North Carolina universities top U.S. News and World Report rankings

Duke ranked #9 overall, UNC-Chapel Hill #5 best public university

Christine T. Nguyen—North State Journal
The South Building at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Christine T. Nguyen/North State Journal)

DURHAM — Duke University continues to rank as a top tier institution in the nation according to this year’s “Best Colleges” list by U.S. News and World Report.

Duke ranked 9th on the publication’s annual “National Universities” list, falling one rank from last year but remaining in the top ten. Princeton University in New Jersey topped the list for the seventh straight year, followed by Harvard and the University of Chicago.

Duke also earned distinction as the 10th most innovative school and best undergraduate teaching.

Other North Carolina four-year institutions hit high on the list that is widely regarded as the premium metric to help students and parents evaluate academic programs prior to applying to college. Wake Forest University placed 27th, UNC-Chapel Hill at 30th, and N.C. State ranked 81st.

The ratings are based on fifteen measures of academic quality, with the “national” list focusing on universities that offer a full range of undergraduate majors, master’s and doctoral programs, and are committed to “groundbreaking” research.

In addition, U.S. News and World Report also breaks rankings up by liberal arts, regional, and public colleges.

UNC-Chapel Hill ranked as the 5th best public university in America, behind UC-Berkley, UC-Los Angeles, University of Virginia, and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The Tar Heels are were also named the 10th best school for veterans, and the 9th best college value at in-state tuition hovering around $9,000 a year.

Davidson College, 20 miles north of Charlotte, ranked 10th best of colleges that award at least half of their undergraduate population with liberal arts degrees.

Elon University between Greensboro and Durham was named the No. 1 regional university in the south — offering some master’s programs but few doctoral, while High Point University earned the same status for southern regional colleges that focus mainly on undergraduate studies.

The full list of North Carolina collegiate rankings below:

Best National Universities

#9 — Duke University in Durham

#27 — Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem

#30 — UNC-Chapel Hill (tied with New York University)

#81 — N.C. State University in Raleigh (tied with five other universities)

#198 — UNC-Charlotte

#207 — East Carolina in Greenville

#223 — Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs

Best Liberal Arts Colleges

#10 — Davidson College

#117 — Salem College

#141 — UNC-Asheville

#160 (tie) —Guilford College and Warren Wilson College

#163 — Meredith College in Raleigh

Best Regional Universities in the South

#1 — Elon University

#9 — Appalachian State in Boone

#14 — UNC-Wilmington

#20 — Queens University of Charlotte

#27 — Campbell University in Raleigh

#32 — Wingate University

#38 — Western Carolina University

#61 — Lenoir Rhyne University in Hickory

#80 — N.C. Central University in Durham

#85 — Methodist University in Fayetteville

#87 (tie) — Elizabeth City State University and Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer

#102 — UNC-Pembroke

#106 — Winston-Salem State University

Best Regional Colleges in the South

#1 — High Point University

#4 — Catawba College

#8 (tie) — Barton College in Wilson and Belmont Abbey College

#19 (tie) — Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk and University of Mount Olive

#21 — Brevard College

#24 — Mars Hill University

#25 — Bennett College in Greensboro

#44 — Greensboro College

#46 — North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount

#50 (tie) — Chowan University and St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh


To see full list of college rankings, tuitions, and other statistics visit