Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, NC 28723-9646

School Details

Western Carolina University, a co-educational public university located on a rural campus in Cullowhee, NC, is a branch campus of the University of North Carolina System. The WCU campus is 52 miles west of Asheville, near the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains. WCU was established in 1889, and is the fifth oldest school of the sixteen four-year universities in the UNC system. WCU was established to educate those living in the Western North Carolina mountains.

Today, WCU serves the entire state of North Carolina, as well as the nation, and has grown into a major cultural, scientific and educational force in the state and region.

Over 9,500 full-time undergraduate and graduate students from 46 states and 39 countries are enrolled at WCU. The history of WCU dates back to 1888, when the residents of Cullowhee desired a better school for their community, and organized a board of trustees and founded a community school that was known as Cullowhee Academy. Cullowhee Academy grew over time, and served not only residents of Cullowhee, but also residents of neighboring counties and other states. In 1893, a normal department was established at the school for the purpose of training teachers. In 1905, the name changed to Cullowhee Normal & Industrial School, and in 1925 it became the Cullowhee State Normal School.

The school expanded its curriculum over the next forty years and evolved into a junior college. In 1929, it became a four year institution known as Western Carolina Teachers College, and in 1953, the institution received its current name.

WCU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and awards bachelors, masters, education specialist and doctorate degrees. WCU offers more than 220 undergraduate majors and concentrations, and more than 40 graduate programs. The most popular majors are education, health professions, business, engineering, and homeland security, law enforcement, firefighting and related protective services. WCU’s entrepreneurship and project management programs are the highest ranked in the country, and the school has a national award-winning teaching education program, and the nation’s first accredited four-year emergency medical care program.

The average class size at WCU is 19, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 23:1. About 82 percent of classes have fewer than 30 students. The academic programs are offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, College of Education and Allied Professions, College of Fine and Performing Arts, College of Health and Human Sciences and the Kimmel School of Construction Management and Technology.

WCU offers distance and online education programs to students seeking an alternative to on-campus classes. Distance education students are part of a vibrant online learning community, and convenient class schedules make it easy for students to exchange ideas, share information, keep track of discussions, check assignments and submit their work online. WCU’s distance learning programs are distance learning programs are designed for those wishing to complete a degree, or further their education. Program offerings include undergraduate online degree completion programs, graduate online degree programs, online certificates and courses, alternative teacher licensure and add-on licensure, and off-site and hybrid degree programs.

WCU offers many opportunities for students to explore and develop their interests and passions. WCU has more than 150 student organizations and clubs, and intramural and club sports. WCU has a resource center, Base Camp Cullowhee, which serves as a guide to local outdoor trails, a map service center, and an outdoor leader to answer all questions, and offers a variety of outdoor programs including rafting, hiking, caving canoeing, whitewater kayaking, skiing, rock climbing and more.

Tuition is $7,855 for in-state students and $17,452 for out-of-state students.




School Overview:

  • Sector Of Institution:
    Public, 4-year or above
  • Religious Affiliation:


  • Highest Level Of Offering:
    Doctorate degree
  • Total Enrollments:
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