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Highway 107
Cullowhee, NC 28723-9646
p. 828-227-7100
w. www.wcu.edu

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University Rating: 3.7/5 (29 votes)

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Founded in 1889, Western Carolina University is located in Cullowhee, North Carolina fifty miles west of Asheville. With its close proximity to the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge mountains, the school is ideal for students who enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, horseback riding and rock climbing. The campus is situated on six hundred beautiful acres and is home to several different schools of study as well as thirteen residence halls including The Village, which is home to WCU’s Greek organizations. Freshmen are required to live on campus.

The university offers over two hundred twenty majors for their undergraduates as well as more than forty graduate programs and consistently ranks in the top of their division for academics. The school is accredited by the CCSACS to award bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctorate degrees and professional certificates. WCU is also proudly accredited by more than fifty special program commissions and national associations.

There is an active Greek life on campus as well as an excellent athletics program. The school offers numerous intramural and club sports as well as several community events such as concerts, craft shows and art exhibits throughout the year so that students always have something fun to do when they are not studying.


Western Carolina University has a liberal arts core curriculum that prepares students to be successful in a global society by offering interdisciplinary training. Many of the programs available at WCU are available online. There are over one hundred twenty undergraduate degree opportunities available at WCU and more than fifty master’s degrees, doctoral programs and certificates. Students may study at two different campuses or opt for online distance learning.

The opportunity to study abroad provides many advantages and is available either for the summer, a semester or an entire year depending upon the program chosen by the student. Financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants and loans is also available so that the programs are affordable to all who wish to participate.

The university boasts several award-winning programs available to students seeking undergraduate or graduate degrees or professional certification. One of these programs is the Master of Project Management Program. Offered completely online, this program is designed for project management professionals with two years’ experience in their field. The certificate program strives to provide professional certification to military personnel or the working professional who may not have time to dedicate to a complete program.

The Criminal Justice Program, used as a model for North Carolina’s accreditation program, is one of the largest programs at the university and offers both classroom and online options for those enrolled. The program is grounded in social and behavioral theory and practice and strives to give students realistic and rational understanding of the criminal justice system. Students may obtain an undergraduate degree and then enter the workforce or continue their education at the master’s level.

The Forensic Anthropology Program is directed by a one of only fifty-five board-certified forensic anthropologists in the United States and teaches students to study human remains in a legal context. Students will work hands-on in the Western Carolina Human Identification Laboratory to learn in a manner that will prepare them for entrance into just about any position in the field. Forensic Anthropology is a virtually limitless field and students training in this program will be learning from the most skilled individuals in the profession.

Western Carolina University is one of the largest providers of teachers in the state and offers not only degrees in teaching but in the field of psychology as well. There are numerous specializations within the College of Education and Allied Professions to students seeking both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The program has won numerous awards and is consistently ranked as one of top teaching programs in the country.

Most Popular Fields of Study


Undergraduate Admissions

It should be noted that admission to WCU does not guarantee admission to all programs. Many programs have separate admission requirements and it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all application requirements of the program that they are interested in are met. All undergraduate degree seeking students are required to own a computer.

Admission to Western Carolina University is extremely competitive and begins with a strong academic record. Prospective students should begin the process by completing the online application. Be sure to complete the correct one as there are several options depending on student status and the program that is being applied for. Next, all applicants are required to submit high school transcripts showing completion of core college preparatory classes. WCU assesses and weighs the academic record using all the information that is available including class rank, grades in core subjects and performance in honors or advanced placement classes. Grades in college level classes are also considered if the student was dual enrolled while they were in high school. Students will need to have SAT or ACT scores sent to WCU in order to complete the application packet.

Because admission to WCU has become so competitive, they offer several different types of admission. Standard admission is for students who are competitive academically. There are two deadlines for standard admission; February 1 and March 1. There is also Honors College Admission, Academic Success Program Admission and Spring Entry Program Admission. Because there are several admissions paths, most decisions come after the deadline for regular admission so that the university can both carefully consider each application and also monitor how many invitations are being accepted so that they know how many spots are still available.

Students transferring from another college or university and international students wanting to attend Western Carolina University have different admissions requirements that may vary on a case by case basis. Refer to the university for more information.

Graduate Admissions

Western Carolina University requires that all graduate students have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with a good GPA. The degree should be related to the graduate program that the student is applying for. Some programs will make an exception to this rule, but the student will be required to take undergraduate classes to build competency. Acceptable scores on the appropriate graduate school entrance exam are required as well. Recommendations will also be required but vary by program.

As with undergraduate admissions, there are different requirements for transfer students or international students and those applicants should contact the university for requirements.

Financial Aid

There are several different types of financial aid available to students at WCU. Student may receive merit-based and need-based scholarships, grants, federally subsidized loans, work-study programs and graduate student assistantships and fellowships. There is also financial aid available for study abroad programs and military personnel.

The first step to obtaining financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) which is available online starting in January. It is recommended that students complete this form as soon as possible in order to be eligible for all forms of financial aid as some scholarships are available in limited amounts and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 4578th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in North Carolina.


The Western Carolina Catamounts offer a wide variety of sports. Their colors are purple and gold and they are an NCAA Division I club that plays in the Southern Conference. The Catamounts have fifteen varsity teams including men’s and women’s basketball, track and field, golf and cross country. Men have the additional options of baseball and football while women may also choose from soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.

The Catamounts have a huge, long-standing rivalry with the Appalachian State football team. Every year the two teams fight it out in the Battle for the Old Mountain Jug, a moonshine-like jug that is painted with both teams’ colors and mascots. The winner has been awarded the jug since 1976.

Completed in 1986, The Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center is the headquarters of Catamount Athletics and houses the main arena where both basketball teams and the volleyball team play as well as handball and racquetball courts, a full auxiliary gym complete with court and the football and baseball/softball locker rooms. The Ramsey Center regularly hosts receptions and dinners and is the local venue for concerts and performances. Such acts as Chicago, Lady Antebellum, Aerosmith and the Los Angeles Ballet have performed at the Center. The building is very flexible in that it has movable curtains and stages and can be transformed from a sports arena to an auditorium with ease.

Western Carolina University also sponsors several club sports including an equestrian club, fencing, cycling and ballroom dancing, as well as intramural sports including basketball, flag football and volleyball so that students may choose from a variety of activities.

Additional School Information

The Pride of the Mountains is Western Carolina’s marching band and is the largest marching band in the Carolinas and Tennessee. The band consistently has nearly four hundred members and is nationally recognized as one of the top marching bands in the country. They have been featured as the special guest at the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis and were selected as one of the top five bands in the nation by the College Band Directors National Association. The band also won the 2009 Sudler Trophy which is awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation and was invited to the 2011 Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, California. The band is open to all WCU students and sixty percent of its members are non-music majors.

Western Carolina University also offers a diverse array of options for students that want to participate in various media forums. The university has its own newspaper, magazine, newsletter, journal and radio station. It also hosts its own podcast (WCU on iTunes) and publishes the Tuskasegee Valley Historical Review which is a graduate history journal that is published annually.


  • Western Carolina University. Western Carolina University. 2011. Web. 13 May 2011.
  • Western Carolina: The Official Site for Catamount Athletics. Western Carolina University. 2011. Web. 13 May 2011.
  • “Western Carolina University.” The Princeton Review. The Princeton Review. 2011. Web. 13 May 2011.

Information Summary

Ranks 12th in North Carolina and 531st overall
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Campus Crime Statistics

Ranks 0th in North Carolina and 313th overall on StateUniversity.com‘s Safe School Index
  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault 2 0.02
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape 3 0.03
Robbery 2 0.02
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 23 0.25
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft N/A N/A
Arrest 44 0.47

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics

Demographics – Main Campus and Surrounding Areas

Reported area around or near Cullowhee, NC 28723-9646
Surrounding communityFringe rural area (less than 5 mi. from an urban area)
Total Population8,655 (4,085 urban / 4,570 rural)
Households2,817 (2.20 people per house)
Median Household Income$30,383
Families1,526 (2.74 people per family)

Carnegie Foundation Classification

Master's Colleges and Universities (larger programs)
UndergraduateProfessions plus arts & sciences, some graduate coexistence
GraduateSingle doctoral (education)
Undergraduate PopulationFull-time four-year, selective, higher transfer-in
EnrollmentHigh undergraduate
Size & SettingMedium four-year, primarily residential

General Characteristics

Title IV EligibilityParticipates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Highest offeringDoctoral degree
Calendar SystemSemester
Years of college work requiredN/A
Variable Tuition
Religious AffiliationN/A
Congressional District3711

Special Learning Opportunities

Distance LearningN/A
ROTC — Army / Navy / Air Force  —   /   / 
Study Abroad
Weekend College
Teacher Certification

Student Tuition Costs and Fees

Ranks 1420th for total cost of attendance
  In District In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
FT Undergraduate Tuition $3,669 $3,669 $13,266
FT Undergraduate Required Fees $2,596 $2,596 $2,596
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour $306 $306 $689
FT Graduate Tuition $4,098 $4,098 $13,684
FT Graduate Required Fees $2,596 $2,596 $2,596
PT Graduate per Credit Hour $411 $411 $1,060
Total Cost of Attendance — On-Campus $18,599 $18,599 $28,196
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $21,897 $21,897 $31,494
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $11,122 $11,122 $20,719

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $5,387 $5,925 $5,387 $5,925 $14,984 $15,522
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $2,024 $2,158
On-Campus – Room & Board $6,650 $7,178
On-Campus – Other Expenses $2,686 $2,580
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $9,253 $9,778
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $3,430 $2,991
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $2,686 $2,580

Admission Details

Effective as of 2014-09-19
Application Fee RequiredN/A
Undergraduate Application Fee$55
Graduate Application Fee$55
First Professional Application FeeN/A
Applicants 15,231 (6,264 male / 8,967 female)
Admitted 5,736 (2,425 male / 3,311 female)
Admission rate 38%
First-time Enrollment 1,558 (701 male / 857 female)
FT Enrollment 1,550 (698 male / 852 female)
PT Enrollment 8 (3 male / 5 female)
Total Enrollment10,107

Admission Criteria

 = Required,   = Recommended,   = Neither required nor recommended
Open Admissions
Secondary School GPA / Rank / Record  /   / 
College Prep. Completion
Formal competency demoN/A
Admission test scores
Other testsN/A

Admission Credits Accepted

Dual Credit
Life Experience
Advanced Placement (AP)

Athletics - Association Memberships

Sports / Athletic Conference Memberships NCAA
NCAA Football Conference Southern Conference
NCAA Basketball Conference Southern Conference
NCAA Baseball Conference Southern Conference
NCAA Track & Field Conference Southern Conference

ACT Test Admission

898th for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting ACT results 17%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 19 / 24
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 19 / 25
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 20 / 24

SAT Test Admission

725th for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting SAT results 87%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 460 / 560
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 480 / 570
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 940 / 1130

Student Services

Remedial Services
Academic / Career Counseling
PT Cost-defraying Employment
Career Placement
On-Campus Day Care
Library Facility

Student Living

First-time Room / Board Required
Dorm Capacity4,054
Meals per Week21
Room Fee$3,632
Board Fee$3,590

Student Completion / Graduation Demographics

Total 98 117 53 29 18 1,974 24 2,355
Accounting 2 1 3 46 1 53
Anthropology 1 30 1 34
Applied Mathematics, General 6 6
Art Teacher Education 8 8
Art/Art Studies, General 1 1 11 1 14
Athletic Training/Trainer 13 15
Biology/Biological Sciences, General 1 1 2 48 54
Business Administration and Management, General 2 8 3 1 1 75 2 96
Business Administration, Management and Operations, Other 1 3 1 15 20
Chemistry, General 2 2 17 22
College Student Counseling and Personnel Services 1 28 30
Communication Sciences and Disorders, General 1 2 2 1 46 53
Community College Education 2 2
Computer Science 1 10 11
Construction Engineering Technology/Technician 1 36 38
Counselor Education/School Counseling and Guidance Services 14 15
Criminal Justice/Safety Studies 14 1 1 124 1 143
Dietetics/Dietitian 17 17
Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General 2 1 1 1 21 27
Education, General 2 2 2 1 50 57
Education, Other
Educational Leadership and Administration, General 8 1 48 57
Educational, Instructional, and Curriculum Supervision
Electrical and Electronics Engineering 1 1 6 8
Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering Technology/Technician 1 2 9 1 14
Elementary Education and Teaching 1 1 58 63
Emergency Medical Technology/Technician (EMT Paramedic) 1 28 30
Engineering Technology, General 1 1 1 41 1 46
Engineering, General
English Language and Literature, General 1 2 68 2 73
English/Language Arts Teacher Education 12 12
Entrepreneurship/Entrepreneurial Studies 3 1 25 29
Environmental Health 1 1 14 16
Environmental Science 4 4
Family Practice Nurse/Nursing
Finance, General 1 1 13 16
Fine/Studio Arts, General 1 1 2 27 1 32
Forensic Chemistry 2 1 5 8
French Language and Literature
Geology/Earth Science, General 9 9
German Language and Literature
Health Information/Medical Records Administration/Administrator 2 1 7 10
Health/Health Care Administration/Management 3 1 17 21
History, General 2 52 54
Hospitality Administration/Management, General 1 27 29
Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration, General 3 1 26 31
Industrial Technology/Technician 2 1 1 4
Interior Design 15 1 18
International/Global Studies 1 7 8
Junior High/Intermediate/Middle School Education and Teaching 81 1 1 15 98
Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching 3 35 38
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies 2 5 7
Management Information Systems, General 2 1 20 23
Marketing, Other 2 1 2 17 22
Marketing/Marketing Management, General 15 15
Mathematics Teacher Education 8 1 9
Mathematics, General 19 1 20
Music Performance, General 3 26 29
Music Teacher Education 18 18
Music, General 3 3
Natural Resources Management and Policy 1 1 14 16
Parks, Recreation and Leisure Facilities Management, General 1 17 1 19
Philosophy 1 13 14
Physical Education Teaching and Coaching 1 22 1 25
Physical Therapy/Therapist 1 2 23 26
Political Science and Government, General 1 1 21 23
Psychology, General 2 10 5 2 84 106
Public Administration 3 1 31 35
Radio, Television, and Digital Communication, Other 1 12 13
Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse 3 3 2 4 161 7 183
School Psychology 5 5
Science Teacher Education/General Science Teacher Education 5 5
Science, Technology and Society
Social Studies Teacher Education 1 12 13
Social Work 1 9 3 1 87 102
Sociology 2 2 1 12 18
Spanish Language Teacher Education 1 1
Spanish Language and Literature 1 6 8
Special Education and Teaching, General 1 18 19
Speech Communication and Rhetoric 2 1 1 44 1 50
Sport and Fitness Administration/Management 4 1 1 1 17 24
Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods, Other 2 2 27 31
Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language/ESL Language Instructor 1 5 6
Therapeutic Recreation/Recreational Therapy 2 20 24

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 1365th for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $69,729 ($76,015 male / $62,308 female)
Number of FT Faculty 444 (233 male / 211 female)
Number of PT Faculty 643
FT Faculty Ratio 0.7 : 1
Total Benefits $11,823,864

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