A Quick Guide to Colleges and Universities Near the Outer Banks

Those of us who live in Currituck County have the unique privilege of being close to over a dozen higher education facilities. Colleges near the Outer Banks range from independent and private institutions to professional and technical trade schools. There is always a steady stream of newly educated graduates looking for their chance to make it big. 

Whether you’re scouting for new talent for your business or looking for the school of your dreams, we’ve compiled a list of universities near the Outer Banks to help you in your research.

We begin our journey by heading north to Hampton Roads, Virginia and checking out the private and independent universities available there.



ECPI University

Newport News (65 miles), Virginia Beach (38 miles)

Ranked #1 Best for Vets in 2019, ECPI University offers a diverse curriculum with year-long, 5 week semesters. According to their website, a bachelor’s degree is attainable in 2.5 years and an associate’s in 1.5. Weekend and online classes help you to schedule your schooling around everything else that’s happening in your busy life. 

Major fields of study include: Health Science, Nursing, Business, Criminal Justice, and Culinary Arts.


Hampton University

Hampton (54 miles)

Hampton University is one of the top historically black universities in the world and is a tight-knit community of learners and educators. Nestled near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, campus is minutes away from NASA Langley and the Virginia Air and Space Center. 

The majority of students here have declared majors in Liberal Arts and Education, with the Science and Business fields not too far behind.


Virginia Wesleyan University

Virginia Beach (40 miles)

With only 1,600 enrolled students, you can enjoy smaller classes with more instructor engagement. VWU takes the coveted title as Coastal Virginia’s premier university of the liberal arts and sciences. As a Wesleyan university, students are provided with an education rooted in their faith and are welcome to take classes at the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom.

They offer 35 different majors and 12 pre-professional tracks including: Business, Biology, and Criminal Justice.


Stratford University

Virginia Beach (41 miles)

The mission of Stratford University is to prepare students for rewarding careers through quality educational programs that meet the changing needs of employers and the community. In order to meet this mission, the university offers a variety of programs in emerging and high employment demand fields.

Recent alumni received degrees in Business Administration, Computer Science, Hospitality, and Nursing.


Regent University

Virginia Beach (35 miles)

As a leading Christian university, Regent will give you the high-quality, Christ-centered education you need to bring innovative leadership to your field. With over 135 areas of study, Regent will equip you to put your knowledge and skills into practice with integrity, compassion and purpose. They say this is an approach that can change the world.

Some areas of study are: Arts and Communication, Psychology and Counseling, Education and STEM.


Mid-Atlantic Christian University

Elizabeth City (18 miles)

Mid-Atlantic Christian University's mission is to impact the world by transforming ordinary people into extraordinary Christian leaders. Mid-Atlantic Christian University was established in 1948 as a response to several local ministers in eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia and is proud to have provided a superior Christian education to thousands of alumni who continue to serve all over the United States and throughout the world.

At MACU, students can earn a bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies, Youth and Family Studies, Christian Arts and Science, Counseling, Entrepreneurial Leadership, and Elementary Education.


As far as public universities go, you have plenty of choices. There are two in North Carolina and 6 just above the state line in Hampton Roads. We’ll start out west in Greenville.


East Carolina University

Greenville (118 miles)

This is the farthest university from Currituck on our list, but it’s worth a look as ECU has some pretty impressive accolades. They are a 7 time recipient of the Top Colleges for Diversity Award, and they are number 1 in the state for producing medical grads who practice in NC. ECU consistently ranks in the top 25% nationwide for graduate programs and they are a Carnegie community engaged institution.

Students here study in a wide range of fields including: Medicine, Global Affairs, and Aerospace.


Elizabeth City State University

Elizabeth City (19 miles)

As a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina System, Elizabeth City State University offers baccalaureate, professional, and master's degrees for a diverse student body. Our mission is to promote economic, social, and environmental progress for the people of northeastern North Carolina, the state, and the nation.

Students here study in a wide range of fields including: Business, Criminal Justice, Biology and Sociology.



College of William & Mary

Williamsburg (86 miles)

Swinging north to Williamsburg, we find the College of William & Mary- the second oldest higher education institution in the country. They claim to have some of the smartest students in the world, but also the most passionate about serving others and the most committed to having fun. That’s a tall order to fulfill, but with Thomas Jefferson and George Washington on their alumni list, it may just be possible. 

Courses of study are available in every major field from Linguistics to Biochemistry to Public Policy and Accounting.


Virginia Tech Hampton Roads Center

Newport News (61 miles), Virginia Beach (40 miles)

Virginia Tech isn’t just in Blacksburg! Two satellite center locations make the giant university accessible to the Currituck and Tidewater areas. They offer an array of educational services to meet the needs of today’s working professionals. 

Graduate programs in Engineering, Information Technology, and Education are available, as are professional and technical workshops and certificate programs designed to serve the needs of the organizations in the private sector as well as those of state and local governments.


Christopher Newport University

Newport News (60 miles)

Because CNU care about minds, their curriculum is based on the liberal arts and sciences. They emphasize the study of leadership and have developed a nationally respected President's Leadership Program. Their core curriculum is rigorous, cited by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni as the strongest core curriculum of any public college or university in America.

Top ranking majors here include: Natural and Behavioral Studies, Social Studies, and Business.


Old Dominion University

Norfolk (39 miles)

An area favorite, ODU is Norfolk’s crown jewel, which is apt considering they are the Monarchs. Originally a satellite school for the College of William & Mary, ODU has made a mark in its own right by graduating students in over 150 different programs of study. ODU has received 32 outstanding faculty awards, including the Poet Laureate of Virginia award 2016-2018.

Think of anything you want to study and you’ll find a program for it at ODU. Some of the fields with the highest enrollment are English, Education, Nursing, and Business.


Eastern Virginia Medical School

Norfolk (38 miles)

Community focus. World impact. These two statements permeate EVMS’ academic and social calendars. They are committed to training medical professionals with heart and compassion, while improving global health standards through education, patient care, and research.

As a school built by the community, for the community, EVMS expects their students to engage with others through service learning and volunteer opportunities.


Norfolk State University

Norfolk (37 miles)

Norfolk State University, a comprehensive urban public institution, is committed to transforming students’ lives through exemplary teaching, research and service. Offering a supportive academic and culturally diverse environment for all, the University empowers its students to turn their aspirations into reality and achieve their full potential as well-rounded and resourceful citizens and leaders for the 21st century. As the second HBU on our list, Norfolk State prides itself on excellence through diversity.

Offering 31 undergraduate (like Sociology and History), 15 graduate (such as Criminal Justice and Computer Science), and 3 doctoral programs (Materials Science, Clinical Psychology, and Social Work), you can certainly find what you’re looking for here.


If the thought of tuition and student debt is starting to make you nervous, let me ease your pain a little. While there are a ton of private and public universities around, there are just as many community colleges that are a lot easier on your wallet. Some of them are closer to home, as well!


Thomas Nelson Community College

Williamsburg (91 miles), Hampton (62 miles)

Now that I’ve teased NC community colleges, let me bring you back to Hampton Roads for a few minutes. TNCC provides financially accessible, high quality, comprehensive educational programs and services to meet the educational needs of citizens of all ages and to support economic development, and they have two locations on the peninsula.

Almost half of the students at TNCC are enrolled in a certificate program that includes Accounting, Business Management, Web Design, and Automotive Technology.


Paul D. Camp Community College

Franklin (74 miles), Smithfield (62 miles), Suffolk (56 miles)

With more than 30 programs of study, you can transfer easily to a four-year school, prepare to enter the job market, or upgrade skills for the workplace. You can earn a two-year degree, a one-year certificate, or a career study certificate. Tuition at PDCCC is a bargain, and financial assistance opportunities are available.

Here you will find courses of study in Industrial Technology and Trades, Business Management, and Administrative and Office Support.


Tidewater Community College

Portsmouth (39 miles), Norfolk (36 miles), Virginia Beach (34 miles), Chesapeake (29 miles)

During the 2017-18 academic year, nearly 1 in 5 recent high school graduates made TCC their “school of choice.” Of South Hampton Roads residents enrolled in higher education, 38% enrolled at TCC. With 4 campuses and 7 regional centers in the Tidewater area, TCC is a regional, educational, and economic force.

Tidewater Community College is where you can get a degree, earn credits and transfer to a 4-year institution, enhance your career, or just learn something new.

The most popular programs to date are: Maritime and Skilled Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation, and STEM.


College of the Albemarle

Roanoke Island (54 miles), Manteo (52 miles), Edenton-Chowan (48 miles), Elizabeth City (20 miles), Barco (5 miles)

Finally back in NC and we find ourselves at the College of the Albemarle. COA has a rich 50 year history of providing exceptional educational and workforce development opportunities for the northeast region of North Carolina. They are the northeast region's community college, one of 58 community colleges in the preeminent North Carolina Community College System, serving seven counties (Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Pasquotank, and Perquimans). 

At COA, you can study Aviation Technology, Agribusiness Technology, and Hospitality and Tourism.


Maybe traditional college isn’t for you. Maybe you’re looking for fresh faces with experience in a specific trade. Maybe you should take a look at these trade schools.


Centura College

Newport News (70 miles), Virginia Beach (45 miles), Norfolk (43 miles), Chesapeake (30 miles)

Centura offers training at 5 locations in Virginia and each campus is dedicated to helping students gain the skills and attitudes necessary to succeed. Drawing from over 30 years of career school experience, they are committed to the education and personal enrichment of each student.

People who attend Centura can expect to find careers in general electronics maintenance and repair, health management, and business management.


Bryant and Stratton College

Hampton (60 miles), Virginia Beach (41 miles)

Bryant & Stratton College offers a unique set of experiences that assist students in finding their chosen career path both in school and beyond. Students receive a personalized experience that will provide support from their first day in class, to graduation and beyond. They partner with today’s employers to find out what they want and are looking for in employees, and then give their students that knowledge by developing courses around career-specific competencies and essential workplace skills to provide a competitive advantage in the workplace. 

Areas of study include: Legal Services, Design, Healthcare, and Business.


Empire Beauty Schools

Virginia Beach (42 miles)

If you have a passion for hair, beauty, skin, or nails consider Empire Beauty Schools. They offer a variety of beauty programs and cosmetology courses including cosmetology, hair styling, esthetics, and cosmetology educator training. They have several campuses all throughout North Carolina and Virginia, but the closest to the Outer Banks is in Virginia Beach.


Advanced Technology Institute

Norfolk (39 miles), Virginia Beach (38 miles)

If you like working with your hands and actually making something, ATI just might be your new home. They offer hands-on programs in Automotive Technology, Heavy Vehicle, Commercial Driving, HVAC/Refrigeration, and Maritime Welding. Each of the 2 locations in Hampton Roads focuses on just a few specific industries which makes classes personalized and flexible.


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