The higher education system in North Carolina can be broken down into the following categories: one large public university system, more than 15 liberal arts colleges, 35 private universities and colleges and a community college system with about 60 different community colleges. Located on the East Coast of the United States, there are many different varied opportunities for students who wish to study in the state of North Carolina.
The University of North Carolina System is the system that encompasses all state-run universities. There are more than 15 different campuses within the system, with the flagship campus being the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This university, often referred to as UNC Chapel Hill, was founded in 1789 and the first students began attending classes in 1795. UNC Chapel Hill is one of three different schools in the United States that can lay claim to being one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the country. Students who go to UNC Chapel Hill today can choose from more than 70 different degree programs. Prominent alumni include former U.S. President James K. Polk and Vice President William R. King.
The largest university in North Carolina is North Carolina State University, which is also a part of the University of North Carolina System. It was originally founded as a land-grant university but it is now also a sea-grant and space-grant institution. It is considered to be one of the main research schools in the state, along with UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University. With more than 100 different degree programs available, North Carolina State is most known for its programs in textiles, design, life sciences and agriculture. The university has also produced several notable alumni included former United States politician John Edwards and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Duke University is another well known university in the state, and makes up a corner of the Research Triangle along with NC State and UNC Chapel Hill. The difference between Duke and these other two research schools is the fact that Duke is a private university. Duke was founded in 1838 and is currently located in Durham, North Carolina. It is consistently ranked as one of the best universities in the country, and is known for its prestigious academic programs that are broken down into arts and sciences programs and engineering programs. Most students enroll in programs that are a part of the arts and sciences school.