Business Schools in North Carolina

When you think about the fast-paced, fast-growing technology industry, Silicon Valley in California probably comes to mind first. But one of the hottest growth areas in the tech world is actually on the opposite coast, in North Carolina, and the state’s burgeoning tech scene is leading to development and growth in all areas of business. North Carolina’s business degrees offer great diversity, with incredibly affordable options, top-ranked schools, and everything in between.

All the schools on our list below have been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and/or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). They are all public or non-profit and regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Accreditation is an essential factor in choosing a school, as it assures you that your program has clear goals and the school has proven that it produces quality outcomes and adheres to national and international standards. Accredited schools also usually provide options for gaining real-world experience through interaction with actual businesses.

To compile our list of the best business schools in North Carolina, we first looked at National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) data. According to the NCES, the number of public and non-profit schools that grant undergraduate and graduate business degrees in North Carolina is relatively small, at 52.1 However, according to our research, a high number of these offers accredited business programs at the undergraduate (33) and graduate (22) levels, so these are the ones we have included in our list.

This article contains key information to help you choose the school that best suits your unique needs, based on a variety of essential factors: tuition, financial aid, entrance exam scores, acceptance rates, and more. The three sections that follow describe undergraduate programs, graduate schools, and the job prospects for business school graduates in North Carolina.

Undergraduate Business Schools in North Carolina

As mentioned above, North Carolina has among the most diverse offerings for undergraduate business education, ranging from elite to very budget-friendly. According to data from The NCES, the overall average tuition cost is $18,600, with an average financial aid of almost $13,000, which puts NC on the budget side overall, though there are less expensive states.1 Well-respected Duke University has the highest undergraduate tuition at a little over $51,000, but offers generous financial aid that tops out over $41,000; Wake Forest University is a close second, with tuition and financial aid of $49,000 and $34,000 respectively.1 Just over half of the 33 accredited schools have tuition under $10,000, with the cheapest, Craven Community College, coming in at a very inexpensive $2,053.1

We have acceptance rate data for all but two of our undergraduate schools, and they have a moderate range of 27% to 83%, with one exception: Duke University, which accepts just 11% of applicants, typical for a high-end business school.1 Over two-thirds of the schools (22 of 31) have acceptance rates of over 50%.1

Graduation rates for the 31 accredited undergraduate programs for business degrees in North Carolina for which we have data fall in a wide range: 23% to 95%.1 As is often the case, the highest figures are for the schools with the toughest admittance: 95% at Duke and 91% at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (which has an excellent reputation, and the second-lowest acceptance rate at 27%).1 Of the 31 schools, 19 have graduation rates of 50% or higher.1 The University of North Carolina Wilmington has the most favorable combination of acceptance rate (72%) and graduation rate (72%) in the state.1

In the table below, you’ll find all the important data you need about undergraduate business schools in the “Tar Heel State,” including annual in-state tuition costs, average aid per student, acceptance rates, median SAT and ACT scores of accepted students, and graduation rates. Click any column header to sort the table based on its contents.

SchoolCityTuitionAidMedian SATMedian ACTAccept. RateGrad. Rate
Appalachian State UniversityBoone$7,136$7,6051030-124023-2768.0%0.7%
Barton College$29,052$17,038850-104017-2341.0%0.5%
Campbell UniversityBuies Creek$30,050$17,462920-113019-2581.0%0.6%
Chowan University$23,930$16,815720-89514-1757.0%0.2%
Craven Community CollegeNew Bern$2,053$3,518
Duke UniversityDurham$51,265$41,7211380-157031-3411.0%1.0%
East Carolina UniversityGreenville$6,997$7,641970-113020-2470.0%0.6%
Elizabeth City State UniversityElizabeth City$4,889$8,883790-95017-2157.0%0.4%
Elon UniversityElon$33,104$12,5621100-128025-2960.0%0.8%
Fayetteville State UniversityFayetteville$5,085$6,278790-95017-2159.0%0.3%
Gardner-Webb UniversityBoiling Springs$29,810$15,691860-111018-2452.0%0.4%
Gaston CollegeDallas$2,562$3,1050.0%0.0%
Greensboro CollegeGreensboro$28,000$10,455800-101017-2336.0%0.4%
Guilford CollegeGreensboro$34,090$17,29961.0%0.6%
Lenoir-Rhyne UniversityHickory$33,730$22,957870-109070.0%0.5%
Livingstone College$17,764$9,575640-81013-1748.0%0.3%
Meredith CollegeRaleigh$34,907$19,639920-112321-2661.0%0.6%
Methodist UniversityFayetteville$31,980$17,948840-108017-2355.0%0.4%
North Carolina A&T State UniversityGreensboro$6,372$8,081850-101018-2254.0%0.4%
North Carolina Central UniversityDurham$6,132$8,583810-94017-1967.0%0.4%
North Carolina State UniversityRaleigh$8,880$9,8571170-135026-3148.0%0.8%
Queens University of CharlotteCharlotte$32,560$17,079940-114021-2683.0%0.5%
University of Mount OliveMount Olive$19,000$7,7931020-115017-2248.0%0.5%
University of North CarolinaGreensboro$6,971$7,915950-113021-2574.0%0.5%
University of North Carolina at AshevilleAsheville$6,977$6,8021040-125023-2876.0%0.6%
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel Hill$8,834$15,7301210-142028-3327.0%0.9%
University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotte$6,763$6,8501030-120022-2662.0%0.6%
University of North Carolina at PembrokePembroke$5,816$6,600840-101018-2174.0%0.4%
University of North Carolina WilmingtonWilmington$6,951$5,4421130-126022-2672.0%0.7%
Wake Forest University-Schools of BusinessWinston-Salem$49,308$34,03830.0%0.9%
Western Carolina UniversityCullowhee$6,737$6,098910-112020-2541.0%0.6%
Wingate UniversityWingate$29,170$21,674940-113020-2570.0%0.5%
Winston-Salem State UniversityWinston-Salem$5,804$8,024800-94017-1963.0%0.5%

Graduate Business Schools in North Carolina

Using data compiled from the AACSB, ACBSP, and IACBE there are 22 accredited and non-profit options for obtaining an MBA or equivalent in North Carolina, which include several highly ranked schools and a number of lesser-known options that are still worthy of consideration.2,3,4 Following a pattern seen in many states, the overall average tuition cost for graduate study ($32,000) is a bit deceptive, because it is skewed upward by three very expensive schools: Duke University (which, at a little over $120,000, is one of the most expensive in the country), Wake Forest University ($83,000), and the Kenan-Flagler School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ($80,000). The other 19 schools are all below $40,000, with an average just north of $22,000 and the lowest just $10,485 at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.1

We have average admission GMAT scores for 14 of the 22 schools, which are clustered pretty tightly, ranging from 443 at Western Carolina University to 652 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Thirteen schools have a percentage of full-time faculty with doctorate degrees ranging from 66.7% to 93.8%; Duke University’s figure is 99%.

If you want to continue working while adding some education to enhance your career, there are several online MBA programs in North Carolina available. One of these is East Carolina University, which has had an online MBA program since 2004 and has very reasonable acceptance requirements. On the higher end, the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at UNC-Chapel Hill has a well-regarded online MBA, with several available concentrations for study, quarterly program start times, and impressive success rates for students: on average, their salaries increase 33% upon degree completion. Most online programs offer the same basic curriculum and courses as their offline equivalents.

The table that follows shows graduate business school tuition costs, average accepted applicant GMAT scores, the percentage of faculty with a doctorate degree, average undergraduate GPA figures of accepted students, and student-to-faculty ratios. Click any column header to sort the table based on its contents.

SchoolCityTuitionAvg. GMATFaculty
with Doct.
Bradley UniversityPeoria$27,39054278%1.17
DePaul UniversityChicago$72,00055386%5.37
Dominican UniversityRiver Forest$51,30052581%2.64
Eastern Illinois UniversityCharleston$13,26347878%1.19
Governors State UniversityUniversity Park$12,20786%1.82
Illinois State UniversityNormal$25,52755484%3.27
Lewis UniversityRomeoville$43,200
Lindenwood University – BellevilleBelleville$24,000
Loyola University ChicagoChicago$81,39254081%5.47
Millikin UniversityDecatur$33,280
Northeastern Illinois UniversityChicago$16,0872.2
Northern Illinois UniversityDeKalb$26,80953875%4.28
Northwestern UniversityEvanston$95,156732
Roosevelt UniversitySchaumburg$48,254
Southern Illinois University CarbondaleCarbondale$22,33358397%5.26
Southern Illinois University EdwardsvilleEdwardsville$20,14653674%
St. Xavier UniversityChicago$39,96040089%
University of ChicagoChicago$69,200726
University of Illinois at ChicagoChicago$47,54456884%5.74
University of Illinois at SpringfieldSpringfield$34,77247897%11.46
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaign$53,65665685%5.27
University of Illinois Institute of TechnologyChicago$86,64556792%6.84

Job Outlook for Business Graduates in North Carolina

Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data predicts 2016 to 2026 total growth of at least 5% in 32 out of 37 business and management occupations across the US.6 The most growth will be seen for market analysts and marketing specialists, at 22.8% over 10 years, with financial managers coming in second at 18.7%.6

North Carolina’s overall unemployment rate has followed the downward trend seen in most states; it currently sits at about 4.5%, having dropped fairly steadily from a peak of over 11% during the Great Recession. Slightly more than 300,000 people were employed in the business and management sector in North Carolina in 2016.6 General and operations managers made up the largest subgroup by a hefty margin, with just over 52,000 employed; business operations specialists and accountants and auditors were nearly tied for second place at 31,740 and 31,470 respectively.6 All the other categories were below 20,000.6

BLS data shows an overall average annual wage in 2016 across all occupations in North Carolina of $43,916, which places the state 40th out of 51 in the US, including the District of Columbia.6 Business and management occupations, however, had a weighted average annual salary of around $99,000 in that year, yielding one of the largest differentials of any state between overall average wages and those in the business sector.6 Chief executives were the highest-paid subgroup at $225,000, well ahead of several management categories in the $140,000 to $145,000 range.6 Tax preparers were the lowest-paid subgroup at $44,680.6

North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina
Accountants and Auditors13-201131,470$36$75,66010.0%
Administrative Services Managers11-30114,610$51$105,37010.1%
Advertising and Promotions Managers11-2011330$59$122,6505.8%
Agents and Managers of Performers and Athletes13-1011350$35$73,2804.9%
Architectural and Engineering Managers11-90413,670$68$141,8205.5%
Budget Analysts13-20311,100$34$70,7806.5%
Business Operations Specialists13-119931,740$36$74,3908.8%
Chief Executives11-10113,820$108$225,5008.0%
Compensation and Benefits Managers11-3111550$65$134,4805.0%
Compensation and Job Analysis Specialists13-11412,420$32$66,6608.5%
Compliance Officers13-10417,030$33$68,0508.2%
Computer and Information Systems Managers11-302112,360$68$140,90011.9%
Construction Managers11-90219,860$51$106,47011.4%
Cost Estimators13-10516,890$29$60,76010.6%
Credit Analysts13-20413,120$40$83,9008.4%
Credit Counselors13-2071570$26$53,55013.9%
Financial Analysts13-20518,690$42$87,90010.8%
Financial Examiners13-20612,800$41$84,6309.8%
Financial Managers11-303115,780$70$146,6100.187
General and Operations Managers11-102152,650$64$133,3909.1%
Human Resources Managers11-31213,670$60$124,1608.9%
Human Resources Specialists13-107116,370$31$64,1807.1%
Insurance Underwriters13-20532,140$37$77,040-5.2%
Labor Relations Specialists13-1075840$24$50,330-7.8%
Loan Officers13-207213,100$35$72,63011.5%
Management Analysts13-111115,470$45$93,59012.0%
Market Research Specialists13-116116,680$34$70,89022.8%
Marketing Managers11-20215,790$70$145,40010.0%
Convention and Event Planners13-11212,790$22$45,91010.2%
PR and Fundraising Managers11-20311,130$60$125,65010.4%
Purchasing Managers11-30612,190$57$118,2805.6%
Sales Managers11-20226,710$69$143,1207.4%
Tax Examiners and Revenue Agents13-20811,230$27$55,810-0.6%
Tax Preparers13-20821,510$21$44,68010.8%
Training and Development Managers11-3131730$62$128,18010.3%

1. National Center for Education Statistics:
2. AACSB, Best Business Schools:
3. ACBSP, Business Schools:
4. IACBE, Business Schools:
5. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools:
6. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, North Carolina:
7. US News & World Report: