with fifty locations that include centers for excellence like the Derrick L. Davis Cancer Center, the Maya Angelou Women’s Health amd Wellness Center, and the Stroke and Neurosciences Center.
Sources & Methodology

Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we ranked 6,758 United States institutions with two different methodologies, in order to create two different lists: our undergraduate list and our graduate list. Final data for the 2016-17 school year was used for these rankings. (Schools that did not provide data for all 11 criteria were disqualified from the ranking.)

The 11 criteria for the undergraduate school ranking were as follows:

  1. Number of associate-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of associate-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of associate-level nursing-related degree programs offered
  4. Tuition
  5. Retention rate
  6. Graduation rate
  7. Average amount of federal grant aid awarded to full-time first-time undergraduates
  8. Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
  9. Credit offerings (Military, Dual, Life Experience, AP)
  10. Services (Career Counseling, Placement Services)
  11. Availability of tuition plans (Guaranteed, Prepaid, Payment, Other)

The graduate school ranking scored schools based on 9 criteria, different from the undergraduate list. These 9 criteria were as follows:

  1. Number of master’s-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of master’s-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of master’s-level nursing-related degree programs offered
  4. Tuition
  5. Retention rate
  6. Graduation rate
  7. Credit offerings (Military, Dual, Life Experience, AP)
  8. Services (Career Counseling, Placement Services)
  9. Availability of tuition plans (Guaranteed, Prepaid, Payment, Other)

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools’ tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.

 

Sources

  1. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2018, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  2. American Hospital Directory, Accessed July 2018, https://www.ahd.com/
  3. Supply and Demand Projections of the Nursing Workforce: 2014-2030, HRSA, Accessed July 2018, https://bhw.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/bhw/nchwa/projections/NCHWA_HRSA_Nursing_Report.pdf
  4. Nursing: Supply and Demand through 2020, Center on Education and the Workforce, Accessed July 2018, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED558171.pdf
  5. A Timeline of North Carolina Nursing History, Appalachian State University, Accessed July 2018, https://nursinghistory.appstate.edu/timeline
  6. Health Care Trends, University of North Carolina, Accessed July 2018, https://old.northcarolina.edu/nctomorrow/Ricketts__Layman_-_Health_Care_Brief-Final1.pdf
  7. UNC School of Nursing, Accessed July 2018, https://nursing.unc.edu
  8. School of Nursing, UNC Charlotte, Accessed July 2018, https://nursing.uncc.edu/
  9. College of Nursing, East Carolina University, Accessed July 2018, http://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/nursing
  10. North Carolina Board of Nursing, Accessed July 2018, https://www.ncbon.com
  11. Continuing Education Courses for North Carolina Nurses, NetCE, Accessed July 2018, https://www.netce.com/courselist.php
  12. North Carolina Nurses Association, Accessed July 2018, https://www.ncnurses.org/
  13. North Carolina Association of Nursing Students, Accessed July 2018, https://ncans.org/
  14. School Nurse Association of North Carolina, Accessed July 2018, http://www.snanc.com/
  15. North Carolina – American Psychiatric Nurses Association, Accessed July 2018, https://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3416
  16. Carolinas Medical Center, Accessed July 2018, https://www.carolinashealthcare.org/locations/carolinas-medical-center
  17. Duke University Hospital, Accessed July 2018, https://www.dukehealth.org/hospitals/duke-university-hospital/home
  18. Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, Accessed July 2018, https://www.novanthealth.org/forsyth-medical-center.aspx
  19. The History of Professional Nursing in North Carolina, 1902-2002, Carolina Academic Press, Accessed July 2018, https://cap-press.com/pdf/31630.pdf

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