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2023 Best Grad Schools in North Carolina for Master's Degrees

It's not easy to decide which grad school to attend when you have so many options available. College Factual has developed its Best Master's Degree Colleges in North Carolina ranking as one thing you can use to help make this decision.

Jump to Any of the Following Sections: * Our Methodology

Finding Your Best Grad School Match

Our analysis looked at 34 grad schools in North Carolina to determine which ones have the best master's degree programs. To come up with this ranking of the best grad schools, we look at factors that are all objective measurements. We explain more about what we look at and why we do so below.

Early-Career Salaries Are Higher

One measure we use to determine the quality of a school is to look at the average salary of master's graduates during the early years of their career. A master's degree holder from a school in North Carolina makes an average starting salary of $56,453, but the students who attended schools in the top 23 of our list make an average of $60,027.

Starting Salary  ( 48939 to 69985 )
$0
$81,952

Average Student Debt

Graduate students may also take on a lot of debt while working on their master's so we factor that into our rankings as well. The average debt load at a particular school may not be bad, but it's an important thing to consider in conjunction with post-graduation earnings.

Other Ranking Factors in Our Methodology

In addition to average post-graduation earnings and average student debt loads, we also look at a host of other factors to determining our Best Master's Degree Schools ranking. Several other factors - such as how much the school spends on educational resources, the demand of the school, the availability of online learning options, and the student body caliber - go into our rankings.

Find out more about our graduate school ranking methodology

Customizing Your List of Rankings

If you'd rather work on your master's degree in a specific area of the country, you might be interested in our rankings by place. In addition, we've put together a number of other college rankings that may help you in your search.

Thinking about continuing your education further? Check out our Best Doctorate Degree Schools ranking.

Top Master's Degree Schools in North Carolina

Learn more about these excellent grad schools below:

#1

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina
3,059 Master's Degrees Awarded
$76,664 Average Early-Career Earnings

Duke University tops this year’s ranking as the best grad school for master’s degrees in North Carolina for overall quality. Duke is located in Durham, North Carolina and has a fairly large student population. In 2020-2021, this school awarded 3,059 master’s degrees to qualified graduate students.

The average salary of a graduate with a master’s degree from Duke is $76,664 during the early years of their career.

Full Duke University Report

#2

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2,304 Master's Degrees Awarded
$62,070 Average Early-Career Earnings

A rank of #2 on our Best Master’s Degree in North Carolina list means University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a great place for students working on their degree. This large public school is located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and it awarded 2,304 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, master’s degree graduates from UNC Chapel Hill make an average of $62,070 a year.

Learn More About University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

#3

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina
1,023 Master's Degrees Awarded
$72,493 Average Early-Career Earnings

Out of the 34 master’s degree schools in North Carolina that were part of this year’s ranking, Wake Forest University landed the #3 spot on the list. Wake Forest University is a medium-sized private not-for-profit school situated in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It awarded 1,023 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The average salary of a graduate with a master’s degree from Wake Forest University is $72,493 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Wake Forest University

#4

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina
2,899 Master's Degrees Awarded
$59,462 Average Early-Career Earnings

The excellent master’s degree programs at North Carolina State University helped the school earn the #4 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in North Carolina. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, the large public school handed out 2,899 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a master’s degree from NC State go into careers with an average salary of $59,462 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on North Carolina State University

#5

Elon University

Elon, North Carolina
153 Master's Degrees Awarded
$69,393 Average Early-Career Earnings

The excellent master’s degree programs at Elon University helped the school earn the #5 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in North Carolina. Elon is a medium-sized private not-for-profit school situated in Elon, North Carolina. It awarded 153 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Upon graduation, master’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $69,393 during the early years of their career.

Learn More About Elon University

#6

East Carolina University

Greenville, North Carolina
1,343 Master's Degrees Awarded
$53,337 Average Early-Career Earnings

East Carolina University ranked #6 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina list. Located in Greenville, North Carolina, the large public school awarded 1,343 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2020-2021.

Upon graduation, master’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $53,337 during the early years of their career.

Learn More About East Carolina University

#7

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina
1,712 Master's Degrees Awarded
$60,350 Average Early-Career Earnings

With a ranking of #7, University of North Carolina at Charlotte did quite well on the 2023 Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina list. Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, the large public school handed out 1,712 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, master’s degree graduates from UNC Charlotte make an average of $60,350 a year.

Read full report on University of North Carolina at Charlotte

#8

Appalachian State University

Boone, North Carolina
654 Master's Degrees Awarded
$45,351 Average Early-Career Earnings

Appalachian State University landed the #8 spot on the 2023 Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina ranking. Appalachian State is located in Boone, North Carolina and has a large student population. In 2020-2021, this school awarded 654 master’s degrees to qualified graduate students.

Graduates with a master’s degree from Appalachian State make an average of $45,351 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Appalachian State University

#9

High Point University

High Point, North Carolina
142 Master's Degrees Awarded
$81,952 Average Early-Career Earnings

High Point University came in at #9 in this year’s edition of the Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina ranking. High Point, North Carolina is the setting for this medium-sized institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out master’s degrees to 142 students in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, master’s degree graduates from High Point make an average of $81,952 a year.

Full High Point University Report

#10

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Wilmington, North Carolina
1,137 Master's Degrees Awarded
$47,678 Average Early-Career Earnings

With a ranking of #10, University of North Carolina at Wilmington did quite well on the 2023 Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina list. Located in Wilmington, North Carolina, the fairly large public school handed out 1,137 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Upon graduation, master’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $47,678 during the early years of their career.

Learn More About University of North Carolina at Wilmington

#11

Gardner - Webb University

Boiling Springs, North Carolina
397 Master's Degrees Awarded
$66,683 Average Early-Career Earnings

Gardner - Webb University ranked #11 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina list. Gardner - Webb is located in Boiling Springs, North Carolina and has a small student population. In 2020-2021, this school awarded 397 master’s degrees to qualified graduate students.

Graduates with a master’s degree from Gardner - Webb make an average of $66,683 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Gardner - Webb University

#12

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, North Carolina
891 Master's Degrees Awarded
$45,774 Average Early-Career Earnings

University of North Carolina at Greensboro landed the #12 spot on the 2023 Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina ranking. Located in Greensboro, North Carolina, the fairly large public school handed out 891 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Graduates with a master’s degree from UNC Greensboro make an average of $45,774 per year during the early years of their career.

Learn More About University of North Carolina at Greensboro

#13

Wingate University

Wingate, North Carolina
143 Master's Degrees Awarded
$72,537 Average Early-Career Earnings

Wingate University did quite well in the 2023 Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #13. Wingate, North Carolina is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out master’s degrees to 143 students in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a master’s degree from Wingate go into careers with an average salary of $72,537 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Wingate University

#14

Queens University of Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina
332 Master's Degrees Awarded
$64,376 Average Early-Career Earnings

Queens University of Charlotte did quite well in the 2023 Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #14. Located in Charlotte, North Carolina, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 332 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2020-2021.

The average salary of a graduate with a master’s degree from Queens is $64,376 during the early years of their career.

Full Queens University of Charlotte Report

#15

Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, North Carolina
544 Master's Degrees Awarded
$52,188 Average Early-Career Earnings

Western Carolina University ranked #15 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina list. WCU is located in Cullowhee, North Carolina and has a fairly large student population. In 2020-2021, this school awarded 544 master’s degrees to qualified graduate students.

Upon graduation, master’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $52,188 during the early years of their career.

Learn More About Western Carolina University

#16

Campbell University

Buies Creek, North Carolina
261 Master's Degrees Awarded
$67,552 Average Early-Career Earnings

Campbell University did quite well in the 2023 Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #16. Campbell is a private not-for-profit institution located in Buies Creek, North Carolina. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 261 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a master’s degree from Campbell go into careers with an average salary of $67,552 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Campbell University

#17

Lenoir - Rhyne University

Hickory, North Carolina
279 Master's Degrees Awarded
$54,194 Average Early-Career Earnings

Lenoir - Rhyne University ranked #17 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina list. Located in Hickory, North Carolina, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 279 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, master’s degree graduates from Lenoir - Rhyne University make an average of $54,194 a year.

Full Lenoir - Rhyne University Report

#18

Winston - Salem State University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina
105 Master's Degrees Awarded
$67,719 Average Early-Career Earnings

Winston - Salem State University ranked #18 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina list. WSSU is a public institution located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 105 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Upon graduation, master’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $67,719 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Winston - Salem State University

#19

Pfeiffer University

Misenheimer, North Carolina
143 Master's Degrees Awarded
$56,811 Average Early-Career Earnings

Pfeiffer University did quite well in the 2023 Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina ranking, coming in at #19. Located in Misenheimer, North Carolina, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 143 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2020-2021.

The average salary of a graduate with a master’s degree from Pfeiffer University is $56,811 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Pfeiffer University

#20

North Carolina A & T State University

Greensboro, North Carolina
372 Master's Degrees Awarded
$54,745 Average Early-Career Earnings

North Carolina A & T State University ranked #20 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina list. Located in Greensboro, North Carolina, the fairly large public school awarded 372 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2020-2021.

Graduates with a master’s degree from NC A&T make an average of $54,745 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on North Carolina A & T State University

#21

Methodist University

Fayetteville, North Carolina
43 Master's Degrees Awarded

Methodist University ranked #21 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina list. Located in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 43 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Read full report on Methodist University

#22

North Carolina Wesleyan College

Rocky Mount, North Carolina
63 Master's Degrees Awarded

North Carolina Wesleyan College landed the #22 spot on the 2023 Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and it awarded 63 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Full North Carolina Wesleyan College Report

#23

Salem College

Winston-Salem, North Carolina
30 Master's Degrees Awarded
$46,313 Average Early-Career Earnings

Salem College ranked #23 on this year’s Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina list. Salem is a private not-for-profit institution located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The school has a small population, and it awarded 30 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a master’s degree from Salem go into careers with an average salary of $46,313 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Salem College

#24

University of Mount Olive

Mount Olive, North Carolina
92 Master's Degrees Awarded
$53,966 Average Early-Career Earnings

University of Mount Olive landed the #24 spot on the 2023 Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina ranking. UMO is a private not-for-profit institution located in Mount Olive, North Carolina. The school has a small population, and it awarded 92 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, master’s degree graduates from UMO make an average of $53,966 a year.

Read full report on University of Mount Olive

#25

Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville, North Carolina
252 Master's Degrees Awarded
$49,021 Average Early-Career Earnings

With a ranking of #25, Fayetteville State University did quite well on the 2023 Best Master’s Degree Schools in North Carolina list. Fayetteville State University is a medium-sized public school located in Fayetteville, North Carolina that handed out 252 master’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a master’s degree from Fayetteville State University go into careers with an average salary of $49,021 during the early years of their career.

Learn More About Fayetteville State University

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Notes and References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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