Asheville and its surrounding area is home to several institutions of higher education. They are fun to visit even if you are not a student. They all offer great special events and programs open to the public.
University of North Carolina at Asheville (Asheville, NC): As the only designated liberal arts institution in the 16-campus University of North Carolina system, the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA) serves students who are prepared for academic challenges by offering an intellectually rigorous education that builds critical thinking and workforce skills. Students with a broad range of interests can select from 30 majors, and they’ll get a private school education at a public schools price. UNC Asheville gets high marks for educational innovation from U.S. News & World Report and is ranked among the best liberal arts colleges nationally. Located just a mile north of downtown Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains, UNC Asheville has more than 3,400 students. See our UNCA Guide.
Warren Wilson College (Swannanoa, NC): Nestled in the lush Swannanoa river valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains just a few miles east of Asheville, Warren Wilson College was founded in 1894 upon a philosophy of sustainability that thrives to this day. An accredited, four-year, private liberal arts college, their education is driven by a threefold "Triad" principle: Academics for the mind, Work for the hands, Service-Learning from the heart. Warren Wilson provides 900 students an outstanding curriculum grounded in sciences and humanities, interwoven with cross-cultural experiences, immersed in service-based philosophy and experienced with an environmental focus. See our Warren Wilson College Guide.
Western Carolina University (Cullowhee, NC): Founded in 1889 and a member of the University of North Carolina system, WCU now provides an education to more than 9,000 students from 38 states and 32 countries. The university is located in the small town of Cullowhee, about 52 miles west of Asheville. See our WCU Guide.
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (Asheville, NC): Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College was established in 1959 as a public 2-year community college. It is under the North Carolina Community College System, and is, in fact, one of its oldest and largest colleges. The college serves the counties of Buncombe and Madison with enrollment of more than 9,000 students every year, with extension enrollment figures crossing 17,000. There are 5 academic divisions of the college: Allied Health & Public Service, Arts & Sciences, Business & Hospitality Education, Engineering & Applied Technology, Learning Resources.
Go to A-B Tech's website.
Brevard College (Brevard, NC): Brevard College is a small liberal arts college offering distinctive undergraduate degrees. Students enjoy outstanding opportunities through partnerships with organizations like the Pisgah Forest Institute and the Library of Congress’ Adventures of the American Mind. Their fine arts and music communities provide a remarkable range of cultural experiences. Founded in 1853, it is the oldest college or university in the mountains of North Carolina. This four-year private, coeducational, comprehensive liberal arts college has 700 students and is affiliated with the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. Go to the Brevard College website.
Mars Hill College (Mars Hill, NC): Mars Hill College is a private, coed, liberal-arts college is 15 miles north of Asheville in the quaint town of Mars Hill. The scenic 180-acre campus is located in a small valley nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The college's enrollment typically runs from 1300 to 1600 students. In its annual survey of "America's Best Colleges", Mars Hill is listed by U.S. News and World Report as a "first-tier" regional (Southern) liberal-arts college. The college offers five degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Social Work), and 31 majors. The most popular majors are in the fields of education, business, and music; the college is known for its excellent departments in music and other fine arts. The "Bailey Mountain Cloggers," the college's dance team, have won 16 national championships in clogging, and they have performed all over the United States and internationally in Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Austria, and Ireland. Go to the Mars Hill College website.
SART is an award-winning professional stage company presenting theatre-lovers “favorites” in plays and musicals, including signature productions that portray the rich cultural heritage of Southern Appalachia. Each year, SART’s ScriptFEST playwrights conference promotes the development and production of new plays. The mainstage season is every June, July & August in the historic Owen Theatre, Mars Hill College campus.
Montreat College (Montreat, NC): Montreat College is a private, four year, liberal arts Christian college with four campuses located in Black Mountain, North Carolina, Asheville, North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina and its primary campus in Montreat, North Carolina. The college offers on-campus traditional four-year degrees, an adult studies program, and courses in team and professional development. Montreat's traditional program student body consists of around 450 undergraduate students, with a beautiful campus built in the early 20th century primarily out of mica-laden mountain stone. Go to the Montreat College website.
Black Mountain College (Closed) Founded in 1933, Black Mountain College was a new kind of college in the United States in which the study of art was seen to be central to a liberal arts education, and in which John Dewey's principles of education played a major role. The school attracted students and faculty many of whom were or went on to become influential. Although notable even during its short life, the school closed after only twenty-four years in 1957. Today, there is a Black Mountain Arts Center in downtown Asheville with exhibitions.
Asheville Public and Private Schools
Asheville has several public schools. The Asheville City Schools district includes Asheville High School, Asheville Middle School, Claxton Elementary, Isac Dixon Elemtary, Vance Elemntary, and Hall Fleather Elemntary. Asheville High has been ranked by Newsweek Magazine as one of the top 100 high schools in the United States. The Buncombe County School system operates high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools both inside and outside the city of Asheville, including six additional high schools: A. C. Reynolds, C. D. Owen, C. A. Erwin, Enka, North Buncombe and T. C. Roberson. Each high school has, as feeder schools, a middle school and several elementary schools. A. C. Reynolds High School has two feeder middle schools ( Cane Creek Middle School and A.C. Reynolds Middle School), as does T. C. Roberson ( Cane Creek Middle School and Valley Springs Middle School). The school year usually begins in mid-August, and typically ends in late May or early June.
Two private residential high schools are located in the Asheville area: the all-male Christ School (located in Arden) and the coeducational Asheville School. Each offers a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and enrolls boarding students from around the world in addition to local day students.
Several other private schools, including
Odyssey Community School, Rainbow Mountain Children's School, Asheville Christian Academy, Hanger Hall School for Girls, The New Classical Academy and Carolina Day School, enroll local day students. In addition, New City Christian School is a private school whose mission is to educate low-income students.
Asheville is also home to several charter schools, including Francine Delany New School for Children, one of the first charter schools in North Carolina.