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Inside the Best Online Master’s Programs in North Carolina (NC)

There are many world-class North Carolina online master’s programs worth exploring. Discover which of these degrees are in high demand as well as the different online learning options available and how they work.

Author: Shannon Lee

Editor: Staff Editor

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A scenic view of a lighthouse with black and white stripes beside a marsh, connected by a wooden boardwalk, in a misty morning landscape under a soft, glowing sky.

North Carolina is home to many world-class institutions of higher learning. In fact, this country’s first public university was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which opened its doors to students in 1795. Today, like many institutions in the state, UNC Chapel Hill is known for outstanding faculty, groundbreaking research, and providing a top-notch education both in person and online.

With the ubiquity of online learning, you no longer have to move to the state to take advantage of the plethora of online master’s programs in NC. A master’s degree is a great way to advance your current career or begin working in a profession that requires advanced training. And the flexibility provided by the online learning format makes it convenient to fit your education around your professional and personal life.

If you’re interested in enrolling in a North Carolina online master’s degree program but not sure which school or program to apply to, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn more about NC schools and programs and what an online graduate program in NC can do for your career.

Top-Rated Online Master’s Programs in North Carolina for 2024

If there’s a particular type of master’s degree you’re looking for, you’ll likely find it in this state. And if there’s a unique remote learning format or modality, there’s a good chance North Carolina has it.

Depending on the master’s program you choose, the curriculum may be fully online or offered in a hybrid format. Academic subjects that require more hands-on training like nursing will often have hybrid programs, with classroom instruction taking place online and experiential learning occurring in person. There are also programs with curricula almost fully online, requiring only the occasional campus visit to allow students face-to-face learning opportunities with their classmates and professors.

To help you decide which online master’s degree programs in NC is right for you, we’ve identified a few standout schools. The best school will depend on your personal and professional needs, but there are some universal characteristics of the top programs in terms of affordability, flexibility, and academic quality.

These three schools feature all of those qualities, so even if they’re not right for you, they’ll help you figure out what to look for when choosing the best school for you.

UNC at Chapel Hill is one of North Carolina’s premier institutions of higher learning. Prospective graduate students will appreciate the more than a dozen online master’s degree programs. Areas of study include healthcare, social work, business, library science, government, data science, and journalism.

Some of the most popular programs are the Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Health Care Leadership and Administration, the Master of Business Administration, and the Master of Social Work. Most of these programs don’t require a GRE to apply and are available full- or part-time, with the bulk of the curriculum completed online. Depending on the program, in-person internships or practicums may be required, and can often be completed near the student’s place of work or residence.

North Carolina State University is one of the largest schools in the state, so it’s no surprise that it has an extensive offering of online degree programs available at all levels. There are more than 50 online master’s programs, spanning a variety of subjects, from accounting to engineering to healthcare.

When enrolled in an online or hybrid program, course content is delivered through Moodle, while students watch pre-recorded lectures through Panopto. For synchronous courses, students will use Zoom or Google Meet. For some courses, students can learn asynchronously, completing course requirements from anywhere and at any time.

Many of these programs do not require applicants to take an entrance exam like the GRE. Tuition is affordable, with most online master’s students paying an online rate, regardless of their state of residency.

Despite its small size, Queens University of Charlotte has robust graduate offerings, including 16 online master’s degree programs, including business, education, healthcare, and communication, plus various concentrations and specializations. For example, students who enroll in the AACSB-accredited Flexible MBA program can choose from six specializations and graduate as little as 12 months. Students can choose to take some or all of their MBA courses online.

Another popular program is the CCNE-accredited Master of Science in Nursing degree, with four specialization tracks. Outside of the required practicums, most of the coursework can be completed online, with no campus residencies. Other online master’s programs include a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership, a Master of Arts in Communication (with two specializations), and a Master of Health Administration.

Types of Online Master’s Programs Available in North Carolina

There are many online master’s programs in NC, but they’re not all the same. Let’s take a look at admissions processes and online learning options you may see while researching online master’s degree programs.

Full-Time Online Master’s Programs in NC

Short of completing an accelerated program, the full-time online master’s program is often the fastest way to earn your master’s degree. Despite its name, many online master’s degree students in NC can continue working full-time as full-time students.

A full-time course load at the master’s level is closer to nine credits per semester, rather than the 12 or 15 credits per term required for most bachelor’s degree programs. Two North Carolina schools with full-time online master’s degree programs include Appalachian State University’s Master of Health Administration and East Carolina University’s Master of Science in Nursing: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.

Part-Time Online Master’s Programs in NC

Even though it’s possible to work full-time while also being a full-time graduate student, many students have family and other personal obligations that make balancing schoolwork with other responsibilities impractical. And given the self-paced nature of many online master’s degree courses, enrolling as a part-time graduate student is quite popular.

Part-time programs are ideal for students who need to focus on work and/or family, but also want to earn their online master’s degree in their spare time. UNC at Greensboro’s Master of Science in Accounting and North Carolina Central University’s Master of School Administration are both quality master’s programs with part-time options.

No-GRE Online Master’s Programs in NC

The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, is a popular standardized test used for graduate school admission. Many online master’s degree programs in NC recognize that some master’s-level applicants also work full-time and have families so they don’t require GRE scores as part of the admissions application.

These schools not only understand how inconvenient it can be to take the GRE, but also know that scores sometimes have limited value in predicting graduate school performance. Some schools in North Carolina with online master’s degree programs that don’t require the GRE are NC State University’s Master of Nutrition program and UNC Charlotte’s MA in Teaching: Foreign Language Education program.

Accelerated Online Master’s Programs in NC

Students looking to earn a master’s degree quickly will typically opt to enroll as full-time students. But to graduate even faster, some online master’s degree programs in NC can be completed on an accelerated basis. Depending on the program, students can earn their master’s degree in about one year.

Accelerated programs usually work by either requiring students to take courses throughout the year or adding an extra course each term. UNC Pembroke’s MBA program and UNC Wilmington’s MA in Integrated Marketing Communication programare two examples of accelerated options for online graduate students.

In-demand Online Master’s Degrees in North Carolina

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

One of the most popular master’s degrees in NC is the MBA, or master of business administration. It’s a popular online master’s degree because it can easily be delivered 100% online, students have no problems speeding up or slowing down their learning pace, and it teaches skills and knowledge applicable to a wide range of professions, even outside of the corporate realm. It’s also worth noting that North Carolina is home to many large companies, like Bank of America, Lowe’s Companies, and Honeywell.

Examples of Quality Online MBA Programs

MS in Civil Engineering

Many civil engineering positions require a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree can be helpful for career advancement. A graduate degree in civil engineering offers concentration options, making it possible for students to focus on subsets of the civil engineering field. This can open the path to management and supervisory job opportunities in specific fields.

Examples of Quality Online Civil Engineering Programs

Master of Social Work (MSW)

One of the biggest reasons a student might earn a master’s degree in social work is to complete the training needed to conduct clinical assessments. Students develop advanced skills to engage in specialized practice and are equipped to move into the social work field even if their undergraduate training was in an unrelated area of study.

Examples of Quality Online MSW Programs

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Students seek a nursing master’s degree to take on greater responsibility in the nursing profession. Most applicants are registered nurses who want to become advanced practice nurses or move into management or supervisory roles within a healthcare organization. Demand is high for nurses and administrators with graduate degrees and advanced training.

Examples of Quality Online MSN Programs

Master of Sports Management

The master of sport management degree is best suited for individuals who want to take on management and administrative positions within a sports organization, at both amateur and professional levels. This is a popular degree in North Carolina due to the multitude of collegiate sports programs, as well as several professional sports teams in the state.

Examples of Quality Online Sports Management Programs

How Much Does an Online Master’s in North Carolina Cost?

Even though earning a master’s degree will usually lead to an increase in pay, it’s important to consider how much it will cost to complete an online graduate program in NC.

For most students, the cost of attendance is an important consideration when choosing a school. Besides tuition, there are other factors to consider when determining the cost of a particular online master’s program in North Carolina. These include in-person learning requirements (if any), fees, and availability of gift-based financial aid.

Figuring out how much your education will cost begins with tuition. To give you an idea of what to expect, check out the chart below.

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Tuition Cost








Resident: $237.78

Non-Resident: $963.28

Resident: $8,560

Non-Resident: $34,678

North Carolina’s Master’s Degree Funding Opportunities

Seeing an estimated total tuition cost might dissuade you from applying to a particular program. But, with the help of financial aid opportunities, an unaffordable degree could become affordable.

In addition to student loans, which must be paid back, there are a host of gift-based aid options, which don’t have to be repaid. These include scholarships/grants, fellowships, work-study programs, and graduate research assistantships. These are often offered by nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses, as well as the schools themselves.

For example, NC State University has many scholarship, grant, and federal work-study options exclusive for their student body. North Carolina A&T State University’s academic funding awards are robust for graduate students.

Top Earning Careers with a Master’s in North Carolina

It’s fair to assume that if you get your North Carolina master’s degree, you’ll earn more money than if you only had your bachelor’s degree. But how much more? It’s hard to say for sure, given all the variables involved. However, looking at nationwide data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees with a bachelor’s degree have median weekly earnings of $1,432 per week ($74,464 per year). With a master’s degree, the weekly median earnings go up to $1,661 per week ($86,372 per year).

Besides higher pay, a master’s degree can also bring better job security. The unemployment rate for an individual with a bachelor’s degree is 3.5% versus 2.6% for someone with a master’s degree according to data collected nationally. Not all master’s degrees are created equal, though, with only some leading to jobs that offer greater pay and more potential job security.

Nurse Practitioner

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is required to become an advanced practice registered nurse such as a nurse practitioner. It teaches the necessary advanced clinical skills and theories to provide more complex care to patients. In an online MSN program, the didactic instruction will typically take place remotely. However, students will complete practicums where they can receive the required hands-on supervised training.

State Median Annual Pay National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$111,140 46% Master of Science in Nursing

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022


Epidemiology examines how and why disease and health problems occur and spread through a large group of individuals. Therefore, to become an epidemiologist, an individual must have an extensive understanding of statistical and research concepts. A Master of Public Health (MPH) degree teaches students how to gather and analyze data, draw conclusions from that data, and use them to improve the overall health of a population.

State Median Annual Pay National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$81,530 26% Master of Public Health

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022


To become a statistician, a person will need to learn mathematical and statistical concepts at the highest level. These theories include regression analysis and multivariate statistics. The master’s degree not only teaches these principles, but also how to apply them in real-world applications, such as policy, research, and business.

State Median Annual Pay National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$109,210 33% Masters in Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Urban and Regional Planner

The field of regional and urban planning involves the design and implementation of plans so municipalities can plan the growth of their communities. By earning a master’s degree in urban planning, a student will complete a multi-disciplinary curriculum that covers topics like public policy, real estate law, public finance, government, and transportation.

State Median Annual Pay National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$66,210 4% Master of Urban Planning

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)

A master’s degree in counseling curriculum teaches various counseling techniques and strategies to help clients understand their issues and communicate effectively with family members. All states require marriage and family therapists to be licensed; obtaining this license requires at least a master’s degree. During the pursuit, students will learn about family and marital dynamics, how they function, and the relationship between mental processes and issues with familial relationships.

State Median Annual Pay National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$47,180 14% Master’s in Counseling

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022