North Carolina's Education System

Education in North Carolina

North Carolina offers one of the nation’s most renowned education systems, supplying companies a pipeline of skilled workers while providing its citizens ample opportunities to learn, grow and Thrive in the 21st century economy.

We have the research and education systems to partner today’s companies with tomorrow’s leaders. From accessible state community colleges and university systems to outstanding private institutions, we are constantly developing new talent. In fact, there is a community college within a 30-minute drive of every state resident.

North Carolina’s education commitment is evident in its leadership in:

Early Education

North Carolina ranks among the top four states nationally for state pre-kindergarten quality standards according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
 
Smart Start is our award-winning early childhood initiative designed to ensure children enter school healthy and ready to succeed.  The program makes health education and screening available, improves child care facilities and provides subsidies to working families for high-quality child care.
 
The North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program, N.C. Pre-K, formally known as More at Four,  is designed to provide high-quality educational experiences to enhance school readiness for eligible four-year-olds.  The curricula focuses on enhancing school readiness by addressing emotional, social, physical, language and cognitive needs.

K-12

North Carolina is the leading state for National Board Certified teachers, accounting for one-fifth of those nationally and 10% of the state’s teachers, library media coordinators and guidance counselors.  We rank in the top 10 in SAT participation and the state’s average total scores exceed the Southeast’s average.
 
North Carolina issues the N.C. School Report Card to measure progress and keep parents and others informed and involved in our schools.  We also participate in the National Association of Education Progress (NAEP), often called "the Nation’s Report Card" that compares North Carolina favorably with the performance of students across the nation.
 
To prepare students for higher education, our New Schools Project, with $20 million in funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, awards grants to create small, personalized high schools that are firmly connected to workplace knowledge and skills.  Also, the Career & College Promise program will guarantee eligible high school age students a clear, focused and affordable path to a successful future.

Higher Education

The North Carolina Community College System offers affordable, accessible programs through its 58-campus network that are within a 30-minute commute of 99% of the state’s population.  The system is recognized nationally for its customized workforce training programs and offers a wide variety of occupational certification and continuing education programs. 
 
Sixteen constituent campuses comprise the University of North Carolina System, including the first public university in the nation.  They confer their highest concentration of degrees in the fields of business and management, the social sciences, communications, education, engineering, health professions, psychology and public affairs. With strong financial support from the state, the UNC System is one of the least expensive in the country, with tuition below the national average.
 
Several internationally renowned universities - Duke University, N.C. State University, Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – provide a strong research foundation and a steady influx of knowledge workers.
 
In addition, we host 36 non-profit private colleges and universities that are affiliated with 14 different religious denominations.

To learn more about what North Carolina is doing to further education all across our state download the Quality Education Systems Chapter of our Fact Book.