An increased focus on higher education is seen in the development of the Appalachian State University Center at Hickory, a collaborative effort between Appalachian State University and Catawba County's two existing higher education institutes, Lenoir-Rhyne University and Catawba Valley Community College.

As mentioned above, Catawba County is home to Lenoir Rhyne University, a four-year liberal arts school and Catawba Valley Community College. Additionally, the Appalachian State University Center at Hickory is a joint education center offering graduate and undergraduate degrees, non-credit certificate courses, research, and specialized workforce training through such universities as Appalachian State University, NC State University, and the University of North Carolina. The new NC Center for Engineering Technologies provides facilities for applied research in engineering related fields and serves as a conduit to baccalaureate education delivered by the University of North Carolina system schools.


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.

4,855 (curriculum only) 2,005 947 (seated & online) 50
Applachian State University (ASU) 16,595 University of NC Campus 43
UNC-Charlotte 23,404 University of NC Campus 50
Caldwell CC&TI 3,560 Community College 11
Catawba Valley CC 4,855 Community College -
Cleveland CC 2,704 Community College 44
Central Piedmont CC 19,621 Community College 46
Gaston College 5,545 Community College 22
McDowell CC 1,070 Community College 46
Mitchell CC 3,208 Community College 17
Rowan-Cabarrus CC 5,848 Community College 46
Western Piedmont CC 1,839 Community College 20
Belmont Abbey College 1,523 Independent College or University 33
Cabarrus College of Health Services 443 Independent College or University 43
Catawba College 1,297 Independent College or University 43
Davidson College 1,796 Independent College or University 32
Gardner-Webb University 2,362 Independent College or University 40
ASU Center at Hickory 105 (seated) Independent College or University -
Johnson C. Smith University 1,326 Independent College or University 44
Lenoir-Rhyne University 2,005 Independent College or University -
Livingstone College 1,204 Independent College or University 46
NC Ctr for Engineering Tech 50 Independent College or University -
Pfeiffer University 1,089 Independent College or University 47
Queens University of Charlotte 1,617 Independent College or University 47