Western Carolina University

2014 Quick Stats
Cullowhee, NC 28723

Phone: (828) 227-7211
2013-2014 Tuition
male /
Mar. 1
application deadline

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U.S. News Rankings

Ranking score and category
U.S. News rank Category Name
#39 Overall Score: 54 out of 100. Regional Universities (South)

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Western Carolina University is a public institution that was founded in 1889. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,979, its setting is rural, and the campus size is 682 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Western Carolina University's ranking in the 2014 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities (South), 39. Its in-state tuition and fees are $6,479 (2013-14); out-of-state tuition and fees are $16,076 (2013-14).

School mission and unique qualities (as provided by the school):

A campus of the University of North Carolina system, Western Carolina University provides outstanding opportunities for students in a supportive living-learning environment that encourages interaction with faculty, participation in organized community service activities and preparation for future careers. In 2008, WCU adopted a new quality enhancement plan as part of its successful effort to earn re-accreditation from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. The plan is a framework for helping students become engaged and intentional in their own educations by encouraging them to reflect on how their classroom experience connects to what they learn outside the classroom and how everything in their university experience connects to their career and life goals. SACS reviewers expressed enthusiastic approval for the plan and urged the university to move forward with it. At the same time, faculty adopted a new tenure policy that rewards professors for using their scholarly expertise to address the needs of the region. The policy adds a new dimension to the traditional evaluation of faculty on the quality of their teaching and research. In response to increased student enrollment and changes in academic programs, the university was restructured, creating a new College of Fine and Performing Arts and a new College of Health and Human Sciences. WCU also encompasses an Honors College; Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology; and the colleges of Business, Arts and Sciences, and Education and Allied Professions. Students continue to give WCU high marks on the National Survey of Student Engagement. In nearly all measures of student engagement, WCU is above its peers. Among its first-year students, WCU performed better on all five benchmarks than its peers and was ranked significantly better than the NSSE national average on active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction and supportive campus environment. Among seniors, WCU performed significantly better than its peers and the NSSE cohort on active and collaborative learning and student-faculty interaction. In 2008, WCU opened a $16.7 million, 73,000-square-foot Campus Recreation Center. A $17.6 million dining hall will open in fall 2009, as well as the first of two adjoining residence halls, a combined $50.2 million project. In accordance with plans to develop its Millennial Initiative, a 344-acre project that doubles the size of campus, WCU is moving forward with a new $46.2 million health and gerontological sciences building. It will house educational and outreach programs as well as state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms for nursing, social work, physical therapy, athletic training, environmental health, health information administration, nutrition and dietetics, emergency medical care, recreational therapy and communication sciences and disorders. For the past four years, WCU students have ranked in the top 10 at the prestigious annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research, consistently leading the way among UNC institutions. In 2009, WCU became one of only 83 institutions nationally named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction by the Corporation for National and Community Service. U.S. News and World Report's "Best Colleges Guide" in 2008 ranked WCU among the top public master's degree-granting institutions in the South and recognized WCU in its "Great Schools, Great Prices" section. The Princeton Review ranked WCU's College of Business among the nation's best schools at which to earn a master's degree in business administration, with WCU's program earning a top-four spot among schools offering the greatest opportunity for women and receiving high marks for small class sizes. WCU's online master's degree program in project management and online bachelor's degree program in criminal justice have received No. 1 national rankings in quality and affordability by GetEducated.com.

General Information

School type public, coed college
Year founded 1889
Religious affiliation N/A
Academic calendar semester
Setting rural
2012 Endowment $49,644,743


When applying to Western Carolina University, it's important to note the application deadline is March 1, and the early action deadline is November 15. Scores for either the ACT or SAT test are due July 1. The application fee at Western Carolina University is $55. It is selective, with an acceptance rate of 37.7 percent.

For more information about the tests, essays, interviews, and admissions process, visit the Applying to College knowledge center.

Selectivity selective
Fall 2012 acceptance rate 37.7%
Application deadline March 1
SAT/ACT scores must be received by July 1

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Academic Life

The student-faculty ratio at Western Carolina University is 15:1, and the school has 28.4 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors at Western Carolina University include: Education; Health Professions and Related Programs; Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services; Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Protective Services; and Engineering Technologies and Engineering-Related Fields. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 74 percent.

Class sizes
Class sizes
Student-faculty ratio 15:1
4-year graduation rate 28%
Five most popular majors for 2012 graduates
Education 21%
Health Professions and Related Programs 14%
Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services 12%
Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Protective Services 9%
Engineering Technologies and Engineering-Related Fields 6%

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Student Life

Western Carolina University has a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,979, with a gender distribution of 46.6 percent male students and 53.4 percent female students. At this school, 48.9 percent of the students live in college-owned, -operated, or -affiliated housing and 51.1 percent of students live off campus. Western Carolina University is part of the NCAA I athletic conference.

Total enrollment 9,608
Student gender distribution
Student gender distribution
Undergraduate men who are members of a fraternity
Undergraduate men who are members of a fraternity
Undergraduate women who are members of a sorority
Undergraduate women who are members of a sorority
Collegiate athletic association NCAA I

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Campus Info & Services

Western Carolina University offers a number of student services including nonremedial tutoring, women's center, placement service, day care, health service, and health insurance. Western Carolina University also offers campus safety and security services like 24-hour foot and vehicle patrols, late night transport/escort service, 24-hour emergency telephones, lighted pathways/sidewalks, and controlled dormitory access (key, security card, etc). Of the students at Western Carolina University, 75 percent have cars on campus. Alcohol is permitted for students of legal age at Western Carolina University.

Students who have cars on campus 75%
Health insurance offered Yes

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Paying for School

At Western Carolina University, 66.3 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $6,181.

Paying for college doesn't have to be difficult or devastating. Go to the Paying for College knowledge center to get advice on raising cash and reducing costs.

In-state tuition and fees $6,479 (2013-14)
Out-of-state tuition and fees $16,076 (2013-14)
Room and board $7,477 (2013-14)
Financial aid statistics
Financial aid statistics

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* Overview details based on 2012 data

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