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Western Carolina University - Cullowhee

An aerial photograph from a drone of WCU's Cullowhee Campus


Western Carolina University’s main campus is located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, just over 50 miles west of Asheville.

Our 600-acre mountain campus is surrounded by one of the most biodiverse regions in the state that provides students unparalleled learning and adventure opportunities. Named the #1 Outdoor Adventure School, our Cullowhee campus' proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides research and discovery access for a wide variety of programs.

Dive in to the Adventure



Western North Carolina attracts people who are looking to explore and our campus is known for it's accessibility to the outdoors.

Our students often spend their free time hiking or biking through national forests and backpacking or camping on the Appalachian Trail or in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In winter we're under an hour from two ski areas for skiing and snowboarding.

Base Camp Cullowhee is WCU's hub for all things outdoor adventure. Whether you're looking to go rafting, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, caving or fishing, they have all the gear and everything you need to know.

If you're looking to be on the water, there is plenty of access to streams, lakes, and rivers. You can go whitewater rafting down the Nantahala or float down the Tuck in tubes with friends.

Learning Happens When You Put it into Practice

Students studying at the Western Carolina Hydrological Research Station


Students in the Geology Department are studying at the Western Carolina Hydrological Research Station where they are examining water movement through the Southern Appalachian mountain environment.

The Highlands Biological Station includes a Nature Center, Laboratory, and Botanical Garden where students can conduct research in a fully-equipped scientific research station located in nearby Highlands, North Carolina.

Biology and Natural Resources Management students can pursue ecology and biotic diversity studies of the mountain ecosystems with the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity and Ecology Center

Work for a Goal that Leaves an Impact



The WCU campus is deeply connected to our region and rooted in service to the people of Southern Appalachia and beyond. 

Students in the College of Health and Human Sciences gain real-world experience by delivering care to surrounding rural communities through on-site clinics and outreach programs. These clinics cover a number of specialties such as physical therapy, nursing, social work, nutrition, athletic training, and a nationally recognized speech and hearing clinic.

Our outreach programs provide hands-on learning experiences while supporting the regions' unique populations such as migrant farm workers and members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Innovators Never Give Up

Students working on an small business project in the Rapid Center


Growing industries throughout the region seek assistance from our College of Engineering and Technology and College of Business through The Rapid Center, a research and development centered and the WCU's Corporation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Our students work in teams with faculty and staff as well as corporate partners and project sponsors to discover solutions to problems that will have an impact far beyond the classroom. Students have developed new products and processes, they've received patents for new inventions, helped engineer new ideas with emerging technologies and have had work published in prestigious journals.

Leaders Embrace Change



One of only six in the United States, the Forensic Osteology Research Station (FOReSt) was the second human decomposition research facility in the world.

FOReSt is an outdoor human decomposition facility where students of forensic science, forensic anthropology, and criminology have the opportunity to learn and conduct research through experiential learning. The research station also aids in training Human Remains Detection dogs and their handlers along with Local Law Enforcement in the region.

Art Requires Being Willing to Explore

Stage and Screen Students performing in the Bardo Arts Center Performance Hall


WCU's Cullowhee campus is the cultural heart of the region connecting student and faculty work with the vibrant artistic and cultural legacy of the Western North Carolina region.

School of Stage and Screen and School of Music students experience performing productions and concerts at the 1,000-seat performance hall in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Students in the School of Art and Design showcase their work in the Fine Art Museum and throughout the region in local galleries.

It's Not the Decision that Defines You, but the Determination



For the students in the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, practice begins long before the fall semester and well ahead of first football game.

Widely regarded as one of the top marching bands in the Southeast, they are known for their elaborate field shows, with a crowd-pleasing medley of up-tempo pop tunes, electric guitars, singers and more.


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