Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University Enrollment and Financial Aid Info

Located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, Western Carolina University is a 4-year, public school that offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs. Read about the pros and cons of the school, plus ranking, tuition and admission information.

Should You Attend Western Carolina University?

Western Carolina University (WCU) is located in the rural town of Cullowhee, North Carolina. A highly ranked state university, WCU awards bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in several fields of study. Weigh the facts below to find out if WCU is the school for you.


  • Accepts CLEP, AP, IB and DANTES credits
  • Offers academic/career counseling services, employment services, placement services and on-campus daycare for children of current students


  • Acceptance rate is 24.8 percentage points lower than the national average
  • Graduation rate is 12 percentage points lower than the national average

Ranking & School Analysis

WCU is located approximately five hours from Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. The school offers undergraduate students more than 120 programs of study from which to choose. It was also the first college in the nation to offer a 4-year degree program in emergency medical care. WCU is currently home to nearly 10,000 students in total.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) states the total cost of attending Western Carolina University, including tuition and living expenses, was $17,841 in 2012-2013. This is about on par with the national average of $17,860 in that year. WCU has a steady retention rate. NCES reported that 74% of freshmen students who began in 2011 return for their sophomore year in 2012. Unfortunately, the 4-year graduation rate for students seeking a bachelor's degree was 28% during the 2006-2010 period, according to the NCES. This is slightly lower than the national average of 40%.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Western Carolina University #39 on its regional schools list in the south and #14 on the list of top public schools in the south. However, the acceptance rate at WCU was just 39% in 2012, according to the NCES. This is lower than the national average of 63.8%.

Admissions and Financial Aid at Western Carolina University

Undergraduate applicants should demonstrate high academic potential by attaining a competitive class rank and good scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the American College Test (ACT). Those interested in graduate school are subject to different admissions criteria, depending on the program to which they apply. Most require students to have earned good grades in their undergraduate degree program and a satisfactory score on their Graduate Records Examination (GRE).

Although college can be expensive, WCU offers financial aid in the form of loans, grants and scholarships to qualified applicants. If you need financial assistance it is important to fill out and submit the FAFSA before March 15th. Western Carolina University also has scholarships available for students seeking certain majors, athletes and graduate students.

Application & Tuition Info
Regular School Application Deadline (2013-2014) March 1*
Financial Aid Priority Application Due (2013-2014)March 15*
Application Fee (2012)$50*
Acceptance Rate (2012)39%***
All Tuition & Living Expenses (2012-2013)$17,841 for residents
$27,438 for non-residents***
Average First-Year Financial Aid Package (2011-2012)$8,551*
Percentage of Students with Need Met (2012)14%*
Student Loan Default Rate (2010)9.0%***

Life at Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University offers you a chance to get involved. With over 150 student clubs, intramural sports and leadership groups, there's a good chance you will find something that interests you. WSU also has an active Greek Life with 14 fraternities and nine sororities. The College Board reports 9% of men join fraternities and 7% of women join sororities.

WCU's sports teams, the Catamounts, are a member of the NCAA. Western Carolina University also offers dance, cycling and karate. Roughly 49% of undergraduate students live in campus housing, while 97% of first year freshman live in campus housing. The Campus Recreation Center offers you a chance to scale the tallest rock climbing wall in the state. WSU also has a pool located in the Reid Gymnasium that is open to all students.

Student Life Info
Campus Setting Rural*
Student Population (2012) 7,979 undergraduate
1,629 graduate students***
Male-to-Female Student Ratio (2012)47 % to 53%***
% of Full-Time Students (2012) 85%***
% of In-State Students (2011) 90%***
% of International Students (2011) 1%*
Retention Rate (2011-2012) 74%***
Campus Housing AvailableYes***
% of Students Living On Campus49%*
Number of Libraries1**
Extracurricular Activities More than 150 student clubs**

Article sources: *College Board, **Western Carolina University, ***NCES College Navigator, ****US News and World Report.

School Contact Information

  • Address: 102 Camp Building, Cullowhee, NC 28723
  • Phone Number: (828) 227-7317