North Carolina State University Review

North Carolina State University is home to several quality information technology degree programs that stand out for their affordability, especially compared to other top schools.

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The Good

Solid degree options

North Carolina State University (NCSU) is home to three excellent degree options in the information technology and computer science fields. The first program, in computer networking, offers you the chance to specialize in one of four areas, including network design, network hardware, network software, and network services. The second program, in computer science, is designed as a professional degree for students with a strong background in computer programming and information technology. In this program, you’ll study advanced computer programming and information theory, software engineering, and database systems. The final degree option provides professional training in the field of geospatial information science (GIS). As an online student in the GIS graduate program, you’ll study both computational modeling and analysis techniques and management practices in order to prepare you for leadership positions in public and private organizations. Alongside Pennsylvania State University-World Campus, NCSU is one of the few top online schools to offer a GIS graduate degree program.

Highly selective admissions policy

According to U.S. News & World Report’s most recent survey of the nation’s best online graduate information technology programs, North Carolina State University ranks as the most selective school in the country. Enrolled students have an average GPA of 3.51 and an average GRE Verbal Reasoning score of 158, both very high among schools in the U.S. News & World Report survey. Although some students may count this fact against NCSU, if you are looking to work with highly qualified classmates and you have the academic qualifications to get in, NCSU is an excellent program to choose.

High first-year student retention rates

Given how selective North Carolina State University admissions policies are, it’s not altogether surprising that the university has shown excellent success in guiding students toward a degree. According to U.S. News & World Report, NCSU has reported first-year student retention rates of no less than 95% in three of the last four academic years. High first-year retention rates like these are a good indication that a school has excellent student engagement programs and quality support services, both categories in which NCSU performs very well.

Relatively affordable tuition rates

North Carolina State University charges online students about $726 per credit for their graduate degree programs. Although NCSU tuition is quite a bit higher than the $245 per credit that Sam Houston State University charges, few other top programs can beat the university on price. In fact, a half dozen of the top programs in the nation charge more than $1,000 per credit, including two schools that charge more than $1,600. When you consider the strong degree options and overall academic quality, it’s pretty clear that NCSU offers pretty good value for money.

The Bad

Student services could use improvement

Although North Carolina State University has a solid online course delivery system, it falls a little behind other top programs when it comes to interactive learning tools and advanced communication technologies. As a student at NCSU, you’ll be able to watch your lectures online, submit your assignments electronically, and communicate with classmates and instructors using email and course discussion boards. These are the essential requirements for an online program, and NCSU handles them superbly. However, some of the best-performing programs in this category go beyond the basics by providing real-time text-, audio-, and video-based communication capabilities and interactive learning tools customized to specific courses. It would be nice to see NCSU make some improvements in its technological capabilities, especially given its position as a national leader in online information technology and computer science education.

Three-year graduation rate a little low

In spite of phenomenal first-year student retention rates, North Carolina State University been unable to achieve similarly high three-year graduation rates. According to U.S. News & World Report, in the last two academic years only 40% of NCSU online graduate students finished their degree within three years. When you consider that the university’s graduate programs are designed to be completed in two years, a 40% three-year rate is certainly below expectations. That said, it is certainly the case that at least some online students are taking classes at a part-time pace and thus taking longer than normal to graduate.

The Details

General Information

  • Academic Year Founded: 2003-2004
  • Application Deadline: Domestic: Jan 15 (Fall), Oct 15 (Spring), International: Dec 15 (Fall)
  • Application Fee: Domestic: $75, International: $85
  • Location: NC
  • Number of Graduate Info Tech Programs: 2
  • Region: Southeast
  • School Type: Public
  • Term Schedule: Semester

Tuition Rates (Per Credit)

  • In-State: $352
  • Out-of-State: $726


  • Master of Computer Science
  • Master of Science in Computer Engineering


  • Geographic Information Science Graduate Certificate

Class Profile

  • Acceptance Rate: 91%
  • Average Student Age: 30
  • Average Undergraduate GPA: 3.51
  • Avg. GRE Analytical Writing: 4.0
  • Avg. GRE Quantitative: 158
  • Avg. GRE Verbal: 158
  • Gender Ratio: 12.9% female, 87.1% male
  • Maximum Class Size: 120
  • Total Enrollment: 70


  • Average Online Teaching Experience: 4 years
  • Full-Time Instructional Faculty: 14
  • Part-Time Instructional Faculty: 1

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2009): 95%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2010): 95%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2011): 95%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2013): 55%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2009-2010): N/A
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2010-2011): N/A
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2011-2012): 40%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2012-2013): 40%

U.S. News Rankings

  • Admissions Selectivity Rank: 1
  • Admissions Selectivity Score: 100/100
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Rank: 12
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Score: 77/100
  • Student Engagement Rank: 8
  • Student Engagement Score: 84/100
  • Student Services and Technology Rank: 18
  • Student Services and Technology Score: 38/100

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