Catawba County is home to Lenoir Rhyne University, a four-year liberal arts school and Catawba Valley Community College ranked #1 out of NC's 58 community colleges by in 2017 and ranked #3 out of all community colleges in the nation for 2019 by SmartAsset. Catawba Valley Community College has established a Furniture Academy and a Manufacturing Academy.

Catawba Valley Community College's commitment to solving workforce needs for local industries is evident in the creation of these academies and its Workforce Solutions Complex.  A culmination of many years of planning and collaboration with the three public school systems, this $23 million dollar, 86,000 square foot facility houses technology and engineering programs for college students, and junior & senior high school students from all schools in Catawba County.  Business-driven programs include:  Computer Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, Computer Integrated Machining, Electronics Engineering Technology, Welding, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Mechatronics, and Robotics.

Head here to take a virtual tour of the CVCC Campus and the Workforce Solutions Complex!


Appalachian State University inaugurated its Hickory campus on Aug. 21, marking a significant expansion of higher education in a previously underserved metropolitan area of North Carolina.
The Hickory campus offers over 100 undergraduate programs with comprehensive on-site services like libraries, labs, health care, and counseling.  Students residing at home and attending here benefit from waived room and board fees, ensuring affordability.
App State's engagement with Hickory traces back to 1968, but the recent $1 million purchase of the former Corning Optical Communications Building led to the campus's realization. With the North Carolina General Assembly allocating $9 million for the site, significant renovations and upgrades were made, setting a solid foundation for the institution's future in Hickory.


The Catawba County Promise (CCP) is a guaranteed financial aid package worth at least half the cost of tuition at Lenoir-Rhyne University for full-time undergraduate first-year students and transfer students who meet these requirements:

  • Resident of Catawba County (at time of admittance)
  • High school weighted GPA of 3.5 or higher for first-year students
  • College GPA of 3.5 or higher and 30 attempted college hours for transfer students

​To learn more about the Promise program, click here.

12,798 (curriculum + cont. ed) 2,686 300
Applachian State University (ASU) 20,436 University of NC Campus 43
Applachian State Hickory 300+ University of NC Campus -
UNC-Charlotte 29,551 University of NC Campus 50
Caldwell CC&TI 3,532 Community College 11
Catawba Valley CC 4,183 Community College -
Cleveland CC 2,496 Community College 44
Central Piedmont CC 17,278 Community College 46
Gaston College 5,325 Community College 22
McDowell CC 1,179 Community College 46
Mitchell CC 3,228 Community College 17
Rowan-Cabarrus CC 6,220 Community College 46
Western Piedmont CC 1,729 Community College 20
Belmont Abbey College 1,501 Independent College or University 33
Catawba College 1,172 Independent College or University 43
Davidson College 1,927 Independent College or University 32
Gardner-Webb University 3,144 Independent College or University 40
Johnson C. Smith University 1,262 Independent College or University 44
Lenoir-Rhyne University 2,686 Independent College or University -
Livingstone College 839 Independent College or University 46
Pfeiffer University 1,089 Independent College or University 47
Queens University of Charlotte 1,873 Independent College or University 47