The Early Years

The roots of Carolinas College date back to the early 1940s when Charlotte Memorial Hospital, now Carolinas Medical Center, provided hospital-based nursing and allied health training. Anchoring the college’s history was the Charlotte Memorial Hospital School of Nursing and the Charlotte Memorial Hospital School of Medical Technology, which has been in continuous existence since 1942.


Responding to the emergence of community colleges and the increasing number of nursing programs, the Charlotte Memorial Hospital School of Nursing closed in 1967. However, twenty years later, realizing the need for registered nurses would exceed the number being educated in the community, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority (CMHA), now Atrium Health, re-established the School of Nursing in the late 1980s.


During these early years, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority (CMHA) responded to the growing healthcare industry and the need for a highly skilled workforce by opening the School of Radiologic Technology and the School of Surgical Technology. 

The Foundation for a New College

The application to establish a new nursing program was submitted to the North Carolina Board of Nursing in 1990. Initial approval status was granted in May of 1990 and the first students were admitted in the fall of the same year. The college was originally located on Morehead Street on the campus of Carolinas Medical Center. Full approval status was granted, and the first class graduated in 1992.


In December of 1993, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority (CMHA) board of commissioners passed a resolution to incorporate the CMHA School of Nursing and to appoint a separate board of directors. Degree-granting authority was provided by the Hospital Authority Act [NC General Statute 113E-23 (a) (31)] and was delegated to the college by the CMHA board of commissioners.


In May of 1994, the college moved into the newly renovated Rankin Education Center on Blythe Boulevard on the campus of Carolinas Medical Center. Seeking to become more than a school of nursing, the foundation for a new college was set when, in 1995, the CMHA School of Nursing received initial accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer associate degrees. This regional accreditation was reaffirmed in 2000 and again in 2010. In 1995, there were 146 students enrolled at the CMHA School of Nursing. 

Expanding the College

In July of 1996, the board of directors changed the name of the school to Carolinas College of Health Sciences and approved plans to incorporate other healthcare programs. The existing hospital-based programs in radiologic technology and surgical technology joined the college in August of 1996 and the medical technology program joined in January of 1997. In 1999, the college began offering Nurse Aide I and phlebotomy training; Nurse Aide II was offered for the first time in 2006. These three programs formed the original core of the continuing education department, opened in 2007. In 2007, there were 511 students enrolled at Carolinas College.


To increase access to nursing education, Carolinas College expanded the role of general education and created the general studies pre-nursing program in 2002. Originally a certificate program designed to provide a pathway into nursing, in 2011, the College developed a degree program in general studies with a pre-nursing track. A pre-radiologic technology track was added in August of 2014.


In a partnership with Carolinas Medical Center's Pre-Hospital Medicine department, the emergency medical sciences program was started in 2003 offering paramedic education. This program was discontinued in 2008. In that same year, the board of directors approved the expansion of radiologic sciences by creating a program in radiation therapy. The first radiation therapy students were admitted in August of 2009.


In 2011, the medical technology program became the medical laboratory sciences program. Also, in 2011, the college added anesthesia technology and a degree program in surgical technology. In 2013, the first histotechnology students were accepted and in 2014, the college received approval to offer fully online distance education programs. In 2011, there were 424 students enrolled at Carolinas College.


As space on the college campus became more challenging in 2015, the histotechnology program moved into vacant space on the campus of CMC-Mercy. Looking to place more emphasis on programs and services focused on the future workforce needs of Atrium Health and the greater healthcare community,

the college closed the surgical technology program and graduated the last class of surgical technologists in May of 2018. In 2018, the college also closed the continuing education department, including the nurse aide I and II programs, and transitioned the phlebotomy program to Clinical Laboratory Sciences. The remaining continuing education programs were transferred to the Charlotte Area Health Education Center (AHEC). In 2018, there were 476 students enrolled at Carolinas College.

A Look into the Future

In 2017, Carolinas College received approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to confer baccalaureate degrees. Approval was also received to offer the first baccalaureate degree program, the RN to BSN Nursing completion program, which is the college’s first fully online degree program. The inaugural cohort of students began their studies in August of 2018. Following the board of director’s approval to expand into neurodiagnostic technology in 2018, the college submitted a request to SACSCOC for approval to create this program.


Looking to the future, Carolinas College is poised to grow strategically with the needs of Atrium Health, particularly in the areas of clinical laboratory sciences, nursing and radiologic sciences.  


In 2010, Carolinas College was ranked the third best two-year college in the nation by Washington Monthly, the first-ever national ranking for the college. This ranking was followed by consecutive number one rankings by in 2011 and 2012. In 2015, the college was ranked in the 95th percentile of all community colleges for quality and value by In 2017, Nursing Schools Almanac named the nursing program the ninth best in the nation and Victory Media designated Carolinas College a STEM JobsSM approved college. In 2017 and 2018, Forbes recognized Carolinas College as one of the Top 30 trade colleges in the country. Carolinas College continues to prepare graduates to exceed state and national certification testing benchmarks and to excel at graduating students into healthcare roles. In 2018, Carolinas College was recognized by Zippia as the number one college in North Carolina for job placement. 


Quick Facts

Carolinas College committed to "The Eight Keys of Success," a US Department of Education initiative to ensure veterans are welcomed and supported on college campuses as they seek career re-tooling.

Carolinas College was recognized in 2017 and 2018 by Forbes as a Top 30 college preparing students for a trade.

There is a lifetime advantage of a Carolinas College education. The US Department of Education has placed the median salary of graduates 10 years after entering the college at $49,800. In comparison, Duke University is $77,900, UNC-Chapel Hill is $54,100, NC State is $49,300 and UNC-Charlotte is $42,700. The median salary for those with only a high school diploma is $25,000.

Satisfaction with Carolinas College. Graduates rate their overall satisfaction at 4.5 and alumni at 4.6 (out of 5.0). 98.8% of employers would hire another Carolinas College graduate.

93% of graduates are placed in a job in their field of study within six months of graduation; 89% of those with Atrium Health.