Boone, North Carolina (NC) Colleges and Universities

While there is only one college in Boone, there are many schools, including two other public or private non-profit schools, located within a 27-mile radius. Read about the top schools in several categories, including most program variety and highest graduation rates, to find the school for you.

School Ranking Overview

Prospective students in the Boone, NC, area have a variety of schools that can fit the kind of environment they're looking for. There are 4-year public schools, 4-year private schools, and 2-year community colleges to pick from. This article will focus on just a few of these school options and examine how they rank in the following categories:

  • Most Program Variety
  • Lowest Net Price
  • Highest Graduation Rate
  • Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio

Most Program Variety

Students will find a wide assortment of programs of study at these schools, ranging from almost 150 offerings to about 40. The top three schools for program variety are ranked below.

1 - Appalachian State University

Located right in Boone, NC, this 4-year, public university offered at least 149 programs to its student population of about 17,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 2011. U.S. News & World Report ranked this school as #10 among regional southern universities in 2013, noting that popular fields of study included education, business, psychology, political science and criminal justice. Besides bachelor's degrees, this university also awards master's and doctoral degrees as well as postbaccalaureate and post-master's certificates.

Additional rankings earned by this school within the southern region, according to U.S. News & World Report, included #3 in top public schools, #7 in best value schools and #5 in the up-and-coming schools category. That organization's national rankings for graduate programs put this school at #119 in best education schools, #138 for the public affairs program, #104 for the social work program and #84 for the graduate speech-language pathology program. In addition, Appalachian State University's online graduate education program was ranked at #58 nationally.

2 - Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

The main campus for this 2-year public school of about 4,900 students is located roughly 27 miles from Boone, in Hudson, NC, while this school's alternate campus, referred to as Watauga, is situated right in Boone. At least 54 programs were offered at the main campus for this school, which confers diplomas, certificates and associate's degrees; the alternate campus offers fewer programs. The most popular Caldwell certificate programs provided training for computer science and for truck, bus and commercial vehicle operation and instruction. Popular associate's degree programs included health professions (147 degrees) and liberal arts (350 degrees), according to the NCES in 2011-2012. There are no associate's degree options in Boone, but diploma and certificate programs in areas such as business professions, computer information technology/database specialist, landscape gardening and early childhood are offered on the alternate campus.

3 - Lees-McRae College

This 4-year, private non-profit school that confers bachelor's degrees is located just about eight miles from Boone in Banner Elk. The college offers about 40 programs, earning this school third place in terms of program variety for the Boone area. In 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked this school as #64 among regional southern colleges and noted that popular programs among the 890 students included education, business, health professions and social sciences. NCES statistics revealed that over 30% of the bachelor's degrees awarded in 2011-2012 were in education.

Lowest Net Price

The average net price is calculated by NCES through subtracting the average financial aid awarded to a school's students from the total cost of attending that school. Net prices for the following three schools near Boone ranged from around $9,000 up to about $20,000.

1- Appalachian State University

The most affordable school to attend near Boone was Appalachian State University, with a net price of $8,710 in 2010-2011, according to NCES. That same year, 67% of the full-time beginning undergraduates received some type of financial aid, while 49% of all undergraduate students were given assistance. In 2012-2013, NCES listed this school's in-state tuition and fees as $6,059; out-of-state students paid $18,107. Students who wanted to live on this school's campus were charged $7,224 for room and board, noted NCES.

2 - Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

Coming in second for affordability in the Boone area, the net price for in-state students at this 2-year school in 2010-2011 was $12,444. In-state tuition and fees in 2012-2013 were $2,274, while out-of-state students were charged $8,418, noted NCES. In 2010-2011, 67% of the full-time, first-time undergrads were awarded some form of financial aid.

3 - Lees-McRae College

The net price for this school $20,310, puts it in third for the affordability category; according to NCES in 2010-2011. Ninety-seven percent of the full-time beginning undergraduate students received financial aid of some sort that year. Tuition and fees were $23,950 in 2012-2013, and students living on campus paid $8,500 for room and board, stated NCES.

Highest Graduation Rate

NCES calculates an overall graduation rate for students who complete their chosen program within 150% the 'normal' time (e.g., six years for bachelor's and three years for associate's degrees). With graduation rates ranging from 65% down to 24%, here's how the top three Boone-area schools ranked for this category.

1 - Appalachian State University

The highest overall graduation rate of 65% was found at this university, per the NCES. The statistic is based on students who started their programs in the Fall 2005. For bachelor's degrees students specifically, 65% graduated within six years, and the NCES also noted that 38% of the students completed their programs within four years. Retention rates are also published by NCES, possibly indicating student satisfaction. Of individuals who started bachelor's degree programs at this school in 2010, 88% of full-time students and 67% of the part-time students returned in Fall 2011.

2 - Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

With a rate of 24%, this 2-year school shares the ranking for the second best graduation track record. Retention rates also show that 54% of the full-time, first-time students and 35% of the part-timers who started at this school in 2010 returned the following year, according to NCES. Of the students who enrolled in 2008, 8% completed associate's degree programs in just two years.

2 - Lees-McRae College

Sharing second place with the school above, this college also had an overall graduation rate of 24%. While that percentage of the bachelor's degree students completed their programs with six years, more than half of them - 13% - finished within four years, reported NCES. In Fall 2011, 67% of the bachelor's degree students who enrolled the previous year returned to this college.

Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio

The ratio of faculty members to students is thought by some to affect student success or satisfaction due to the effects on class size. NCES reported low ratios, overall, for the schools near Boone, ranging from 14:1 at the smaller schools to 17:1 at the larger university.

1 - Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute

This school shared first place with for lowest student-faculty ratio with a rate of 14:1, per the NCES. In 2011, the same source reported that the faculty was comprised of 138 full-time and 293 part-time instructors.

1 - Lees-McRae College

Sharing first place with the school listed above for its student-faculty ratio of 14:1, this small school employed 48 full-time and 32 part-time instructional faculty members in 2011, according to the NCES. In 2013, U.S. News & World Report published that 71.2% of this college's classes had fewer than 20 students.

3 - Appalachian State University

Earning the third slot for this category, Appalachian State University had a student-faculty ratio of 17:1, reports the NCES. About 40% of the school's classes had fewer than 20 students, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2013. NCES reported in 2011 that Appalachian State University's instructional faculty included 871 full-time and 324 part-time members, in addition to 524 graduate assistants.

Boone Area Schools at a Glance

School Name Location School Type Programs Offered Area Ranking
Appalachian State University Boone, NC 4-year, public Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees;
postbaccalaureate and post-master's certificates
Most Program Variety,
Lowest Net Price,
Highest Graduation Rate,
3rd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio
Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute Boone, NC (select programs) and Hudson, NC (27.2 miles from Boone) 2-year, public Less-than-1-year, 1-year and less-than-2-year diplomas or certificates; associate's degrees Tied for Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio,
2nd Most Program Variety,
2nd Lowest Net Price,
Tied for 2nd Highest Graduation Rate
Lees-McRae College Banner Elk, NC (7.6 miles from Boone) 4-year, private non-profit Bachelor's degrees Tied for Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio,
Tied for 2nd Highest Graduation Rate,
3rd Most Program Variety,
3rd Lowest Net Price

Search Degrees, Careers, or Schools