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Study in North Carolina

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A coastal state bordered by South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, North Carolina is a state of contrasts.

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On the one hand you have a state that is very much part of the South, with all the charm, conservatism and rural pride you’d expect.

On the other you have a state which is one of the fastest growing and intellectually sophisticated in the US.

Charlotte, its largest city, for instance, can now lay claim to being second only to New York in terms of financial services, and is nothing if not a thriving metropolis.

Capital city Raleigh and the surrounding area can boast the highest concentration of PhDs in the country and the small city of Asheville enjoys a celebrated cultural and countercultural scenes which belie its small size.

If you were looking for the best of both worlds: the relaxed pace of life, the subtropical climate and the manners of the South, served up in combination with thriving, intellectual and cultural cities that don’t adhere to stereotypes at all, then North Carolina could be the place for you.

The state is also known for its rich musical heritage – jazz and folk music, in particular, run through its veins, and the Raleigh area has become known for rock in recent years.

Finally, like many states in this region, it has natural beauty to spare. With the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Great Balsam Mountains and the Black Mountains all running through this Appalachian state, as well 17 major river basins and country’s two largest landlocked sounds, there’s more than enough to please to eye when you tire of the city.

North Carolina: Fast facts

•   North Carolina’s population of 9.6 million is the country’s 10th biggest

•   The state has many famous sons and daughters, including musicians John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and Nina Simone; boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, wrestling magnate Vince McMahon; and actress Pam Grier

•   Famous brands Krispy Kreme and Pepsi started in North Carolina

•   North Carolina leads the country in tobacco production, and is second only to Texas in brick production (it is also known for furniture)

•   The world’s first powered flight took place in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

•   North Carolina is believed to be the first state to declare independence from Britain in 1775

•   The Cape Hatteras Light on Hatteras Island, North Carolina is the tallest lighthouse in the United States, standing at 61m

•   There is a still a law in North Carolina saying that unmarried couples cannot live together , though it has been declared unconstitutional by a Superior Court judge

Top universities in North Carolina

North Carolina can boast considerable strength in the higher education sector. In the 2011 QS World University Rankings, four of the state’s universities ranked impressively.

Ahead of the pack is private institution, Duke University, which came 19th. Duke is one of the world’s most famous and elite universities.

Based in Durham, the university serves nearly 15,000 students, over half of which are at graduate level. In 2010, the university spent close to US$1 billion on research, putting it up there with the biggest spenders in the US, and the world.

It is strong across disciplines, with preeminent faculty who are among the most respected in their field. In total, 12 Nobel Prizes winners have worked or studied at Duke. Suffice to say, if you want to study at Duke, then you will have to prove your mettle against some of the most talented and intelligent students in the world.

The university is also known for its athletics teams.

The second highest institution, at 55, is the flagship university of the state’s public system, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, based in, as the name suggests, Chapel Hill.

The university hosts around 30,000 students, just over two thirds of which are studying at undergraduate level, and offers 71 undergraduate, 107 master's, and 74 doctoral programs.

It considered to be a ‘Public Ivy’ – public universities which are up to Ivy League Standard. Like Duke, it is rich with respected and prize winning faculty. Seven Nobel Prize winners have passed through the university at some point in their career.

It has been called, by numerous sources, one of the best value schools in the US. This combination of value and prestige means that, inevitably, entry is competitive. In 2011, there were 23,753 applications for just over 4,000 places.

It also has a proud athletic tradition.

Another private institution, Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, is next, ranking at 272. It is a smaller institution, with only around 7,000 students enrolled, mostly at undergraduate level.

The university aims to provide a liberal arts experience in a national research university. Its undergraduate teaching in particular has drawn praise, and its business and law schools are among the most highly regarded in the country.

And finally – at least as far as rankings are concerned, and there are plenty of quality institutions beyond them – we have North Carolina State University, which came in 272 in the 2011 QS World University Rankings.

A public Land, Sea and Space Grant university, NCSU is the biggest university in the state, serving nearly 35,000 student at its Raleigh campus, the vast majority of which are undergraduates.

The university offers over 100 undergraduate programs, around the same number of master's degrees, and over 60 doctoral programs.

NCSU ranks third among public universities in terms of industry sponsored research. In total the university’s annual research expenditure is around US$325 million. Along with Duke, and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, it forms what is known as the Research Triangle.

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Written by QS Staff Writer

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