Cary, North Carolina (NC) Colleges and Universities

While there are only a few schools in Cary, NC, there are many schools located within a 25-mile radius. Read about the top schools in several categories, including the most program variety, lowest net cost, highest graduation rate and lowest student-faculty ratio, to find the school for you.

View 16 Popular Schools »

Most Program Variety

Some students enter a college or university knowing exactly what they want to study. Those who haven't yet made that choice might prefer to keep their options open by attending a school with a large variety of programs. The three universities profiled below are the top traditional public and private not-for-profit schools in the Cary, NC, area in terms of the number of programs offered.

1 - North Carolina State University

Raleigh's North Carolina State University is located about seven miles east of Cary. It is North Carolina's largest 4-year college and offers students close to 170 programs to choose from. NC State is ranked 106th on U.S. News & World Report's 2013 'Best National Universities' list and 51st top public school among national universities. According to U.S. News, the most popular majors among 2011 graduates were engineering, business and related subjects, biological and biomedical sciences, agriculture and related sciences, and social sciences.

2 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Students will find the country's first public university, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, located approximately 20 miles west of Cary. This university offers students a choice of about 144 programs. In addition to having an overall ranking of 30 on U.S. News & World Report's 2013 Best Universities list, the school was ranked as the fifth top public school among national universities. UNC at Chapel Hill also has several highly ranked individual programs, including several undergraduate and graduate business programs. U.S. News also reported that popular majors chosen by 2011 graduates were communication and media studies, biology, psychology, business administration and related subjects, and political science and government.

3 - North Carolina Central University

Durham's North Carolina Central University is located about 19 miles northwest of Cary. This 4-year public school is the nation's first African-American state-supported liberal arts college. Today, it offers about 89 programs to over 8,300 students. U.S. News & World Report ranked NC Central 88th on its 2013 list of regional universities in the South. Based on U.S. News data, the five most popular majors for students who graduated in 2011 were business administration and management, family and consumer sciences/human sciences, criminal justice/safety studies, psychology, and registered nursing.

Lowest Net Price

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) calculates the average net cost for U.S. colleges and universities by taking the total cost of attendance and then subtracting the amount of government or institutional financial aid that students receive. The average net price for schools in the Cary area during the 2010-2011 academic year ranged from $4,283 to $24,829. The following schools have the lowest reported net price among the traditional public and private-not-for profit schools in the area.

1 - Durham Technical Community College

Durham Technical Community College is a 2-year public school offering certificate and associate's degree programs. The average net price was $4,283 in 2010-2011, making this college the most affordable option in the Cary area. Based on 2010-2011 NCES figures, 71% of the school's first-year full-time students received grant or scholarship aid in the average amount of $5,720. In the 2012-2013 school year, NCES estimated that tuition and fees totaled $1,840 for in-state students and $6,388 for out-of-state students.

2 - North Carolina Central University

With an average net price of $6,682 for 2010-2011, North Carolina Central is the second most affordable school in the Cary vicinity. NCES estimated that the tuition and fees were $5,200 for North Carolina residents and $15,773 for nonresidents during the 2012-2013 academic year. According to NCES, 90% of first-year full-time undergraduate students received aid in the form of grants or scholarships in an average amount of $9,618 in 2010-2011.

3 - Wake Technical Community College

Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh offers certificate and 2-year degree programs for students who plan to enter the workforce directly or who want to transfer to 4-year schools. Full-time beginning students attending this public school paid an average net price of $7,223 for the 2010-2011 academic year. NCES reported that during this year, 56% of beginning first-year full-time undergraduate students received aid in the form of grants or scholarships with an average award amount of $5,698, and 38% of all undergraduate students received this type of aid with an average award of $4,416. In the 2012-2013 academic year, NCES reported that the estimated tuition and fees to attend Wake Tech were $2,380 for North Carolina residents and $8,524 for nonresidents.

Highest Graduation Rate

Graduation rates of schools in the Cary area fall within a wide range. The nationally ranked schools in the area are significantly higher than the local specialty and technical schools. The reported data from NCES represents the overall graduation rates of full-time students who began their studies in 2005 and graduated in 150% of the 'normal time' it takes to complete their degree program. At 4-year schools, the graduation rate indicates how many students finished bachelor's degree programs in six years. The three schools profiled below had the highest graduation rates among the traditional schools in the area, based on NCES figures.

1 - Duke University

Duke University in Durham, NC, was ranked eighth among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2013. Duke had an overall graduation rate of 94%. The 4-year graduation rate was 89%. Per NCES figures, Duke also has a high retention rate, with 97% of full-time students who started their studies in 2010 returning in 2011.

2 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

UNC at Chapel Hill had an overall graduation rate of 89% and a 4-year graduation rate of 75%. For 2010-2011, the university's retention rate was 97%, per NCES. According to the same source, the retention rate for part-time students was 86%.

3 - North Carolina State University

At 72%, NC State's overall graduation rate is the third highest in the Cary area. The school's retention rate for full-time students was 89% for students who began their studies in 2010 and returned in 2011, according to the NCES. The retention rate for part-time students was 55%.

Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio

The student-faculty ratio of schools in the Cary area ranges from a high of 21:1 to a low of 7:1. The schools below have the lowest ratios of traditional schools in the vicinity of Cary, per NCES.

1 - Duke University

Duke boasts a student-faculty ratio of 7:1. Per U.S. News & World Report, 71.6% of the school's classes had less than 20 students in 2011. During this year, NCES figures show that the school had 3,126 instructional full-time faculty members and 65 instructional part-time faculty members. Duke also employed 556 graduate teaching assistants.

2 - Durham Technical Community College

NCES figures show that Durham Tech was the home to 549 faculty members in Fall 2011. Of these, the school employed 389 on a part-time basis. The school's student-to-faculty ratio was 9:1.

3 - Meredith College

Raleigh-based Meredith College was ranked third among regional colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report in 2013. According to 2011 NCES data, this private women's college had a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. The 2011 student population included 1,707 undergraduates and 273 graduates, and there were 122 full-time and 94 part-time faculty members. The school reports that undergraduate classes have an average size of 17 students, while graduate courses, which are coeducational, have an average size of 18 students.

Cary Area Schools at a Glance

School Name Location School Type Program Levels Offered Area Ranking
Duke University Durham, NC (20 miles from Cary) 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees; post-baccalaureate certificates Highest Graduation Rate,
Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
Durham Technical Community College Durham, NC (17 miles from Cary) 2-year, public Less than 1-year certificates and 1 to 2-year certificates; associate's degrees Lowest Net Price,
2nd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
Meredith College Raleigh, NC (5 miles from Cary) 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's and master's degrees; post-baccalaureate certificates 3rd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
North Carolina Central University Durham, NC (19 miles from Cary) 4-year, public Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees; post-baccalaureate certificates 2nd Lowest Net Price,
3rd Most Program Variety
North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC (7 miles from Cary) 4-year, public Associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees; post-baccalaureate and post-master's certificates Most Program Variety,
3rd Highest Graduate Rate
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC (22 miles from Cary) 4-year, public 1 to 2-year certificates; bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees; post-baccalaureate certificates 2nd Most Program Variety,
2nd Highest Graduation Rate
Wake Technical Community College Raleigh, NC (15 miles from Cary) 2-year, public Less than 1-year certificates and 1 to 2-year certificates; associate's degrees 3rd Lowest Net Price
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