Last Updated on April 19, 2023
Western North Carolina is home to a large number of public and private colleges and universities. These higher ed institutions attract students from across the region and around the world. Each has its own strengths, and together, they offer myriad ways to empower students to expand their possibilities.
Here’s just a quick glimpse at colleges and universities around WNC.
This post is adapted from our annual Welcome to Western North Carolina magazine. Request your free copy today.
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
A-B Tech has the highest enrollment of any WNC higher education institution, serving more than 27,000 students annually. Established in 1959 as a trade school, A-B Tech is one of the oldest and largest schools in the North Carolina Community College System. The school offers 39 career programs through five schools: Allied Health and Public Service Education, Arts and Sciences, Business and Hospitality Education, Continuing Education, and Engineering and Applied Technology. It also has a popular continuing education program.
The college has added several new programs in recent years, including an associate’s degree in healthcare business informatics, a mobile development diploma, a bio-gas option in industrial systems technology, and a geospatial technology option as part of surveying. Many courses are transferable to any university in the UNC system. A-B Tech has additional campuses in Enka and Marshall.
340 Victoria Road, Asheville | (828) 254-1921 | abtech.edu
Blue Ridge Community College
Serving Henderson and Transylvania counties, Blue Ridge Community College has campuses in Flat Rock, Brevard, and Hendersonville. The college specializes in construction trades, advanced manufacturing, health care, and public safety, among other degree opportunities. In fact, BRCC offers more than 100 degree, diploma, and certificate programs in 30 areas of study. Many of their programs qualify students to work immediately after completing their course work. About 2,100 students are enrolled each year.
180 W. Campus Drive, Flat Rock | (828) 694-1700 | blueridge.edu
Brevard College in Transylvania County offers more than 40 major and minor degree programs, including those in art, biology, English, environmental studies, exercise science, history, mathematics, music, and psychology. Its pre-professional studies include pre-dentistry, pre-law, pre-medicine, and pre-nursing. With a student body of nearly 700 students, the institution boasts an average class size of 15 students.
1 Brevard College Drive, Brevard | (828) 883-8292 | brevard.edu
Haywood Community College
Haywood Community College offers more than 30 programs. About 2,220 students took courses during the 2017-18 academic year. Departments include arts, sciences and natural resources, business and industry, and health and human services. HCC also offers online learning and continuing education opportunities. Like all of North Carolina’s community colleges, it offers general education courses that transfer to the state university system, allowing students to get their first two years of classes completed at a bargain price.
185 Freedlander Drive, Clyde | (828) 627-4667 | haywood.edu
Lenoir-Rhyne Graduate Center
Lenoir-Rhyne College’s main campus is in Hickory. But its Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville was launched in 2012 to expand the university’s mission and serve the specific needs of WNC and beyond. Lenoir-Rhyne purchased part of 36 Montford Avenue to house a state-of-the-art learning space in downtown Asheville. The space has full-time, terminally-degreed faculty to direct the graduate programs, mentor students, and develop community partnerships. The Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville currently enrolls over 200 students in 12 programs and is becoming known for its leadership in key community initiatives.
36 Montford Ave, Asheville | (828) 407-4263 | lr.edu/campuses/asheville-campus
Mars Hill University
With an enrollment of nearly 1,300 students, Mars Hill University was founded in 1856 and is affiliated with the North Carolina Baptist Convention. It offers 35 majors and 33 minors on its large, leafy campus in the Madison County town of Mars Hill. It has five schools: Business, Social, and Behavioral Sciences; Education; Fine Arts; Humanities; and Mathematics and Natural Sciences. A member of the South Atlantic Conference, it fields teams in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.
100 Athletic Street, Mars Hill | (866) 642-4968 | mhu.edu
“Christ-centered, student-focused, service-driven—equipping agents of transformation, renewal, and reconciliation” is the motto of Montreat College, a small four-year school in Montreat. Its liberal arts curriculum includes traditional and selected undergraduate and graduate professional degree programs, including degree programs for adults in the areas of business, education, management, and nursing. Founded in 1897, Montreat College is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of the United States. In recent years, it had an enrollment of 755 students, with a student/faculty ratio of 9:1.
310 Gaither Circle, Montreat | (828) 669-8012 | montreat.edu
Southwestern Community College
Southwestern Community College provides coursework in arts, sciences, college transfer, career technologies, and health services. Over 3,300 students enter more than 60 academic programs, while approximately 6,000 annually participate in the school’s ongoing continuation programs. SCC serves Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties, along with the Qualla Boundary.
447 College Drive, Sylva | (828) 339-4000 | southwesterncc.edu
University of North Carolina at Asheville
With around 3,700 students, UNC Asheville is the only dedicated public liberal arts and sciences university in the UNC System. The university is nationally ranked among the top 10 in this category by U.S. News and World Report, and is one of the top schools for “Making an Impact” by The Princeton Review. UNC Asheville offers more than 30 majors, 16 Division I athletic teams, and dozens of campus clubs and organizations. The average lecture/seminar size is 20 students, with lab/studio classes holding upwards of 18 students.
1 University Heights, Asheville | (828) 251-6600 | unca.edu
Warren Wilson College
Selected by Fiske Guide to Colleges as a Top 20 “Best Buy” school in the nation eight times since 2005, Warren Wilson College near Black Mountain is an environmentally friendly school whose students enhance their academic experience by working 15 hours a week on campus. They also must complete 100 hours of community service over four years. The college’s 680 students earn bachelor’s degrees in 20 majors and can choose from 24 minors and 24 concentration areas. Taking at least one class within each of the school’s eight liberal arts areas, they attend classes that average 14 people in size.
701 Warren Wilson Road, Swannanoa | (828) 298-3325 | warren-wilson.edu
Western Carolina University
Western Carolina University in the Jackson County community of Cullowhee serves more than 12,000 students, including 10,000 undergraduates and 1,600 enrolled in graduate programs.
Offering more than 115 undergraduate majors and concentrations, WCU features a nationally recognized teacher education program, a criminal justice program used as a model across the state, and the nation’s first accredited four-year emergency medical care program. Graduate students and undergrads can choose from 60 areas of study offered at the main Cullowhee campus or at Biltmore Park in Asheville.
N.C. Highway 107, Cullowhee | (828) 928-4968 | wcu.edu